This week’s episode of Gossip Girl broke all the rules. Blair broke the invisible barrier between Gossip Girl, herself, and the parents of St. Jude’s and Constance Billard. Nelly Yuki broke the bonds of friendship and loyalty. Rachel Carr broke nearly every tenet of private-school teaching, and the show as a whole violated the ultimate homage-gimmick rule: If you are making obvious and overwrought references to something else, don’t have a character on-screen acknowledge it. The moment Chuck said the words “eyes wide shut,” even the very mild feeling of amusement and curiosity we’d had regarding this plotline was shattered. From that moment on, our own eyes were wide shut, hoping against all hopes that we weren’t witnessing the moment when the Greatest Show of Our Time jumped the biggest shark on prime time.
Truer Than Jenny Humphrey Showing Cleavage on a Day When Everyone Else Is Wearing Overcoats:
• While she’s nobly picking up leaves in the park, Blair’s dad brings her lunch — in a picnic basket. What is with this man and his picnic baskets? He loves them more than the smooth, hard chests of foreign men. Plus 2, for consistency.
• Blair knows she’s attended “sixteen thousand nine hundred and eighty two hours of schooling” before getting one detention. Plus 2, with an additional plus 2 for Serena calling her out on having had to add it up. Come on, Blair, the lines almost don’t count when you have to try so hard.
• Plus 4 for Dorota’s look when Blair says to her father, “I wish everyone could see me through your eyes!” “Mees Blair,” the maid snaps. “Your martyr act, no good.” Yet she goes right back to raking.
• Plus 5 for Blair’s speech: “Don’t you see? If Cornflower Mary can come in here and tell us how to run things, then everything we’ve stood for all these years is nothing. This isn’t about Yale. This is about our legacy. What we do here today echoes through eternity. Who’s with me?” The patriotic music was a nice touch here. Also, did we hear this wrong? “Cornflower Mary?” That sounds like a prairie sex move.
• Plus 1 for Hazel having cell-phone withdrawal. Though, “Is a scandal still a scandal if you can’t text about it?” may have been a step too far.
• Of course Vanessa, with those neon tights (or pants? We don’t even want to know), is in on the Stephen Sprouse–nostalgia kick. Plus 1. Also, plus 1 to her for the “Chuck Bass version of Narnia” line, because really, instead of Aslan and a sword, of course his fantasy world would include Elle and some magnums.
• Rachel totally walked into Dan on purpose in the hallway. We’ve done that move at least a dozen times in our life, but usually we combine it with the “put your hand on his chest for balance” maneuver. Plus 1.
‣ It was subtle, but for a moment when Hazel looked through the marbled glass in the school hallway, she looked exactly like the crying girl in George Seurat’s A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. Plus 2 for a fine-art and Ferris Bueller reference wrapped into one.
• Dan to Jenny: “I’m glad you’re not wearing that raccoon makeup anymore, because you looked like one of the Incredibles.” This line would only have been improved had he mispronounced the movie title the way that Penélope Cruz did at the Oscars in 2005. Plus 1.
• Rachel Carr is obviously a thin-skinned sociopath. But she’s also totally believable as a certain type — the young, idealistic teacher who thinks she is being, like, progressive and that it’s going to help her students relate to her but she’s really just crossing lines. Intel Jessica felt that way for one summer, when she taught high-school English at summer school. The first day, she gave the kids the Philip Larkin poem, “They Fuck You Up, Your Mom and Dad.” When they responded by taking the door off the hinges and taking hits from their one-hitters right in front of her face, she was like, “Eff this molding young minds, I’ll just talk shit on the internet for a living.” Anyway, she got to know a lot of people like Rachel: People who were incredibly, gratingly earnest about teaching and learning and absolutely humorless about anything that did not relate to their mission. Witness Rachel’s rants about how kids shouldn’t have cell phones in school and her outrage over Gossip Girl, which she describes as a place where “people say terrible things about each other.” (Like that’s a bad thing!) Her best and most telling moment was her total freak-out about how the rumor about her and Dan was “insulting” — she’s still so immature that she didn’t even notice that absolutely no one believed it to be true. Plus, then she’s a hypocrite who fucks her students — not that we blame her, because Dan is hot. Anyway, in the end, for all of her talk about how horrible the overbearing parents at Constance are, you just know Rachel’s going to end up as of those crunchy, fascist parents that only ever let their kids watch PBS. Plus 10.
