It’s time for cotillion again, only this year, everything is different: Instead of the virginal white gowns, this year nearly everyone is draped in color — blood red, icy blue, dark black — colors that indicate the characters’ compromised virtue. Instead of sweet violin music, a neo–riot grrrl band wails a song about being a bitch, spelling out the letters in case you missed it. The steps the characters take, however, are the same: Once again, Jenny Humphrey realizes that she shouldn’t step on people and act like a giant bitch, then promptly forgets her realization. Once again, Eric’s heart softens toward his half-sister, then promptly hardens again when she acts like a giant bitch. Once again, Blair believes Serena when she promises she won’t act like a wild slut. And once again, Serena is completely unable to prevent herself. (Oh, let’s face it, she didn’t even really try this time.) Like Lily said: They’ve all been practicing this dance for years now. It’s their natural rhythm.
Realer Than Jenny’s New “Vagina Peek-a-boo” Phase:
• Okay, let’s just cut right to the threesome. As expected, the Parents Council had nothing to worry about here. The parts that were shown looked more like spin the bottle than Y Tu Mamá También. Plus 10 anyway, because Dan’s drunken “I can’t believe my luck” would-be sexy fuck-me face was totally realistic; and because Vanessa’s newly revealed status as a sci-fi geek somehow makes her participation more likely. In fact, like the rest of us that watched the endless trailers for this episode, the three of them knew this was going to happen eventually, and the strange inevitability made it all the more realistic.
• Plus 3 for all the NYU student-life references (Mamouns, Bar None, Fat Black Pussycat, dancing in the fountain) that, as freshmen, they are constantly making.
• Also, Plus 1 for this line, from Olivia: “Do you think you can get brain damage from learning too much too fast?”
• Chuck brings back a season-one trope by saying that he and Nate are having a “lost weekend” to celebrate Nate’s move-in day. He pretends he’s not excited about it (“Do you really think I want to spend my weekend watching women with tramp stamps work out their daddy issues?”), but come on, “move-in day”? Those two would find any excuse to have a “lost weekend” and their own “not gay” orgy with one another. Plus 3.
• The nerd crew is awesomely indignant when Olivia tells them that Endless Knights IV isn’t happening. “But Warner Bros. sent out a press release!” says one. “I’ll never trust Harry Knowles again.” Plus 3. (Though Harry would know better than to believe “a press release.”)
• Eric knows Graham Collins because he went to Camp Suisse with him. Plus 2, because there’s even a hot-dog ski tube on the homepage for this camp, which apparently Graham and Eric both spent some time riding. (“What happens at Camp Suisse doesn’t stay at Camp Suisse!”)
• Vanessa dances with a white man’s overbite. Plus 2.
• Blair tells Chuck they’re going to see “the Kandinksy exhibit,” which is actually going on at the Guggenheim right now. Nicely played. Plus 2. (Though does this really count as a sexy surprise? Or is this a “The Kandinsky is painted on both sides ” reference to the layering of deceit in Six Degrees of Separation? If so, wow.)
• “He goes to York,” Jenny complains about the Sebastian-from–NYC Prep knockoff her minions suggest as a cotillion date. “That’s practically public school.” Plus 1 because that’s gotta sting, and another plus 1 for the recognition at last, at the Cedar Lake dance studios, that there are rival social factions on the Upper East Side — which is something we all learned from watching, well, NYC Prep.
• Tripp hires Serena as a media-relations rep. Plus 1 because it was an idea only a man with a penis for a head, or a child who only cares about things that are shiny, would have. Also, plus 1 for this line, which made us snort Pinot Grigio out our noses, from Tripp: “We’re both adults.”
• “Your era is over,” somebody’s minion tells Blair. “So is that headband.” It’s true — Blair’s headband was practically invisible this episode! We didn’t even see that it was there. Headbands of Power: out. Ridiculous Costume Jewelry Collars of Power: in. Plus 3 because we don’t have to like it, but times have to change eventually.
• Nate: What are they even fighting about?
Chuck: Basically, how each one loves the other more than the other loves her.
Nate: Can you even fight about that? Plus 1, because Nate is clearly wondering when he and Chuck get to have one of those “fights.”
• Blair: “Hello. I’m trapped in the elevator with someone who sucks all the air out of the room. Send help or I’ll be dead within the hour.” Plus 2.
• Chuck: “If you two want to kiss, it won’t count as cheating.” Plus another 2.
• Can we just say we love the nerds and their nerd outfits? Plus 2, because geeks can accessorize, too.
• After the cotillion, Jenny and her friends go to Serafina. Plus 2. It’s like the Denny’s of New York.
• Jenny’s middle name is Tallulah? No points, just — yikes.
