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Good morning, Upper East Siders, and welcome back to Gossip Girl! When last we saw our UES All-Stars, the score tallied thusly: Serena and Nate, single, the Hamptons; Dan and Vanessa, single, Brooklyn; Little J, outed as a beard and interning for Eleanor Waldorf, Brooklyn; Blair, flying charter with Random Handsome, Provence; and Chuck Bass, being Chuck Bass, globally. Whew.

The Hamptons! Nate’s J Crew shirt makes out with a woman with fingernails from 2006 in the backseat of a car. Oh, hey, Madchen Amick! Apparently Serena is covering for Nate, who is "not ready to introduce" this woman, Catherine, to his friends. Catherine invites Nate back to her guesthouse for more private nooky, as Chuck Bass cavorts on the beach with a trio of topless beauties. (And by "cavorts", I of course mean he’s dressed like Babar, wearing a straw trilby and sipping pinot grigio.) GG alerts him that Blair is already on her way back home from Charles de Gaulle; Serena, in ill-fitting satin, slumps by to sit by herself – "again", Gossip Girl helpfully points out – on the beach.

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Meanwhile, back in Poorville, Dan macks on a plain-Jane brunette in a bookstore, where he is working as OMFG SHUT UP Jay McInerney’s intern. Oh. McInerney’s not playing himself, although…you know, if it grabs ass like a McInerney and snorts blow like a McInerney, it’s a McInerney. But I digress. Not-Jay reminds Dan that he has not, as of yet, submitted to him the essay required to gain credit for this internship; and that furthermore, Not-Jay has promised a glimpse of the essay to the editor of the Paris Review. And my heavens, but that cute Asian girl across the bookstore is apparently dating Dan as well. In other Humphreyana, Little J toils at the Eleanor Waldorf atelier, designing and sewing a dress for the White Party – excuse me, the VitaminWater White Party – for her boss Laurel. However, since Laurel is a bitch, and the dress is demonstrably not white, Jenny is instead stuck pairing buttons. Ouch. Dan struggles to "finish" his essay, which as we all know means he hasn’t even started it. Oh hey! We were right! We’re so clever.

Back in the Hamptons, the Van Der Bass sibs poke fun at each other as Chuck frets about Blair’s imminent arrival on the Jitney. Or, in the words of Chuck Bass, "what’s a Jitney"? Heh. He suits up – in Nantucket Red, no less, and looking for all the world like someone dipped him in Murray’s Toggery Shop –  to bring flowers to Blair, who disembarks with her luggage in the arms of Random Handsome (his name, allegedly, is James.) Ooh, the bitch is back, and she’s better than Bass. The next morning Blair and Serena lie poolside while Blair bemoans Serena’s Summer of Celibacy until Chuck walks past: then, of course, it’s all "James" this and "James" that. (Oh, and writers? A word. First of all, Blair Waldorf does not find the consumption of gin martinis "classy." She finds it banal. Also, Blair Waldorf does not use the term "classy." Keep up.) Serena forgets to go along with Blair’s charade and asks her sweetly who James is. Oh, Serena. Chuck calls Blair’s bluff, and she must be really hurting, because she’s not deflecting nearly as well as she usually does.

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Lil J tattles on Dan’s promiscuity to a tour-bus-bound Rufus, who tells her to wear her own creation to the White Party. Jenny, showing a considerable leap in rationality from last season, tells him that she is not, in fact, invited to the White Party. Rufus tells her to call Erik Van Der Woodsen to finagle an invite, which seems uncharacteristically social-climby for a Humphrey man. Speaking of Humphrey men, Dan arrives at a bar to apologize to Not-Jay about his inability to write. Something is blocking his inner writer! I wonder who it could be! Not-Jay fires his pathetic little butt on the spot. Jenny calls Erik to apologize for her spectacularly disgusting behavior at Asher’s party and to, you know, ask if he needs a plus one to the White Party.

