Just when we were beginning to lose all hope for Gossip Girl's sendoff, this final season midpoint seemed to signal a turnaround. Not only is this episode inoffensive, genuinely fun and unusually smart, but it allows several key characters to finally feel like themselves again, by cutting through much of the mess and debris leftover from last season's finale.
Serena and Blair remembered that they're BFFs, and shared a lovely and touching scene together right before that pesky sex tape went and ruined everything. Nate and Blair finally seemed to start caring about their friends again, and respectively kicked Sage and Dan to the curb as a result. And everyone finally realised that Dan is basically the worst human being alive.
'Monstrous Ball' was penned by Clueless writer-helmer Amy Heckerling, and it's a noticeably sharper, tarter script than the norm - check out Gossip below for a few of our favourite zingers.
But what we really loved was just how Gossip Girl it all felt. We were promised callbacks and fan service moments for the 100th episode, which turned out to be the dampest of damp squibs. This played much more like a landmark episode, with one beautiful callback to the pilot during a confrontation between Blair and Serena.
Even Sage finally made herself useful after weeks of being unbearable, by cutting short the Serena/Steven farce, and thank God, because Serena's creepy transformation into season one Betty Draper was getting sad. What even was that plaintive housewife "Don't you like my pancakes" crap? The Serena van der Woodsen of old would have had a seizure if she knew this was going to be her future.
Blair giving Dan the time of day at all continued to make no sense, and her asking him for fashion advice was laugh-out-loud ludicrous, but all the pseudo-Dair awfulness was worth it for that final confrontation, in which Blair finally sees Dan for the manipulative creep he's become and for the hypocrite he's always been.
"You pretended to be better," she tells him, while we cheer. "At least I ended up with the right person." This followed by Chuck admitting that he's always thought of Dan as the better man, which at times in the past he undeniably has been. But there's one moment in this episode that just sums up, beautifully, everything that makes Dan so disgusting. Here it goes…
During Chuck and Blair's whole Zeus and Hera analogy, Dan snarks: "Zeus tricked Hera into being with him," a remark clearly aimed at Chuck. Hmm. Tricked her into being with him? Kind of like when you let Blair believe that Chuck leaked that video that ruined her wedding so that she'd run to you for support, when it was actually you? Kind of like that, Dan?
Ugh. Remember in season two when Dan was likable, and he found out about Chuck's issues with his father and used them in a story, but then felt terrible about it and passed the manuscript on to Bart so that he and Chuck could reconcile? Yeah. Those were good times. Although to be fair that was also when Bart was a character with emotions, rather than a pantomime villain who's seconds away from needing a fluffy white cat and an underground lair.
On the subject of villains, have we always loved Georgina this much? Not only did she get in a deliciously risqué dig about the Derena sex tape, but she was just dropping truth bombs all over the place tonight. The best by far was her pointing out that Blair dated Dan "briefly, after she lost her prince and her mind". Finally, someone acknowledges that Blair was mentally unstable at best last season from the car crash onwards - frankly, all the God-fearing weirdness should have been a warning sign for some kind of psychotic break.
But the best truth bomb of the week came from Lily, who might still be living in denial about Bart (we're just longing for the moment when she comes to her senses and teams up with Chuck to bring him down), but has no illusions at all about her daughter. "Let's face it, Serena, you don't have boyfriends. You have life rafts." And judging by that last scene with Dan, she's moved straight from one raft to another, because God forbid she should actually learn to swim.
The worst part is that she was learning to swim at the start of last season, with the Hollywood job - she was single and independent and fulfilled and the most likable she's ever been. And now she's weaker than ever, sitting in a diner making googly eyes at Dan Humphrey. Ugh. Good call on the burger, fries and shake, mind you, and three slices of pie? Our kind of gal.
But all in all, this was the season's first really strong offering, and Serena/Nate reconciliation aside it bodes well for the five remaining episodes. Eleanor's finally heading back to town next week to clean up Blair's mess, which should make for some compelling mother/daughter fireworks. The Serena/Blair dynamic has been turned on its head and now Serena will be the one desperate to make amends - better late than never, S. And someday, someway, the Bart Bass storyline will end at long last. Surely.
- Not for a single solitary second do we buy that Blair would let Georgina into her house. Sure, she made a crack about not letting her touch anything, but still.
- "I make a statement in whatever I wear." Ugh. Sage. Is. The. Worst.
- "Until Mr Chuck defeats bad dad." Love Dorota. Bart Bass will henceforth be known only as Bad Dad.
- "Thank you for never sleeping with Serena." Ha - it's true, Serena/Chuck remains the one central pairing that the writers haven't mined in a moment of desperation, and for that we can all be thankful.
- We know things happened with Rufus and Lily this week, but we just can't. They're such a sublime combination of boring and gross.
- "You have to say no for it to be date rape." Um…we're not touching this one. Except to say, really? Really?
- "I hope your third time coming out is finally the charm," Chuck says to Nate, and yes, yes, we know he means cotillion, but come on. There is a reason why Nate's relationships with women are always short-lived and ultimately unfulfilling. We're just saying.
- "Missionary does not work for the dress, or you, as I recall." Because making sleazy remarks about a girl's preferences in bed is the way to win her back, Dan, you absolute pond scum.
- "I bet she still uses it to get off. I know I do." WOW. You go, Georgina. That's got to be borderline for the censors, surely.