The Treasure of Serena Madre

It’s a rare Gossip Girl episode where Blair and Chuck come out at the end looking like the lest devious and morally bankrupt characters. But it was Thanksgiving last week in Manhattan, so we should all raise a glass in appreciation of an episode that started out as frankly dire but came out as actually very enjoyable.
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Gossip Girl: The Last Days of Disco Stick

The author James Frey was apparently the inspiration for this week’s offering, as the lives of all our Gossip Girls and Guys came shattering down into a million little pieces. 

 That was not before a guest-appearance from NYU alum Ga Ga.  As in Lady, in case Blair was wondering, not the first lady of Iran.  (Though wouldn’t that brighten up Middle Eastern politics…)!

 To sum up: following on from last week’s, ahem, shenanigans between Dan, Olivia and Vanessa, life in the NYU dorms was getting awkward.  Nate, in his new role as everyone’s favourite teenage therapist, promptly put pay to Dan’s illusion that a threesome with his current celebrity flame and his infatuated life BFF was a GOOD IDEA.

 For reasons frankly too convoluted and yawn-worthy to explain, the threesome (and Blair) ended up working on a theatre production together.  After a day of bickering, things came to a head when Olivia outed Vanessa’s romantic feelings towards Dan, as discerned by her during the aforementioned shenanigans.

 In fact, she had it wrong.  Vanessa was, typically, far more interested in a pretentious drama student (and I’d argue only has eyes for Rufus H anyway).  But as it turned out, Dan was now seeing Vanessa in a new, romantic light.  And so the Dan-Olivia romance came smashing to the floor, with her off to concentrate on shooting the appalling sounding ‘Bitches of Eastwick’ far, far away from the GG shores. 

 While this was going down, Jenny was out playing tour guide to a sultry Belgian boy (school Jenny? No?).  Yet as is so often the case with the sexy European characters dreamed up by American writers who don’t own passports, all was not what it seemed.  Mr Belgium was busy exploiting diplomatic channels for a lucrative drug dealing business, which both scared and thrilled little J no end. 

 Chuck, however, was having none of it and came to take Jenny out of harms way.  Isn’t it amusing how he has morphed from her almost date-rapist, to her sort-of-brother, to her white knight, in three short series? 

Character continuity is evidently not a focus in the GG writers room. 

 As for Serena van-der Lewinsky.  Where to start?  Well she tried her damned hardest to stop Tripping over (get it) but blondie has never been very good at not doing stupid things.  By episodes end Tripp had found out the shattering truth that his wife was behind the election-day set up, and was seeking (and finding) solace in Serena’s arms.

 Not before Nate had declared his unrequited love for Serena.  Now that his role in Tripp’s campaign for Congress was finished, and because he apparently doesn’t actually spend ANY time at Colombia, Mr Archibald has had time to think about his life.

 But, possibly because he isn’t yet able to think for more than five-minute periods, Nate’s decided he’s lonely.  He wants a girlfriend.  Any girlfriend.  He wants Serena, but it seems mainly because she’s the only girl he has seen all day. 

Probably if Blair, Vanessa or Jenny, hell even Dorota, had come to see him he’d be lusting after them instead.

 In the GG ranks, this was mid-level.  Too many plot strands that came out of nowhere (hello, as if Blair would ever be desperate enough to hang out with drama geeks – hasn’t she seen how uncool they always are in cringy American sitcoms?).

 Still some nice moments.  Jenny would read NYLON magazine (uber trendy NYC teen girl rag) and Dan would so do a celebratory, I’m so cool, street jig in memory of last nights steamy goings on.  Though for a far superior morning after dance, check out Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Bollywood style number in the fabulous 500 Days of Summer.

 And some corkers of lines, not least when Dan pays homage to his awesome mathamtical skills.  “Two girls. Four boobs. One Dan Humphrey,” he gloated. 

 A* for effort, Gossip Girl.

Gossip Girl recap: They Shoot Humphreys, Don’t They?

This was a return to the GG of old. One big party, major drama, and a few sub-plots involving Chuck and Nate on a boys weekend, and Serena finding out that while looks do get you anywhere in life, they don’t always take you to a very good place. Also, the remarkable revelation that Jenny’s middle name is Tallulah (as in…’she was a showgirl’). So, So appropriate. Oh, and of course, the event that has been scandalising parents…a certain Ménage à trois!

