I tried to look on the bright side of “Gossip Girl.” I really did. In my first recap of the season, I praised Serena’s newfound maturity (thanks to Steven) and last week, I really enjoyed the return of Dan and Nate’s epic bromance. I’ve been doing my best to ignore the disappointments and to try and enjoy the final episodes of a show that had so much promise five years ago.
But this week’s episode, “Dirty Rotten Scandals,” was just bad. There is officially nothing likable or interesting about any of the characters. There’s no relationship worth getting invested in, and the stakes have never been lower. The only good thing about the third episode of the season was confirmation that Chuck’s dog, Monkey, still exists.
So let’s talk about the terrible things about this episode. (In other words — every single character.)
BLAIR: I really want to love Blair. I do. I remember her as an insecure, bulimic, and damaged teenaged girl desperate to find a place in the world, and I want to love her. But her character has been sacrificed in order to prop up her flimsy-at-best relationship with Chuck, and I’m over it. Years ago, Blair was well on her way to becoming a powerful woman on her own. In this week’s episode, she’s incapable of taking care of herself by taking care of basic human needs like water and sleep — and she becomes so weak that Chuck has to swoop in and save the day. I thought the point of their separation was to prove that they can both be strong, powerful people on their own, so that they can earn their relationship. Instead, it seems that their separation only serves as an opportunity to watch Blair grovel and all-but-beg for physical attention while Chuck condescends to her and dodges every kiss in the name of chivalry.
CHUCK: Who is writing this guy’s dialogue? As much as I’ve ragged on Chuck in the past, I’ve always been impressed by Ed Westwick’s work — when the rest of the cast seemed to be phoning it in, Westwick still appeared present. But even he can’t save this dialogue. Every sentence out of his mouth sounds like it was ripped from the obligatory, stilted dialogue in the first three minutes of a bad ’80s porn. The investigation into Bart Bass’s past continues to bore me, especially because if Chuck still has enough money to buy gyms in exchange for information, then he’s got enough money to support himself without Bass Industries. He’s an adult now. Why is he even bothering with his sociopath dad? The chances that he’ll discover something original enough to make this drawn-out storyline worth watching are very, very slim. Plus, didn’t he put his relationship with Blair on hold in order to focus on his father? If he’s got time to plan an entire fashion show in a day, he’s probably got time to be with her instead of just baiting her.
SERENA: It wasn’t exactly compelling television, but it was kind of nice to see Serena growing up and attempting to put her scheming, manipulating, self-aggrandizing past behind her this season. Despite its sketchy beginnings and her unfounded accusations of cheating, the relationship with Steven seemed to result in a more grounded, adult version of Serena. That was all flushed down the toilet 14 minutes in to the episode, when she started telling Steven little white lies in order to insure that he continue to prioritize her over his troubled teenage daughter. Later, when she corroborated with 17-year-old Sage’s ridiculous plot instead of, you know, actually attempting to be responsible and parental, it only got worse. After five years of this, Serena and Blair haven’t learned enough to prevent being outsmarted by a rebellious kid. It would’ve been fun to watch if Sage had attempted to beat S and B at their own game and failed, but instead, she won, turning them against each other further. Snooze. We’ve seen this plot line. Every season.
NATE: Zzzzz. Oops, I fell asleep. Why is Nate with Sage? As we were not-so-subtly reminded multiple times during this episode, she’s exactly like Serena and Blair were at 17. When Nate dated them. It didn’t work out then, and it’s certainly not going to work out now. Sure, Nate is technically only around 21 years old, but given the fact that he’s running his own business and living in a very adult world, his relationship with a girl who currently attends his high school gives us the full-on creeps. She spent the episode unabashedly trying to sabotage two of his best friends, and he still fell into bed with her without hesitation at the end of the episode. Maybe we’d buy this if we’d seen any type of genuine connection or chemistry between the characters, but the relationship was rushed, and if there was any development, it happened off-screen.
DAN: Dan. Oh, Dan, Dan, Dan. He had one good thing going for him, which was that through everything, he still had Nate’s support. Nate was supportive of Dan’s muckraking endeavor, willing to have his own antics exposed in the process, and hey — he even gave Dan a place to crash outside of Georgina’s peripheral vision. Dan couldn’t even do Nate the courtesy of telling him himself that he’d taken the project in a different direction. His behavior toward Nelly Yuki at the end of the episode was honestly just mean. Dan’s been where she is, and she deserved more than a brush-off after her encouraging words. Since when is Dan the type to chase a random fling in a bar, anyway? I recognize that the writers are trying to emphasize how lost he is, having been rejected by Blair and disappointed by his father, but I worry that he’s so far gone that there won’t be time to redeem him before the finale.
I’m so exhausted by all of this awfulness, I don’t even want to talk about Rufus and Ivy. Matthew Settle must rue the day he signed on for six seasons of this drivel.
“Gossip Girl” fans, do you think there’s hope that the story will actually get good before the finale airs, or should we give up now? Do you think I was too harsh? Was there anything you liked or didn’t like about the episode? Chime in below in the comments section and let me know!