"Seventeen Candles" S1 / E8
- A- Community Grade
Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. Big time.
When last we left Blair, she was riding her inebriated burlesque buzz into the back of a limo with Chuck, but I never once considered that she’d have loosened her (circulation-constricting) chastity belt for him. She tries to absolve herself by popping into a Catholic confessional booth, but there’s really no amount of Our Fathers and Hail Marys that’s going to do the trick. The priest gives her some practical advice—don’t drink, keep your clothes on—but there’s nothing he can do for her; he seems as aware as we are that losing your virginity to Chuck is a sin that even God lacks the power to cleanse. (Incidentally, love his line when Blair asks him to grant her birthday wishes: “I’m a priest, not a genie.”)
Having Blair reveal this juicy bit of gossip in a confessional made for great comedy—if only for the shot of her swapping out her veil for a pair of designer sunglasses—but didn’t the show treat it a little too lightly? After all, Blair is a prude, so sex of any kind would be a very big deal, especially losing her virginity to a cretin like Chuck. Perhaps its shame that kept her mute about it, but I’m surprised the show was so hasty about getting this monumental event out of the way and moving along to Blair’s current romantic complications instead. Maybe once word of the dark Blair-Chuck alliance leaks out, this issue will come rushing back to the surface, but it struck me as odd that Blair’s shattered chastity could be brushed off within the first five minutes.
Maybe it was just the inevitable letdown after last week’s trash extravaganza, but “Seventeen Candles” felt a little flat to me compared to the last few episodes. Here more than ever, I realized just how much Blair is carrying the show, though even on an off week, she still has the power to get it done. Her 17th birthday party was a typically lavish affair—Guitar Hero, sushi, token Black and Asian friends in sailors suits for some reason—but my favorite touch was Blair’s annual ritual of picking out items at the jewelry store and waiting for Nate to “surprise” her with one of them. That’s Blair in a nutshell: Controlling, oblivious, pampered, wonderful.
Meanwhile, poor Nate has to deal with the Blair situation on top of his father’s indictment on fraud and embezzlement charges, which turn out to be two not-so-great tastes that taste even more rancid together. Nate’s father and Stepford Wife mother, desperate to keep the family living in their accustomed fabulousness, try to force him to mend fences with Blair by giving her the family stone. It’s the sort of situation that Josh Schwartz specialized in during The O.C.’s run: Hanging onto one’s social status is the most important thing in this privileged, insular community, and it leads people to humiliate themselves over and over again to hold onto their station. (And by “people,” I mostly mean Julie Cooper, trailer trash turned real housewife of Orange County.)
Chuck sees through the gesture pretty quickly, because money and “the pleasures money brings” him are two of the three things he cares about. The third thing is Nate, which may be the most explicit reference yet to his latent homosexuality, at least until Blair tells him he “sounds like a jealous boyfriend.” (Jealous of whom, Blair? You or Nate?) As much as Blair is rightfully creeped out by Chuck, he’s managed to catch her twice on the way down; if her self-worth continues to hover around zero, maybe he can eke a real relationship out of it—or at least some nookie that doesn’t require cash or ruffies.
On the Humphrey front, I’m unwilling at this point to talk much about Rufus and his wife whatshername (played by whoevertheheck), because it’s late already and doing so would put me to sleep. The one sliver of interest is the thematic connection to Nate’s parents, namely this idea of parents acting like children and relying on their sons or daughters to set their lives back in order. I really hope there’s more to their separation than garden-variety (and, in this episode at least, pardoned) infidelity.
Then there’s the Vanessa situation, and I’m going to have to break out the “zzzzzzzzzzz” for this one, too. Last week, a commenter described Vanessa as looking “like a castoff from Clarissa Explains It All.” I couldn’t put it any better than that. I haven’t read the books, but several people on this board and others say that Vanessa is supposed to be a punk-rock, Bohemian sort of chick, rather than the spunky glamourpuss she’s become on the show. It’s a wasted opportunity, because Gossip Girl could use a less fresh-scrubbed, more down-to-earth character to contrast with Serena and present a more legitimate challenge for Dan’s (and the viewer’s) hearts. For now, she’s just an annoying obstacle that I want out of the way, and that’s not going to happen any time soon.
I predict a comeback in two weeks, though. Hurt Blair one episode means wrathful Blair the next, and bringing the hammer down is what she does best.
• Line of the night, after Chuck tells Blair that he’s got butterflies fluttering in his stomach when he’s around her: “Those butterflies have got to be murdered.”
• Did we actually catch a glimpse of “Gossip Girl” tonight? Was she the one who took that cellphone photo of Nate and Jenny hugging or was GG merely responsible for circulating it?
• Blair pouting next to her birthday cake and refusing to blow out the candles? Awesome.