It’s hard to sell pop culture elitists on Gossip Girl because the show presents itself the same way as Serena vander Woodsen: titillating, flighty, turquoise jewelry for days. But underneath all that cleavage, Gossip Girl is clever and cunning and infinitely more textured than, say, Glee. Last night’s episode did more with All About Eve in 42 minutes than The L Word did in its entire fifth season.
Enough About Eve was really All About Blair and Vanessa, which is an excellent set-up in a thousand ways. (Not the least of which:Szhor and Meester play brilliantly off one another.)
Blair wakes up from one of her cinematic dreams — in this one, she was Margo Channing to Vanessa’s Eve Harrington — shrieking at Chuck about how she’s Audrey Hepburn, not Bette Davis. Chuck says not to worry, that one day she’ll hold all of NYU in the palm of her delicate hand, but she springs from bed because the last time this happened she was Eliza Doolittle and as loverly as that sounds, it was the birth-dream of this whole NYU debacle.
B’s first step in her plan for campus-wide domination is to deliver the freshman toast at Parents’ Weekend. The person standing in her way? Vanessa, who has landed herself on the cover of the NYU student newspaper. V wants to give the toast because she thinks it will help her parents — who don’t believe in private education, or sugar, or movie stars, or electric-powered chicken coops — understand that NYU is the place for her.
So, B and V want the exact same thing for ostensibly different reasons and they smack talk each other about it before bouncing to set up their individual puppet shows.
While Vanessa is making a marionette out of Dan — "Take Olivia to Parents’ Weekend"; "No, don’t"; "Yes, do"; "No, stay in and cook your special chicken, she hates your family" — Blair tells Chuck she wants to revisit their summer game of sham threesomes. Her target is the NYU alum who chooses the Parents’ Weekend toast-giver. Chuck happily agrees to seduce him, even though the dude is his uncle Jack’s doppelganger. Their much-hyped gay smooch is the most chaste lip-touching we’ve ever seen on this show and when Blair asks him if it upset him to kiss another dude, he awesomely says, "Did you really think I’ve never kissed a guy before?"
Things fall apart spectacularly at Parents’ Weekend when Blair gloats to Vanessa that she’ll be giving the toast. In sheer retaliatory mode, V hides a microphone in her purse and goes backstage, asking Blair to outline all the ways Vanessa is inferior to her. Blair happily obliges; the list is laminated, she keeps it in her bra. Then she stupidly exposits that she lied to Chuck about why she wanted him to seduce the NYU alum, and he — along with all the freshman parents — overhears.
Just as V is getting ready to celebrate, the NYU alum announces that Olivia Burke will be giving the freshman toast. She came with Dan after all, and they completely call Vanessa out on her lies. Vanessa apologizes to Olivia and says that Dan’s parents are the best parents in the world, and she wishes they were her parents, and — doh! — there’s her mom, walking in and overhearing.
When Olivia takes to the stage to give the toast, B turns to V — both of them having alienated the people who love them most — and asks her why they even do all this Machiavellian crap. V, close to tears, says, "You tell me."
In the B-story, Nate convinces Serena that she can win Carter Baizen back in an underground Buckley poker game. Carter has been sentenced to 25 years of indentured servitude, but Nate knows all the Buckley poker tells, thanks to the worst pillow talk ever that he supposedly shared with Bree. Serena goes along with the plan and loses $25,000 and an incriminating photo of Tripp van der Bilt (inexplicable, potential Congressman) from his bachelor party. Serena apologizes and begs Nate to let her speak to Grandfather vander Bilt, but he’s all chivalry, saying he’ll take the fall all alone.
During this scene, my BFF was all, "Where did Nate get $25,000? Doesn’t he, like, live in a box?" And, right she was! Grandfather van der Bilt used Nate to set up Serena to leak a fake photo to the Buckleys. Nate says he’s sorry for lying, and Serena says, "No, you’re not — but you will be."
She rescues Carter by exposing Nate’s photo as a fraud, but Carter says he can’t accept her slavery buyout. He’s going to go work for 25 years on that oil rig, dammit, because at least then Serena will respect him!
(He’s obviously never seen this show; Serena will have committed ten murders and seven marriages in 25 years.)
The van der Humphs plus Olivia gather for waffles in a lovely Cohen family kind of way. (I think that’s where the show is going with them; it’s nice.) Vanessa calls her mom from that one coffee shop, but her mom split in the night because those solar panels for the chicken coop aren’t going to install themselves! Blair shows up at The Palace and Chuck turns her away, so she goes to that one coffee shop too.
Vanessa offers Blair a seat and a croissant. They wanted the same thing for different reasons, and neither of them got it. "If nothing else, there’s applause … like waves of love pouring over the footlights," Anne Baxter says in All About Eve. V and B don’t have any applause; all they have is each other. I doubt they even pronounce "croissant" the same way.
What did you think of "Enough About Eve"?