It feels like forever since we had an episode of Gossip Girl, doesn't it? Leaving us on that nail-nibbling cliffhanger - Chuck and Blair in the accident - just added to the cruelty.
Well, finally the show's returned, and with a surprisingly philosophical episode (naturally, this also comes with misunderstandings, a big party and drama. It's still Gossip Girl, after all.)
We begin in the midst of a storm, as Chuck and Louis bump into each other. In a really stylised scene - all film noir, lashing rain and melodrama (so much so that I almost thought it was a dream sequence) - Chuck admits he had no idea Blair and Louis had returned from Europe.
We're up to speed pretty quickly, then - we know Louis and Blair are together, we find out Blair's not been speaking to Chuck, and we also discover that Blair's lost her baby. Chuck ends up offering to walk Louis home - he has an umbrella, after all.
They arrive back at Blair's, and Chuck goes inside to wait for his car. Louis leaves to find towels, and when Blair arrives she's shocked to find Chuck there (and not happy, either). Chuck's devastated that she's cut him out of his life, but Blair says her wedding is her priority now, adding that maybe the accident happened for a reason.
Blair claims that she has to go out on wedding duty, but Chuck's not convinced - and Louis admits that she's been slipping out a lot recently. What's more, Blair's not telling Serena anything either. Louis is worried that Blair's having an affair, but with whom?
Chuck has a theory - he goes to see Dan, who claims that he didn't even know Blair was back in Europe. Chuck reveals that Louis is thinking of hiring a private investigator to see what's going on, but he has a better idea... Dan should spy on her!
Of course, when Chuck leaves Blair emerges - she's been hiding in Dan's apartment and murmurs that Chuck can "never know the truth". And then she hugs Dan. What's going on here, then?
Later, Dan goes wedding dress shopping with Blair, who's feeling teary - Vera Wang made this dress before she lost everything in the accident. Dan's actually a pretty good shopping partner and asks Vera to pick out a different gown instead (screw the expense and hard work!).
On the other hand, he does suggest that Blair can change her mind about getting married, too, but Blair refuses. And then a shop assistant sees them together and calls Chuck, revealing that Blair is here with Dan. Uh oh!
Blair and Dan return to what appears to be a private townhouse, but Dan admits that he's feeling bad about lying to everyone. Still, Blair insists that he keeps their secret, adding that she needs him right now. Dan takes her hands and promises to stand by her but unfortunately, Chuck's watching from his limo.
Chuck calls Dan for an update on the sleuthing, but of course Dan feeds him a lie about where Blair is. Suspicious, Chuck calls Louis and says he was right - they need to talk. As he heads back to his car, a taxi almost runs him over.
At Blair's home, Chuck reveals that she is having an affair with Dan and shows Louis a photograph of the pair together. But Serena refuses to believe that they're sleeping together.
Still, Chuck and Louis want evidence, so they ask Serena to hand over her laptop - she's been getting all the blasts that would previously have gone to the currently defunct Gossip Girl site (though she's been ignoring them).
Sure enough, they find photos of Dan and Blair together and decide to confront them at the Spectator's New Year's Eve party. Blair's not convinced that she wants to go - it's more lying - but Dan persuades her that she can manage it.
At the party, Serena's fed up with Chuck and Louis's theories so decides to ask Blair the truth. But Louis thinks they'll just lie so comes up with a different plan, and adds a picture of Dan and Blair under the heading: "Most secret affair" to a 2011 slideshow.
Meanwhile, Blair finally agrees to tell Serena the truth. In a flashback, we see her learning that she's lost the baby - her tears are devastating. And then she hears the news that it's not looking good for Chuck. She ends up praying in the chapel, promising God that she'll stick to her vow and marry Louis if He saves Chuck. And what do you know? Chuck wakes up.
Serena says God would understand if Blair changed her mind but Blair says she can't, though she's tried. In another flashback, we discover that she was actually at a chapel with Dan talking to a priest about her vow to God.
But shortly after asking whether God would understand if she got back together with Chuck, she sees him almost getting run over by that taxi out of the window. She explains to Serena that now if anything happens to Chuck, she'll blame herself.
Serena points out that God wouldn't want her to marry someone she doesn't want to be with, but Blair "doesn't not love" Louis. But more pressingly, Serena explains that Louis and Chuck think she's having an affair with Dan.
