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Gossip Girl Recap: Second Second Chances?

Gossip Girl

The Empire Strikes Jack
Season 3 Episode 16
“Dan? Did you just …?”

“I believe in second chances,” Eleanor Waldorf tells the delinquent Jenny Humphrey when welcoming her back to work in her fashion sweatshop. It’s an interesting choice of phrasing. Second chances are something one needs to “believe” in, since like true love and astrology, some suspension of common sense is required. After all, most of the time the result is disappointment. If someone doesn’t behave the way you hope they will the first time around, what are the chances they’ll completely change? In last night’s episode, Jenny, despite ingesting a large quantity of pharmaceuticals, managed to not disappoint Eleanor, at least not yet. Chuck Bass, however, did not fare so well. Even though he knew Elizabeth willingly participated in a cruel and inhuman plot to rob her estranged son of his fortune out of love for a man who is not only a blatant jerk but a possessor of the worst hairpiece since Sam Donaldson, he still gave her the chance to rally to his defense, or at least stick around and mother him, and was left red-nostriled and quivering. Her failure to come through on this front, more than anything she’d done so far, should have tipped him off to the fact that this stubborn loner was indeed his mother.

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Realer Than a Midwestern Executive With a Penchant For Gay Male Prosties
• Jenny almost resists smiling when she walks into Eleanor’s Atelier apartment (wtf?). Almost. Plus only 1, because those tights are beyond. Rufus is letting her out of the house to work, not to work.
Plus 1 for the fact that after taking in the models walking around in the underwear, Rufus goes, in a slightly “Hey now” kind of tone: “This isn’t so bad, is it?” Ew. Rufus.
• Blair: “There’s something about waking up on the morning of a fashion show, the smell of fresh pleats wafting through the city.” Of course what Blair would like most about a fashion show is something so tangential and old-fashioned, like pleats. Plus 3, because probably what she loves best about eating is the seltzer.
• Of course Rufus, like an idiot, would think it was a great idea that his son is dating his best and only friend. Plus 1.
• DOROTA! PREGNANT! Plus 10! We also love, and think it is correct, that Dorota recognizes the name “Conwell’s” before Blair does. Plus 2.
• Eleanor. “High-end has fallen on hard times. Mr. Conwell can put my line in over 5,000 retail locations.” Plus 10, for the only nod to the recession in the episode correctly indicating that the main way economic downturns affect the rich is by providing them with the opportunity to get richer.
• Related: “Feed the masses, eat with the classes!” says Eleanor. Plus 5, even though it will probably not rise to the level of ubiquity as our favorite Wasp rhyme: “Men seldom make passes at girls who wear glasses.”
• “Where Bristol Palin shops?!” Plus 2, but careful now, Blair. She’s gonna be a reality star now, and that means she’ll be a tastemaker, like Heidi Klum. Or Pandora from RuPaul’s Drag Race.
• Dorota: “Miss Blair, you have no friends. Even NYU minions very second-rate!” Plus 2. Where are those minions? Do they even exist? Or are they just second-rate hookers Dorota hired to pretend to be her minions?
• When Jack walks into his room, Chuck goes: “What is this leech doing stuck to my hotel?” Which is fine, he was caught unawares, so plus 1, but we like to think if he’d had more time, he might have come up with a more hotel-appropriate insult, like, “What is this bedbug doing in my Heavenly Bed?” or “What is this pube doing stuck to my terrycloth robe?”
• We love how when they’re in the Bass apartment, they have expensive Belgian-style waffles as opposed to frozen ones. Plus 2. Also, the waffles/strawberries leitmotif is back again: Vanessa, wielding a waffle, is proven to be a prude by Serena, who is shoveling away the slutty strawberries as usual.
• Ugh, that Vanessa would develop a complex about her relationship being in a “rut” after Serena sultrily suggested that she didn’t do enough “new things” and then pouted sympathetically about the noodles/movie thing is so realistic that even the multitude of distracting accessories everyone was wearing in that scene couldn’t distract us from the decades-old memories of similar underminey experiences that came rushing back to us. Creamy poreless skin aside, sometimes this show makes us happy to not have to be 19 anymore. Plus 5.
