Few television parents are as flawed as the ones on Gossip Girl, whose scheming, absent, selfish, and occasionally criminal behavior makes them seem not really like grown-ups at all. But in last night’s episode, the show’s two matriarchs proved that even Upper East Side mothers sometimes know best: Lilly’s noble efforts to orchestrate the release of Ben and the sale of Bass Industries might have both gone off according to plan, if only her children had just let her go through with it without asking any questions. Meanwhile, Eleanor Waldorf out-schemed her daughter with a nifty trick involving a dress dummy and, in a few short sentences, did what no one on this show has managed to do so long as we’ve been watching it: humbled Blair. Unfortunately, with Eleanor’s husband Cyrus out of the picture this episode (even Wallace Shawn is over this show), the father figures didn’t fare quite as well. The Captain has regressed even further into adolescence after his stint in prison. Perhaps he can start hanging out with Rufus, who has, it seems, relinquished all of his interests in favor of going to parties that have Wii?
Which, when you think about it, is actually pretty realistic. And a fitting introduction as any to our weekly Reality Index!
Realer Than Middle-Aged Dads Being Obsessed With Wii
• The Captain is looking increasingly Freddy Krugerish. No points, just saying.
• Blair’s résumé lists a fake law firm, Rose, Gerstein & Block, where she was supposed to be a summer intern. (We’ve been with her for the past several summers and never has she interned at a law firm.) But she actually gets a plus 2 for the CV, because of the Hamilton House entry under, “Experience.” “Since this is an elite members only club,” she writes, “I cannot divulge my responsibilities or duties or anything about the exclusive organization.” (Read: She will perform murder for hire.) Also, snaps for her work for “Save the Peregrine Falcons of Central Park.”
• Serena: “I had to pull an Erin Brockovich and go down to the Litchfield County Courthouse and try to get a copy of the case.” Oh, Serena. Or you had to do what any other person could do and ask for a public record. But yeah, Erin Brockovich had boobs. So you were doing what she did. Plus 1.
• Serena: “And here’s the irony … ”
Blair: “Court records are public, so you wore a push-up bra for no reason?” Plus 3.
• Blair, talking to Serena about seeing Dan for the first time since break: “Here’s my advice: Have a little faith, and if that doesn’t work, have a lot of mimosas.” This means nothing, but plus 1 anyway, for being a pretty good life philosophy.
• Blair’s dismissive summation of the Serena-Dan attraction — “Whatever it is you see in him, he sees in you.” — is so subtle, Serena doesn’t even notice they’re both being insulted. Plus 3.
• Eleanor: “Why not work with me at Eleanor Waldorf designs. You love fashion!”
Blair: “I also love a good pot au feu, but that doesn’t mean I want to build a career around it.” Another classic Blair, in one breath discounting the very thing that has given her everything she has in life, while simultaneously speaking French and mentioning food in a tone of disgust. Plus 3.
• Even when the Bass/Humphrey family awkwardly gets together at an ambush brunch, they still have waffles. Plus 2.
• At her darkest family moment, Lily still knows how to network. “Maybe I can call one of my friends at Condé Nast,” she tells Dan. Plus only 1, because Dan didn’t immediately accept this offer. A striver like him would have squeaked out, “Do you have Dan Zalewski’s cell-phone number?” before Lily even finished her sentence.
• Dan’s expression when he says to Serena, “Well, you want to go somewhere and talk? Or not talk?” displays a level of perviness that has been waiting to turtle out of him for seasons now. Plus 3. He might as well have said, “Don’t worry about that iceberg. It’s just the tip.” And another plus 1 for the way Serena smirks in response, but only pats him on the arm good-bye when Chuck swoops in to limo her away.
• Dan to Blair: “You do know that ‘powerful woman’ is not actually a career, right?”
Blair: “And neither is ‘Serena van der Woodsen,’ but ten bucks says that you’ll miss your interview waiting for her, yet again.” Plus 3 for that banter, and for the moment when Dan calls Blair, “sister.” This is proof they will never sleep together.
• Eleanor Waldorf’s fur coat and necklace are perfect. Plus 2.
• Serena does actually look a lot like Lily in that outfit with that hair. And she wears the perfect crystal necklace-slash-chest-piece to complete the outfit … Plus 4.