Spurred on by Blair, Serena preps for a date with the cute townie lifeguard in a genuinely unflattering lavender giraffe-print halter muumuu. Remember back before the wardrobe department hated her? Serena is charmingly grossed out by the fact that Lifeguard drives a Camaro. In the meantime, Catherine (with a Lily Van Der Bass-sized rock on her left hand) gets to third with Nate while Blair and James and Chuck dine tensely with the Van Der Woodsen/Bass/Rhodes clan. Cecelia Rhodes is amusingly repulsed by her new familial relationship by marriage to the Basses. Chuck notices Blair’s heart pin attached to the sleeve of James’ sweater and runs off, hurting. Blair follows and tells him that she loves James, and not Chuck; however, she watches Chuck leave in tears and plucks her pin from James’ sleeve, where it had gotten "accidentally snagged." A postcoital Nate is summarily tossed out Catherine’s window in his skivvies, upon the unexpected arrival of Catherine’s husband, and is almost hit by the Lifeguard’s Camaro on his way down the street.

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Blair, adorable and carrying Kate Spade, and Serena, wearing an ill-fitting romper and carrying that atrocious cobalt Chanel patent thing that looks like plastic – is it plastic? – shop and moan about Blair’s continuous love for Chuck. Chuck invites Nate back to Manhattan in his limo before the foursome run into each other and pair off: Serena to ask Nate about his panty-clad romp down Gin Lane; and Blair to needle Chuck about her "love" for James. They argue about whether he attends Princeton or Georgetown, and Chuck calls Erik for affirmation that James is lying to Blair about where he goes to school. Later, at croquet, Erik reveals that James doesn’t attend Princeton OR Georgetown, and in fact, Erik wasn’t able to find him enrolled anywhere. Chuck calls his own personal private eye (yes!) to run a background check on James, while Serena rakes Nate over the coals for her continued employment as his faux girlfriend: this time, as his date to the White Party. Blair attempts to break up with James, but is foiled when she learns that Chuck will be attending the White Party and that she therefore still needs a date.

Dan complains to Rufus via phone about the loss of his internship, and admits that he made a huge mistake in breaking up with Serena. He arrives in the Hamptons via the Jitney just in time for the White Party and OH MY GOD recapper idol Tinsley Mortimer is in this episode. I am so entirely and without irony excited about this development, I can’t even tell you. Eee! Erik arrives with Jenny, in a Jenny Humphrey original and glowering at her boss Laurel. Serena in a gorgeous goddess gown and updo arrives with Nate, who is immediately hissed at by Catherine. Cece Rhodes opens the door to a plaid-clad Humphrey, who agrees to fasten her pearls. Celia reveals that her cancer is in remission, as is her former bitchiness, and that he will be her date to the White Party. At the party, James attempts to admit something to Blair, who is too busy trying to make Chuck jealous that she can’t hear him. Laurel approaches Jenny and reminds her that a Humphrey couldn’t possibly know anyone invited to the party, at which point beautiful little Erik rides up on his white steed with Tinsley Mortimer in tow. Tinsley, of course, loves Jenny’s dress, and snubs Laurel.

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James realizes that Blair is using him and tells her that she’s self-obsessed, and that she and Chuck deserve each other. This actually seems to hurt Blair, who lashes out at Chuck when he approaches her. She chases after James, and he reveals to her that he is actually a British Lord named Marcus? What? With a really bad British accent. Wait, what?? Serena commiserates with Nate, and the two make out to make Catherine jealous, with Cece and of course Dan watching. He immediately begins judging because – let’s face it – he’s Dan Humphrey, and Serena scurries after him to explain. Wait, is she barefoot?? Dan essentially calls her a slut and is promptly faced with the brunette and the Asian girl from the bookstore, who pour colorful martinis down his white shirt. Serena raises a well-manicured brow at Dan as Catherine and Nate duck into a bedroom for some playtime. Dan kisses Serena and they decide to leave together as Cece watches approvingly. Chuck tells Blair that his feelings for her are so strong that they scare him, and asks her not to leave with James/Marcus. But he won’t – can’t – admit that he loves her, and she walks away. Catherine leaves with her husband after scheduling a rendezvous with Nate back in Manhattan. And Dan writes on the beach, finally unblocked.

Welcome back! And what did you all think of how our little playmates spent their summer? Spill…

Posted by:Jordan Hudson