• Serena’s idea that Vanessa set up “a date night inspired by his favorite film” is the worst idea in the world. No teenage or post-teenage dude would be into that, unless the film in question is Deep Inside Jenna, and we assume that Serena, having been around the block a few times, would know that. So did she tell Vanessa that in order to sabotage her, in the same manner Sarah Michelle Gellar’s character prodded Selma Blair’s character to do dumb, humiliating things in Cruel Intentions? If so, plus 4 for this subtle reveal of Serena’s evil Alpha Girl personality, which we haven’t seen in ages.
• We’ll get into our quibbles about how the date actually went below, but in the meantime, can we just say plus 100 points for the fact that the big romantic date Dan planned was exactly the same shit as usual, the sole exception being that he managed to choke out this one sweet line about everything is super-romantic now that she is his girlfriend? And that Vanessa totally falls for it? And you know, that’s fine. Whatever. In Rear Window Jimmy Stewart breaks both of his legs trying to save his girlfriend. But in the era of Greenberg, this is what passes for major effort on behalf of dudes.
• As Chuck is brought back down to size, his shirts get more purple, his ties get more paisley. Plus 3.
• Brandeis: “Can I help you?”
Dorota: “I am Dorota.” That’s it. No explanation of who she is, other than her name, her maid’s headband, and a very expressive gesture that involves boob-touching (Eastern European expecting-mother thing, we assume). Plus 3.
• Wow, they got the real socialite Helen Lee Schifter! Plus 10, mostly because this was clearly her daughter Storey’s idea, and somebody is going to be the coolest kid in school this week. (We know. We were the coolest kids in school last week.)
• Serena: “Brandeis, how’s Congressman Reid?”
Brandeis: “He’s polling very well these days.” Plus 3. Ah, hooker humor. It’s like porn-star poetry: unexpected, but then what else are they doing with their brains all day?
• Also, of course the morally superior Serena conveniently forgets that the last time she saw Brandeis she was embarking on an affair with a married congressman. Plus 3.
• Brandeis runs with gigolos! Plus 10. Gigolos who are plot devices! Plus only 5, because now we’re thinking about gigolos and devices.
• Blair: “What? My mother said she wanted me to pack the crowd with wholesome American girls.”
Serena: “So you hire escorts. B, you couldn’t just tell your mom you don’t have friends at NYU?”
Blair: “Prostitutes are people too! And they have a lot of disposable income.” Plus 5, because really, what could be more all-American than selling your beautiful body to the highest bidder? Oh, right, being fat and obnoxious to the point where people wouldn’t pay to have sex with you.
• Chuck’s coat when he confronts Elizabeth is gorgeous. And his hair is looking good, too. And of course he’d meet her on the waterfront. But plus only 3 for there not being some fitting mother-son metaphor visible in the background that would properly symbolize their relationship. Like the dilapidated Sugar Factory that is going condo. Or the old smallpox hospital.
• HA! Vanessa, the problem with lofts is that when you storm out of the room, you’re still in the same room. Plus 3.
• Wow, they also got the real Amy Astley from Teen Vogue. Plus 5, though this isn’t much of a surprise considering Jessica Szohr, Taylor Momsen, Leighton Meester, and Blake Lively have all appeared on the cover. It’s like the official magazine of Gossip Girl. Or it would be, if a certain other magazine hadn’t gotten there first.
• Amy Astley’s line appears to have been cut. Plus 1, because we’re bitches (though not the sorts of bitches who would drug you and attempt to get you raped).
• Ha, Conwell’s is from Salt Lake City. Nice. Plus 8.
• Nate uses FourSquare to find Jenny. Real. Plus 3.
• It’s weird that Nate keeps saving Jenny. But it’s real also. How come the only people who act like siblings on this show are the two of them? Plus 4, especially because from the previews, we can see that Jenny is going to fuck this up and try to eff her brother figure. Again.

