“So, do you go to things like this every week?” ex-con Ben asked Serena upon arrival at the W party, the second featured on the show in two weeks. It was an in-joke for us, the loyal viewers, who know that every episode of Gossip Girl culminates in a glamorous celebration, many of them at that evening’s venue, the Palace, and laughs were had. But Blake Lively as Serena — in what was probably not a triumph of acting but her natural facial expression — looked confused and thrown off balance by the remark, as though an unfamiliar memory was stirring deep within her hair extensions. Yes, she had been here before, she seemed to be thinking, but under what circumstances? “I thought the music would be fun,” she said slowly, like a short-circuiting Stepford wife.
It wasn’t Serena’s only amnesiac moment in last night’s episode: She also had to be reminded, by Dan, that her new paramour spent three years trying to ruin her life, and that her infatuations with bookish intellectuals of a “different class,” as Blair put it, tend to be short-lived. But Serena wasn’t the only one of the gang who found themselves in a place they’d been before. Lonely Eric turned back to Jenny Humphrey–like trickery, thinking it would win him a friend. Chuck found himself on the brink of losing a worthy woman owing to his deceptive trickery, then getting her back at the last minute. And Nate, naturally got used for his body. How much of this week’s episode was realistic? Let’s tally it up!
Realer Than Serena Arranging a Pasty Man-boy Harem for Herself in Brooklyn:
• Raina is frantically dry-humping Chuck like he’s … well, Chuck. Plus 3.
• “Oh, come on, you know you can trust me with anything,” Eric says to Damian, batting his big doe eyes. “I mean, the amount of crazy crap people tell me and expect me to keep to myself?” Plus 2. Yeah, where does Eric keep all those secrets? His hair isn’t nearly as big as Serena’s, or, say, Dan’s.
• Blair: “When was the last time Epperly got her strings plucked?”
Anonymous intern: “Last time I checked the intern packet I don’t think pimp daddy was included in the description of activities.” Plus 1.
• “I already got the tickets and the ginger-sesame popcorn!” Plus only 5. We would have doubled it if he’d said, “I already got the Black Swan tickets … “
• Chuck: “We’re stuck in this meaningless, mind-blowing sex loop.”
Nate: “Well, I’m sorry to hear that. Plus 2.
• Serena says that whether or not she likes Ben is none of Dan’s business. Except … Dan’s in love with her and she’s just forced him to live with Ben, so. Plus 4 for Serena logic.
• Of course Serena gets a bookshelf from Newel instead of a store that sells furniture that would, oh, actually match the shagadelic decor of Rufus’s loft. Plus 2.
• Blair, to Chuck: “You and I bonded over a mutual love of scheming … and burlesque.” Plus 2.
• “The Palace would lend an air of old-world sophistication,” Blair says politely, when what she really means is “it’s an old-people hotel full of brocade and tassels.” Plus 2.
• Over the course of this show, Serena has purchased at least three first editions, for three different men: Dan (“A J.R. Hall first edition“) Colin (The Beautiful and the Damned) And now Ben (The Count of Monte Cristo). Hey, we all have a signature move. Plus 10.
• Finally! Everyone remembers that Ben is a psycho whose sister took Serena somewhere and drugged her half to death. Plus only 2, because wait, why is she not in jail yet? Because she’s doing study abroad?
• It takes Eric and Dan about three seconds to whip out their monocles and get into anti-Ben plotting mode. Geek Squad, on the case! Plus 2. (Later, Dan somehow remembers that Damian has done something bad — all this remembering today! — and refuses to “team up” with him. And here he was, all ready to get matching scarves made.)
• Eric has seen every episode of Oz, and he knows the way prison can change a man. Plus 2.
• Blair makes sure to tell Nate that Epperly was once, briefly, a Power Pilates instructor. Plus 2. (Little-known fact: Intel Jessica and Intel Chris once took a Power Pilates class together and learned some things about one another. Jessica has much better core strength, but Chris looks better in tights.)
• Serena has already forgotten that in the last episode, Eric revealed he turned to drugs because she was away chasing Ben’s judge and he wasn’t getting enough attention. “I have to go now,” she says when he approaches her, barely looking at his pinched and pathetic face as she races off to Brooklyn. “I’ll see you later.” Plus 3. The girl can’t help it, she just loves dick.
• “You’d better not be selfish,” Blair tells Nate. “A woman remembers.” Plus 3.
• Nate: “I wasn’t that selfish, was I?” Plus 1, because of course he knows he can get away with being medium selfish, after all, look at his face.
• Serena makes Ben pour tea for her and then leaves without doing a dish. Plus 2. Also, there is a random plate of potatoes on the island in the Humphrey kitchen and a tall jar full of sticks. That just seems so right. Plus 2.
• Ben uses his bedroom eyes on Dan to convince him everything will be fine. Plus 2, because it almost works.
• Serena to Blair, defending herself over going to see Ben: “He called me!” Yes, dear. After you sent him a present so big it required two deliverymen to carry it. Plus 2.
• Blair to Serena: “Bad boys have never been your thing, but damaged outsiders are a definite weakness.” Plus 1. Also: daddies, stepsiblings, and that one time, Georgina Sparks.
• Humberto Leon stumbles over his words when meeting a tall, handsome blond man. Plus 1. (Also Plus 1 for finally getting Jen Brill on the show! She’s like a real-life Serena.)
• “Trust me, it’s like riding a really cute bike.” Plus 1.
• Chuck: “Everyone else had neighbors and potlucks. I had concierges and room service.” Plus 4. Aw, Chuck is Eloise.
• “I didn’t think I needed your approval,” Rufus huffs when Dan protests sulkily (does anyone sulk like Dan?) over the whole Ben situation. Rufus is so aggro lately! It must be his repressed rage at being a househusband. Plus 5.
