Gossip Girl: The Vanderbilts: less Gatsby, more Fight Club

Chacecrawford8_gossipgirl_s1_240 There's nothing like a good game of touch football and drunken spoiled teenagers hell-bent on self-destructing to provide some serious entertainment. This week on "Gossip Girl," Nate hears a family legacy calling to him, and Blair, disappointed, scared, and lost, is looking to burn down the house. No, she's not an arsonist -- she's just looking to bust out. In her heart, Blair's a good girl, but she wants to be bad. So she thinks.

If you show me your full list, I'll show you my uncondensed spoilers...

This episode was particularly exciting because I finally got a chance to see Nate and Vanessa do something. Nate's cousin, Tripp (of course that's his name), comes to see him to invite him to the family reunion -- a celebration of the Vanderbilts' history. Nate doesn't want to go, given how the family shunned him and his mother when things went down with his dad, but with Vanessa's encouragement he goes to the enormous family compound with Vanessa and Dan in tow. Dreading the reaction of his grandfather, who it turns out knew nothing about this, Nate's relieved to be embraced. Then everyone engages in some touch football that's probably meant to evoke the Kennedys but seems a little more akin to the touch football game in "Wedding Crashers."

Jessicaszohr_gossipgirl_240 Meanwhile Tripp's fiancee, Maureen, fills Vanessa in on what it's like to be part of the family -- including how persuasive Grandfather can be. One minute, Nate and Vanessa are planning their trip this summer to the former Eastern Bloc, and the next minute Grandfather has gotten Nate an internship at the mayor's office. Vanessa worries that Nate's getting sucked into a life he doesn't want. And even though he tells her not to worry, that blazer seems like serious business.

At the Vanderbilt's other party of Reunion Weekend (which looks suspiciously like I've always pictured a Skull and Bones shindig), Blair decides she's had enough of being "good" Blair Waldorf -- or at least the Blair Waldorf that everyone's used to expecting. The day before, Serena and Chuck worried that she'd gone off to the "gentleman's club," and in fact caught her begging the dean of Sarah Lawrence to consider her admission -- to no avail. So what's the point? Blair thinks. She dabbled in Bad Girl World with Carter, and now she decides to embrace it wholeheartedly. Which, in this case, means downing too much champagne and insulting every Muffy and Buffy of New York society that she comes in contact with. She even comes on to Chuck, "to prove that nothing matters."

Leightonmeester5_gossipgirl_240 When Chuck rejects this Blair as not the one he wants, she goes off alone, and Nate finds her. They reminisce about when they dated, and it seems as though Nate's uniquely qualified to understand what she's going through, feeling lost and like everything got screwed up. And in fact, it's sweet when he sees her home. Until Chuck, urged by Serena to man up and go get the girl, shows up at Blair's and is swifty intercepted by Dorota. Then he notices Nate's blazer draped on a chair as upstairs Blair asks Nate to stay.

Other highlights:

  • Serena slapping Dan at the Reunion after she finds out about his escapade with Rachel in the costume closet. I'm not convinced she really has a right to be mad -- maybe skeeved out -- but she's fantastic when Dan catches her starting to smile: "I'm mad but that was invigorating," she says.
  • I also like Serena and Chuck teaming up to help Blair. Theirs is a weird camraderie, and it's a lovely break from the hand-rubbing, mustache-twirling, eyes-narrowing plots of revenge and ruin.
  • Serena also was great with Carter when she threatened to expose his antics in Santorini. Even better was Chuck's puzzlement over what really happened on that trip.
  • Lily and Rufus had to be the dumbest storyline ever. Why in God's name would these two adult people trap themselves into revealing their "lists"? What's it matter, anyway? It all just felt stuck on as a way to remind us that Lily's still on the show, and having her sitting down all the time seemed like a clumsy way to disguise Kelly Rutherford's real-life pregnancy. The one saving grace: Serena's reaction to her mother having slept with both Trent Reznor and Slash. Fantastic.


What did you think? Do you think Nate will get together with Blair and break Vanessa's heart? Do you think Chuck will get mad and break Nate's jaw?

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