Note: The following contains spoilers if you have not seen Season 5, Episode 11 of The CW's "Gossip Girl," entitled, "The End of the Affair."
"Gossip Girl" can usually be relied upon for frothy frivolity and devious scheming, but the only thing that really elicited an "OMG" from me this week was the writing -- and not in a good way.
The midseason finale once again left us with a car crash and a beloved character in critical condition, but I'm fairly sure that none of us were really sweating Chuck's chances of survival over winter hiatus, were we? What the accident was really designed for, of course, was the convenient loss of Blair and Louis' baby before the wedding.
It's depressing that something as serious and emotionally devastating as a miscarriage can be used as such a throwaway plot device, but sadly, it's been a foregone conclusion ever since Blair's ill-advised pregnancy storyline was introduced. I'm disappointed (but not at all surprised) that the writers didn't utilize the opportunity to tell a much more compelling and poignant story about a young woman dealing with an unexpected pregnancy, with the man she loves stepping up to the plate to help her figure out how to raise it, despite the fact that the baby isn't his. But this is "Gossip Girl," and I suppose the writers felt that any real baby drama would get in the way of all the soapy superficiality we've come to know and love. Still, it's a pity that the show is no longer prepared to take risks the way it once did.
So even if this week's episode was more "Oh no!" than full of gasp-worthy goodness, here are the five moments that stood out amid the mediocrity (or inadvertently epitomized it).
1. A Miracle on 5th Avenue?
First the Crusades, now Blair's mental breakdown: God gets the blame for everything! At first, we were led to believe that Dan and Blair were carrying on a secret affair because Blair had taken to hiding out at Humphrey's apartment and disappearing into nondescript buildings with him. But the truth was even more horrifying than the accusation (I jest, Dair fans): Blair Waldorf -- once the demonic mistress of the Upper East Side, demanding sacrifices from her minions and ruining lives across Manhattan -- is now converting to Catholicism?
As Serena wisely pointed out, it was modern medicine that saved Chuck's life after the accident, not a deal with a deity; but the writers have apparently run out of reasonable reasons why Chuck and Blair shouldn't be together, and have decided that divine intervention is the next best thing. Because Blair apparently didn't bother to read past the Old Testament, she seems to believe that the Lord will smite her if she decides to canoodle with Chuck instead of marrying into misery with the incomprehensible prince, and no amount of logic, sanity or heartfelt emotion will convince her that she should be with the man she loves. I know, I'm as baffled as you are.
2. Z-grade writing can lead to A-grade acting
Despite the material, I was grateful that Ed Westwick and Leighton Meester could still elevate the episode somewhat in their too-short scenes together. Their tearful confrontation in Chuck's apartment was undoubtedly the episode's high point, with Chuck insisting that he would never stop searching for the truth behind Blair's sudden change of heart. I can't even begin to justify Blair's decision because the writing was so wacky, but needless to say, she definitely owes her soulmate an explanation -- it's not as if lying is going to make Chuck any less determined to be with her than honesty would.
Meester also gave a gut-wrenching performance when Blair was told that she had lost the baby -- it's just a pity that the episode never truly built up the moment to be worthy of her work. The miscarriage was so telegraphed and so lazily revealed in the opening minutes that it lacked any emotional impact. It's a shame that the writer (Sarah Goodman, who has done far better work for the show in the past) and director ("Gossip Girl" first-timer Michael Grossman) apparently decided to phone the episode in when Meester obviously didn't. Speaking of the opening scene with Louis and Chuck, was it supposed to be some sort of movie pastiche? The pair seemed so out-of-character and the dialogue so wooden that I was expecting Blair to wake up from another Hepburn-flavored dream; but sadly, the episode continued in the same off-kilter vein.
3. Rhodes to Nowhere
At long last, we were introduced to Serena's actual cousin, instead of the identity-stealing Ivy (whom I affectionately dubbed Chivy last season, since I'm lazy and Charlie/Ivy is too long to type on a regular basis). L'Oréal perfect hair obviously runs in the family. Of course, Lily and Rufus mistakenly believed they'd found an unrelated Rhodes at Julliard, because the overriding theme of "Gossip Girl" is that every possible misconception or misunderstanding that can be made about a person will be. I'm intrigued to learn more about her relationship with Carol and whether she's aware of her mother's scam with Ivy; I just hope that the producers don't plan to drop her storyline as quickly as they dropped Scott's -- you remember Scott, right? Rufus and Lily's illegitimate lovechild from Season 3? Me neither.
4. A Gossip for good?
Poor, sweet Serena -- after years of being the subject of Gossip Girl's stalkerazzi lens, she now finds herself in a similar position as New York's newest blog sensation, and in Gossip Girl's absence, she's even been receiving all of her nemesis' email tips. S thinks she can use Gossip Girl's unholy powers for good, but surely it's only a matter of time before she comes across an incriminating blast or photo that pushes her over to the dark side, right? I'm guessing that the catalyst will have something to do with Dan, since we know she's been feeling a little tingle for her ex lately, and their midnight kiss probably made matters worse. But since Dan still seems to be fixated on Blair, will Serena's inevitable jealousy cause another rift between the two BFFs? It's been a while since they pulled each other's hair or took a dip in a fountain.
5. Nate's date with destiny (or Gossip Girl)
Who could ever want to kill someone as handsome as Nate Archibald? Gossip Girl might have the answer, since her cryptic texts helped lead our favorite doll-eyed bachelor to the truth behind Chuck and Blair's crash. Is his would-be assassin Diana -- since she's an editor and woman scorned -- or someone with a score to settle against Nate's meddling grandfather? Although it's still hard to get over the ridiculous notion of Nate being the editor-in-chief of a newspaper at 23, complete with zero experience and a short attention span, I've got to admit, it's nice to see him with an actual storyline, instead of something icky involving a cougar and a lack of clothing. Alright, I'm not so opposed to the lack of clothing ...
What did you think of this week's episode? While some of the pieces were promising, overall I thought the effect was more rotten meat dress than Vera Wang. Here's hoping Blair's bachelorette party gets things back on track.
"Gossip Girl" airs Mondays at 8 p.m. EST on The CW.
For more on what to watch this week, check out the slideshow below: