Last night’s Gossip Girl had me and a room full of Gossip Girl fanatics ping ponging between near-hysterical laughter and groans of annoyance. It felt a lot like a cleansing for the show, flushing out the old story lines that just don’t work and purifying the show (and us) for the much more exciting ridiculousness we can expect in the weeks to come.


The storyline featured seemingly the entire class of Constance/St. Jude’s putting on a production of Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence(aside from Chuck who, for *god willing* the last time, spent the entire episode in a stupid B-story that doesn’t even merit really explaining). This provided for some great onstage drama (like Nate breaking down on stage, Blair and Dan “kissing” while really verbally assaulting each other). On top of that, Blair’s season long nervous breakdown continued when Nelly Yuki took her Yale spot thanks to the Admissions Director receiving a mysterious phone call explaining Blaire’s recent teacher-hazing. On top of that, nearly every friend turned on her (including Serena, who had a pretty loathsome week), which left her alone with her martini and the unwelcome return of Carter Baizen (don’t feel bad if you don’t remember him. In season one he was a rich-boy-turned-hippy who tried to scam Nate and got threatened by Chuck; he came back a little later as a potential cotillion-date, clean cut but just as evil). The episode ended with Chuck, after badgering around with Elle the Call Girl, finally realizing that not only does he love Blair, but he should probably stop dicking her around, and Blair realizing that nobody likes her and her future’s shot, so why not take the semi-creep who just called her beautiful for a roll in the sack?


As I said, it was an uneven episode. The Nate and Vanessa stuff was predictably boring, although I did enjoy the Serena/Vanessa bonding. Other than that, this was a pretty weak Serena episode. I hate that after all they’ve been through together, Serena still doesn’t believe Blair when she says something wasn’t her. When, in the history of this show, has Blair denied her bad deeds to anyone other than her father? She’s triumphantly bitchy, which requires honesty. On top of that, really Serena? If Blair had revealed that you only got into Yale because of press, THAT would be your breaking point? I know they referenced how absurd that was with her little speech, but all it did for me was reinforce the fact that if Serena can forgive Blair for announcing to an admissions director that she killed a man, then maybe they can weather “press releases.”


The gay theater teacher was almost as bad an actor as the guy who played Aaron, and I’m glad we’re not going to see him around anymore. The Chuck and Elle storyline was so stupid, I wonder how exactly anyone thought this was a good idea. But it seems like the writers realize nearly all of this, as they booted everything but the Vanessa/Nate stuff (and that looks like it’ll be seeing a lot of tension next week from Blair/Nate-gate-’09). The other truly awful storyline, Dan/Rachel, is FINALLY over, with Rachel being revealed as a bitch, but the actress is so weak that it didn’t feel satisfying or interesting. They didn’t give Rachel a single motivation, and she was a huge charisma-suck in every scene she was in. I’m glad the character got the unceremonious boot. Especially because-


I finally liked Dan again in this episode! Whether it was telling off Rachel, eating ice cream with Rufus, Kiss/fighting with Blair, or acting adorably mannered in The Age of Innocence, Dan was, for the first time in what feels like ages, the fun, smart, Josh Schwartz stand in he started as. I’m hoping this means good things to come for the younger Humphrey man.


The Blair storyline was pretty enjoyable, and she had some of the most hilarious moments of the episode in her quest to track down the person ruining her life. And I like when the show brings her to dark places, especially because it’s so much fun to watch her self destruct, and Leighton Meester carries it all so well. Honestly, the Blair ridiculousness nearly made up for the rest of the episode.


But the true star of this episode was the play. I love the idea of making all our dramatic students actually do something normal students do, like extra curricular activities. And having such a fresh experience for all of our favorite characters was pretty awesome. Or maybe I’m just a theatre geek.