Note: Do not read on if you have not seen Season 5, Episode 16 of The CW's "Gossip Girl," entitled "Cross Rhodes."
While "Gossip Girl" has always been ridiculous -- and proud of it -- the episodes since its midseason hiatus have taken the show's absurdity to a whole new level, with Blair's pact with God, throwaway miscarriage and forced royal marriage providing more pain for the audience than pathos.
Luckily, this week's installment actually managed to unearth a hint of the luster that first attracted us to this frivolous story in the first place, and not a moment too soon. Lies were finally exposed; Chuck returned to his scheming ways; Serena and Blair were back to being best frenemies over a fella; and all manner of illicit kisses were happening across Manhattan. That's the Upper East Side we know and love.
There were plenty of twists and turns throughout the hour to keep us satisfied, so check out our rundown of the top 5 most memorable moments from "Cross Rhodes."
1. Grin and Blair It
I want to know what magical elixir the former Miss Waldorf is drinking to make her irresistible to all members of the opposite sex, so that I can order some immediately. True, Louis is kind of over her now, but she's a married woman with two other guys still pursuing her, and that kind of allure could really come in handy the next time I want someone to buy me a hotel or make me waffles. After months of lingering looks and fervent denials, Blair and Dan finally acted on the desire that's slowly been building between them. Of course, all this Humphrey-kissing initially sent Serena straight to DEFCON 1, which meant passive-aggressively insulting Blair's fashion sense and pouting at her until Dorota was forced to lock them in the dining room so that the BFFs could resolve their differences.
Considering that Serena and Blair have always been the heart of the series, both of them alternating narrative importance as the seasons progressed but keeping that core relationship of best friends/worst enemies at the center of the story, it's strange to reflect just how little screentime the two have shared this year (or perhaps longer?). Sure, they usually connect once an episode to hash out the day's events in the bathroom, but these were two girls who always used to be defined by their relationship with each other ahead of their relationships with the men in their lives. I had some hope that Dorota's scheme to trap them together would result in some bottle episode-style shenanigans, wherein the two might sit in the dining room and hash out all their differences, but they barely got any bitching in before they were released back into the wild. Still, despite her initial reluctance to cede her leftovers to her best friend, Serena eventually gave Dan and Blair her blessing, showing a kind of maturity that's usually sorely lacking in her life choices. Judging by her expression when she caught Dan and Blair kissing at the end of the episode, her acceptance might be easier said than demonstrated, especially since she clearly still has feelings for Lonely Boy.
2. Sealed with a Kiss (or Three?)
Though the episode promos hinted that there would be plenty of Dan/Blair kissing going on, there was a distinct lack of context to those commercials, so when Blair gave Dan a peck on the lips and Dan followed it with an attempt to eat Blair's face, there was still an element of surprise involved -- certainly for Blair, if not for the audience. And of course, in true "Gossip Girl" fashion, Serena chose that exact moment to wander in, seeking out Blair to make amends. So close and yet so far! And think how much less ridiculous this whole storyline would've been if Blair wasn't also in a faux relationship with a prince -- the show certainly seems determined to forget the wedding ever happened, with no sign of Louis or Blair's royal minder, and no one freaking out over the Princess of Monaco swanning around Manhattan without a security team. It all just seems so unnecessary, especially since Dan is enough of an obstacle to Chuck's relationship with Blair, and vice versa, without complicating things with a dowry. While this memorable moment was probably one that Chuck/Blair fans would rather forget, it did prove to be a driving force for the rest of the episode, and, despite how pompous and dull I generally find Dan to be, I wasn't half as irritated by the progression of his relationship with Blair as I thought I'd be.
3. Return of the Bass(tard)
Sadly, Chuck was very irritated, and he went to great lengths to let Dan know it. While his sudden turn from Blair's white knight back into a beast somewhat undermines all the character progression he's made thus far, he does have a lifetime of being betrayed to overcome, and I can kind of understand his impulse to go full-on Darth Vader on a guy who's cozying up to the girl who told him, a matter of days ago, that she had to honor her sham of a marriage. But Blair's call to Chuck was one of the episode's most poignant moments, since the once-brittle Bass seemed genuinely hurt and confused by Blair's indecisiveness, pointing out that she had made it seem like she wanted him to wait for her until her completely irrational year with Louis was at an end. And, as nice as it's been to see Chuck maturing into Mr. Nice Bass, it was fairly satisfying to see him pulling off a great scheme. I'm still not certain how he managed to locate the right courier in order to switch Dan's book proposal with a fake (but of course, his answer would be "I'm Chuck Bass"), but the elaborate ploy worked like gangbusters, and I can only imagine how scorched earth he'll go now that he knows Dan was the one who leaked the video of Blair confessing her love to him to Gossip Girl.
4. Rhodes to Hell
After more than a season of mystery, Ivy and the real Charlotte Rhodes finally came face to face, and it was a fairly spectacular trainwreck, as I always suspected it might be. The Rhodes clan gathered at the hospital to see an ailing CeCe, with Chivy tagging along with her "grandmother" at CeCe's request, and Lola heading to the hospital in search of Chivy, which led her straight to her long-lost family. It didn't take long for Carol to sell her out, ending up with pretty much everyone mad at everyone else; Lola told Carol that their relationship was over, Serena tore Ivy a new one for sneaking her way into their family and taking advantage of their generosity, and I still don't get why Carol figured that her family would "never forgive her" if they found out the truth about where the real Charlotte was ... Because going to college is so terrible, I guess? Nevertheless, Serena chased Ivy away with a threat of calling the cops and Lola rebuffed her cousin's attempt to get to know each other over a coffee. Instead, she breezed back outside to shack up with Nate for the night, so at least one member of the gang got a happy ending.
5. Sanity Prevails?
Okay, so there wasn't much sanity on the Upper East Side this week, but in terms of the core relationships, our characters all made some fairly admirable decisions. Serena saw it in her heart to let Blair and Dan date, despite Blair offering to stay away from him for the sake of their friendship; Blair admitted to Chuck (finally) that she needs some time to figure things out -- hopefully that'll be sans any man, but judging by Dair's goodbye kiss, I doubt the writers will be able to resist more clandestine smooching -- and Chuck, at least initially, did the right thing and sent Alessandra Dan's actual book proposal, trying not to punish him for Blair's confusion, because being a good person doesn't just mean being good to her. Hell, even Nate displayed a little sanity by being smart enough to check his call log and bust Lola on her terrible stalking skills -- everybody wins! Except poor CeCe (RIP).
What were your favorite moments in this week's episode? Are you happy about the Dan and Blair progression, or do you think she's betraying Chuck?
"Gossip Girl" airs Mondays at 8 p.m. EST on The CW.
Follow Laura Prudom on Twitter: www.twitter.com/lauinLA