Note: Do not read on if you have not seen Season 5, Episode 15 of The CW's "Gossip Girl," entitled "Crazy, Cupid, Love."
Another episode of "Gossip Girl," another woman taken advantage of by a boy with bad intentions -- and they say romance is dead! I've been watching the show since day one and it gives me no pleasure to write recaps full of exasperation or irritation, but at this point, a part of me truly does wonder if "Gossip" is past the point of no return, if these characters' prior misdeeds and the writers' current lackadaisical approach can ever course-correct enough to make me want to spend an hour of my Monday night in their company.
So which three moments (because I was so annoyed with the whole thing that I couldn't summon up the energy for five) warrant deeper examination in this week's Valentine's-themed episode?
1. Dare to Dair
The writers finally followed through on their promise (or threat, depending on your preferences) to expand the Chuck/Blair/Louis triangle to include Lonely Boy too, with Blair foolishly asking Dan what would make him happy, and Dan answering her with a heartfelt kiss. This time, Blair definitely kissed back, just in time for Georgina to snap a photo and for Serena to get an eyeful of her best friend's backstabbing, which went down exactly as you'd expect it to, given that Blair had spent the whole episode getting Serena's hopes up that Dan still had feelings for her. Aside from Blair's cool denial that -- regardless of what Dan thought he felt -- she wouldn't do anything to betray Serena, we didn't actually get much insight into her feelings about the kiss. But Georgina seemed fairly convinced that the seed had been planted and that the lure of forbidden passion would soon be too strong for the pair to resist. Who knew that Georgina's hatred for Princess B ran deep enough to justify her bankrupting the entire Waldorf clan? Dan now also knows about the pre-nup, which will surely activate his white knight complex. I think the kiss was perfectly justifiable from Dan's perspective -- especially with Georgina's goading -- but I'm still of the opinion that right now, another man is the last thing Blair needs; the woman could seriously benefit from being single for a while, and I think Dan's actions were selfish, if understandable. But Chuck's response was far more troubling ...
2. Return of the Basstard?
Apparently, it only took one incriminating picture to undo half a season's good behavior, with Chuck reacting to Blair's perceived betrayal by immediately hopping into bed with Dan's needy, drunken agent Alessandra. It seems as though the writers are just as eager to fall into old habits as Chuck is, because nothing screams "good plot twist" like a vengeful man using an insecure woman as a pawn on the Upper East Side. Just because Louis wasn't available, Chuck had to be the week's designated douchebag? After weeks of building Chuck up, of showing his patience and loyalty while Blair was engaged to another man, the writers managed to undermine all his character development in one fell swoop. If this is the way Chuck reacts to being hurt even after everything he and Blair have been through, how has he truly grown or evolved at all? Using yet another woman as a disposable sex object is the laziest and most insulting plot device the producers could've come up with for Chuck to get even with Dan, and don't even get me started on Nate's "romantic" stalker tendencies in his pursuit of Lola. I know that pointing out the misogyny on "Gossip Girl" at this point is like pointing out that the sky is blue at this point, but still.
I also found it unbelievable that, after the show went to such great lengths to emphasize how "trapped" Blair was in her loveless marriage, she was allowed to return to the Upper East Side after the honeymoon like nothing had happened, with only an uptight (and bafflingly English) minder to keep her in check. I thought the whole point of going through with the wedding was so that Louis could save face in public by having an adoring wife on his arm? Can you imagine the furor that would've ensued had Kate turned up in an entirely separate country from William a week after their royal wedding? Thus, plot-holes continue to permeate the show like Swiss cheese. Sigh.
3. Run Lola Run
This Lola/Chivy arc is getting a little too reminiscent of "Ringer," but I'm kind of enjoying it anyway. I was always distinctly bored by Chivy's storylines before Lola was introduced, but now that the show has given us the impending tension of the whole thing blowing up in Ivy's face, I'm finding it much more compelling. It's like a slow-moving trainwreck that I can't seem to look away from, and that was especially pronounced when Ivy and Lola were talking at the party, more so when Nate blundered in and threatened to collapse the whole house of cards right then and there. Now that Lola knows that Ivy is impersonating her, it's only a matter of time before the whole charade falls apart. But since Ivy is cozying up to CeCe in her apparent hour of need, perhaps the impostor is poised to inherit everything, regardless of blood. I'm assuming that Ivy ventured back to Manhattan to inform Lily about her mother's worsening condition -- and I actually don't believe that her intentions are inherently dishonorable, since CeCe was welcoming and generous in a way Ivy clearly wasn't used to. But hijacking someone else's grandmother is still a little skeevy.
What did you think of this week's episode? Did you approve of Dan and Blair's kiss -- and Chuck's reaction?
"Gossip Girl" airs Mondays at 8 p.m. EST on The CW.