Gossip Girl: "The Thin Line Between Chuck And Nate"
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Gossip Girl: "The Thin Line Between Chuck And Nate"

“You held a certain fascination when you were beautiful, delicate, and untouched. But now you’re like one of the Arabians my father used to own: Rode hard and put away wet. I don’t want you now and I don’t see why anyone else would.”

In a word: Ouch.

With “The Thin Line Between Love and Nate” being the last script in the can before the Writer’s Strike started, tonight’s episode seems likely to be the last of the season, unless the two sides miraculously bridge the massive gulf between them some time soon. I’m not sure if the producers anticipated this could be the potential finale or it was just dumb luck, but tonight’s hour felt like a proper season-ender—and an immensely satisfying one at that. Consider where it leaves us, with Dan and Serena finally exchanging the “L” word and a newly scandalized Blair, abandoned by all but her equally scandalized best frenemy, resolved to flip the script and take revenge on everyone who has wronged her. Some big new developments, a little sweetness, and promise of revenge from the show’s most adorably vindictive character: I’ll tune in however many months from now, won’t you?

But I’m getting ahead of myself by looking ahead to next season. And I’m also got ahead of myself by opening with that poisonous little monologue from Chuck, which is the worst in a series of humiliations visited upon Blair as she plummets down the social ladder. Let’s start with Gossip Girl herself, who finally goes from catty observer to active participant in this episode. I’ve been lobbying for the show to use the GG gimmick as more than just a cute framing device or a running commentary on events that need no further embellishment. Tonight, the GG blog set off the daisy-chain of misunderstandings and back-biting that kept the episode percolating, and finally demonstrated how the rumor mill can upend people’s personal lives. Whether the rumors are true or not doesn’t really matter.

Right off the bat: Pregnancy scare! Serena should know by now to look over her shoulder for GG’s Sidekick-armed schoolgirl paparazzi, but she’s too engrossed with picking out the right pregnancy test to notice the shutterbug taking shots in plain sight. By the time she even gets the cashier, the pictures have circulated the digital world and Serena once again finds herself the center of attention. But surely none of you believed that Serena was buying the test for herself, did you? The writers do a fine enough job covering up this little twist, but it’s impossible to believe that she and Dan would have unprotected sex. He’s a Humphrey, after all: If there weren’t condoms around, he’d probably dip his scrotum in boiling water just to be sure. Any guy who sets the mood by putting more candles on display than in The Police’s “Wrapped Around Your Finger” video is clearly thinking things through. Chuck, on the other hand… not so much.

Giving Blair the pregnancy scare turned out to be a masterstroke. For one, it adds another layer to the big revelation that she lost her virginity to Chuck before losing her fake virginity to Nate. It would have been hard enough to deal with the truth about who’s sleeping with whom, but adding a paternity test to the mix kicks it up several notches. For two, we get to see Blair’s swift and stunning fall from grace after Chuck decides to finally play his hand on the Gossip Girl site. (Poor Chuck, thinking himself the evil genius, lacked the foresight to realize that there would be some serious blowback for him, too.) One of the things I find irresistible about the show is how the rules that applied to New York high society a century ago haven’t really changed, no matter how much its complexion has. The moment Blair is tarred as a harlot, her adoring underlings turn on her like a pack of hyenas; it’s strange to think that Blair’s pristine sexuality was somehow the root of her power—money seemed more likely—but in this world, it makes sense. Sleeping with two guys in quick succession (particularly Chuck, who isn’t “special” like Nate) is a show of weakness, and she fast discovers that her loyal subjects do not respect vulnerability from their leader.

You have to love the flow of information in this episode: First, the Serena pregnancy rumor buzzes around. Then Serena, concerned about Blair’s refusal to get out of denial and take the test, spills the beans to Dan about Blair sleeping with Chuck. Jenny overhears the news, and gains instant leverage over Blair, who’s been hazing her mercilessly. Chuck dashes off a line to Gossip Girl saying that Serena was covering for Blair, and that Blair was “rumpling sheets” with two guys in one week. Nate gets the news about Chuck and the possible pregnancy, and later namedrops Jenny as having confirmed the verity of the Chuck rumors for him. This causes a rift between Serena and Blair, who gets pissed that she told Dan about it, which in turn causes problems between Serena and Dan, because Serena doesn’t realize that Jenny overhead their conversation. Which of course screws up Dan’s pitifully earnest attempts to tell Serena he loves her, because she doesn’t think she can trust him anymore. And so on…

This is really strong soap opera writing, and it creates a sort of domino effect where one conflict topples into another until virtually every relationship on the show is screwed up. I really like where the show is leaving us at the break: With Serena convincing Blair to stay in New York (incidentally, how about that chopper to JFK?) and Blair prepared to take back what is rightfully hers, which will involve some nasty plotting against Nate, Chuck, Jenny, and her former underlings. I’m not sure yet what that means for Serena—for now, they’re both equally shunned, which suggests a temporary stability—but there are some major scores to settle and I suspect Blair will be lacing up her skates for a good tripping.

That’s all for now. There are some scraps left over that I’ll cover in the bullet points below, but my Gossip Girl duties are finished for the time being. Nice to end on a high note…

Grade: A-

Stray observations:

• Jenny lives! Since she showed a little moxie and battled Blair to a draw in the “Truth Or Dare” episode, I’ve been waiting for Jenny to play a more integral role than luring her boring mother back into the Humphrey household. I know some have complained that Taylor Momsen lacks acting chops, but I’m willing to cut her some slack, because she’s an actual teenage kid and because she’s still mysterious and impressionable. Jenny doesn’t have her brother’s moral certainty; she wants to fit in and she wants to be popular, so she’s a little more open to doing dastardly things if that’s what’s necessary. Having a would-be clique member drop off her books at the library is an interesting step in the wrong direction.

• With Lily and his boring wife out of the picture, Rufus has suddenly become Brooklyn’s hottest bachelor, with two virtually identical hot brunette women making passes at him. I’m sincerely hoping that one of them has “avian bone syndrome” like Emily Mortimer’s art dealer on 30 Rock. Point being, there really has to be a twist there to make things interesting. The state of Rufus’ love life doesn’t exactly quicken the pulse.

• “The sky is a Clear Blue Easy.”

• Blair will have to dig pretty hard to hurt Chuck as badly as he did with that “Arabian horses” speech. Can’t wait for her Medea phase to begin.

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