The Constance-St. Jude seniors look OMG awesome in 19th-century costumes. They’re staging a production of The Age of Innocence, ironically an age these kids haven’t seen in years. At the dress rehearsal Blair proclaims her life as perfect. She has Yale, the lead in the play and no need of a silly man to validate her. Her only concern is how ever will she relate to her character who’s having a rough go in life.
Blair cannot possibly relate to this anguish, until Nelly Yuki, wearing a fat suit as her character, gets an email from Yale offering her admission, thus rescinding the offer to Blair.
Serena’s coming off another breakup with Dan, and she’s stung that Yale just wanted to use her celebrity, which doesn’t make a person feel too confident about her intellect or academic cred. She needs something new to focus on and that would be Julian, the hot, young, up-and-coming off-Broadway director hired to run the school play.
She complains that Julian doesn’t even notice her. So we immediately know that Julian is either an idiot, because Serena is deliciously divine, or Julian is gay. He could be a gay idiot — more on that later.
Headmistress Queller admits to Blair that Yale found out about her hazing of Ms. Carr. Blair’s certain that Nelly is the rat but Nelly denies it. However, Nelly does offer up a dose of reality by telling Blair that there are a ton of people that would love nothing more than to bring her down.
Right on cue, a new Gossip Girl post hits the cell phones saying that Blair was aware of her ex-boyfriend Marcus hooking up with his step-MILF and chastising Blair for allowing such a gross thing to go unexposed. Blair immediately drops Nelly as a suspect and assumes it’s Vanessa who’s out to get her. Blair confronts Vanessa, who’s there doing a behind–the-scenes documentary of the production. Uh, OK. Vanessa denies it as well and Blair gets more annoyed that Serena sides with Vanessa. Yay, Blair and Serena tension!
Even though Rachel has kept her job, she and Dan have not kept their distance. When she enters the theater for the dress rehearsal, the other teachers snicker and Dan is bothered. He gets Jenny, who’s working on the wardrobe, to drop Rachel a note. How pre-21st century!
Jenny passes the note to Rachel, who writes a note back to Dan and encloses the key to her apartment. (Ah, you can’t do that in a text!) Rufus attends the dress rehearsal too, and in an accidental wanna-get-away moment, Jenny practically drops the note and key in Rufus’ lap.
As for Chuck, he’s lunching alone and runs into a long-time friend of his father. The man offers his condolences about Bart. Chuck then sees his nemesis, Carter Baizen, having lunch at another table with Elle.
Chuck approaches them and Elle claims her name is not Elle, and flees the restaurant. Carter leaves as well as the old friend. Hmm, very interesting. (OK, not really.)
With the dress rehearsal over, Vanessa and Serena drag Julian and Nate to lunch to discuss the play. While at lunch, Vanessa and Julian get all esoteric and pretentious while bantering back and forth about movies and plays that neither Nate nor Serena have seen or heard of, thus boring Nate to the exit and boring Serena into plotting a Cyrano de Bergerac scheme with Vanessa staring as Cyrano.
Rufus heads over to Rachel’s and unlocks her door with the key of inappropriateness. She’s prepared some romantic ambiance with candles in preparation for the Advance Placement English test for young Dan. Rachel looks very embarrassed at being caught by Rufus, and we’ve seen that look before in the theater, but apparently embarrassment is not a deterrent. When Rufus gets home, he tells Dan that he can’t see Rachel, but Dan counters that he’s 18 and can see whomever he pleases. Take that, dad of the year!
Elle’s waiting for Chuck when he gets home. She tells him she’s scared and just wants to start anew. Chuck makes arrangements for her to get a new passport and identity, and he takes her to Carter because he knows that Carter has a contact for making fake IDs. As Carter and Elle’s limo begins to pull away, Carter flashes the secret society insignia. Chuck’s been played and Elle’s in peril. Gasp! Chuck meets with Bart’s old friend to try to get info on the secret society, but none is forthcoming.
Serena invites Julian over for a final character motivation pep talk. She wears an earpiece covered by her hair while Vanessa, over the phone, feeds her pompous tripe with which to impress Julian. Nate overhears Vanessa’s end of the conversation and assumes that she’s speaking directly to Julian, and he leaves without Vanessa knowing that he was ever there. Serena’s then interrupted by a new text from Gossip Girl telling the world that Serena was only admitted to Yale as a publicity stunt. That does it.
It’s nearing the opening curtain when Serena gets up in Blair’s face. All that’s missing is Serena’s neck roll and a Z snap. She tells Blair that she has always forgiven Blair’s betrayals because she hoped one day Blair would outgrow the plotting and scheming to get her way, but she’s now convinced that betrayal is in Blair’s nature. Ouch. Blair denies blasting Serena, but Serena gives her the talk-to-my-ass walk and leaves the room. Blair moves on to Dan as the primary suspect.
Dan’s making his own potential Gossip Girl fodder by escorting Rachel into the costume closet where the two of them do things that I’m sure would get them both detention. With this costume closet adventure, it’s official — Rachel has lost her damn mind.
Finally, the curtain opens and the cast rambles about. During their embrace, rather than kiss Dan onstage as she’s supposed to, Blair gets in Dan’s ear about how he sucks for ruining her life.
At the break Julian tells the cast that a bigwig stage critic is in the audience, and Julian implores them to pick up the intensity and not embarrass him. He’s especially hard on Nate, suggesting that Nate’s dogging it because Nate doesn’t know how to conjure up emotion from losing it all in life.
When the curtain opens for Act 2, Nate takes the stage and forgets his lines. He sees Vanessa sitting next to Julian and completely goes off script, calling Julian out for being an arrogant jerk and girlfriend-stealer.
This is inspiration for Blair, who then goes off script lamenting about others ruining all of her hard work in life. Serena, feeling especially thespian, monologues on how hard it is to have a best friend who betrays you at every turn. Heck, even Nelly Yuki gets in on the action, damning her fat suit! Tony Awards all around!
Julian’s horrified, but the New York Times critic loved it. Julian takes credit for giving the youngsters the green light to put their modern deconstructive spin on this period piece. Serena’s so disgusted by Julian’s arrogance that she admits that she doesn’t know why she ever crushed on him. Julian admits to her that he’s gay. Serena’s gaydar is so broken I’m convinced she’s not getting a proper reading on her own relationship with Blair.
Anyway, Dan figures out that Rachel’s the one blasting Blair. He asks Rachel and she doesn’t deny it. He’s disillusioned. He tells Blair about Rachel and also tells Blair about sexual recess in the costume closet. Blair confronts Rachel, and Rachel admits to being completely disgusted by what and who she’s become. Blair tells Rachel to join the club. (If Rachel does join, she’ll have to be a member back in Iowa, where she’s headed home.)
Chuck gets a text from Elle and shows up at the appointed place and time. Elle blows him off, admitting that she’s been offered money, which is all she ever wanted. She tells him that he has a good heart but that he should use it on someone who would care. This sends Chuck over to Blair’s, but Blair’s not home.
Blair’s in a bar drowning her sorrows. Serena finds her to apologize for not believing her. Blair acknowledges that she wouldn’t have believed herself either because she’s just not a good person. She wants to be left alone. As Serena leaves, enter Carter Baizen, who offers to buy Blair a nightcap.
Are we about to see Blair turn into a bad girl? So bad she’s good? Will Serena ever have a decent story arc? Will we ever see Chuck hang out with the friends again or will he be chasing this secret society for the rest of the season?