This week, the Upper East Siders find themselves in the midst of that time-honored teen tradition of “finding themselves.” Serena, still resolute in deferring her college career at Brown for another year agonizes with soon-to-be-stepfather Rufus about how to break the news to her mother, bracing herself for Lily’s gamut of disapproving facial expressions and rebuttals. Lily, fresh from her visit taking care of her sick mother (and actress Kelly Rutherford fresh off of maternity leave), doesn’t give Serena much time to state her case. As Lily insists that Serena is making a major mistake, shrugging off the life-changing potential of an Ivy League education, in turn, Serena insists she will get a job to a skeptical Lily who points out her daughter’s lack of experience.
Meanwhile, Jenny and Eric set out on their first day as Seniors at Constance/St. Jude. The reluctant successor to Blair’s throne, Jenny immediately gathers the female student body together to insist that the old hierarchy is dead, ushering in an era of sunshine and light where we’re free to be you and me. This does not go over too well with the holdovers from Blair’s regime who immediately text the old Queen B to inform her that Jenny has abolished the ruling class with her newfound status.
Blair, frustrated herself with the lack of social hierarchy on the NYU campus, pines for her days at Constance when those without a gold card and designer wardrobe knew their place. After an amusing exchange at the campus café, Blair realizes that the Masters of the Universe society she wishes to join has nothing to do with Wall Street, but is populated with stereotypical geeks who happen to be aficionados of the ‘80s He-Man cartoon. (It’s a rare show that can combine designer labels with witty references and dorkster shout-outs.)
Although Chuck and the delightful Dorota attempt to point out she’s sliding backwards on the evolutionary scale, Blair still insists upon attempting to relive her Senior year as a college Freshman. In a desperate attempt to feel her former Queen B status still matters, Blair hosts her annual sleepover for the girls of Constance, much to the delight of the dejected Ladies of the Court wannabes in the reign of Little J. In communication with the well-dressed rabble, Blair urges them to stage a coup and return Constance to its rightful, old money status quo. This coup goes rather successfully and an army of headband clad she-tyrants runs roughshod over Little J’s mandate.
Over at NYU, Vanessa finds herself with a new, high-profile roommate. Enter Hillary Duff portraying a young actress, Olivia Burke, who has decided to juggle a movie career along with a “normal” stint at college. Things take a turn for the Hannah Montana as Olivia runs into Dan at a lunch truck on campus and tells him her name is really “Kate” (which, as we later find out, is actually her middle name). Pleasantries and numbers are exchanged and you can smell the burgeoning, “refreshingly normal” romance between the two of them. He asks to see her that night, but she says she’s “working.”
It’s not entirely a lie, considering that when Olivia/Kate says “working,” she means she’s attending the premiere of her new movie, <em>Fleur</em>, a WWII-era romance/espionage pic that’s poised to boost her career to Oscar-worthy (snicker) heights. That is, if you can believe her publicist — a dewy, yet calculating twenty-something brunette.
After being turned away from numerous, fashion-related job interviews for said lack of experience Lily warned about, Serena eventually finds herself situated at the bar. (No matter how long I watch this show, I’m still endlessly amused by how well these teens hold their liquor and fail to get carded.) After seeing Serena give Olivia/Kate tips on how to evade the eye of the paparazzi, the celebrity publicist dubs S as “The Diva Whisperer” and hires her to assist her with handling Ursula, a needy yet relatively sweet actress who is yet another client/pawn to the publicist.
As it turns out, Ursula (played by Tyra Banks, looking runway ready) takes an instant liking to Serena who manages to calm the frantic actress and gain her trust. Mere hours before Ursula is set to attend the premiere of <em>Fleur</em>, the publicist receives word that the scene Ursula was so proud of has been cut from the final version of the film. Serena feels it’s their duty to let Ursula know this, while the publicist insists otherwise. She claims that if Ursula knew the truth, she would bail on the high-profile premiere and damage her career by being a no-show. In reality, the publicist is hoping for a public meltdown of epic proportions to further her own career in public relations. Mrrowr!
The episode’s stories come to a head at the grand premiere. Serena gets Rufus to invite Lily to attend the premiere with him so that she can show him that she is capable of handling a high profile job, sans college education. A skeptical Lily witnesses Serena in action as Ursula discovers, mid-premiere, that her part has been substantially reduced, running from the theatre in tears. Feeling morally constricted, Serena confronts her publicist boss who urges her to help push Ursula towards a public freak-out. Instead, Serena tells the actress to come out of hiding, attend the rest of the premiere, and be gracious. Infuriated, the publicist fires Serena on the spot for undermining her wishes. Although Serena initially receives fallout from Lily for this uneducated error on her part, Serena is eventually rehired by the publicist thanks to Ursula who refuses to be a client unless she takes S back.
Once again, by happenstance, at the premiere of <em>Fleur</em>, Dan runs into Olivia/Kate at the premiere and calls “Kate” out on her lie that she was “working” that night and couldn’t go out. Finally, after about a thousand flashbulbs go off and he hears “Kate” referred to as “Olivia,” Dan puts two and two together and realizes his love interest is famous. Dan is not sure he wants to date someone who isn’t “refreshingly normal.” As usual, this is par for the course and Dan Humphrey (who was refreshingly less whiny this season) reverts back to his old, whiny, self-righteous self yet again.
Not the only Humphrey to attend the <em>Fleur</em> premiere, Jenny also scores a ticket, thanks to everyone’s favorite Fairy Godfather, Chuck Bass. In an attempt to re-instate Jenny as Queen Bee of Constance and pull Blair’s head out of high school, Chuck arrives at the premiere of Fleur with Jenny on his arm. Gossip Girl sends out an email blast which reaches the high school girls at Blair’s sleepover. Infuriated that her boyfriend was flaunting Jenny Humphrey at the premiere, Blair makes a beeline for the premiere.
Chuck accomplishes his two-fold mission, giving Jenny back her coveted spot at the top of the Constance heap and giving Blair the confidence she needs to deal with the change of atmosphere at laidback NYU. After all, Blair was the girl who got the infamous womanizer Chuck Bass to tell her he loved her. Chuck also neglects to tell Blair that he paid a paparazzo to snap a shot of her and to recognize her as <em>the</em>Blair Waldorf.
The following day, Jenny steps up her regime as new Queen of Constance, finding herself greeted by a gaggle of girls who have chucked their headbands in favor of vintage leather jackets and neon petticoats beneath their regulation plaid kilts. Demanding that her step on the Met be kept and a yogurt waiting for her, order of a new kind was restored in the high school setting.
Across town at NYU, Blair held court with three more submissive socialite types who she could bend to her will and enlist in her campaign to bring a little bit of the old Constance hierarchy to free-spirited NYU. Determined not to adapt, but rather to change her environment around her, Blair Waldorf is back.
In yet another dorm at NYU, roomies Vanessa and Olivia share a heart to heart. V assuages any doubts Olivia has about Dan, urging him to give him a chance. She draws upon her own experience with Scott (AKA – Lily and Rufus’ long-lost love child) that sometimes, it’s hard to digest finding out that someone is hiding who they truly are. Olivia listens and decides to give Dan another chance after Humphrey himself finally comes around and realizes his relationship with Olivia can be “refreshingly normal” if he wants it to be. Meanwhile, Vanessa places a call to Scott, hoping to rekindle something.
According to next week’s previews, it looks like Scott will likely play an unlikely part in Rufus and Lily’s wedding. Because we all know that no <em>Gossip Girl</em> wedding can go off without some major calamity, right? Til next time!
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