The other day, the fiancée and I were talking about how Abed Nadir, the possibly Asperger’s-addled mega-geek Danny Pudi plays on Community, is one of our favorite new television characters. And as glad as I was to have another trusted, entertaining presence to invite into my living room every week, I couldn’t help but be a little sad at this realization. In Community’s well-executed, frequently uproarious first season, showrunner Dan Harmon and his writing staff have taken time to highlight each member of their under-slash-overachieving ensemble—Abed may be the favorite in the Adams household, but he’s just barely holding back Chevy Chase’s Pierce, Yvette Nicole Brown’s Shirley, and Donald Glover’s Troy. And this has occurred in the span of the first nine episodes, a period of a show where characters are still getting sorted out, and a period that (assuming the show makes it past the first season) I usually can’t stand. Getting back to that sad part: Gossip Girl has made it to its third season, and in this third season, it’s been entirely stingy in giving quality material, plots, and interactions to Blair and Chuck, two characters whom I hold in as high esteem as Abed. And while “The Last Days Of Disco Stick” kept Chuck on the slow-but-steady path to maturity (Dropping-off documents at the Bass-Humphrey penthouse! Stopping stepsister Jenny from taking ecstasy!), it handed Blair the wheel to the best episode of this young season. Because while a Blair-centered episode of Gossip Girl may seem preferable, it’s the episodes that are driven, at least in part, by Blair (for example, the second season’s high-water mark, “Southern Gentlemen Prefer Blondes”) where the show really excels. Because even though she longs for the spotlight, Blair really operates most effectively from behind the scenes.
“The Last Days Of Disco Stick” (for those of you playing at home, that’s a portmanteau combining the title of Whit Stilman’s “doomed Bourgeois in love” film The Last Days Of Disco and the not-quite-incendiary “I want to take a ride on your disco stick” refrain from “LoveGame,” by not-quite-incendiary “Disco Stick” guest star Lady Gaga) took that theatrical metaphor quite literally, as Blair orchestrated her next step up the NYU social ladder by ingratiating herself with the ruling class of the university’s drama department. Seems the mayor of that particular four-square court is a big fan of the Gagster, so Blair enlisted The Mean Girls, NYU Chapter, along with Dan, Olivia, and Vanessa (still reeling from the their three-way hookup, which played a far larger part in this week’s episode than last week’s) to win the guy’s favor with a stage adaptation of Snow White set to the songs of The Fame—followed by a performance by Gaga herself. The ludicrousness of the plot was matched by a delightfully cartoonish performance by Leighton Meester, who, not engaged in a truly “evil” scheme, was granted the freedom to mug her way through the episode and deliver lines about building armies and blackmailing Vanessa and Olivia with smirking aplomb. Due credit is owed to the episode’s editor as well, who stitched together Blair’s “I’m going to tell the whole world about the threesome if you don’t do what I say” browbeatings in slapstick fashion, putting particular emphasis on a cut away from what could have been the first utterance of the term “star-fucker” on American network television.
From its first scene—Dan’s post-threesome, stranger-high-fiving stroll down the Greenwich Village sidewalks—a madcap thread was strung throughout the Dan-Olivia-Vanessa-Blair story. That might be the one positive result of “Disco Stick”’s guest star—the Serena-Nate-Tripp love triangle and Jenny’s excursion with Patrick and Sean Bateman’s heretofore unknown middle brother took place outside the Haus Of Gaga, and were therefore trapped in the kind of blasé soap-opera murk that’s weighed most of season three down. (Even so: trading drugs with remote control boats? Watchably silly.) And while the increasingly ridiculous nature of Blair’s need for social acceptance is manifested in her increasingly ridiculous actions, it’s sad to see Chuck stuck in a character-development rut, as if the writers aren’t entirely sure what to do with a version of the character that stops a female from taking drugs, then takes her home—to her house. Anyone looking for a full return of the Bass may want to look to Jenny, whose text to the drug-dealing dignitary’s son during the epilogue hinted that she may slip into her stepbrother’s discarded, wild ways. Until then, Blair’s your safest bet, in terms of crazy. And now that she’s hanging out with theater kids, crazy ought to be following her around. (Or some Glee-aping, at least.) It might be enough to make Abed seems sane, by comparison.
-This week, on One Minute Hill: Tornada hit the bar, took one shot, and headed home. As she left, Princess Vespa from Spaceballs reported a drunk driver to the local authorities, in spite of the fact that she was in the bar and not on the road (must have been the disorientation of space travel.) Coincidentally, Tornada was pulled over; she called friend Brooke, but addressed herself as “Millicent” out of embarrassment. Thinking it was a misplaced call, Brooke hung up. Barista Todd approached basketball all-star Bryce Cunningham and called him his “client,” insinuating that Cunningham will be the new target of Todd’s stalking. Luke “Lantern” Jaw dropped acid in a high school hallway and hallucinated about shooting a bearded drifter.
-Lady Gaga: More like Lady Ughugh, amirite? At least Dan’s description of his Snow White play worked in a dig at the former Stefani Germanotta’s claims that her acts of pantless-ness are some sort of satirical statement about the contemporary fame culture. Her giant ladder dress welcomes Of Montreal’s Kevin Barnes to the illustrious group of artists (including Roísín Murphy, Alison Goldfrapp, and Madonna) from whom Gaga has borrowed ideas.
-Speaking of the absence of pants: Blair wasn’t wearing leggings as pants in this episode, was she? Because that’s exactly the kind of collegiate trend she should be deriding, not taking part in. But she was wearing a beret while calling Serena a “Lewinski,” so maybe too much time at the bottom is taking it toll on her self-awareness.
-“Two girls, four boobs, one Dan Humphrey.” A nonviral, Internet nonsensation in the making.
-“Dude, I’m Chuck Bass—even Europeans must know what that means.”
-Say “Bye” to Olivia, who along with Dan, misread the Dan-Vanessa connections during the threesome. Farewell, Hilary Duff—you were not as awful as you could have been.
-Gossip Girl is off next week, and so am I. We’ll be back in two weeks to discuss the conflict between Serena and Tripp’s wife.