• “You’d think it would be enough to be the Queen of Constance, but then to have to be the queen of the Upper East Side, and then … ” Jenny trails off here, but allow us to finish. And then you have to be the queen of your college sorority. Then you have to be the queen of the Style.com set, and have Derek “Blasblog” about you. Then you have to be the queen of the trophy wives, and then you have to have the prettiest and smartest children. Then you have to be the queen of New York Social Diary, and the queen of Bill Cunningham’s page in “Styles,” and then you have to hope that when at last you get Alzheimer’s your children don’t take out their seething resentment on you by selling your possessions and letting you live in squalor on a pee-stained sofa. And then you die, and even then, you can still lose, if everyone stops talking about you. Plus 10, because it never ends, and it’s a good thing Jenny’s learning that lesson now.
• Of course Rufus and Lily think they fixed everything and made everyone happy. Plus 2.
• Why does Mr. van der Woodsen have child handwriting? Okay, real enough. Plus 1.
Faker Than Jenny’s Distracting Hair Extensions
• Why is Gossip Girl like so late on the Jenny Eric feud, which began two episodes ago? We can’t believe she’d slip like that. Gossip Girl would know that when you work on the web, you have to own the dawn. Minus 2
• How come Olivia had to have a threesome to complete the list, but she didn’t have to have sex with someone she never wanted to see again, which was also on the list (and which Dan said he’d completed, with Georgina)? Minus only 1, because she could be killing two birds with one stone by having sex with Vanessa.
• Blair may have a blind spot when it comes to Serena, but she would never buy Serena’s assertion that she had to stop by Tripp’s office in the middle of the night to hand in her resignation instead of just calling or e-mailing it the next day like a normal person. Minus only 1.
• Chuck’s reading the Observer again. Yes, yes, they have more real estate. But to be really accurate, he’d be reading the Commercial Observer. Minus 2.
• Wait: Why is Keith van der Woodsen’s return address Médicins Sans Frontières? Is he seriously going to be like, “I’m sorry, I didn’t get your letters or see you topless in OK! on Valentino’s yacht, I was in the Sudan sewing up the war wounds inflicted on the people by the janjaweed?” No. Minus 4.
• When Lily throatily said to Jenny, “You have your father’s natural rhythm,” Jenny should have recoiled slightly, because it was kind of gross. Minus 1.
• Chuck’s new fatherly attitude about the whores lolling around his apartment doesn’t ring true to us. Nor does Blair’s initial acceptance that one of them is wearing her Agent Provocateur top. Minus only 2, because eventually she threatens to only wear flannel to bed if it happens again.
• Chuck stocks the elevator he locks Serena and Blair in with “single malt and macarons.” But they’re girls; obviously they would prefer vodka and Twizzlers. With his newfound female intuition, Chuck should know that. Minus 1. Also, does no one sweat when they are trapped in elevators anymore?
• Why is Blair giving Kyra a home dye job, instead of taking her to Sally Hershberger or something? Minus 1.
• And WHY is Dorota not involved in this makeover? Minus 1, because we know that wasn’t a fake Dorota that brushed by the screen for a moment. If it was, there will be hell to pay.
• Jonathan says to Eric: “I liked you because you were different from everyone.” No. You liked him because he was the only openly gay kid in school. And because he was a billionaire. Let’s not forget the incident with the captain of the swim team, Jonathan. No need to be all high and mighty. (No points, we just felt the need to defend Eric for a second.)
• The view from Chuck’s window is not the view from the Empire Hotel, nor is it high enough to be the penthouse. Minus 2.
• Why would KC, Olivia’s publicist, be the one texting (!) her about the canceled movie? Is she also her manager and agent? Minus only 1, because it kind of actually seems like she is.
• Okay, let’s talk about this cotillion disaster. Minus 3 because the girls would be wearing demure-ish white dresses, not feathered outfits from a vampire bordello. Cotillions are all about moms, is the thing. Which is also why Jenny wouldn’t have been caught at the last minute trading dates. Minus 3. And as much as we like the Plastiscines, they would never be playing at one — it would be the Lester Lanin band or nothing. Minus 5, because they definitely wouldn’t be singing a song about being a bitch. Is Grandma CeCe finally dead yet? Because she would be rolling over in her grave. And Jenny, with her lack of jewelry and updo, wouldn’t be allowed out of the house by Lily wearing that terrible black concoction with the feathery boob shield, much less those dreadful finger-only gloves. Minus 3.
• Okay, as much as we bought the whole threesome thing, the girls would have never slept over with Dan. There would have been an awkward post-coital parting. And none of them would look so cute and snuggly after that business. Minus 2.
Somehow this episode ended up firmly in the realm of the real — despite the endless fantasy and science-fiction references, and everything Serena wore in a work-related situation. Put your tallies in the comments, as always!