We never thought we'd ever be saying this, but Serena/Dan were sort of the best thing in this week's episode. Now, when we say that, we mean that a) they propelled satisfying plot developments, and b) their so-called romance turned out to be the empty sham we all thought it was last week. So yay, Derena forever!
As the episode began, Serena reminded Dan that they were the worst, and should make amends with all the friends they've alienated before attempting to be a couple, and Dan plainly didn't really care but was happy enough to go along with it.
And at the end, all the weirdness surrounding Dan's character finally sort of made sense. Remember how he was evil, and then suddenly last week he was nice again and actually in love with Serena, even though he'd spent a season and a half being in love with Blair, and it was confusing? PSYCH. Turns out he is not only still evil - he is even more evil than we could possibly have imagined. He's playing Serena, and is apparently planning to drop his final (presumably most damning) article about her somewhere down the line, after doing some additional research in the field. "The field" being Serena's pants.
So, Dan is now competing with Bart in the ranks of Gossip Girl supervillainy. "Who would have thought Chuck Bass turns out to be the good guy and Humphrey the villain?" Nate asks. Who indeed? It's baffling, given how likable Dan used to be, that the writers have gone the full character assassination route with him, but with only three episodes to go that's plainly the note they're going to fade him out on.
But we're thrilled, because Dan/Serena being some sort of endgame couple felt so wrong and so forced. Unlike Chuck and Blair, who have pretty much been consistently in love with each other (regardless of what else was going on) since late season one, these two haven't even been a real couple since season two. Dan needs to end up with Georgina and make an army of evil Machievellian children (not really, ew), and Serena, for the love of God, needs to end up alone.
Not in a negative way, either. Come the finale, the only satisfying conclusion we can imagine for Serena is her finally letting go of her need to treat men like life rafts. That comment of Lily's in 'Monstrous Ball' felt like it was laying out the arc for Serena this season, and the devastating blow Dan's about to deal her seems like it might finally, finally be enough to make her change. Let her go to Brown like she always wanted, or go back to Hollywood and get back that job she was actually good at, or do anything other than latching onto another dude.
For now, though, we got reconciliation between Serena and Blair, and it was even sort of somewhat satisfying. Ish. Serena just flat-out apologised for everything and told Blair she loved her. And while Blair didn't quite apologise for dating Dan, she did acknowledge how much it had hurt Serena, admitting: "If you'd dated Chuck, I would have scratched your eyes out."
It wasn't on the level of Serena and Blair's previous make-ups - the letter by the fountain in season one, or the elevator confession in season three - but at this point we're just glad these two are BFFs again. Especially given all the sadness with Chuck and Nate's epic bromance this week.
Seriously, Bart. Faking your own death was one thing. Screwing over your own son was one thing. Dodgy oil dealings were one thing. But messing with Chuck and Nate's friendship? Not cool, man. Not. Cool.
Chace Crawford isn't necessarily the most thespy member of the GG cast, but he actually sold Nate's anguish pretty well - from his first conversation with Bart onwards, he looked ready to cry or vomit or pass out with the sheer horror of it all, and the bar scene with Chuck was one of the episode's most genuinely atmospheric, emotionally effective moments. Damn you, Bart. Damn you.
So Chuck gets betrayed by two of the three people he loves most - first Nate, and then Lily. But at least poor loyal Nate was being blackmailed! What the heck is Lily's excuse? We don't really understand her blind devotion to Bart, or her total refusal to believe he could be anything other than loving and decent and truthful, even though he has repeatedly proven himself to be none of those things.
And why would she believe him over Chuck, who she knows so much better and has built up such a strong relationship with? Ugh. You're lucky that Dan is so awful, Lily, because if it weren't for him you would be the absolute worst. As it is, you're just really, really bad.
So poor Blair, having finally achieved some success, can't enjoy the moment because Chuck's doing that thing where he feels worthless and pushes her away again. We don't blame him for losing all hope (frankly after all the mind games his family have played with him, most people would probably be suicidal or committed at this point), and it's sweet that he wanted Blair to forget him and enjoy her success, but did they have to play this card with the Chuck/Blair relationship yet again?