First stop, Jenny, who is becoming ever more of a caricature. As this weeks’ reality vacuum opens, she’s scouting out potential dates for cotillion on Facebook and rejecting them for ‘practically going to public school’. But don’t fret; if she can’t find Mr. Socially Acceptable, she plans to steal one of her lackey’s partners. Snobby and savvy, all in one scene.

Though you can kind of understand it given that as Blair says ‘this is not like your wedding day. Cotillion only happens once’. Karma being what it is, Jenny gets a touch of comeuppance minutes later for not having spent her formative years learning ballroom dancing, like all the other Park Avenue princesses. You can take the girl out of Brooklyn…

Blair, still on the outs with Serena (as Nate asks with a resigned expression, what are they fighting about this time?) is planning to forego cotillion. But as Chuck wisely remarks, ‘a cotillion without Blair Waldorf is like Tour de France without Lance Armstrong’ so she steps up to the mark. But before that, lets take a moment for some Eric appreciation. He’s acting as date to some random dateless girl, underlining exactly why so many girls have the fantasy of a GBF (gay best friend, for the uninitiated – other inspirations are Stanford from Sex and the City, or Will from Will and Grace).

But then, just when you’re ready to love him forever, he does a bit of a bitchy thing and tells the very-eligible Graham that Jenny is taken for the dance. In fairness, he’d just promised Jonathan as her date, but come on – even Eric knows the hot straight guy will still beat the GBF in the social pecking order. inevitably she finds out, gets angry at Eric and then sacks Blair as her mentor. In retaliation, Blair plays Frankenstein with some random frizzy-haired charity case to turn her into a swan, stealing away the handsome prince and leaving Jenny sans escort for the big event. At least she’s wearing a great dress.

But, as GG excruciatingly quips ‘nobody puts Jenny in the corner’ and she debuts arm in arm with, OMG, a college guy, none other than Nate Archibald. Can this finally be the resurrection of the long teased Jenny and Nate relationship? Its certainly the end of one, as Jonathan and Eric part ways, leaving Eric fuelled up to take Jenny down. Excellent.

Chuck, in the mean time, is spending his weekend ‘watching women with tramp stamps work out their daddy issues’, but not for his own benefit, mind, but for Nate. The sacrifices these Manhattanites make for friendship, I tell you. However he still finds time to deal Blair and Serena’s latest catfight, by locking them in a lift together to have a heartfelt chat and make amends. How adorable. I give it two episodes.

Big episode for Serena. Demands for the elders of GG. PLEASE stop handing Serena out jobs like they come from the bargain bin next to the till at a pound store (mind you, she’s the new ‘media relations rep for Congressman Tripp – is that what Monica Lewinsky was? – because he has a crush on her, which is really only a glorified version of her last job as professional girlfriend).

Bizarelly, in between that she was supposed to be a mentor at cotillion? Hello, reality calling. How does a girl who, in just eighteen odd years on the planet, has been implicated in a murder / sex scandal, been arrested at the behest of her own mother and played a starring role in ‘pyramid fund schemes; the teenage years’, make a good role model to anyone? Except, maybe, Jenny (who was supposed to be her mentee), herself so far down the scale of moral degradation.

And its almost, but not quite, farewell to Hillary Duff. ‘Do you think you can get brain damage from learning too much too fast?’ she ponders in a fit of existential musing, stressed out by some previously unheard of concept called studying. Dan, typically, gets it wrong. ‘You’re the one who wanted the real college experience,’ he replies.

Oh Dan. Are you so clueless that you are unaware of the precedent set by the Olsen twins for celebrity studentage – i.e. roaming around the city with huge sunnies, a straggly do, bohemian outfits and a giant latte?

Luckily, she doesn’t have to worry. Endless Nights 4 is calling, so the poor dear might just have to abandon ship for Hollywood. What a loss. Vanessa makes one of the wisest comments yet; ‘college is about more than just classes’. True anywhere, never more so than on GG, where we are yet to see any of them spend time in a place of learning. So to send Olivia off in style, Dan and Vanessa take her on a whirlwind tour of college ‘experiences’ involving shots and dancing in fountains.

And, lest we forget, the steamy threesome that has been so-talked about (and will mean there can never, ever be another series of Lizzie McGuire), which was mostly unremarkable except for the fact that Dan and Vanessa got cosy!! Oh, and Olivia’s movie got tanked (did the producers realise Twilight already had the lock on the vampire / high school market?). So, she’s staying.

Can’t wait for the awkwardness.