Most people, like the characters on Gossip Girl, spend much time grappling with who they are. However, most people don’t confuse the already fraught process by assuming fake identities, like ChIvey, or insisting they feel one way when it’s perfectly obvious they don’t, like Serena, who acted like she was helping Dan when she was secretly trying to win back his love, or Chuck, who denied falsely in the opening moments of last night’s midseason finale that he had “any interest” in Blair’s schedule, but not long after was racing to the dreaded outer boroughs to pledge his eternal devotion. At the end, in what might but will probably not be the final moments of his life, Chuck learned an important lesson — as Gossip Girl herself might put it, by way of a search on BrainyQuote — to thine own self, be true. ChIvey learned the same lesson. Her veneer broken by the terrible accident she kinda sorta caused, she fled the scene never to return again. It was all quite moving. But realistic? For that, we must consult the Reality Index!
Realer Than an Upper East Side Socialite With Nothing to Do But Plan Parties
• Tip-less Gossip Girl is feeling dark and quoting Camus lines she got from the thinkexist. Plus 2
• At Carol’s debutante ball, she hired performance artist Karen Finley to go in her place, who walked out “wearing nothing but chocolate and a pillbox hat.” Plus 2, although if only! All we got at the deb ball was Serena ditching her escort and reading a saucy statement. Makes us kind of sad that spinoff didn’t work out.
• To prepare for her adult debutante ball, Lily got Charlie a day at the Plaza Athenee spa. Wouldn’t want her showing up all ragged looking, like she normally does. Plus 2
• Dan is all mopey because the publication of his book didn’t change anyone’s life. But no, it did says Serena: It inspired Nate to want to be more than “half a person” and stopped Chuck from killing himself. This isn’t strictly true, but Dan buys it. Then he immediately begins feeling sorry for himself that it changed everyone except for him. Oh, but it did! He’s become much more self-obsessed. Plus 5
• “I’m glad those feelings have turned into a solid friendship," Rufus says pointedly, recognizing the stirrings of a Lonely Boy relapse in Serena and smugly trying to shut it down. “I see Dan got the ending he wanted,” he adds, when Gossip Girl reports Blair is holing up at Dan’s. “Good for him.” Plus 3. We also enjoy that he’s wearing a zip-up sweater and inexplicably holding an apple during this conversation.
• Also, we roll our eyes every time it happens, but the way Serena starts mooning over Dan after each and every failed romance is actually pretty realistic, in the way that a lot of women return to their safe, comfortable ex in between relationships. He’s her backup boyfriend. Plus 6, and we predict an episode where they pledge that if they aren’t married by 29, they’ll marry each other.
• Chuck is hiding his feelings in his socks! Last episode, when he when he was silently repressing his feelings of jealousy toward Blair and Louis, they were green. In this episode, when his passion springs free, they are bright pink! Plus 2
• Chuck is “almost aroused” by Nate’s canceling on Bloomberg. Plus 5
• “World domination by day, debauchery by night,” Chuck says to Nate. "The Allen Retreat is legendary. Pity the fool who tries to hire a call girl in Manhattan this weekend.” Plus 9
• The ever-credulous Nate looks at a tabloid story about Blair and Louis, whom he knows personally, and gasps, “They’re calling off the wedding!” Chuck kindly corrects him. “You know better than anyone, these stories are invented for women who collect ceramic cats,” he says. Aw, friendship. Plus 2
• “The last time I saw you concentrating that hard, you were looking at the instructions on how to assemble a hookah,” Tripp says to Nate. Plus 7, because people do change! (No, they don’t.)
• Blair plans on having her child “the old-fashioned way, fully sedated.” Plus 5
• Serena is wearing leather shorts, a see-through shirt, and lace tights at breakfast. Plus 8
• Nate feels like a fraud. Plus 5, because that’s actually how most journalists feel, except for the real assholes.
• “Pregnancy make fingers swell up like keilbasas,” Dorota says, knowledgeably importing the homespun wisdom of Poland. Plus 5
• Dan’s face when he says that it wouldn’t matter to him if the child was his or not is actually kind of heartbreaking, but Plus only 1, because the rest of this pining LonelyBoy story is absurd.