These two need to stop making stupid pacts and just realise that being together is probably going to make their lives better. When Blair paused as she walked away, we were hoping that she was going to turn back around and be all "You know what, screw this, I'm not leaving". This felt too much like season two redux, and at this point it feels like Blair should know Chuck well enough to ignore him when he goes emo and tells her to forget him. What he actually needs, after the double betrayal of this week, is somebody to fight for him.
But they're clearly going to be back together by next week, so we're not losing sleep over this one, and at least Serena was on hand to congratulate Blair and tell her how talented she is. Which…we've never actually seen evidence of, but is nice nonetheless.
In other news, Ivy slept with everybody's dads!
Well, okay. So she's been sleeping with Dan's dad, but that ruse finally fell apart this week after he saw her with Serena's dad, who she really loves. She also pretended to have sex with Chuck's dad, for which we're grateful because it made for one of the funniest, stupidest scenes in the show's history. We could honestly watch Ivy yelling "Strip!" at Bart Bass all day, and Kaylee DeFer's delivery of "Oh, we're not actually going to have sex" was priceless. Comedic gold.
But their elaborate plan to humiliate and destroy Lily fails, thanks to Rufus finally growing a pair and stealing those crucial documents from Ivy's bag. It's pretty clear from that look on William's creepy face that he's done with her, and Ivy's about to get cast back out into the cold where she belongs. Lock up your dads, people.
- So yep, we're right back into loathing Dan and everything about him this week. That CHEST HAIR. For the love of God. Put. It. Away.
- In what universe would Sage ever be queen bee at Constance? Those stupid hats alone should disqualify her. She's not even a poor man's Blair or Serena. She's... maybe a homeless man's Vanessa, by way of Jenny at her worst. Please can this be the last we see of her?
- "If I eat another waffle, I'll puke." Ha, we'll give you that one, Ivy. Although... you look at Matthew Settle. Then you look at William Baldwin. On a shallow level, there is a pretty clear winner. We'd eat waffles with Rufus any day of the week, pathetic shell of a man though he may be.
- That picture of Serena and Steven kissing, which Serena had on her phone? Weird. Did she hire someone to pap them, and then... email her the photo? She's gotta stop electronically documenting her physical encounters.
- "I've been doing some soul searching." "That implies you have a soul." Heh, and as was proved by the end of this episode, Dan's soul has indeed been replaced by a gaping chasm of pure evil. Did he sell it in order to get published? That actually would make a lot of sense, since he's genuinely a terrible writer. Don't believe us? Pause the episode next time there's a shot of his work - it is EL James-worthy prose.
- Of course Ivy played Hedda Gabler in high school. Of course she did.
- "Fine, sit there quietly like a mannequin. That's what you're best at anyway." Harsh, Blair. Serena has proven on several occasions that she is also good at standing, strutting, looking confused, wearing frankly insane dresses and repeatedly getting taken in by men who profess to love her, but are actually trying to steal her money/sell her drugs/write mean articles about her. Aw. We started out on a sarcastic note, but actually that just made us feel sort of sad for Serena.
- Usually, when we're carrying around incredibly in-demand, top secret, super, super valuable documents, we also leave the envelope sticking pointedly out of our handbag with the monogram on full display. Because we are smart, like Ivy.
- Chuck's dialogue has got progressively more and more ridiculously heightened this season, to the point where we're amazed Ed Westwick can actually get it out with a straight face. He doesn't just want to take down his dad - he wants to VANQUISH HIS FATHER.
- To say that Nate's character has been inconsistently written would be sort of generous, given that he's mostly just been written in whatever way best serves the storyline that week. But even allowing for that, we don't quite buy that he would have been intentionally fudging the numbers on The Spectator's accounts. In part because we're not really convinced that Nate fully understands numbers, but also because of that whole incident where his dad went to jail and publicly disgraced the family.
- The return of Chuck's adorable, adorable dog Monkey made everything else acceptable. Although we're bracing ourselves for a cackling Bart to throw Monkey off a rooftop next week, because he will not rest until Chuck is left with nothing and nobody. Or something.