Gossip Girl – The Grandfather Part II

If GG was one of those variety packs of chocolate bars, Nate Archibald would be a Milky Way. Nothing wrong with that – the chocolate is perfectly nice and the wrapping inoffensive. But not the most exciting pick, a little bland, uninspiring and unsophisticated.

Of all the characters he has been consistently the least engaging. Gorgeous, sure, but a tad dumb. Bit of a pothead, not very bright. Like most teenage boys then.

That was until this week, when we saw a new side to ole cheekbones – depth, personality, and even several unique facial expressions. Remember Tripp, one of Nate’s hugely irrelevant identikit family members? Well, he’s back and running for congress, with Nate, who at 18 has probably never voted, absurdly standing on the campaign frontline.

On election day, Tripp is caught on camera heroically saving the life of a drowning man, a feat that as audiences well know qualifies you for high political office. Except that the man wasn’t actually drowning but rather a trick pulled by one of the campaigns sinister puppet masters.

Putting a spanner in the works is Vanessa, who inevitably is documenting the campaign (because what every aspiring politician wants is some college activist privy to all his private moments).

But there she is, making yet another indie film. I wish the GG writers would realise that you can be arty and cool without always having a camera in your hand. And that having it doesn’t make Vanessa any less horrendous and pretentious.

Vanessa has the footage that proves the scam, and typically self-righteous, threatens to expose it as such before the polls close. In reality, someone so attention-starved wouldn’t have waited to sell it to a TV network, but put it straight out on YouTube. However she vacillates for a while, ruminating with faux concern about how much respect she has for the candidate whose chances she is likely ruining.

But Nate, the new improved Nate, seizes the day. With the shrewdness of a practiced politician, he plays Vanessa to stop her leaking the truth. Life sucks, V, doesn’t it.

Unfortunately, she just scams him right back and the truth comes out. So in a heartrending scene, he (although guiltless) takes the blame for the scandal so his cousin can win the vote.

In other news, Olivia reveals an embarrassing but highly dull secret about Dan on prime time TV (there is no way the bathroom boy scene would have been a YouTube hit).

More entertainingly, Serena and Blair are doing battle and B realises she needs to find a friend, stat (her lackeys not being good enough – “I don’t make friends with staff” she scoffs when one offers their services.) Blair’s pathological insecurities come out as she friend hunts with all the awkward anxiety of a spotty fourteen year old boy at a school disco

Naturally, she goes for the blonde with the good couture taste, and naturally, this is a disaster, because this psych major apparently doubles as a call girl, which is so NOT Waldorf-esque. It leads to some funny moments though, with Serena dunking Blair in a cake, and because when Serena gets all judgy about Blair’s new BFF, Blair makes the very valid point that Serena too is being paid to date her clients.

“If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck” she says, brilliantly serving Serena her just desserts.

At several points the characters seem to forget which show they are in. Vanessa berates Nate for his lack of moral compass (this from someone who lied to her roommate for the sake of a stupid speech). Similarly Serena says to Blair; “political connections aren’t the first thing most people look for in friends”. Excuse me?

The icing on the cake is Nate (he’s not totally lost his naivety) when he once again takes the prize for most oblivious teen heart-throb since Dawson didn’t know Joey was in love with him. “I wouldn’t exactly call revenge a good basis for friendship” he says. Uh, earth to GG. This is not the Hallmark channel, or an episode of Gilmore Girls. The show is ALL ABOUT being soulless, manipulative and vindictive.  HELLO, that’s what makes is so awesome.

Predictions for the future?  Blair looks set to spiral into a new low of unhappiness; good for us because sadness breeds spite which means Blair at her absolute best.   And with Serena and Tripp getting quite chummy at the end (and with him having an EVIL, SOULLESS wife), perhaps a love triangle with him, her and Nate?   Stranger things have happened on this show….

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