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Despite what you personally believe about the American higher education system, whether you believe it should be a place of practical advanced learning or a more open-ended experience centered around honing skills of critical reasoning, there are simple truths about the experience that Gossip Girl wishes to highlight for you. The first of these truths being that no matter how large the university or its locale and despite its unique educational culture, students only have two weeks to distinguish themselves enough to be speakers at some parents’ dinner that logically happens mere weeks after said parents drop their children off at the university. The second truth is that nothing distinguishes a student more than starring in World War II cabaret films with Tyra Banks/ having a television show on the Disney Channel.
The show opens with Blair dreaming. Blair is the only person on this show with dreams. Usually they are Audrey Hepburn movie fantasies or dreams of Chuck Bass going down on her. Maybe that sequence wasn’t a “dream” but it was close enough. Spoiler alert: The next episode is just a Blair dream montage. She’s running down an endless hallway, she’s falling forever, she shows up to her class in her underwear. Just kidding. Blair doesn’t go to class! Mostly, she is concerned about being Bette Davis. Which is not art imitating life since
Chuck gives a lot of advice this season. He’s kinder and gentler. I think he may be brain damaged. He should see a physician.
So, now Nate is working for his cousin’s congressional campaign. I guess the Ivy League education was not a big enough challenge for this Archibald, so he’s putting his hands in all the arenas. And I guess the PR business is too competitive for Serena (or the recession is taking its toll) so she can hang out in campaign offices.
The Nate/ Serena scenes seem really focused on tying up loose ends while bringing the characters together for a courtship. Serena’s beau, Carter Baizen, is apparently going to work off his debt to the Buckley’s on a Texas oil rig. Serena’s reaction is “That could take years!” Nate’s reaction is “They will murder him.” They team up to save Carter by time-travelling to 2004 and taking advantage of the Poker craze. Serena also wins the World Series of Gullible Main Event $50,000 buy-in tournament when she believes Nate’s scheme (“My girlfriend told me his tells!”) which is really just a scheme to get the Buckleys back by leaking a fake Michael Phelps-esque bong photo which the Buckleys would leak and also put their family seal on so everyone knows the Buckleys leaked it. There is so much political intrigue in this episode because Aaron Sorkin has joined GG’s writing staff.
Serena eventually finds out and saves Carter in one fell swoop. She puts her heart on the line and goes “all in” (wink x2, nudge x2) with Carter. Carter wins the $1,500 Ungrateful Tournament though and decides that he needs to go work on an oil rig and probably get murdered to prove something to himself. So bye forever Carter.
Nate Archibald is so close to completing Gossip Girl Bingo®. After he dates Serena, the only two spots left are Lily and Deroda. Deroda will be the tough one to get.
We also learn Lily used to date Carlos Mortensen who is this guy
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Because she loved Rufus, even nine years ago!
The rest of the episode hinges on a bunch of plots that come together in the end at some gala event, as it seems every episode of GG does lately, except this time without the Sonic Youth. Vanessa wants to do a speech because her parents don’t believe in her, Blair wants to do the speech because it sounds like something she should do, and Lizzy McGuire wants to do the speech to impress Dan’s parent/ Lily (They make a habit of referring to Lily and Rufus as Dan’s “parents” this week but only Rufus is a parent of Dan, and really, nothing they do should be regarded as parenting).
Vanessa will stop at nothing to do this speech! It will make her parents love her despite her parents hating private education and her parents also not planning on coming to parents’ day. Vanessa’s plans are the best laid plans. She also resorts to lots of awful things to carry out her plans, like manipulating her two best friends. The only difference between Vanessa and say Georgina/ Blair is that Vanessa gets more sympathetic/sadder music cues. Vanessa succeeds (not really) in besting Blair by proving Blair is sort of a racist? Apparently, Cobra Starship makes those good girls go prejudiced.
Blair and Chuck have some adventures. Blair’s adventures are basically getting Vanessa to do whatever so Blair can do the speech. But she also has another plan that basically renders all the other plans unneccessary. She’s only taking two credits so she has to stay active in other ways.
That plan is to get her boyfriend to make out with the university official/ alumnus who chooses the freshman dinner speaker. So on the one hand, CHUCK BASS KISSES A BOY (I did a bunch of research this summer and most of the characters in the Gossip Girl book series experiment/commit to homosexuality at varying degrees so I’m glad GG is laying some Easter eggs for the TRUFANS). Chuck is not upset that Blair made him do this, but is upset that she manipulated him. I thought manipulation was one of the main rules for their relationship? Seriously, did Chuck fall down some stairs off camera? Maybe after getting his dinner with the Emir cancelled due to revolution.
Also, what kind of trouble would kissing Chuck Bass really get this university official into? NYU hates when its (un)important officials kiss men in bars in order to complete New York City scavenger hunts. It’s in their bylaws.
At some point, Vanessa’s mom shows up (played by Gina Torres of Firefly/ Serenity). The casting is weird (since lots of people love Joss Whedon projects and the actors within them) because all anyone mentions is how AWFUL Vanessa’s parents are. One is named Arlo!
The show uses one of its techniques, which is saying things that don’t actually come through in any of the plots or character actions and accepting them as truth. In this case, it is that Vanessa’s folks are awful even though we never see them do anything awful (at first). The other case is the continued lauding of the parenting skills of Rufus and Lily.
Vanessa’s mom is actually sort of likable. I mean, she has her hippie views that education shouldn’t be private (but still wants there to be academic qualifications, of course) and that Rufus and Lily lead a sinful, sinful life, but she comes out to support her daughter! And Vanessa just says fuck that noise and insults Mama Abrams to her face. So Mama Abrams one ups Vanessa and hits the road before enjoying a croissant with her terrible daughter.
At one point, Lizzy McGuire acts like some weird Paris Hilton/ Lindsay Lohan hybrid because apparently the time machine from the poker story exploded and the shrapnel landed in Lizzy McGuire’s concept of celebrity. Dan tries to turn some of the Vanessa/ Lizzy McGuire storyline on himself, because that’s what he does and everyone should go see his movie The Stepfather.
What did we learn from this episode? Parents are awful, universities are total star fuckers, scheming is lonely, Serena is not a good poker player, Bye Carter Baizen.
Just K, y’all. It’s the Halloween episode.
In more exciting news, an upcoming episode is titled “The Last Days of Disco Stick” so I think that’s when Lady GaGa shows up.
Apparently, there is also a chance Dan and Lizzy and someone else will have a threesome the week before that episode.