• “Any handwriting expert would be able to prove this is not mine!” Plus 2, because of course Serena’s ideas about how detective work is done are derived from like, Inspector Gadget.
• Of course Lily is trying to do the right thing with Bass Industries. We almost believed that the writers were going to throw her under the bus the way they suggested they were going to in the last episode before the hiatus, but they are proving us wrong! Plus 10. Of course, that means she’s showing Chuck more consideration than she ever showed Serena, so … Yeah. Another Plus 5.
• Blair: “They’re all good men before something happens to them, S. Some of them stay good, no matter how they’re treated.” Blair is talking about Dan, but Serena doesn’t give her the chance to act it out. She just steamroll-acts over her. Plus 1.
• Lily, to Eric: “I know you disapprove of me, but can’t you at least do so in a tuxedo?” Plus 3
• Rufus tries to put Lily’s coat around her shoulders, but she’s already sped away, forcing him to chase her like a nervous butler. Plus 2.
• Serena doesn’t even react to Dan’s slight about her showing up on time. Plus 1.
• “James Franco is doing a reading of some of his short stories at Housing Works.” Plus 3. GAY.
• Eleanor to Blair: “You would use me and jeopardize my business to pursue a career you thought up five minutes ago based on some power list?” THANK YOU. Plus 4.
• Blair: “I have to take my future into my own hands, otherwise … ”
Eleanor: “Otherwise what? You’ll be forced to follow in my footsteps? [Blair looks flustered.] “No, that’s fine, dear. Now that I realize that your childish games are actually who you are and not a phase, I wouldn’t want someone like you, wanting to be like me.” Plus 20. Could there really be an actual adult on this show?
• Blair’s dress at the cocktail party: Plus 6.
• Dan to Serena: “Normal people don’t get an endless number of chances, no matter the situation, that’s just you.” Plus 10.
• Blair: “I tried to be Indra Nooyi, and while I admit that choice might have been a bit random, the other choice was to be my mother and I didn’t want that.”
Dan: “Why not? You care about fashion the way that most people care about, well, anything. You used to send girls home from Constance crying for wearing tights as pants.” [Ed: Oh, how we miss those days!]
Blair: “Well, somebody had to. It was for the greater good. Just like my suggestion that you take off that tie and shove it in your pocket right now.”
Dan: “You’re an evil dictator of taste, Blair. Why deny that just because it’s what your mother does? And by the way, this tie was my grandfather’s.”
Blair: “If only he’d been buried in it.”
It’s funny, even in this silly little exchange, it occurs to us that the only two people taking this show seriously any more are Leighton Meester and Penn Badgley. Plus only 10 for acting, but a whole bunch of invisible points for appreciation.
• Importing hot dogs from Chicago to a party in New York is just the sort of dickhead thing an out-of-town billionaire with something to prove would do to make some kind of statement about how wealthy and important he is despite living in a second city, like, “I’m not living in Chicago because I had to move there to succeed since I was getting cockblocked on deals here in New York, I’m there because it’s a choice and I love it and they have really good hot dogs, which I have flown to you because you are the ones missing out.” Plus 4.
• Blair refers to Dan as “a friend of mine.” In any other episode, that would earn steep negative points. But here it gets a Plus 1.
• Plus 10 for Serena totally not thinking about the fact that giving the Post reporter the affidavit will send her mother to jail until Lilly points it out.
Faker Than Every Piece of Cocktail Jewelry Worn by Every Woman in This Episode:
• Nate: “Hey man, how was New Zealand?”
Chuck: “I have to say, it was an extraordinary bust.” Minus 2, because even the girl next to him rolls her eyes at the obvious double entendre.
• Again with Indra Nooyi. This is the second time the PepsiCo CEO has been mentioned in this series. Are there no other women CEOs in the world? Minus 2. Don’t answer that.
• Why is Serena even going to “family brunch” if she doesn’t want to see anyone in her family? Minus 1.
• Minus 20 for Chuck choosing to believe Lily telling him she’s selling the company “because it’s in trouble,” without consulting a team of attorneys, auditors, and the private detective he keeps on retainer.
