Fathers have played a dark and terrible role in many works of art — they can be scheming, indifferent, cruel, or merely hapless, and Gossip Girl is no exception. In last night’s episode, Raina finds out that her father, despite his cuckolded family-man mien and midwestern love of hot dogs, actually is as scheming and conniving as any given billionaire businessman, for instance Chuck Bass. Meanwhile, on a father-son coffee date that stretches into lunch, Dan can’t tell Rufus, who is like his best friend, about his friendship with Blair. Is it because he’s scared he might have feelings for Blair? Or because his father is wearing the rolled jeans of the Creative Judgmental? Maybe a little of both, it appears later in the episode, when Rufus makes a snotty remark about how craaazy it would be if the “secret relationship” Dan was going on about was with Blair. (Obviously Rufus raised him with more sense and morals than to involve himself with a rich scheming bitch like that.) Dad Humphrey pays for this glibness later, when Billy Baldwin swashbuckles into town, all tousled helicopter hair and long legs and not looking at all sorry about his earlier attempt to break up Rufus and Lily’s marriage, to assert himself as Man of the House now that Lily has sent herself to prison. But as usual, it is Chuck who suffers the worst paternal insult. This time, Bart Bass has betrayed him From Beyond the Grave, which we are to understand from his copious scotch drinking at the end of the episode, is the most frustrating kind of betrayal, most likely because you can’t yell, “You never loved me!” at someone who is dead. Well you can, but usually by the time you get in your car drive out to the grave site and you have (a) already calmed down about it and (b) realize the gesture is super-derivative.
Why Chuck chose to take the very weird and improbable information given to him from a boozed-up Russell Thorpe, his father’s sworn rival, instead of you know, at least Nexising it or something is confusing. But that’s another plot point in our Reality Index.
Realer Than Someone Referring to a Departure From W As “Being Fired Slash Quitting”:
• We’ve complained in the past about how ridiculous it is in this city of eight million people that everyone on this show is either sleeping with someone they’ve slept with before or sleeping with the only person in their immediate social circle that they haven’t already done it with. But on a night when one of Intel Jessica’s friends revealed that she’s been seeing her ex-boyfriend, again, the Dan-Blair and Raina-Nate pairings, as well as the the imminent Chuck-Blair reunion strikes us as painfully realistic. Plus 10.
• Chuck’s face in the Times article is appropriately smug. Also, they refer to him as “Eloise-like,” which earns a Plus 5.
• Rufus, pouring Lily’s tea, is now officially a butler. Plus 3.
• Blair is secretly, guiltily Internet-stalking Chuck by watching his news conference when Dorota comes in the room. Plus 5.
• Serena thinks she “made it pretty clear” to Ben that the night they spent together was amazing. Plus 5. Of course she’s a screamer.
• People in New York really are on those freaking juice cleanses all the time. Plus 2.
• So there’s no way a straight 20-year-old dude would suggest a “matinee at the Ziegfeld” for a date activity, but “watching Villanova whoop ass on Notre Dame”? Yes. Wash.
• Dorota to Blair: “You don’t come to me with any complaints about anything. You too happy. Content. I’m worried you join cult.” Plus 3. Also, plus three more for the face Dorota makes as she walks away …
• Plus 3 for Nate’s expression of surprise tinged with horror when he says to Raina, “We’re an us?”
• Even though we don’t tend to have a “Spring Art Issue,” the use of New York as a plot point earns a plus 50. We’d be these people’s bible, if they worshipped anywhere but at the altar of Bergdorf. (And actually also then … )
• Even though no one actually ever says someone’s name aloud, alone in a room by themselves, and definitely not twice, we’re still giving a Plus 10 for Dorota’s “Daniel Humphrey.”
• Of course Lily wears Elie Saab. Plus 4.
• Dorota has been snooping in Blair’s Netflix queue. Plus 3 that Dan’s influence has caused the appearance of a NOVA documentary in said queue. Plus 3.
• No more points (see above), but Dorota waving around a copy of New York on the Upper East Side is probably the apex of what we could have ever imagined possible on this show.
• The exchange between Dan and Blair about the potential hugeness of an “earth-shattering secret” that they’re going to mislead Gossip Girl about is pretty good. Dan’s suggestion is “You getting traded for a hotel.” Blair’s is “You raising Georgina’s baby by a Russian mobster.” We knew these two were the only ones paying attention! Plus 5.
• Another Plus 5 for Blair saying, “I’m the only one who can joke about the hotel. It’s still too soon.”
• And another Plus 5 for Dan greeting Blair by saying, “Did you come all the way to Brooklyn to yell at me? Because that’s not necessary.” THANK YOU. AGAIN.
• “Subtle,” Chuck says of the orange prison jump suit Thorpe sent as an anonymous warning to Lily. Plus 1.
• Did everyone notice that Serena was wearing a gold trench coat and electric-blue boots when she showed up in Brooklyn? No points, but okay.
• Serena follows up her tour of her giant, opulent Upper East side mansion with a “simple” lunch of pizza imported from the West Village. Plus 2.
