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Social Climbers, Dethroned Queen Bees, and Sibling Rivalry on the Return of "Gossip Girl"

Greetings, Gossip fans. I'm wondering this chilly morning in LA what everyone thought of last night's episode ("The Blair Bitch Project"), the first new installment since the series took a breather following a writers strike-related production shutdown.

I used the Gossip Girl's, er, spring break to catch up on the previously aired installments to date and wound up kind of getting hooked on the series. When it works, it's like a teenage version of Les Liaisons dangereuses, seen through the modern prism of Cruel Intentions, albeit with a better wardrobe and a slightly more tongue-firmly-in-cheek mentality. When it doesn't work (i.e., anything to do with Vanessa or Nate's dad), it makes me want to rip out my stylishly coiffed hair.

But enough about that. I was curious to see how the series' writers would deal with the fallout between dethroned Queen Bee Blair and backstabbing social climber Jenny (the series' most delicious storyline). After making Blair the school's de facto social pariah (move over, Serena), Jenny becomes one of the charmed circle, jetting off with the girls for Spring Break in Aspen and getting a luxe makeover, paid for by the sale of her formerly beloved sewing machine and, oh, some grand theft.

I was hoping for a more gradual transition for Jenny from outsider to member of the inner circle, but with only five episodes to go this season, I understand that the pace needs to be sped up significantly while we sprint to the season finale. Still, I was confused how that one little hanger-on also went from peon to princess over the course of the break and I do miss Kati (Nan Zhang), whom I always preferred over Isabel (Nicole Fiscella), her other half. Serena casually mentions that Kati's dad moved her entire family to Israel and, apparently, she'll never be seen, heard from, or mentioned ever again. Which made Jenny's entry into the popular crowd less earned, as we've never, ever seen any of these girls before.

That said, I was glad to see the war between Jenny and Blair will be escalating over the next few episodes as Jenny continues to prove that she's more than a match for manipulative Blair, even after Blair tries to regain her crown following Jenny's lame birthday party and her unmasking as the Valentino thief. But leave it a social climber to engineer a potential alliance between the new Queen Bee and Nate in order to regain her place at the Butter table. Sorry, B, but you'll have to try harder than that if you want to reclaim your throne.

Meanwhile, I knew that the mysterious Georgina (Michelle Trachtenberg) had to be behind the mysterious gifts that Serena was getting--a box of porn and handcuffs, a case of Veuve Cliquot champagne, and a packet of cocaine--but that didn't make the storyline any less intriguing. Just what do these items have to do with the real reason Serena fled Manhattan's Upper East Side and what incident happened between Serena and Georgina to make them the bitterest of enemies?

Yet I didn't expect Serena to turn for help--not to Blair--but to her future step-brother Chuck, whom she suspected was behind the "presents" she was receiving (and which earned him a one-way ticket back to his solo suite). If a Blair-Chuck pairing created such fire, I can't wait to see what happens when he teams up with Serena to battle the aptly-named Georgina Sparks.

Sidebar: who didn't love Chuck's oh-so-clever cardigan featuring his namesake fish--bass--during his family time? Or cringe during his "hand towel" exchange to sis-to-be Serena? I also roared with laughter when Blair stumbled into a Breakfast at Tiffany's homage (the film's final scene that finds Audrey Hepburn's Holly Golightly looking for Cat in that filthy alley), especially when Blair offered an "ewww" looking at a dirty crate. Ha!

Meanwhile, Jenny and Nate seem a little too chummy to me, leading me to wonder if they're destined to end up together somehow after a series of needless complications, if only as a way to finance Jenny's meal ticket. I can definitely see these two falling into each other's arms, especially as Nate and Chuck are on the outs (not to mention Nate and Blair) and the producers are definitely pushing Nate, Serena, and Dan together as a little united coterie of outcasts. It's only a matter of time before one of the circling cats gets her claws into him, so it might as well be Jenny than, ugh, Vanessa.

Simply put: It's getting good. This was the tone and plotting only hinted at in the pilot episode and I am glad that the producers are looking to push the envelope a little with the characters (though I do agree with Penn Badgley that his Dan could use some scruffing up) and that the series hasn't taken a turn for the worse following the CW's trashy promotional campaign, which rubbed a lot of fans the wrong way.

Still, I'm happy to admit now what I fought against last year: this is one strain of Gossip I'm not embarrassed to be hooked on.

Next week on Gossip Girl ("Desperately Seeking Serena"): Serena's former partner in crime Georgina Sparks (Michelle Trachtenberg) returns to Manhattan, Nate falls for social outcast Vanessa (no!), and Jenny meets a guy who could ensure her permanent popularity. I can't wait!

Comments

Great ep. I was a little disappointed that the Jenny/Blair storyline moved along so quickly (with Jenny's status changing faster than her hairstyles) but relieved that the battle between B and Little J is far from over.

And it looks like another battle is about to begin with the introduction of Georgina. I can't wait to see Michelle Trachtenberg as this character!
Anonymous said…
Actually we have seen Jenny's bitchy new friends before... they appeared briefly in the last episode before the strike. But you're right, it still doesn't feel earned at all.
Anonymous said…
Well, we saw Isabel and the tall, dark one but not the little blond one or the other midget. I don't think it was earned at all.

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