Five episodes into the season and already a CW-mandated break in programming! What better time than this, then, for a contemplation of just what’s been going down on the Upper East Side…
Well, folks, after last season’s addictively awesome, out of left field, screwball comedy-esque flirtation between the snarky Blair Waldorf (Leighton Meester) and the soulful Dan Humphrey (Penn Badgley)—see:
A bit of background: Blair spent their high school years ruling the Upper East Side’s younger set with a ruthless determination that would have had Lucretia Borgia reaching for her notebook, and which made her a natural enemy of Dan, an outsider who lived in Brooklyn, disdained her grandiosity, and appeared to care for none of her power plays and status games. When Dan became Blair’s best friend Serena’s (Blake Lively) on-again, off-again One True Love, no one was less impressed than the social-climbing Blair; years later, after the pair had shared a semester at NYU and then bonded over saving Serena from a mental institution and obscure foreign film, their mutual contempt turned to reluctant liking, which then turned to something more…at least, for one of them.
Blair, of course, has long enjoyed/endured a tempestuous, one might even say toxic, relationship with precocious billionaire philanderer Chuck Bass (Ed Westwick), and early last season she met an actual prince, a Grimaldi of the Monaco Grimaldis—which, I don’t get this. Why make up a fictional prince of the blood but not make up a fictional country for him to be prince of? Too The Princess Diaries, maybe?—who naturally decided He Had to Have Her, and swept her off her feet, Grace Kelly-style, at season’s end. This left the lovelorn Chuck dead inside, and the lovelorn Dan seeking to forget her with a summer in the Hamptons…but to no avail.
We weren’t two episodes in before Dan tried to lure Blair away from Prince Whatshisname (Hugo Becker—yes, yes, and I know his name is Louis, shut up) by playing the supportive friend card when she was doubting her fiancé’s intentions. He has spent much of the subsequent time either being her shoulder to lean on during a time of crisis (Blair’s pregnant, don’t you know, and for a while she wasn’t sure if it was Chuck or Louis that was the father—the hussy!) or anxiously worrying about her reaction if a certain fictionalized autobiography of his sees publication and she reads what he wrote about her.
Now, a quick note on this book of Dan’s. Called Inside, it has been compared in-show to Bonfire of the Vanities and has been called a “searing social satire.” It was bought by big time publishers Simon and Schuster when the author was simply known as “Anonymous” and the deal was signed by a college co-ed with no literary credentials whatsoever...yes, because that happens all the time. You see, Dan’s former girl- and best-friend, the self-righteous Vanessa (Jessica Szohr)—who is extraordinarily gorgeous and yet so freaking annoying it is to be hoped we never see her again—decided that his work was too good to stay hiding in a drawer. He hadn’t wanted to upset his friends and family by the speaking of truth to power; she believed that his book was High Art and that he had a responsibility to share it with the world and so, hey presto! New York Times best-seller, TV interviews, gala readings, movie rights, what have you.
Yes, because that happens all the time.
Dan comes clean about his role in the book, and as he had predicted, everyone gets pretty cross. Beautiful But Boring Nate (Chace Crawford) is upset that he was made only half a character; Dan’s Hot Dad (Matthew Settle) is none too pleased about being portrayed as a dilettante trophy husband; and Serena…ooh, she doesn’t like the book one bit. She’s furious with Dan, and more than a little put out with Blair. But why? Oh, it really is delicious, the why part. As she tells Blair, it’s because she’s “jealous.”
BLAIR: Well if it makes you feel better marrying a prince isn’t what fairytales would lead you to believe.
SERENA: No, that’s not what I was jealous about. You’re the star of Dan’s book.
BLAIR: Well as I said, it’s pure fiction.
Blair, you see, refused to read the book, sure that her portrayal in it would be (deservedly) as a vicious, scheming harpy; an echo of her high school self. But, er, no. Turns out Dan had deified Blair, making her his dream girl in the book and even having them sleep together – which, when Prince Thingamabob got to that part, sent him into yet another flurry of “I can’t trust Blair, she has so many secrets, why does every man in the world apparently want her?” blah blah blah. He storms out, leaving a fulminating Blair behind, glaring at Dan:
BLAIR: You’d better hope I can stop your fantasy life from destroying my real one.
DAN: Blair, I never wanted us to come between you two.
BLAIR: When are you going to get it through your head? There’s no us! There never was. There’s nothing here but friendship, and even that’s gone now.
I think a little part of me died inside when I heard those words.
So, where does all of this leave us, Dan and Blair-wise? Oh, I don’t the hell know. For a start, I’m pretty sure she still hasn’t read the book. And there is definitely trouble brewing in Fairy Tale Land, as Prince Jerkface has discovered that Blair had a paternity test done on their baby and seems to have decided the best way to deal with this is to mess with Chuck via his new therapist. Meanwhile, Chuck is still very torn up about his lost love, and when Blair told him about the baby she said, lower lip all aquiver: “A part of me was hoping it was yours.” But Dan’s devotion, while occasionally misguided, has definitely been constant these past months (something of a record among the ADD relationships of GG), and I just really feel like it should be rewarded.
More than that, I feel like my constancy should be rewarded. I’ve been watching this show more than four years, can’t I for once get what I want out of it? Dammit, can’t she see how much he digs her? How much more fun she’d have with the clever, charming Dan instead of the twisted Chuck or the annoyingly-accented Prince Whosiwhatsit? Can’t she see how much more fun I’d have? Because, please, for the love of all that is holy, give me flirtatious backbiting and crackling chemistry over star-crossed lovers or Disney Channel-worthy young marrieds any day.
And, seriously: if Dan and Serena get back together again, show… that’s it. We’re done.
Rachel Hyland is Editor in Chief of Geek Speak Magazine.