• Oh, and another plus 10 for the subsequent fact that they rightly fire that spazz.
• Hilariously, the students in the background at school have finally started being awkward and poorly dressed, with too-long ties and bad leather jackets. Plus 3.
• Did anyone else see that commercial with Matthew Settle (a.k.a. Rufus) in it that teased, “Can Matthew survive the Booty Slide?” What WAS that? Plus 2.
• We love the way Chuck pronounces “div-AHN.” Plus 1.
• Rachel: “I’m guessing for you, birthdays rarely meant new pens and a notebook to fill with your ideas.” Serena: “Yeah, more like a Chanel wallet and a credit card to get me out of the house.” You know what? Intel editor Chris was the former for his entire childhood, and what does he have now? A room full of old pens, notebooks full of ideas, and no Chanel wallets. There is a lesson here.
• When news breaks on Gossip Girl of Dan’s canoodling with Ms. Carr, all of the guys at school high-five him. Plus 1, because hitting it with a teacher is always awesome, even if it’s a mousy teacher. And an additional plus 1 because Dan is happy about the attention for a few moments before he realizes something is amiss.
• Rachel is getting coffee at a food truck. Plus 3.
• We are 99 percent sure that the Realtor showing Chuck around the building where the “ultimate gentlemen’s club” happened was a server at the Palace Hotel in a previous episode. Plus 2, because when the populace moves up, they move into real estate.
• Blair has some really outstanding lines in this episode, including “I made friends with a family of squirrels, and had lots of time to think.”
• “Give Handsome to a homeless man!” Blair commands Dorota. “Make sure he has kind eyes.” Of course Blair would think there was such a person in Manhattan. Plus 3, because then Dorota has to go get the dog back.
• Of course Serena’s giant handbag obscures Rachel’s datebook on the bench. Plus 1.
• Love that Blair is wearing princess sleeves at her darkest hour. Just in case. Plus 2.
• Nate and Vanessa got their rocks off together making fun of Chuck. Plus 2, because they had moved past that awkwardness a little too easily, really.
• While the (roughly eight) parents on the advisory committee, or whatever it was, clearly wouldn’t let Blair take over the meeting, the only realistic thing in that entire plotline was the fact that she admitted to loving Damages, so we’ll give it a plus 1.
• Lily is hilariously and awesomely bored by the expulsion proceedings at Constance: “I can’t believe we’re all here on a Saturday night,” she complains dryly when they go in. “That’s a lot of canceled restaurant reservations.” Plus 1.
• Dan tells Rufus that he should be punished, i.e. grounded, just as he is putting on his coat to leave the apartment. Plus 2.
• Lily is obviously preggers, but the huge necklace she’s wearing in the end scene covers it well. Plus 1.
• “It turns out I can still get into Oberlin.” Plus 1.
• Dan and Serena break up for the fourth time. Plus 3.
• Dan immediately fucks someone else. Plus 10.
Total: 83 reality points.
Faker Than Dorota’s “Disguise,” Which Still Includes Her Maid Cap:
• That IS NOT Headmistress Queller! Cannot someone at least make a crack about the face transplant she had after passing out on Vicodin and being attacked by her own Siberian husky? Minus 3 and counting.
• Why does Dan know his teacher’s subway route in the morning? Why is she having breakfast with Dan? Minus only 2, because really, this is only the beginning.
• It is certainly realistic that the kids freak out over no cell-phone usage. But the teachers couldn’t actually TAKE the cell phones. Parents would debate the issue in their little newly invented
kangaroo court Parents Council. It wouldn’t just be announced before school. Minus 3.
• We’re not really buying that kids in high school today know who Mary Kay Letourneau is. There’s been, like, 25 cases like that since then. Wouldn’t they at least call her a Debra Lafavre?
• This is perhaps a little too late in the series to raise this question, but wouldn’t Gossip Girl herself have some sort of filter? Like if she published any old mean thing that people sent her, it would get so boring after a while. People wouldn’t believe it if it wasn’t usually true. This is what we call reporting, people. Even Perez Hilton does it. Minus an unspecific factorial, compounded over time.
• We don’t agree with the hasty explanation of how everyone found out the gossip from the website without their cellphones. If Nelly Yuki and the girls were passing it around because they are the only ones with phones at the moment, doesn’t that make it pretty obvious who sent in the tip? Minus 10, because Blair would have foreseen that snafu and arranged, Rube Goldberg–style, for a few phones to magically land on other people’s laps, too.
