It couldn’t have been a more dramatic previously on Gossip Girl. Which was apt, because it was a pretty dramatic opener for Season Four.
We rejoin our cast of fashionable folk in Paris, a city of paintings, pavement cafes and pretentiousness – in other words, a Paris dreamt up in a writers room in Manhattan.
Yet while we are far from New York, when it comes to Serena and Blair we’re back to the good old days. S is slutting it up (bartenders, waiters, guys with Vespas – she’s as discriminating as ever) and B is, well, not.
But of course, summer must come to an end.
Blair is off to Columbia, while Serena is off to Brown and out of Blair’s jealousy zone. Right? RIGHT?
Well, no. Despite being possibly the most ridiculous and brainless blonde ever to grace TV screens, S has been accepted to Columbia too. Columbia alumni include both Roosevelts and Supreme Court judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg, so clearly it’s just the place for our Serena.
Maybe the admissions officer drives a Vespa.
Of course, the college clash creates a typical B versus S bitch fight, played out in their tried and tested passive aggressive boy rivalry. In a nutshell: Blair meets a man over a Manet who has almost as appalling an accent as the fake British prince / duke / random aristocrat from season two.
Prince turns out to be more pauper, with the real deal Serena’s date for the night. With the inevitable consequence of Serena being pushed into the fountain. Been there, seen that.
Back in America, Nate, in his bid to become the male Serena, is working his way though a veritable yellow pages of one night stands.
They are all hideous caricatures of women, necessitating a particularly hammish meet-cute with a blonde-with-book. Naturally, she’s the new woman in Nate’s life, and just as naturally, she’s stalking him.
Why is that most stalkers look, well, like stalkers, and on Gossip Girl they look like they have stepped out of America’s Next Top Model?
Dan meanwhile, is doing the Dad Thing. Which, because this is an in-no-way-plausible teenage drama, is actually going OK.
Shocking, given his Gina Ford of choice is Nate – who, come to think of it if current behaviour continues may find himself in a similar predicament.
In case he isn’t aware of how insane the situation is, Vanessa is back from saving the world to tell him. Complete with even more hair extensions and some choice ‘wacky’ traveller bracelets.
Rufus, sporting a dashing new haircut, is missing his psychotic daughter (guess absence really does make the heart grow fonder) and being left out of Lily’s life again. And Dan’s, although Georgina clears up baby-gate for him soon enough (then ups and leaves Dan holding the baby).
What is preoccupying Lily is Chuck, last seen stabbed in fake-Prague. He’s in financial trouble – this show being all about the politically resonant storylines.
So Lily gets all Harriet the Socialite and starts digging – suspecting something is up from the “second class train tickets” charged to his card. Turns out he’s gallivanting around Europe in Shakespearean tragedy mood, and what do you know, he’s headed to the same place as Blair.
Though Lily thinks he is dead, which means we may still get the answer to that age-old question; who exactly would come to Chuck Bass’ funeral?
Lots of new haircuts, same old angst. A fine return, on balance, though one criticism. Katy Perry? On the Soundtrack? Josh Schwartz, I expected better of you.