Meanwhile, Nate's discovered the slideshow picture just in time, but Dan insists he's not dating Blair. Chuck and Louis press him to tell them what's going on, but Serena arrives at the last minute and claims that she's the one seeing Dan - Blair was covering for them. Phew!
Louis goes to find Blair and apologises for not trusting her, but says she still feels far away. Blair claims that she's been keeping a secret - she's converting to Catholicism for him. But as they leave to 'celebrate' New Year, Blair has a very sad face indeed.
After all the drama, Serena decides to use the blasts she's been getting to challenge assumptions, or something worthy like that. But, more importantly, Blair goes to see Chuck.
He thinks she's there to get back together with him, but Blair says that can never happen - and she hopes he doesn't stop being a wonderful person because of it. Chuck's so hurt it's painful to watch, but Blair tearily tells him to move on and be happy.
Chuck vows to find out why she's changed her mind about him, but Blair says some things are more powerful than him - and just because they can't be together doesn't mean she won't love him (causing a flashback to the hospital, where Chuck sees her saying those words and walking away).
Outside, Louis picks Blair up but he can't help but ask if she's getting cold feet. Standing next to a church, Blair says she's never been more sure of a decision in her life. She's doing it for you, Chuck! (Chuck's looking forlornly out of a window with only Monkey to comfort him, by the way.)
That's not all that happened in the episode, though. Lily's upset that Charlie hasn't been seen since the accident and hires a private investigator to track her down, though Rufus is unsure whether they should force Charlie to talk to them.
They track her down to Juilliard, and Lily thinks she sees Charlie. She calls out her name, and the girl turns round - but although it's Charlie Rhodes (aka Lola), it's not their Charlie. Of course not - it's the real one! But Lily vows to stop looking for Charlie.
Elsewhere, Nate receives a mysterious text message suggesting that the paparazzi didn't cause Chuck and Blair's accident. Intrigued, Nate checks the photos of the accident and realises that the paps weren't close enough to cause the crash.
He invites the car's driver to the party to ask him some questions, and is shocked to hear that although he checked his brakes before his shift, there was something wrong with them during the accident.
Nate discovers that Blair ordered the car and asks the car service for a report. But when he gets it, he discovers that Blair got into the wrong vehicle that night - he should have been the one in the crashed car!
He texts his anonymous source, asking if they knew the car was meant for him and asking for help. "How about we help each other?" the source replies. And then... "XOXO, Gossip Girl." She's back!
- I know we were never really going to see Blair have a baby, but a tiny part of me hoped we would anyway. We're missing out on a Blair-bump. I hope her loss gets addressed more in the future.
- "You're fully recovered from the accident." "Physically."
- We don't often see flashbacks in Gossip Girl - do you think they worked? In this case, I'm inclined to say yes.
- Chair fans: how are you feeling? Devastated that Blair's said they can never be together? Happy because she clearly wants to be with Chuck? Pleased with the number of oh-my-gosh Chuck-and-Blair scenes this week? Have your say below!
- Dan's got a deal to write a second book. Just so you know.
- Also, Nate's apparently "made up" with Dan but couldn't resist several opportunities to have a little snipe at him about the Inside fiasco. I kind of love it.
- "What is the point of making these things so tiny and complicated?" Dan undoes Blair's wedding dress, cutely.
- When Chuck called Dan outside the chapel and Dan came outside to take it, how did he not hear Chuck standing at the bottom of the steps?
- "I'm referring to Dan, not the myriad men since."
- "You're the most accomplished liar I know, except maybe Jenny. And you trained her."
- "What's the point of a lifetime of blackmailing authority figures and casting out townies if it doesn't add up to the ability to feign a marginal level of happiness at an office party?"
- Who knew Gossip Girl would explore theological questions about deals with God, guilt, and regret? Amazing.
- Also, I'm not sure Serena was entirely selfless when she jumped in and claimed she was dating Dan. She's clearly hoping to get back together with him. That New Year's kiss was way more fun for her than it was for him.
- Did we really need to see the real Charlie (Lola!) in a picture with Carol? I think we'd all figured out her identity.
- Pedant's corner: You can't send a text message to a blocked number. Right?
- Chuck promised to make Dan "pay" when he finds out the real reason Blair's cut him out of his life. Gulp.
- Who wanted Nate in an accident? Theories below, please!