On last week’s episode, we — and the rest of the Upper East Side — were treated to the shocking sight of Liz Hurley confessing that she was Chuck’s mother. This week, Billy Baldwin confessed to Lola that he had had an affair with Lily's sister Carol and he was her father, which made her not Serena’s cousin but sort of a hybrid cousin-sister.
Serena pouted like crazy about this, but at least she wasn’t in as tough a spot as Chuck Bass. Nate, who’d become unnerved by the fact that he had indeed become a “sleeping with your best friend’s mom kind of guy,” did some research in an attempt to disprove the notion that Chuck had come out of a vagina he’d gone into. The last time someone came forward claiming to be Chuck’s mother, he remembered, with great effort, it had turned out to be a lie orchestrated by Chuck’s uncle, Jack Bass, and maybe that was happening again. Maybe, he and Chuck postulated, the real truth isn’t that Liz Hurley is Chuck’s mom, but that Jack Bass is his father. That doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but it does mean that Nate hadn’t slept with Chuck’s mother, as he’d thought (thank God). But it might also mean that Chuck’s ex-girlfriend Blair had slept with Chuck’s father. (Gross!) Or: What if Nate is Chuck’s father! Nah, that’s not possible. But you can bet Nate thought about it and for a single, stoned moment was paralyzed with horror.
How realistic is any of this? Stranger things have happened on the Upper East Side (of the island on Lost). Our weekly Reality Index parses the details.
More Real Than a New York Magazine Reader Flipping Directly to the Approval Matrix
• Allow us to revel in our role in this episode for just a moment. The episode opens with newsstands receiving great chubby bricks of New York Magazine’s recent Scandals issue (Plus 10, even though it has a wonky cover). Inside, Dan Humphrey’s novel appears on the Approval Matrix under “Highbrow Brilliant,” while Blair’s short-lived marriage to Prince Louisth gets stuck under “Lowbrow Despicable,” which causes Blair to panic and embark on a quixotic and unfocused quest to get mentioned again under a more favorable heading. (Plus 5, because the Approval Matrix is indeed powerful and important, and one’s place on it matters.) After studying back issues of New York, Blair discovers that all of the Highbrow Brilliant people are “boring doctors curing diseases and lame philanthropists trying to save the world” and directs her efforts to the Highbrow Despicable category. “Gwyneth, Mayor Bloomberg, those are my people,” she says. Plus 10
• “You’ll never be a trending topic on Twitter if you talk about that,” Blair tells Dan when he says he wants to talk about “the banking crisis, or what’s going on in Syria,” to the Young Lions. Plus 1
• “I’m sorry you’re upset,” Lily tells Rufus, which is exactly what horrible people say by way of apology. Plus 5
• “Lola is headed into Lincoln restaurant,” a tipster called Justin Pittman, who is obviously this systems engineer from Bank of America, tells Gossip Girl. Plus 2
• Andrew Tyler, the detective whom everyone uses to dig up dirt on their close friends and family members, has appeared in a half-dozen episodes of this show and been name-checked countless times. At this point, doesn’t he deserve his own character arc? Or at least a scene of him sinking into a La-Z-Boy and cracking open a beer while saying, “These people are bad, not like you, Serena,” to the blow-up doll on his sofa? No points, just saying.
• “This is just your mother’s process,” Billy Baldwin tells Serena when she calls him in a panic about her mom’s batshit plan to invite everyone over for an awkward family dinner observed by a reporter. “She needs to make everything look good on the outside, before fixing things on the inside.” Remember, Billy Baldwin is a doctor, here. And his ability to psychoanalyze Lily will be important later, when he realizes from her tone on the phone that she has been possessed by Zuul. Plus 2
• As a teenager, Dan wrote a paper on “British punk rock and the subculture of scorn.” Plus 4
• Normally when something a character has said causes them to have a Big Realization mid-sentence we’re like, Gah, no one does that in real life. But in Nate’s case it actually rings true. Because he is stupid enough to have to be reminded of something by his own words. Plus 2
• Immediately after learning a secret, Nate tells it to exactly the wrong person. Again. Plus 5
• “Down, Dorota.” Plus 1
• Ha, Serena ignores Dorota’s tip about Blair’s dress. Plus 2
• It’s cool that the New York Public Library’s Young Lions were featured so prominently in this episode, but didn’t everyone at the event seemed ... kind of old? Even though it’s a crying shame that Brooke Geahan has never been on this show, it was neat that they got Deborah Eisenberg to introduce Dan, and the pasty, schlubby extras in the background were also on point. So Plus 15 overall.
