As NPR’s Nate Dimeo observed in May, the current Golden Age of serialized television has also brought us into the Golden Age of the preshow recap. What were once hastily stitched-together highlight reels are now an essential piece to watching a show from week to week; as Lost co-executive producer Damon Lindelof notes in the article, recaps begins as something to bring new viewers up to speed, but by the third or fourth season, they serve to remind the devoted viewer of what a certain character is doing or why they’re acting the way they are.
I wouldn’t know because I’m one of those annoying people who’s actively avoided Lost (I traded in my desire to follow confusing sci-fi/fantasy thrillers with complicated backstories a long time ago), but I assume its pre-show recaps are more important than the ones on Gossip Girl—I’m basing this mostly on the short shrift Dimeo’s article gives the show, as well as the existence of the band Previously On Lost. But Gossip Girl’s pre-show recaps can prove telling on occasion, as they did in “The Treasure Of The Serena Madre.” Being as the show is in its third season, tonight’s recap was a barrage of plot developments, a whirlwind of information that would have sent any unseasoned viewer scrambling to Two And A Half Men. Seemingly any plot thread left hanging (and even those tied-up, like the Dan-Olivia relationship) during the first 10 episodes was dredged up—things as recent as Serena and Tripp’s forbidden kiss to Lily’s early-season trip to see her ailing mother CeCe. It was a lot to take in, but it was merely the hors d’oeuvres to the episode’s mid-Thanksgiving, multiple-party blow-up.
And man oh man, what a blow-up; what started as an all-inclusive holiday dinner became an intense succession of confessions, accusations, dirty looks, and the most brooding, non-Chuck cocktail break the show has ever given its wandering attention to. To rehash every detail would be as exhausting as the scene itself—it was a great scene, but I could feel myself catching my breath as CeCe thanked Rufus for inviting her to dinner behind Lily’s back—but let’s just say it was some serious, Season One-esque insanity. By my count, there were fifteen people seated at the Humphreys dining-room table, and only Dan and CeCe went to the commercial break without having someone to be angry with. In the most surprising move of all, Nate finally made the move into interesting character territory by sharing security camera footage of Tripp and Serena making out in an elevator—footage he swiped from Chuck’s hotel (one new enemy) to ensure a scandal-averse Tripp stays married (two new enemies) and Serena remains on the dating market (three new enemies, or two new enemies and a potential love connection! Ah ah ah! *Thunder clap*). Damn, Archibald—we never thought you had the potential in you for that kind of power play.
Here’s the thing about the scene: I don’t think it’s going to prove as pivotal as it seemed to think it was. Nearly every pin it knocked down was ultimately reset, save for the Serena pin, because if that pin wasn’t constantly wobbling, there wouldn’t be a show—if she can’t be mad at Blair, she has to be mad at Lily, and she’s got good reason to be this time, what with getting kicked out of the penthouse. (But wasn’t she staying at Chuck’s hotel anyway?) As long as Blake Lively’s under contract, her character will be in constant flux, and as many parallels as you want to draw between Serena and The OC’s “poor little rich girl” Marissa Cooper (and Alexandra’s Patsavas’ choice to put Jason Derulo’s Imogen Heap-sampling single “Whatcha Say” proves people really want to draw those parallels as you can make), Serena will never have a turning point like Marissa did when she shot Trey at the end of The OC’s second season. Serena has already thought she killed somebody, and all that’s done is sent her ricochetting from one ridiculous decision to the next—like leaving sad, suddenly interesting Nate on the sidewalk in order to take an uncomfortable limo ride with Tripp.
If his ominous text message—“We have to strike”—is any indication, Eric has reached a turning point, and a difficult decision promised by next week’s episode may prove to be the moment he fully turns on Jenny. The show’s other new, fully powered villain is Tripp’s wife Maureen, who’s been plotting in the shadows since she was introduced last season, and who’s now armed with both the secret of Tripp and Serena’s affair and the fact that the mysterious Dr. Van Der Woodson has been attempting to contact his daughter. Her grin at the discovery of Van Der Woodsen’s note revealed potentially wicked aims at maintaining her status as a congressman’s wife—I can’t wait until next week’s pre-show recap provides a better indication of how she’ll act on them.
-This week on One Minute Hill : Nine-year-old Billy stares hungrily at a tumbler of scotch as if it were a giant bowl of ice cream. Sweet, intoxicating ice cream.
-Chuck Bass neckwear-watch, Nov. 30, 2009: Holy shit, that was a wide double Windsor.
-Out of reverence for the Thanksgiving holiday, Serena opted for a cleavage-concealing (though not denying) catsuit. Just as the pilgrims intended.
-The Dorota-Vanya pregnancy subplot is adorable, and The CW is thankfully not ruining it with a goofy web series. Hopefully that continues to be the case after the show goes on its 12-week-hiatus, which begins after next week’s episode.
-“You two play grab-ass in my hotel elevator again, Serena will be staying in an airport Marriott.”