• Serena put the affidavit, which could land her mother in jail, in her underwear drawer for safe keeping??? Plus 2. (Only two, because obviously the court has a copy so it doesn’t matter what Serena does with hers.)
• Wow, upon learning that the affidavit is missing, Lily and Serena’s “Oh fuck we’re fucked” faces are exactly the same. We wonder if, shortly after the camera cut away, they had the awkward realization that they make the same expressions during sex. Plus 3.
• Lily looks incredible in her Elie Saab, quite frankly. No points, but points.
• Raina: “You’re smarter than you look, Archibald.”
Nate: “I get that a lot.” Plus only 1, because oh, dear, no you don’t.
• Dan and Blair’s shake-then-break, followed by the passage of a water bearing a full tray of Champagne was a particularly elegant piece of choreography. Plus 2.
• Serena looks way more upset about her boyfriend dumping her than her mom going to prison. Plus 4.
• Dan: “I’ve been walking around the city all night with one paralyzing thought.”
Blair: “Why am I walking around the city all night when I live in Brooklyn?” Plus 5.
• Serena, whose mother has just confessed to a crime, news of which is already online, is confused as to why Chuck would want to shut down the party. Plus 5.
Faker Than a Boy Ringing the NYSE Opening Bell Even Though His Company Wasn’t Going Public
• Why does everyone celebrate deals before they close on this show? Minus 2.
• Minus 10 for Chuck’s hideous maroon blazer. What, did he take a part-time job managing concessions at Loews?
• Why would stoner Nate care about the Villanova–Notre Dame game? Minus 2. Dude plays lacrosse and Xbox exclusively. He probably thinks Villanova is a character from Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II.
• For once, Serena is right to travel across boroughs to talk to someone without calling first. But Ben, you’re sleeping with this girl you’ve been in love with from prison for years. Why on earth would your response be “What are you doing here?” when she shows up at your door? Minus 5.
• Also, if Serena came over because she’s “friends with Dan,” as Ben tells his mom, and “Dan isn’t home right now,” then why does it make sense for him to step into the hallway to speak to her? Minus 3. Dude orchestrated a life-sabotage campaign from prison! He can’t get this tiny bit of subterfuge right?
• We understand why everyone on this show has a fantastic blowout at all times, even Vanessa. (Weave.) But Ben’s mom? The stressed-out suburban housefrau? Come on. Minus 5.
• Wait, Lily knows that Damien knows her secret and has already attempted to blackmail her family. Why is there even a mystery about this? Minus 20.
• Oh God, Vanessa’s earrings. They’re like Navajo meets Space Ghost. Augh! Wash.
• How is Vanessa constantly getting into the Bass apartment? At this point, we want to get in there and steal that goddamn Marfa painting — even if just to burn it. Minus 4.
• Also, Gossip Girl knows when people are in their own apartments? Are people checking in now? Eh, minus only 1, because that was inevitable.
• What’s annoying about this Vanessa plotline is that she heard the whole conversation between Ben and Damien — that is, she knows that Ben was threatening him in order to protect Lily and Serena. But she only passed along the random scary part? As much as Vanessa annoys everyone, she’s generally sort of truth-telling. She’s a documentary filmmaker, after all. Minus 10.
• No points, but still we don’t understand: Does Chuck have a decanter of room-temperature vodka in his apartments at all times?
• Wait, after all that colossal life-ruining, Serena and Ben just break up like that? Eh, Minus only 2.
• Chuck: “When my father died we were in a good place.” Actually, that’s not true. When Bart Bass died he was busy disdainfully wondering why his son wore so much purple. Minus 4.
• Blair: “This is going to hit the Upper East Side like a hurricane.” Minus 4. Oh, Blair. Hurricanes only affect façades that can age or suffer physical damage. There’s no such thing in your zip code.
• At the party, fellow revelers react in horror and confusion at Chuck stalking through the event with a scowl on his face. Has he ever stalked through an event with any other expression? Minus 10.
• The D.A. wouldn’t meet in the middle of the night to take depositions from a bunch of rich people. Particularly not in whatever private club they’re in. Minus 4.
• Wait, how did Ben’s mother know that Serena kept the affidavit in her underwear drawer? Minus only 5, because that’s where we keep all of our important papers, too.
• Chuck is shooting scotch? Come on, he’s always been a sipper. Minus 2.
• This “one kiss and that’s that” thing doesn’t seem like Dan, or Blair. But her yanking him in for a kiss — that reads real. So Minus only 20.
• Cece already knows that Lily turned herself in? How? Does she read Gossip Girl? Wash, because if anyone on this show has ESP, it’s her.
• Thorpe is just heading back to Chicago on the spur of the moment, drunk, in the middle of the night? Minus 2.
If you took out the inclusion of the first hard copy of New York Magazine to appear on the show (after four years, people? Doesn’t anyone ever go to the dentist?), it would come out about even between the real and the not real. Which stills seems a bit out of whack considering how many ridiculous things happened. But the writers should consider this a reward for actually having continued plotlines that began at the very start of the season — some even years ago — and actually milking them for every last drop of drama. As always, put your own tallies in the comments and we’ll round them up on Friday! (Or at least Saturday.)