This was easily the best episode of Gossip Girl‘s second season, maybe the best episode of the show ever. It’s like everything the writers have been trying to tell us all along, amped up about a billion decibels.
Serena rushes to The Palace to confess that Gabriel stole everyone’s money and skipped town, but Lily is there drawing lines in the sand about Good Serena and Bad Serena. She gifts Good Serena an antique bracelet; it was her great-grandmother’s. And because Serena wants nothing more than to actually be Good Serena, she calls the only person who ever lets her be herself.
Blair rushes out of Nate’s new apartment, all, “Gotta go, Serena needs me!” And Nate is like, “Nu uh. That ‘Serena needs me crap’ isn’t going to fly anymore!”
And I mean, that’s why Nate is never going to be with Blair. The thing that makes Chuck exponentially more dangerous and perfect for Blair is that he actually gets the Serena/Blair thing. They love and rescue each other to the exclusion of everything and everyone else. Nate should understand it because the second layer of that loyalty, which we’ll see at the end of the episode, is Blair/Serena/Chuck/Nate.
Through a series of contrivances, the UES crew plus Dan end up in Serena’s bedroom squabbling about whose fault it is Dan’s tuition money was stolen, and who’s going to design the scheme to get it back. Blair says the only thing that will make Gabriel return Serena’s phone call is an act of God. And a choir of holy angels lend their voices to the air as Georgina Sparks enters the room.
Gabriel agrees to meet Serena for breakfast because he thinks she’s pregnant. And, OK, I know this isn’t going to win me any friends, but Serena van der Woodsen falls in love like an ugly girl. I mean, look at her: the legs, the lips, the eyes, The Hair for goodness sake. She shouldn’t let anyone judge her (Dan!), whore around on her (Aaron!) or steal her mother’s money (Gabriel!), but when she shows up at breakfast, it’s not, “Where the f–k is the cash, asshole?” It’s “Just because you stole a million dollars doesn’t mean what we had wasn’t real!”
Luckily Chuck is there to remind Serena she is a goddess, and to threaten Gabriel, who confesses that Poppy Lifton has the cash.
While everyone else is working together to get the money back, Dan has one simple job: keep his mouth shut. Think he can do it? No, he can’t. Why? Because he’s a Humphrey. He meets Lily on the sidewalk and tells her everything. She’s like, “I knew Serena sucked! Don’t worry, I’ve got this.” Dan fully goes, “Just do what you people do.”
At the Waldorfs, Blair and Georgina engage in a theological discussion that makes me wish Blair Waldorf had been my Sunday School teacher. Blair wants Georgina to pretend to be an up-and-coming socialite so Poppy can extort her, then they can blackmail her. Georgina doesn’t want any part of it, because scheming is not what Christians do.
Georgina: Look, I made a choice. I let go of the evil so I can find love and happiness with the good. I gave up my old ways when I let Jesus take the wheel.
Blair: That is a Carrie Underwood song, not a life choice!
Georgina: I’m sorry, but I can’t help you if it goes against my beliefs.
Blair: But, when you look at it, Jesus drove you here, right?”
Georgina: Actually, I think his name was Jesús.
Blair: Not in a cab! In your country-western way of life. You said God would help you find a way to earn my forgiveness, and here it is.
Georgina: So my amends would be to trap Poppy Lifton, get the money back that she stole, and destroy her in the process?
Blair: Exactly! If you cut revenge out of the Bible, there’s not even enough pages to make a pamphlet.
Lily, having been pumped full of information and a sense of righteous Humphrey indignation by Dan, tells Serena to call off her childish plan. Lily is going to handle it like a grown-up, by paying back everyone under the table, and turning Rufus into a prostitute. Serena considers going along with her mom, until she finds her fawning over Poppy over tea. The conversation that follows, in which Lily tells Serena to keep quiet while she throws money at everyone in an attempt to silence a scandal, is the exact conversation CeCe Rhodes had with Lily decades ago when Lily got herself knocked up with a Humphrey love child. Serena knows it, and she gives Blair the green light.
So, the first line that’s drawn in this episode is Blair and Serena vs. The World. The second is the venerable Proletariat vs. The Bourgeoisie (the Have-not Humphreys vs. The UES). The third is The Children vs. The Parents. These are the things this show has been saying all along: You may cross the line to befriend, seduce or even love someone from the other side, but when the family into which you were born fails you — repeatedly — you fall back across the line into the family you made.
Dan finds out that the Georgina scheme is still on, so, of course he calls Lily to rat out Serena.
Uptown, Georgina is playing billionaire daughter to Poppy’s philanthropic socialite. Outside the restaurant, Nate tells Chuck to either man up and tell Blair he loves her, or leave her alone. Inside, Blair tells Chuck the same thing, and as over this push-me/pull-me thing as I am, the scene is heart-wrenching. Blair’s says she’s been waiting for him, and he smiles so sweetly that you think he’s finally going to tell her the truth, that all the ways he’s been saying “I love you” without ever saying “I love you” are for real. Instead, he lies and tells her it’s just a game.
Georgina has Poppy right where she wants her. She texts Blair to tell her it’s a go, Blair goes outside to tell the cops to get ready — only the person getting arrested is Serena. The bracelet Lily gave Serena earlier that morning? Yeah, she went ahead and reported it stolen. In the ensuing chaos — I mean, Blair literally claps her hands at the police officers — Poppy walks out of the restaurant with Georgina’s Bible camp money.
Blair rushes inside to accuse Georgina of masterminding the whole thing, while at the palace Rufus discovers the actual mastermind behind Serena’s arrest — and also, a spreadsheet detailing his salary as a kept woman.
At the police station, Serena’s actual family work together to get her out of jail. Chuck calls his P.I. (speed dial #1), Nate throws around his grandfather’s name, and Blair shouts down an officer. Inside, Serena poses for mug shots. The whole thing happens over Gotye “Heart’s A Mess.” Your heart’s a mess/You won’t admit to it/It makes no sense. Love ain’t fair/So there you are/My love.
And speaking of mess, Georgina watches Poppy leave her hotel. Right before she tells the cab driver to follow Poppy’s limo, she calls Blair. “I don’t think Jesus would approve,” Blair says. Georgina leans back, puts on her sunglasses. “Well you can tell Jesus, the bitch is back.”