• Blair says Dan smells like onions. Plus 4
• Chuck: “The idea of unconditional love is as quaint as the Tooth Fairy, or environmentally friendly dry-cleaning.” Plus 2
• We don’t know Matthew Lynch, WWD’s "Eye" editor, but the idea that he would put his Columbia Journalism master’s degree to use by asking ChIvey, “What are you wearing?” then hitting the bar, strikes us as entirely realistic. Plus 4
• “What makes you think I believe anything you have to say?” Nate demands of Max. Um, because you believe everything everyone says, all the time? Plus 7
• Louis swears to Serena he’s gone cold turkey on his gossip addiction. “I’m not looking at the gossipth sites, I’m not reading the newspaperths,” he tells her urgently. Not even Perez! And it’s killing him. Plus 2
• The plotline where Serena, under the guise of friendship, tells Louis she’ll help him get Blair back when what she really wants is to get Blair away from Dan isn’t as drawn out or as obvious as it once might have been, which is fine. At this point, we’re familiar with how Serena’s plots work: All we really needed to see to know what she was up to were those two subtly suggestive scenes and her cleavage, which suddenly and gloriously reappeared after a season of higher necklines. She knows Dan is drawn to those soft, shiny orbs like a moth to a flame. Plus 5
• “I’m going to get a drink,” Serena says, after seeing Dan reunite Chuck and Blair for the 50th time. Seriously, us, too. Plus 7
Faker Than the Laughs Lilly Gets for Her Joke About Paparazzi
• Gossip Girl stopped getting tips from everyone, but she managed to get a photo of an intimate conversation between Chuck and Blair, and apparently heard the conversation, since she captioned it, “Too Little, Too Late.” Minus only 1, because like time travel and overhearing things, this is just part of the world of Gossip Girl.
• “A week ago you couldn’t get Bloomberg to give you a quote for the Spectator, now you’re canceling on him?” Chuck says to Nate, and he has a point. The idea the mayor would be scrambling to meet with Nate over an editorial he wrote about “staying independent from my family” is laughable. Minus 8
• The annual Allen & Company retreat is in Sun Valley, not Vermont. Minus 5
• “You have no idea what you are taking on,” Chuck tells Lilly, when she says she wants to be there for him unconditionally. Uh, duh, yeah she does, she’s seen everything from him trying to date rape her daughter, faking an identity, and intermittently threatening to kill himself over the years. What else is left? Minus 4
• “Princesses don’t go to Queens,” Blair says. This is too easy, and also false. Hasn’t anyone on the writing staff seen Coming to America? Minus 2
• Nate’s grandfather clearly has Joe Kennedy aspirations, but he’s a crap strategist if he thinks Nate is “the one who has what it takes to lead the family,” and a worse liar: He can barely keep a straight face when telling Nate how he’s smarter than Tripp. Minus 6
• “The only downward dog I want to see you doing is cleaning up the dust under that couch.” Sometimes Blair is too mean to Dorota. Minus 3
• Ugh, these previews for We Bought a Zoo. Minus 3
• When Dan takes off Blair’s blindfold, she doesn’t know where she is. Look around, lady: fake wood veneer, brushed steel, bland artwork, recessed lighting. How can she be anywhere but a Chuck Bass hotel? Minus 6
• You’d think that Max would have come up with some kind of strategy for exposing ChIvey by now that doesn’t involve walking up to random people and telling them a crazy-sounding story with no proof. How about trying to find someone else involved in the play who might have a copy of the Playbill? Or figuring out who the real Charlie Rhodes is? Minus 8
• Dan decides that the best place to get Chuck and Blair together is a room off a big party with a ton of reporters present. Minus 5
• So wait, where did Louis go? Did he sign up for one of those silent meditation retreats? Minus 5
• I won’t get into the debate over whether making Blair and Chuck’s car accident reminiscent of Princess Di Dodi Al-Fayed’s was in poor taste, except to say that by the same logic, every episode of Law & Order would be in poor taste, and everyone loves Law & Order. But here’s a thing: The Empire Hotel is already on the West
East side so they had no reason to be on that road, which goes from the west to east side of Central Park, so that was kind of silly. So Minus 5 for that. [Our mistake! The Empire is, of course, on the West side. But we're still not giving points back on that car accident]
• “Serena texted me,” ChIvey explains when she shows up to the hospital, where Serena, Rufus, and Lily already are. But wait, Blair and Chuck left in the middle of the party: Weren’t the Van der Bumphreys all together, at the party, five seconds ago? Minus 5. And incidentally, where is Eric? Minus 2
• Also, WHERE THE HELL IS LOUIS? Minus 10
• We can’t even get into this Liz Hurley–Jack Bass thing, since we don’t even know what the hell is going on.
This Reality Index of the Greatest Show of Our Time was pushed to the real side by the realism of Chair romance, the continued dimness of Nate, and — perhaps unfairly — by Serena’s return to Slutwear. We’ll see you in January, wherein we’ll find out if Blair conveniently lost the baby (of course she did); if Chuck made it out of the crash alive (of course he did); and if Diana, the Grandfather, and Jack Bass are conspiring to make Nate some kind of Manchurian Candidate. (Manchurian Candi-Nate?) XOXO
Interested in compiling our recap of the recap? E-mail alice.urmey[at]nymag.com, subject line: Sound the Trumpet, Strumpets.