• Dan, when the love of his life sneaks up on him, answers her question about the mail without even missing a beat. In real life, he’d have shrieked like a little girl and eeked out a little urine into his snug AG curduroys. Minus 3.
• Chuck wouldn’t treat a hot secretary like he imagines Raina to be that poorly — even if he was impatient. He’d have sex with her in a utility closet, then treat her that poorly. Minus 4.
• We know this is almost absurd to even be bothered with out at this stage, like pointing out that nobody changes outfits in a day as many times as Serena, or “You came all the way out to Brooklyn to apologize,” but why can’t Serena just call Dan and tell him to go on ahead to his interview? Or text? Why does hardly anyone call anyone on this show that is supposedly about modern technology??!??! Minus only 1, because, like we said.
• Lily immediately forgave Rufus for turning on her in the last episode? She’s the one with all the power in that relationship! Minus 4.
• How does Chuck know just where to pull up in his limo to find Serena and Dan? This isn’t Sex and the City. Minus 2.
• There is no Dorset Bank on Madison. Minus 3.
• Blair: “[Serena’s] off scheming with Chuck. Disguises are involved. It can’t end well.” Who is Blair kidding? If she could be scheming with Chuck every day, with costumes, every day would end well — if you know what we mean. (Sex role-playing. That’s what we mean.) Minus 2.
• Eleanor Waldorf would not personally be dressing Patti Blagojevich. Minus 10.
• Dan to Serena: “You are dressed for a party.” Minus 1 because oddly, while Serena usually does wear sequined minidresses to run errands, this is the one time she is actually dressed like a librarian.
• Dan is reading Rebecca Traister? No. Minus 3. Who on the Gossip Girl staff owed Becks a solid this week?
• The costume jewelry that is lying about as Chuck and Serena go through the safety deposit box is practically slander against Lily’s real jewels. Minus 3.
• No points, but do we need to be reminded that Leighton Meester filmed a B-movie a few years ago during every commercial break? Enough with the Roommate trailers!
• Sorry, but some women in New York don’t wear massive chunky necklaces. And by “some,” we mean, “actually rich.” Minus 4.
• When Dan and Serena had matching manila envelopes, was there any chance at all they wouldn’t get inadvertently switched? Minus 3, because the idea that Serena has manila envelopes of any kind lying around is laughable.
• While “print’s a dying medium” is a funny line to come from a Post reporter (in a tuxedo no less!), it actually gets a minus 1 because a billionaire could get her stepson a job at a tabloid in a hot second.
• Why are they all in a benefit in the back extension of Bellevue Hospital, again? Minus 3.
• Don’t think we didn’t see that the first stack of fashion magazines Eleanor pulls out were all Elles and no Vogues. Sorry, but Robbie Myers does not count as an “editrix,” no matter how much cross-promotion she has with your show … Minus 10. (Later the pile includes In Style and Nylon, magazines whose editors have appeared on the show, or which have put Leighton or Blake on the cover. Oh yes, and there’s one Vogue somewhere in there … )
• It’s like they’re asking us to deduct points for Lily having slept with a black dude. But we won’t do it! Instead, we’ll deduct points for her having slept with a cast member from Arli$$. Minus 4.
• Sorry, we are to believe Serena went to Staten Island without a ride back, such that she just decided to walk to get coffee with Ben? And that Ben had such a well-fitting coat waiting for him upon release? And that he was in such chipper, low-key spirits after having been in prison for years? And that he was just kind of hanging around outside the prison after being released? Minus 30.
• Also, are they going to, like, be in a relationship now? Minus only 2, because if so, that would be a really great “Vows” column.
• After All That, Dan and Serena decide not to try to take up their quasi-incestuous relationship again, because even though they really care about each other, Serena takes Dan for granted and if they are being perfectly honest, they maybe don’t even like to hang out that much? UGH. JUST BE BROTHER AND SISTER, YOU GUYS. Minus 10.
This week’s episode fell into unrealistic territory by just a hair. Will the show recover points next week with the addition of the Thorpes to the cast? Probably not, but we’ll be here, tallying, regardless, until all that’s left are some streamers, tiny plastic baggies, and Chicago hot dog wrappers on the floor.
If you want to recap the recap, please e-mail amartell[AT]nymag.com!