• Blair: “How could you just let some toff punt off with her?” Plus 1.
• Nate: “Do not knock the Sound of Music. It’s got nuns and Nazis. And Julie Andrews is hot.” Plus 25. Really, Eric and Nate should be better friends.
• “James Franco can do it, so can you!” Plus 3.
• Yay, Florence! Plus 5.
• Of course Serena, when Eric is in his second time of need, leaves Dan and Nate to go take care of him so she can be alone with Ben. Plus 4.
• A-ha! Finally someone noticed that Eric has not one single friend. Of course, it was only Eric who realized this, but still, progress. Plus 3.
• Have we really made it three episodes now without Vanessa? No points, but wow. It feels like we’ve had a really good night’s sleep.
• Rufus is eating cereal out of the frutiest bowl ever. Plus 2.
• Is it kind of weird that Serena and Ben really look alike? Strap a couple of melons to his chest and some clumpy mascara, and they’re basically the same person. Eh, not weird at all. Plus 5.
Faker Than Two Kids Having the Same Loony Hiding Place in Two Different Hotels in Two Different Cities:
• Wait, it’s one thing to have concocted this absurd “why don’t you live with my son, you ex-con who my wife put in jail for fake-raping my stepdaughter” scheme. But it’s entirely another for Rufus to bring Ben over to the loft, with his parole officer, without even telling Dan. Still, Minus only 5 because we know, we know, cell phones don’t work in this version of New York City.
• Blair gets assigned ten things to do in the first hour she shows up at work? Ten things that Epperly helpfully typed out on a list? Since when are internships that organized? Our interns sit around on Twitter all day and are lucky if, at some point, someone happens to pass by and ask them to make a list of things Natalie Portman said this month that made her sound fat. Minus 2.
• When Damian turns up on Fifth Avenue to meet Eric, he is winded, as though he is actually running from the law. Minus 1.
• Wait, Chuck Bass never knew anyone that had “potlucks.” The only people at his school who were from Brooklyn were the Humphreys, and even they didn’t do that. MInus 1.
• When Ben calls Serena to ask about the bookcase she says, “I can explain, I’ll be right there.” First of all, he didn’t invite you over. Maybe he has plans. Secondly, just explain on the phone! You’re on the Upper East Side! He’s in Brooklyn! No need to travel that — oh Christ, never mind.
• How would Blair send Epperly and Nate to the roof in a manner so awkward even the two of them rolled their eyes, and not have a setup between them already in mind? That’s just a waste of a view. Minus 2.
• Epperly was running around like a chicken with her head cut off just this morning, and now, at the start of Fashion Week, she suddenly has time to loll around on hotel roofs and get lunches with cute boys? Eh, Minus only 1.
• Hilariously, when Epperly gets a phone call, Blair shoves Nate out of sight so she can tell him to sleep with her boss. But “out of sight” is really four feet to the left of where they were standing, next to a see-through gate. Minus only 1, because you know she just wanted to hit him.
• Nate, Blair, and Epperly started their walk at the Empire Hotel and are suddenly outside of the Frick? Minus 2.
• Ben: “I never meant for Juliet to do what she did.” You know, from any of the other characters on this show we’d believe this revisionist history. But whatever Ben is, he sort of seems to be honest. So when he somehow brushes over the fact that he forced Juliet to go through with all his plans, against her will, such that she had to cut off relations with her sugar-daddy cousin, it has to get a Minus 10.
• Rufus did not, to the best of our knowledge, even present a flimsy excuse for showing up at the W party. Couldn’t he have at least been like, “Oh, Steven Klein invited me, he shot Lincoln Hawk’s first album. We mean. Is everyone just giving up? Is it JUST US WHO CARE? Minus 2.
• “Lucky for us, their road to heaven leads straight through hell.” What? No it doesn’t, Gossip Girl. Shut up. Why do you never make any sense? Minus 3.
• Eric’s credulousness of Damian is just absurd. Even he’s had enough experience to know you should never trust a man in lip gloss. Minus 2.
• We know Blair would help Chuck woo another woman for fun and profit. But would she help Chuck, the love of her life, romance a woman who is not only way richer but more powerful than she? No way. Minus 20.
• All Ben had to do was hold up his fingers to show he hadn’t hit anyone. But instead, he waved around his watery eyes and remained silent. Because that was a good plan, too. Minus 5.
• It seems unlikely that Dan would be so willing to send Ben back to jail after it was his family that sent him there in the first place. Minus only 5, though, because Serenus Mons does have that incredible gravitational pull.
• Seriously, how did Charles Thorpe get into the kitchen at the damn Palace Hotel? They don’t just let people do that. And how did he know that’s where they were? Minus 4.
• How does Ben have such a well-tailored suit? Minus 5.
• Wait, what happened at the board meeting? Was Raina’s absence really enough to postpone it until the next day? Minus 3. Boards are largely inflexible with their time, as they’re usually made up of pretty important people. Who aren’t precious about family matters.
• And anyway, we’re sorry, but why does it matter if Chuck knew about the board meeting? It was Raina’s choice to skip it! Minus 5.
• Also, how did she know the phone call with Blair was fake? We saw him telling her he knew about the meeting, and her walking away immediately. What are we supposed to think here, that he called her later sobbing and gave her more gory details to further incriminate himself? No. Minus 5.
• Damien’s freaking out about his dad cutting him off? He’s a drug dealer. He has a job! Minus 4.
Total: 86. So this episode landed firmly in the realistic camp, despite several fake-seeming plot twists. All ended well, with the right people kissing and the wrong people getting cut off. Next week, will Eric get saved by a visit from another random ex-boyfriend? Will Lily return? Will we finally find out that Vanessa died in a freak hair-iron accident? We’ll have to wait and see!