In some ways, it’s like we’ve gone back in time. Serena van der Woodsen, breasts akimbo, is seducing her best friend’s boyfriend on a bar at Grand Central Station and doing drugs on Metro North. Chuck Bass is wearing purple on purple and deploying his signature line, “I’m Chuck Bass,” in order to assert his identity in response to his overbearing, overly tanned father. And in an overdecorated apartment uptown, Blair and her mother gaze at their reflections in a mirror. But this time, instead of commenting on the ephemeral nature of youth, Eleanor Waldorf says something else to her daughter: “I cannot believe how much more grown up you are than I was at your age,” she says. “Maybe it’s the divorce, and all the other mistakes you’ve made.” It is then we snap back to the present day. Five years have passed since the premiere of Gossip Girl, and yet, as our sage narrator observes: Plus ca change c'est la meme chose. Our characters have cheated, lied, and fucked themselves full circle.
And now, onto our Reality Index.
More Real Than Rufus Needing a Parka With an Elastic Waist
• “This place could use a woman’s touch,” says Chuck Bass. “Couldn’t we all,” says Bart Bass, Inappropriate Dad. Plus 5. No wonder Chuck is all screwed up about women.
• “Wait,” we said to ourselves. “New York 1 has a website?" And it totally does! Plus 3
• Lily, wearing giant earrings, pours a slug of vodka into her morning coffee cup. Plus 2
• The Post has Bart Bass’s resurrection on the cover, which is wholly realistic: When a billionaire comes back from the dead, you gotta go big. But Plus only 2, because they’d have come up with something better than “BART BASS LIVES.”
• “That guy spent one week with Marilyn and he is still living off the royalties.” Plus 3
• When Lola says she got a summer job as “a swing,” Nate looks briefly titillated. Plus 1
• “You were getting ready to leave me for Rufus,” Bart reminds Lily, when they meet. “I’m sorry for that,” replies Lilly, who is clearly wasted. “What about Charles? His thinking you were dead was hell for him.” Plus 6
• From the back, Bart Bass looks like an aged Terrier. Plus 2
• The Shepards, who got married in the first episode, are having a divorce party! So hot right now. Plus 2, and Plus another 3 for the cocktail called "The Lying Bitch."
• All season long, Serena’s feelings about Dan and Blair’s relationship have been corroding her insides, and in this episode it finally comes out. “You had your prince and you had Chuck, you didn’t need to take Dan, too,” she snaps, and she totally has a point. Blair’s self-justifying reaction is dead-on, too. “I didn’t TAKE Dan,” she retorts. “That’s not how relationships work.” Plus 8
• “Our problems long predate Bart’s return!” Lily tells Rufus, after seeing her husband who has just returned from the dead. “You haven’t spoken to me in weeks.” Plus 2
• Plus 3 for the return of minions from all eras of Blair’s life: Kati from high school, Nairtini-throwing Penelope, and dumb Jessica from college. “She says my hair is as thick as Jessica Simpson’s,” Jessica says, reading from Blair’s diary. “That’s your head,” says Kati.
• Plus 1 for Serena learning (from a Gossip Girl post revealing she’d never actually read it) that the F. Scott Fitzgerald adaptation she worked on last summer is called The Beautiful and Damned, rather than “The Beautiful and the Damned.”
• The saddest, most realistic thing about Serena’s desperate attempt to win Dan back by tricking him into thinking Blair was with Chuck, seducing him on the bar and filming it with the intent to send the video to Gossip Girl is that she thought it would actually work. Plus 5. And Plus another one for the last-ditch effort to keep him there by showing him the text from Kati.
• Dan is on Georgina’s "Free Pass" list. Plus 1
• “I don’t think you would have done what you did if you didn’t have feelings for me,” Serena says psychotically to Dan. Oh God, it’s still going on. Plus 2
• Yes! Vindication for Ivy Dickens! No points, but it’s nice to have a little closure.
Faker Than a Girl Keeping a Paper Diary in 2012
• Seriously! Between this and Girls. Minus 2
• Blair: The guy from Bel Biv Devoe called, he wants his blazer back. Minus 5
• And the guy from Color Me Badd was inquiring about his hairstyle. Minus 5
• Blair would never say “banged.” Minus 1
• “You didn’t try and trade her for a hotel deed?” Bart says to Chuck, of Blair. “You didn’t follow her all the way to Europe? You didn’t nearly bankrupt yourself to get her out of her marriage?” Well, wait a second. Let’s back up here and break down this rant from the bottom up. Admittedly, he’s right about point three, paying Blair’s dowry was totally bad for business. But point two is a drop in the bucket for the Basses (And who, we might add, is Bart Bass to go carping about other people’s travel expenses when he’s just spent two unnecessary years “in hiding”?) And point one negates the whole thing: Chuck was trading Blair in order to keep the Empire. Minus 10. We’d buy that Bart Bass being a psychopathic asshole, but psychopathic assholes are supposed to at least be smart.
• Where was Bart hiding, anyway? We assumed it was an island or something, but maybe he was in New Jersey with this lady. No points.
• Minus 5 for Lily switching from being married to Rufus to being married to Bart like she’s changing shoes. We know she’s capricious and vain, but she loves Rufus, even though he brings carbs and morals into the house. We find it hard to believe she’d just suddenly throw him over, especially for a psychopathic Oompa Loompa whose money she already has.
• We’d like to take a moment during The Savages trailer to bemoan the fact that Serena van Der Woodsen has a thriving career in serious films (and we say Serena van der Woodsen, because that’s pretty much what Blake Lively acts like all the time, with varying degrees of eyeliner), while the comparatively more subtle and nuanced Leighton Meester is stuck with bit parts in schlock. Although we did like The Private Lives of Pippa Lee, so Minus only 2.
• “I can’t play this game anymore, Blair,” says Chuck. “Unless, there’s something else you have to say.” [45 minutes later.] “I DON’T WANT TO BE MR. BLAIR WALDORF." Minus 5, because, for fuck’s sake, yes you do.
• Sorry, but when you Google “Gossip Girl,” that music programmer’s image does not come up. No points, just saying.
• Who commits to a whole train journey just to buy (or sell) a tiny vial of drugs? Minus 3
• If Bart is back and Rufus and Lily are splitting up, who is paying for Dan Humphrey’s plush car service? Medium-selling literary fiction does not cover those kinds of rides. Minus 2
• Neither, apparently, does synthy rock music, because apparently over the past five years, the singer from Cobra Starship has turned to selling drugs on the train. No points, too sad.
Thus concludes the reality index of the last episode of the second to last season of what, we suspect, will once again be known as The Greatest Show of Our Time. Viva La Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage! And see you next season!