'Gossip Girl' Season 6 premiere: A disgruntled fan reflects on 'Gone Maybe Gone'
I read the "Gossip Girl" novels on family vacations as a teenager, and when I heard that it was going to be made into a movie, I was delighted, and I hoped that Lindsay Lohan would be cast. (Seriously, it was a really long time ago.) When word spread that it was actually being developed as a TV show, I was even more delighted, particularly when I heard about Josh Schwartz's involvement. I loved the show in the first few seasons, and even as my love dwindled a bit, I always kept up with the series. You just don't write impassioned rants about shows that you don't care about. I. Am. A. Fan. That's why I wanted to take over Zap2it's "Gossip Girl" recaps this season for the final 10 episodes.
For full disclosure's sake, though, I have to warn you -- I am a fan ... but I'm a very disgruntled fan, and that is (unfortunately) the perspective that I'm coming from in these final recaps. There's a good chance that these recaps will be highly critical and a bit biased; I can't help it. If that's not your bag -- there are tons of other reviews out there for you to enjoy.
The end of Season 5 was wildly disappointing to me, for a number of reasons, starting with the resurrection of Bart Bass. This show isn't "Supernatural"; nobody is supposed to come back from the dead. Bart Bass, with all of his money and power -- the man whose shadow has loomed large over this show since Season 1 -- had to fake death for years in order to survive. But in one episode, Chuck and Blair managed to eliminate his enemy thanks to some fun hijinks and crafty manipulation? One episode! Bested, by a couple of spoiled twenty-somethings! Dumbest fake death ever!
Then, in the season finale, every character became unlikable. Serena not only slept with her best friend's boyfriend, but she manipulated him into doing it and videotaped it, proving that in the last five years she hasn't learned anything or grown as a person whatsoever. Dan, who literally wrote the book on conniving Upper East Side B.S., couldn't see through it and fell right into Serena's vagina-trap without regard for Blair's feelings or his own professed love. (And then he called Georgina, which is just ... offensive.) Chuck, after everything, was still asking Blair to come crawling back to him with no regard for her life or her dignity -- and Blair, of all people, was obliging his childishness. Lily had bailed on her marriage at the first sign of struggle to get back together with a man she never loved -- a man who had allowed his only son to grieve his loss, to be orphaned, without remorse. And Nate remained boring, per usual, as he supposedly uncovered the identity of the elusive Gossip Girl, who the audience stopped caring about two years ago.
As a "Gossip Girl" fan, I was perturbed that the show had sunk to this level. Strong characters became weak, growth circled the drain, friendships and relationships we'd invested in were cast aside carelessly. Showrunner Josh Safran was on his way out. Did he intend to leave the biggest possible mess for his successor to clean up?
I know, I know. It sounds like I hate this show. But I don't. I grew invested in these characters through great, iconic moments in early seasons: Serena and Blair snapping photos by the fountain, Dan and Nate forming a friendship against all odds, the "non-judging Breakfast Club," the flashbacks to Nate and Blair's attempts to preserve Serena's dignity at the Waldorf's Thanksgiving dinner, Chuck and Blair's desperate and vulnerable first time in the limo. I love those characters, and I want to believe that they'll come back in the final 10 episodes.
I want "Gossip Girl" to win me back so that when it ends this winter, I don't have to feel like I wasted my time. I want "Gossip Girl" to win me back because I want to feel like the characters have earned their endings. Most of all, I want "Gossip Girl" to win me back because despite all indicators, I don't actually like being grumpy.
So here we go, "Gossip Girl" fans, disgruntled and gruntled alike. Let's take a look at "Gone Maybe Gone," evaluate the highs and lows, and see if Season 6 makes an attempt at curing our bitterness.
HIGH: Chuck and Blair. I'll admit it, I loved Dan and Blair together last season. He'd been pining for so long -- and I do love a good pine -- and after her miscarriage, divorce, betrayal, and weird pact with God, Blair really needed a stabilizing force in her life. Still, it was always clear that Dan was helping to shape Blair into the woman who would finally be ready to address her feelings for Chuck in an adult way, so I can't be too mad that all that Dair goodness has been kicked to the curb. We'll always have their kiss on the Met steps, okay?
Now, Chuck and Blair are on solid ground, and though they're not exactly together, they're being honest with each other, not scheming against each other, and not trying to use each other to purchase real estate. Chuck did apologize last season for (most of) his transgressions against her, so in the interest of trying really hard to like this show again, I'll stop retreading familiar ground. Here's hoping that these two just... stay on good terms and don't make us watch any more on-again-off-again this season.
