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Red, White, and Blue (Bloods): A Look at the First Three Episodes of Season Two of "Gossip Girl"

Just when September is right upon us (and with it the return of shorter evenings, the school year, close-toed shoes, and all sorts of responsibilities), the CW is bringing you a bit of an antidote to the end-of-summer blues in the form of Season Two of its guilty pleasure Gossip Girl.

I teased you last week with a few tidbits about what the first three fabulous episodes of Gossip Girl have to offer but I'm happy to say that these initial sophomore installments have more pleasure than guilt to offer and are a welcome return to the cattiness and depravity we've come to know and love.

While the CW is being especially stern with journos reviewing these opening installments of Gossip Girl about revealing certain elements of the storyline (or I should say, one plot twist which I called during the opening scenes), I will say that there's a host of sinfully tantalizing shenanigans going on when Gossip Girl returns, including some unexpected dalliances out in the Hamptons, where we find our characters when our story begins.

For Serena (Blake Lively), it's been a challenging summer as she attempts to get over the dissolution of her relationship with Dan (Penn Bedgley) and has been pretending to be involved with Nate (Chace Crawford) all summer... for reasons that no one else seems to understand. Nate, meanwhile, is involved with a married older woman (guest star Madchen Amick) and Serena's loner act is just the thing he needs to provide a decent cover story for his, er, comings and goings. Blair (Leighton Meester) has been in Europe and turns up in the Hamptons with a new paramour (Patrick Heusinger), though it might just be a cheap attempt to make Chuck (Ed Westwick) jealous. Unluckily for him, it seems to be working... though there's more to Blair's new BF than meets the eye, just not what Chuck suspects.

Meanwhile, back in Manhattan (or at least Brooklyn), Jenny (Taylor Momsen) is hard at work at a summer internship with Blair's mom's company and not getting any sort of validation (which Jenny always craves) from her hellion of a boss, Laurel, a spiteful woman who seems to want to put Jenny in her place and have her pay her dues before she can attend the White Party and make something of herself. I'll give you one guess where this Cinderella story is going, though there is a very nice surprise in the third episode, "The Dark Night," which finds Manhattan plunged into darkness.

Dan seems to be taking his new found bachelor status in his stride and is dating up a storm (a different girl every night for the former Lonely Boy!) while Rufus (Matthew Settle) is still on the road with his band. Dan manages to blow his cushy summer internship when he can't to put pen to paper and write anything. I'm not quite sure why Dan and Jenny's internship issues seem to mirror one another's, but Dan's storyline is extremely boring (to the point where I wanted to scratch my eyes out) and I'm glad when they wrap it up quickly by letting his mentor give him the boot in "Summer Kind of Wonderful." (Yes, that is "Bright Lights, Big City" author Jay McInerney slumming it as Dan's famous author mentor.) Not unpredictably, Dan quickly jets off to the Hamptons (or takes the Jitney, anyway) in order to try to win back Serena, leading to a beachside campfire reunion for the star-crossed duo.

And then there's Vanessa (Jessica Szohr). Poor Vanessa, with a chip on her shoulder the size of The Ritz, often found herself out in the cold in Season One and here in Gossip Girl's second season, the writers still don't seem to know what to do with her. She continues her streak of doing basically nothing with no parental supervision and, this time around, the writers have given her an achingly dull storyline in which she transforms part of Rufus' gallery into a cafe/coffee shop. Yes, all on her own and I'm still scratching my head trying to figure out how she got around the strict zoning regulations and managed to set up, install, equipment and pay a fleet of contractors, construction workers, and vendors without any help from Rufus.

All I can say is that the producers had better NOT be taking us down the garden path with Vanessa and Rufus, who seem to be far too chummy these days. I get that neither of them has anyone to talk to lately (with Lily still on her honeymoon in Asia and Dan doing... whatever it is he's doing these days), but for the love of all things Henri Bendel, do not push the two of them into some sort of statutory relationship. Ick.

On a brighter note, there's plenty of scandal, debauchery, and backstabbing going on to make up for the lame Vanessa storyline. Gasp as Nate gets blackmailed into becoming a male prostitute in order to earn some quick cash! Witness the rekindling of Serena and Dan's romance (after some patented misunderstandings, that is) and the love/hate dynamic of Blair and Chuck's tortured love affair (including a very interesting bedroom scene). See Chuck do something selfless for a friend... and get yelled at for it. Watch as Serena and Dan get trapped inside an elevator during a citywide blackout... and don't end up making out. Astonish as Dorota (Zuzanna Szadkowski) throws together a fabulous return to Manhattan party for Blair all on her own. Find yourself baffled by why all of the characters seem to love Vanessa!

Given the dearth of salacious scripted programming this summer, I do wish that the CW had been able to air a few episodes of Gossip Girl during August (though it would have had to have gone up against the Olympics), just as FOX had done a few years back with The O.C.

Whatever the shape or form, I am glad to have Gossip Girl back on the airwaves as primetime definitely needs a little more catfights and couture. And these three plum episodes prove that there's still quite a lot of life left in these characters and the start of Gossip Girl's second season proves just as potent a love letter to teen dramas and nighttime soaps as its first. XOXO, as they say.

Gossip Girl's sophomore season kicks off Monday, September 1st at 8 pm on the CW, but in the meantime, here's a sneak peek at the first five minutes of the season premiere:


Anonymous said…
I was debating whether or not to watch this again next season but your review made me reconsider dropping the show. So what's the secret plot twist they won't let you reveal?
The CineManiac said…
Funny, I was writing an e-mail last night to get your thoughts on these 3 episodes. I got my copy in the mail yesterday and Jeri and I watched the first 2 right away (Owen woke up or we would have watched #3 as well)
So far I've really enjoyed it, but I agree with your comment last week about hearing the words "The Dutchess" ever again.
Anonymous said…
Gossip Girl premieres on Monday, September 1st, not the 2nd!
Jace Lacob said…
[Editor's Note: Launch date corrected in story.]
Anonymous said…
While I can't say I'm happy about seeing more of the tedious Vanessa, I think that the Hamptons storyline sounds like a great way to begin the season!

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