Note: Do not read on if you have not seen Season 6, Episode 9 of The CW's "Gossip Girl," titled "The Revengers."
I'm not sure whether the nostalgia is finally getting to me or whether this episode sucked a little less than we've come to expect this season, but despite "The Revengers" featuring one of the most ridiculous scenes in "Gossip Girl" history, I found that I didn't constantly want to gouge my eyes out while watching it. Progress!
Of course, it may be a case of too little, too late -- after three seasons of mediocrity, I'm not sure that two good episodes at the very end of the series can redeem years of bad characterization and inexplicable plotting. But despite our reservations, I think we'd all like to see the show go out on a high note, if such a thing is possible, and "The Revengers" utilized a lot of what has made "Gossip Girl" successful in the past -- group scheming, double, nay, triple crossing galore, and a villain getting their long-awaited comeuppance.
Bart Bass may have turned from a reasonably strict but overall sensible father who frowned on his son's strip club-funding, date-rapey tendencies into a mustache-twirling criminal mastermind, but since it's far from the most baffling character progression the show has ever seen, why not roll with it? Bart has made a good antagonist over the past few years -- Machiavellian enough to believably outsmart our savvy gang (and Nate), and boasting that balding, silver fox thing that just screams "Malevolent Father Figure." (Just ask Alan Dale.)
Much of the episode focused on Chuck's ongoing quest to vanquish Daddy Bass, with the gang pulling together to try and trick the evil genius into incriminating himself. This plan involved using Ivy as bait -- which clearly agrees with her, because I didn't find her half as obnoxious as I usually do -- but sadly, it also hinged upon Nate lying convincingly to Bart which ... isn't really in Nate's bag of tricks. (Nate's bag of tricks exhaustively includes being pretty, getting high and making terrible romantic decisions.) Behind those baby blues lies the soul of a guileless puppy, and Bart could smell his treachery a mile away, tipping the Feds and getting him arrested before you could say "drop the soap."
With the pretty boy effectively neutralized, Bart then launched a campaign of terror against the other love of Chuck's life: Blair. He kidnapped her in her own towncar just to prove to Chuck that he could get to anyone at any time, and that accidents happen, and other unsubtle, murderous threats that would earn anyone a permanent place on Santa's naughty list.
The senior Basstard blackmailed Chuck into leaving for Moscow FOREVER (the horror!) in exchange for the safety of Blair, Nate and Lily, convincing him to get on a doomed plane that was destined to crash after the pilot jumped to safety. The writers didn't bother to tell us how Chuck found out about the plot, whether the plane even took off (and why would the pilot crash it if Chuck wasn't on board?) and when our hero had time to change into a tuxedo just so he could make a public spectacle of himself at Bart's "Man of the Year" ceremony, but these are just semantics, and if there's one thing "Gossip Girl" hates more than poor people, it's semantics.
Either way, Chuck survived the plane crash intended to kill him (duh), Dan was somehow in on it, and despite Chuck accusing his father of murder at yet another Upper East Side soiree, no one really batted an eye about it. Bart explained it away as a drug-induced bender, and Chuck was hauled up to the roof for the cheesiest showdown ever committed to TV. It played like "Days of Our Lives" meets "Double Indemnity" meets "The Lion King," with the most tone-deaf score I've ever heard, but it also involved fisticuffs and Bart falling to his death, so it wasn't all bad (just mostly bad -- like 99 percent bad).
The gravitas of the situation was undone by the heightened, overwrought drama of it all (and did I mention that hideous score?), and there's just something hilariously awful about movies and TV shows that utilize people hanging off the side of things. I almost expected a Wile-E-Coyote puff of dust to rise up in Bart's wake after the fall, but no such luck. Then Chuck and Blair ran away dramatically, as one does when fleeing the scene of the crime.
Meanwhile, the show was still being indecisive about whether it wanted Dan to be romantic hero or selfish sociopath, because despite all of his metaphorical beard-stroking and evil scheming last week, he then decided that he actually truly loves Serena (maybe?) and wants to be with her again.
And, naturally, he figured that simply getting her to read all the nice things he wrote about her in his alternate tell-all chapter would erase all the mean things he ever said about her and make up for completely humiliating her in front of Manhattan's elite. Because love conquers all! Clearly, Dan was too busy imitating Fitzgerald to keep up with "Friends" back in the day, because Ross could've told him that writing a bitchy list of your girlfriend's flaws never ends well, especially when it's published in Vanity Fair. It's in syndication twenty times a day, Dan, you have no excuse.
I sincerely hope that Serena doesn't forgive Dan after all of this storied emotional abuse and public humiliation -- but since this is "Gossip Girl," and "Gossip Girl" hates its female characters and any suggestion of agency, I know that I'll be disappointed next week. Naturally, Dan feeling insecure and inferior to Serena because of her wealth and status is all her fault, and she's really been asking for him to humiliate her for all these years, because how else can he possibly prove that he's worthy of her?! I know I'd find nothing sexier than a guy pointing out all of my flaws and insecurities for the world to see as an illustration of how much he cares about me -- it's way more thoughtful than flowers or jewelry! Someday, centuries from now, when mankind is extinct and aliens come to terraform earth and poke into the history of western civilization, they will discover an old DVD of "Gossip Girl" and understand immediately why we were doomed from the get-go.
And yet, despite this ridiculousness, there were fun moments, and the plot moved fast enough that you didn't really have time to notice how sloppy and/or offensive it all was. Blair's assemblage of "bitches" (Serena, Ivy, Georgina and paint-drying Sage) were a dream team of scheme in their quest to take down Bart, and Nate even got a chance to reconcile with The Captain and bond over their familial fondness for fraud. Georgina once again scored all the best lines, and perhaps the best part of the episode was that -- aside from Bart -- we weren't bogged down with any "grown-up" drama; there was no Lily, Rufus or William ickiness to distract us from the elaborate plotting, and the show has always been at its most entertaining when it focuses on our core group. Sage even dredged up Nate's old Gossip Girl research so that the show could have a reason to unmask the mystery blogger in next week's finale. I'm somewhat past caring at this point, but I still hope that after six years of build-up, the show manages to go out with a bang, not a whimper.
"Gossip Girl" airs Mondays at 9 p.m. EST on The CW. The series finale airs as part of a two-hour event starting at 8 p.m. on December 17.
What did you think of "The Revengers"? Were you glad to see Bart meet a sticky end? Do you think Dan and Serena will end up together? Weigh in below!