LOW: Bart Bass. Honestly, who stood up in the "Gossip Girl" writers' room and said, "You know what? I bet our viewers really miss Bart." Just go away, Bart. You turn Lily into the worst version of herself, you're despicable, and you're not even fun to hate. and your lecherous looks at Amira give us the uh-oh feeling something fierce.
LOW: Journalism 101. Nate seems to be falling for a student,
HIGH: HBIC Blair. Blair's position as head of Eleanor Waldorf Designs has reinvigorated her, and while I'm a little peeved that she ended up finding her place as a powerful woman due to obvious nepotism, it's worth it to see her looking so vibrant again. I also like her associate, Jean-Pierre, and the fact that there's no hint of a spark between them. Previously, Blair defined herself by her romantic relationships. Now she's finding that she's got more to offer people than that. I also really appreciate that she made an effort to reach out to Dan over the summer (even though after Dan slept with Serena, she doesn't owe Dan any apologies).
LOW: Dan and everything about him. Last season he was a stand-up guy with a good heart. Now, he's teamed up with Georgina, and they are literally hoping to find Serena -- once his first love, now practically his family -- at rock bottom. Not so that they can get her to treatment or help her save face, but so that they can air her dirty laundry and profit financially from her pain. Gross. Also, after the last five years, Dan really thinks that a sex tape isn't going to surface? Please. He's unlikable, unrecognizable, and worst of all, he's not entertaining anymore. He's just sad.
HIGH: The non-judging breakfast club. Nate, Blair, and Chuck coming together to find Serena was the best thing ever, and stirred up a bit of hope that the writers actually remember Season 1 and 2.
LOW: Come on, Nate. He traded Gossip Girl his video for information, and yes, Nate is a stand-up guy, but come on. We all know how technology works; he's still got copies in his sent mail folder. He could still use that video if he wanted to. I'm not sure taking the moral high ground applies when Gossip Girl is involved -- it's not like she'd ever hold back on posting a revealing video of him.
SOMETHING IN THE MIDDLE: Steven. I can't ignore Barry Watson's character -- an older, more sophisticated love interest for "Sabrina," who forgives her lies about her background -- but I haven't decided how I feel about him yet. At this point he just seems boring and easily duped, and there's no real chemistry or passion between them, so it's hard to imagine that he's going to be the love with whom one of our heroines ends the series. Still, I do like the impact he's had on Serena. After her horrible behavior in the Season 5 finale, she really need something to come along and force her to grow up, and if Boring Steven is that something, I'll take it.
HIGH: Dan and Blair clear the air. As I said, I liked Dan and Blair together, and I think their break-up was badly written and reflected poorly on both characters. So it was a relief to have my exact feelings on the entire matter spoken aloud by one Dan Humphrey. "That you chose Chuck, I don't like, but I begrudgingly accept," he told her. "You had someone who loved you unconditionally, treated you right. I wanted to be with you every day, and you threw that all away to let Chuck Bass decide when he's ready for you? You think you two have an epic love but all you have are excuses." BOOM. I feel so much better now -- particularly given Blair's despondent look as she stared at the engagement ring in the limo. Is this what validation feels like?
LOW: Blair's apology. Um, why is Blair apologizing to Serena!? Serena manipulated Blair's boyfriend into sleeping with her because Serena is petty and horrible, and videotaped it for the express purpose of hurting Blair, and then turned to drugs in a petulant bid for attention. So what, exactly, is Blair apologizing for? Feeling betrayed by her best friend again? Being hurt by someone she trusted again? The fact that Serena didn't offer a (much needed) apology in return or even gracefully accept Blair's apology was hideous. Gossip Girl wasn't being hyperbolic when she called Serena the love of Blair's life. This relationship has grown so toxic to Blair; it's heartbreaking.
LOWER THAN LOW: Rufus and Ivy. Ick, gross, nasty, sick, vomit, horrible, no. I don't even want to talk about it. I just want to find some bleach to pour into my eyeballs.
So far, "Gossip Girl" has fewer peaks than it has valleys -- but it's making (some) progress into turning (some) characters into adults as it comes to a close. Next week's episode includes a refreshing dose of humor, a couple of unexpected twists, and the return of Dan and Nate's epic bromance, so things are looking promising.
Until then, thanks for playing along. Feel free to let me know what you liked (and didn't like) in the comments section below! What were your highs and lows?