• Fake Headmistress Queller tells Blair that the administration has known about Gossip Girl for a long time, but, since “students never complained,” they didn’t do anything about it. Right. Because female students are always really good about reporting gossiping and bullying to administrators, and fussy rich parents are really laissez-faire about inter-student abuse. Minus only 20, because we’ve complained about this before.
• Vanessa and Nate giggling over the piano made us want to pbarg. And why isn’t Nate at school? Minus 3.
• Serena’s jackets are so pretty this episode. So is Rachel’s, and even though she wears the same one the whole episode, on her entry-level private-school salary (est: $35K), she could never afford it. Minus 3.
• Nor could she, come to think of it, afford that apartment. She’d have roommates and a temporary wall in the living room separating her own room from the ratty kitchen, where the shower is. And when Dan came over to have sex, everyone eating ramen in front of the TV would have heard. Minus 2.
• When they get the cell phones from Dorota, Nelly Yuki says, “I’ve got to check the Dow.” Shouldn’t Nelly be checking the Nikkei index? Oh, kidding. But seriously, the whole “Asian grind” stereotyping of Nelly Yuki is getting to be a little much. Minus 2.
• A townhouse like the one Chuck visited would have a Steinway, not a Baldwin. Minus 1.
• Chuck has a 646 number? No way. Minus 2, because if he didn’t have a 917, he’d at least have gotten a 212 after September 11, for the macabre glory of it.
• Blair would be way more upset about getting expelled. The eye mask she was wearing wasn’t even a cooling one to soothe her puffy eyes! Minus 2. (We honestly can’t decide whether she’d get expelled for that particular crime, by the way. Put your thoughts in the comments?)
• After she’s been accused publicly of having an inappropriate relationship with Dan, Rachel opts to meet him in the evening at candlelight. Minus 2.
• Not only that, but she leaves Central Park and goes all the way to Brooklyn to meet Dan at Le Petit Oeuf, then all the way back to the Upper East Side for the meeting. Minus 2.
• And Serena follows her all the way out there to do the exact same thing. Minus 1.
• And furthermore, that is not even Le Petit Oeuf, but Café on Clinton. Minus 5.
• When Dan gets busted by Serena, he is tenderly holding Rachel’s face and wiping a tear from her cheek. Why is it that guys in movies and on TV are always doing this, but in our entire lives, we have never seen or experienced a dude making such a gesture? Minus 10.
• How did it come down to being between Blair and Nelly Yuki? We thought that Nelly Yuki already got into Yale — wasn’t that hinted at last episode? Minus 2, because we’ve already established that Nelly, more than anything, wants to be a follower to someone powerful, not a leader.
• Why, after all that mess, do Dan and Blair’s parents leave them at school at night to fend for themselves? Minus 3. Haven’t we learned that when these children are left to their own devices, they will sex themselves into disaster?
• Where has Eleanor Waldorf been this whole episode? And where is Cyrus? He can’t be happy about the ex and the boyfriend living in the house. Minus 5.
• The dog is going back to France? No points subtracted, but :-(
• How do Dan and Serena know where their teacher lives? Minus 3. And why is everyone always surprised when people show up at their apartment door on this show? This isn’t the suburbs, people, buzz up! Minus 3.
• Why is Lily van der Woodsen, the worst parent in Manhattan, head of the Parents Committee? Wasn’t Serena like the worst wild-child in school until last year? Minus 3.
• “Turn on CNN, walk down Wall Street, go to Washington, that’s who they are, and if they find out that I let an outsider in — lose the card, the stamp on your arm will fade, and stop asking questions! Stop looking!” Minus 100. And that’s all we’re going to say about that whole plotline.
• Except, one more thing: No self-respecting Upper East Side/Greenwich matron would let a nanny that hot into her home. Minus 100.
• Oh and also: Why was “Elle” holding a gigantic absurd tapered candle? Minus 100.
• Oh, and FINE, one more thing: We’re supposed to believe she’s gotten killed now? Because she let Chuck Bass into a party? Minus 100.
Total: 492 unreality points. So, um, obviously this episode took a deep swing into fantasy territory. Are we flirting with the end? Are we being too harsh on Chuck’s little Bohemian Grove side story? Let us know your tallies, and what you think about these key issues, in the comments.