Total: 216

As Fake As Everyone Caring About the Damn Empire Hotel So Much:
• Rufus: “As hard as it is for me to believe, there’s something more important in life than waffles. I’m not going to let you sit one more day cooped up in that apartment.” Okay, first of all, Rufus would never admit that because he doesn’t THINK that. Minus 3. Also Jenny ran away WITH A DRUG DEALER. Even we think she should be grounded, and we’re the kind of people who are only ever going to be allowed to interact with children as cool aunts and uncles! Minus 3. And even you, Rufus, would remember what happened the last time Jenny fell down this fashion rabbit hole. We certainly do. Kind of. Minus 3.
• Also, wait, why is Eleanor offering Jenny a “permanent position” with Waldorf Designs? She’s still in high school! Minus 3.
• Dorota: “Baby beat Dorota’s stomach like Lars from Metallica.” Eh. Minus 1 because as realistic as the Eastern European predilection for heavy metal is, that line was overdoing it.
• Elizabeth wouldn’t just exile Chuck from the hotel immediately. That’s just sloppy. And Jack wouldn’t rush to do it, either — where’s the public humiliation? Minus 5.
• Incidentally, when they all appear in his room to kick him out, you’d think he’d ask a few questions about why and how this is happening before storming out!
• Sober or not, Eleanor wouldn’t hire Agnes again. Girl’s too old, and way too normal-looking. Minus 5.
• Agnes’s plan with Damian and the drugs is idiotic and obviously destined to fail. But Jenny thinks it’s “brilliant.” Minus 2. Will someone check her blood sugar already?
• Dan and Vanessa wouldn’t enter the Bass apartment without a plan to tell their secret. They’re both too anal. They’d have a plan. Nay, they’d have a shtick. Minus 2.
• Eleanor wouldn’t refer to her “usual crowd” as “uptown socialites” and “boho fashionistas.” She’d refer to them as “those old cows” and “those anorexic bitches.” Minus 5.
• This whole thing with Elizabeth just doesn’t make sense. No thinking person could think that someone with a face like Jack Bass’s (That tan! That facial hair! That stupid shit-eating grin that makes you wonder if, literally, he’s spooned up some santorum just before you walked into the room!) could be a kindhearted person. A sex god, maybe. But no heart. And why would she act all second-guessy and regretful about it? And why, if she made him choose between her and the hotel, did Jack end up with the hotel and she with nothing? Minus 20.
• The Empire Hotel wouldn’t have Room and Board chairs. Minus 2.
• If Blair and Chuck were role-playing as Mary Poppins and Mr. Banks, her weird top-hat situation might make more sense. Instead she just looks downright matronly. Minus 2.
• Eleanor would not be inventing designs on the day of her show. Much less assuming Jenny would invent them for her. Why must everything on this show happen in one day? Minus 5.
• Chuck flees to Nero in the meatpacking district after getting booted from the hotel? That just doesn’t seem likely. Minus 3.
• Why would Jenny even worry about watching her stuff in the Waldorf apartment? Sure, there are drugs in there, but there’s much more expensive stuff than a bunch of colored pills in that place. It’s safe (though we are still confused as to why the fashion work is going on there anyway), and if anything would give away the plot, it would be Agnes saying that she’d “watch” Jenny’s stuff. Minus 5.
• We appreciate the Hitchcockian cinematography, but seriously, why is Dan sleeping at 6:30 on a Saturday, and why is it still light out if it’s still winter? And how did Vanessa cook an entire lobster dinner without waking him? No way V can throw a live crustacean into a pot without shrieking. Minus only 3, because of course Dan is a Sally about eating the tamale.
• “There is NO WAY she bought Montrachet!” Jessica’s Husband, who is openly angling to appear in the reality index at this point and in this case is seizing an opportunity to flaunt his wine expertise, shouts with great excitement when Vanessa produces a bottle that is ostensibly the same as the one Grace Kelly’s character bought for Jimmy Stewart in Rear Window. “Montrachet costs $500 a bottle! Maybe Serena could have afforded that, but not Va-fucking-nessa!” Minus 6.
• Wait, why does Rufus stay for flan, making a situation he knows to be bad worse? Minus 1.
• Ew, Dan and Vanessa kissed with pierogis in their mouths! Gross! Minus 3.
• Eleanor Waldorf would not have a a D.J. with an anime bunny head, even if they were the D.J. from Deadmau5 & Kaskade.
• Who is the weird original-Becky-From-Roseanne knockoff working for Eleanor? What happened to Michelle Hurd from SVU? Just because she’s launching a children’s line doesn’t mean she’d only employ actual kids. Minus 5.
• Mr. Cornwall wouldn’t have so readily admitted to recognizing prostitutes, but we like this efficient scheme of Blair’s. Minus only 1, because it’s old-school.
• Those guys were too sober to take in a teenage girl who was so obviously drunk. Nobody wants to get barfed on that early in the night. Minus 3.
• Please, Eleanor Waldorf would invent a new name for her designs for teens. Everyone does that! It’d be, like, E-Dubs or W-2 or something corny like that. Or BLAIR. Minus 5.
• Eleanor: “One of the things that makes Waldorf women so special is that they don’t fit in everywhere.”
Blair: “I don’ feel like I fit in anywhere.” Oh, please, you fit in anywhere that’s a size 2. Minus 3.
• Is it wrong to say we cringed a little to see the headband thing come back? Like, it was cute for a while and we have a certain nostalgia for it and we do kind of love that Blair has this like mystical relationship with headbands. And we know we sound like Carrie haranguing Berger about the scrunchie in that episode of Sex and the City, but here is the thing: No one over the age of 10 in New York actually wears headbands. No one. And if the writers stopped bringing them up, we’d probably forget about it like it wasn’t anything. We’re just saying. A gentle minus 2.
• When Nate finds Jenny, she is on Stanton between Essex and Ludlow. What club is she supposed to be at? San Loco?
• If Chuck’s mom feels so bad about what she’s done to her son, why wouldn’t she just be like “Yes I’m your mother and I’ll stay and be your mother?” What is the downside of that? What is the upside of leaving? Is she actually more afraid of getting sucked back into the vortex of Jack’s lustrous weave than burning in whatever hell terrible mothers go to? Minus only 2 , because when we think about it, those might be equally scary options.
• At the end when we were trying to, like, absorb the drama of everything that had just occurred, Gossip Girl was nattering on about accessories and shit. She’s all, “If you are what you wear, you’d better dress the part you want.” WHAT? Shut up, crazy lady. That makes no sense. Minus 2.

Total: 105

So despite the bizarre effectiveness of the hotel plot, the subtle correctness of this episode put it well into the real category. As always, put your tallies in the comments, and we’ll round them up on Friday!

Gossip Girl Recap: Second Second Chances?