• Also, yay, it’s David Patrick Columbia from New York Social Diary! About time. Plus 10
• Diana is wearing Spanx in bed. Plus 5. She is 47.
• Rufus spent his night scanning gossip blogs for mentions of his name. Plus 2. Real House Husbands habits die hard.
Faker Than a U-Turn in the Middle of a Manhattan Street
• “How does it feel going from high class to high trash?” a reporter shouts to Lily. Please, the Daily News would never give away their headline to a group of competing reporters like that. Minus 3
• Why did the FIT guy even come over? Why couldn’t he have made his bitchy comment over the phone? Minus only 2, because we guess everyone likes to see the inside of a rich designer’s apartment.
• You don’t really find out about the nominations of the Young Lions fiction awards the day of. Minus 1
• Wait, so the cops agreed to hang around through cocktails and part of dinner so that Lily could stage the perfect dramatic moment for New York Social Diary? No. Minus 10
• “Maybe you’re so focused on how everyone else perceives you that you no longer know who you are,” Dan tells Blair. But that is who Blair is! Minus 3 and Minus another 3 for “If only they could see what I see." Dan better cut down on the clichés, or else his novels are going to sound more “Nicholas Sparksian” than “Austinian.”
• “Where exactly are you going to find some Upper East Side woman to take care of you the way I have?” Lily says to Rufus, who mutters something high-minded about relationships and caring instead of the correct answer, which is: “SoulCycle? Swifty’s? The penthouse floor of Weill-Cornell?” Minus 3
• After searching Elizabeth Hurley’s entire apartment, Nate pinpoints the exact drawer she keeps her information in. Minus 3
• Elizabeth just happens to finally be “tired of all the lies.” Minus 1
• The picture of supposedly pregnant Elizabeth with an arm that just happens to have an identifying tattoo on it is the worst Photoshop ever. Minus 5, because it won’t turn out to have been a bad Photoshop.
• This has been bothering us: Blair managed to forget the time Chuck set her up to sleep with Jack in exchange for the Empire Hotel for two seasons, during which they got back together multiple times, so why’s she suddenly all, “he traded me for a hotel,” and “Remember the time I was traded for a hotel?” It’s like, yes, but barely — the memory of you asking Chuck to be the father of your child and pledging your eternal love to him is a lot more clear to us, why isn’t it to you? Minus 5
• Seriously, Revenge won’t give Eric the afternoon off for a Fake Happy Family Dinner where his aunt gets arrested and he discovers he has a new stepsister? Minus 2
• And WHERE IS GOSSIP GIRL? It was just a couple of episodes ago she was agitating to get her site back, now she’s gone silent again? Minus 2
• This is a small thing, but Billy Baldwin left the apartment two seconds after Serena, why doesn’t he catch up to her until they’re on the street? Shouldn’t they have been in the same elevator? Minus 1
• The check Lily writes to Ivy says, “One Million Dollars.” Minus 1
• Why doesn’t anyone just tell poor Chuck who his freaking mother is???? This whole plotline is absurd. Minus 20
• Serena turning into a bitter person who says things like, “Okay, sis?” is understandable: In the past few months, the love of her life made her look like a jerk in his novel, then turned her down to date her best friend. Plus she was fired, her first cousin turned out to be a fake and the real one turned out to be her sister, her dad lied to her, her mom set up an elaborate sting mission for her aunt that she apparently didn’t know about, the only person hitting on her is Dick Cavett, and her hair is no longer responding to conditioner. Fine. But Lily’s personality change is more confusing: Like everyone on this show, she’s always been diabolical, but it was balanced out with a healthy amount of kindness. What happened to the Lily who told Chuck she loved him like a son? Minus 3. Wait a second ... is Lily????
New York–y cameos took the edge off of the absolutely preposterous genealogy plotline, but will they next week, when Gossip Girl reveals that Chuck’s birth mother is actually one of those Arabian horses he mentioned in season one? There’s only one way to find out. See you then.