Gossip Girl's mid-season finale was full of reveals…and lots of exposition, starting with Blair and Dan walking and recapping Juliet’s misdeeds. Seriously, there were so many back stories, explanations and recaps in this episode that it was distracting. The clumsiest one was when Lily and Chuck recapped a meeting with a member of the media while sharing drinks. It felt so forced. And is Chuck 21 yet, Lily? Never mind, because we found out that Lily has much bigger problems than allowing an underage boozer to drink more. Lily is a slimy, cowardly elitist who feels entitled to let others suffer for her own comfort. We’ve always liked Lily, but this will be hard to forgive.
At the beginning of the episode, Blair and Dan were on the hunt for Juliet. Serena was in the Ostroff Center, reliving her past in therapy sessions, and Nate and his mother were dealing with his father's most recent betrayal. It looked like The Captain was only pretending to want to reconcile with his wife to get parole.
In a nice little twist, Dan and Blair turned to Gossip Girl for help locating Juliet. This was Dan's idea, by the way. Gossip Girl was none too happy with Juliet's persecution of her girl, Serena, and the fake photo she was sent. She emailed the unholy alliance an address, and they headed out of the city to track it down, bickering all the way. We ship Chuck and Blair forever, but, as we’ve said before, we wouldn’t mind a brief Blair/Dan hook up that would leave the pair mortified and still enemies...later. Their trip took them to Cornwall, Connecticut, the town where Serena went to boarding school just before to season one. The address was the home of Damian. Remember the drug dealer that used and abused Jenny a while ago? That's Damian. Yeah, we forgot too. Apparently, he sold Juliet, who is a Cornwall 'townie', the drugs she used on Serena. We guess it never hurts to bring an attractive, recurring character back for the finale, no matter how forgettable he is.
While Dan and Blair and Damian visited with Juliet's mother, learning half of the story, Serena's therapy sessions sent us into flashbacks from her boarding school days, and the full story of how Serena wronged Ben and Juliet was revealed. Here's the gist of it - Ben was Serena's teacher (this is something everyone had already figured out). They started hanging out a lot and developed feelings for each other, and here is where we were surprised by Serena’s story. When Serena tried to move their relationship into a full-on romance (oh Serena, you would), Ben declined, because it would have been inappropriate (take note FNL, Pretty Little Liars and Life Unexpected). He was the first and only man to turn her down (besides her own abandoning father, of course). After that encounter, Serena was so embarrassed that she headed back to New York City, but the rumors that there had been an affair and the record of her wild behavior were enough to keep her out of all the best Manhattan prep schools. When Lily went to Cornwall to try to rectify the situation, she overheard gossip about a possible Ben/Serena affair, and she used the information to force the school to stop badmouthing Serena. She forged Serena's signature on an affidavit claiming the affair was real. That was the paper that Juliet and her family saw when Ben was fired, prosecuted, and sent to jail. Lily only meant to bring it up to the school as leverage, but the school got the law involved. The next time Lily could have stopped it was at the time of the forgery, and she chose not to.
Meanwhile Juliet snuck into Serena's room at Ostroff. She was planning something terribly bad (we don't know what), but when she told Serena who she was and why she was trying to destroy her, Serena knew immediately that it must have been her mother who gave the false report and forged her signature. Ahh, the classic “villain monologue.” Although it would have been nice to know Juliet’s plan. Was she going to hurt Serena? “Finish the job?” It makes little sense that Juliet would just go confess everything to Serena. There had to be more to that…because that would just be unbelievably stupid, even for this show.
And so the season drew to a close with a classic Gossip Girl party scene, complete with Serena calling out Lily in front of all the guests. Post-party Rufus revealed to Chuck that Lily was trying sell Bass industries behind his back, and the whole GG cast started a van der Woodsen-Bass-Humphry showdown. Even Rufus was short on forgiveness for her. Lily turning out to be the big bad in the Juliet plot? We were not expecting that....And we don’t know if we like it.
It turned out that Nate's father's house purchase was for a romantic vacation for him and his wife, not a getaway plan. Unfortunately, by the time this was revealed, he and Ms. Archibald both realized that they were not going to get back together. A sad Nate was left watching TV in jail with his father. Feeling guilty for wrongly accusing his father of betrayal, Nate invited his dad to stay at the empire in his suite when he gets out of jail. We wonder how THAT’S going to go. Poor Nate, you need to learn that you just can’t save people. (We would like to take this moment to defend the unappreciated Nate Archibald: sure his stories have never managed to be very gripping, but the fact is, short of Dorota, unless Dorota is Gossip Girl, which we maintain is possible and likely, Nate might be the nicest, and most honorable, of the Gossip Girl crew, unless we are forgetting some unflattering plot from years past? Oh yeah…the married woman affair.)
Chuck headed off to New Zealand, with a very disappointing comment about finding loose women, made right in front of Blair. Can you believe that? He chose to make a callous "man-ho" comment rather than a Lord of the Rings reference, and he is going to NEW ZEALAND. This is why Chuck isn't cool. Blair, however, was more concerned with the fact that Jack Bass is in Australia, and she rightly accused Chuck of looking for his help. Heedless of her warning, Chuck left with a fairly cold farewell to her. Why? Why, Gossip Girl writers, can't you just let B and C be together? There is no Moonlighting syndrome , we love them as an on-screen couple, as long as you give them decent plots! Sadly, “good plots” usually don’t involve Jack trying to take the empire or Blair playing second fiddle to Chuck’s business affairs. Even worse (as far as we are concerned), Dan declined to join Serena on her road trip to rectify Ben's situation. This left him alone in the city with Blair, and we are afraid that the last scene between Dan and Blair was a teaser for the fans who are 'shipping' these two as a couple. It’s too soon, it’s too awkward, and it needs to just be funny, not a real thing, if it happens. Well, at least it's surprising, at this point. Who else thinks that Serena is going to get another shot with Ben after he is released?
This episode barely made sense at times, and it felt clunky. But there was plot development. Hopefully next year we will see a different plot, now that the Juliet scheme has fizzled and died.
Episode grade: B-
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