Oh, Gossip Girl. So many times this season I have been this close to deleting you from my regular viewing schedule. There has been some outright silliness that has been difficult to get past, most of it involving a faux version of the royal family of Monaco, a faux scion of which you engaged – and then wed – to the Upper East Side’s reformed-villainess, Blair Waldorf (Leighton Meester).
And that is hardly all: there have been other trials besetting me, many of which had me contemplating the wisdom of continuing on. There was Beautiful but Boring Nate (Chace Crawford) dating Elizabeth Hurley and then going on to head his own online newspaper; because yes, of course that happened. There was Serena (Blake Lively), trying desperately to find herself, which just gave her way too much screen time to pout and look pensive. There was the mess of Ivy Dickens (Kaylee DeFer) pretending to be Serena’s cousin Charlie, which culminated in a recent – all too coincidental – reveal, when the actual Charlie (Ella Rae Peck) showed up. There was Serena’s reanimated love of on-again-off-again boyfriend and step-brother, Dan (Penn Badgeley), which…. really?; plus the dreary mopeyness of once-fascinating bad boy, Chuck Bass (Ed Westwick). And above all, there was the return of the hateful Georgina Sparks (Michelle Trachtenberg), who is without a doubt the smartest person on the show but is also a truly malevolent force; she is, as Nate said a couple of episodes back, with uncharacteristic pith, “pretty much the worst person you’ll ever meet.”
Through all of this – and more – though, one thing kept me going. One thing kept me forging on, kept me returning to the stylized Manhattan of these spoiled brats, and even kept me clamoring for more. Dan and Blair, folks. Dan and Blair!
I have made no secret of my frantic shipping of the aristocratic Blair and perennial outsider, Dan Humphrey. Out of nowhere (to me, at least; apparently there have been Dair shippers around for, quite seriously, years), they developed a screwball-esque, Moonlighting: The Early Years kind of vibe of which I simply could not get enough. It was about a year ago that I first detected the possibility of a romance between these two very, very opposites, and it took only a few episodes for me to get wholeheartedly behind it. She, the sassy sophisticate; he, the scrappy scholar-type, it all started when they had to band together to help save Serena from a vicious schemer plotting her doom, then it continued throughout an off-screen college vacation where all their friends headed out of town. After which they’d chat on the phone, mostly discussing French cinema and insulting one another, but slowly, slowly, grudging regard turned to liking and then, at least on one part, to love.
Over six months later, and five episodes into this, GG’s fifth season, I again waxed somewhat lyrical over the possibility of Dan and Blair, though at the time I was less than hopeful that my bizarre little ship would ever come into dock. Blair was, you see, not only engaged to be married but also pregnant at that time, and one just doesn’t wish a miscarriage upon anyone – not even a fictional anyone – and nor does one hope that she will call off her engagement to the father of her child.
Blair, however, did decide to call off her engagement – she ran away with Chuck, though, not Dan, dammit – and then the show went all Princess Diana when the town car in which they were fleeing was run off the road by motorbike-riding paparazzi… which led to two developments. One, Blair suffered a miscarriage. And two, she decided she couldn’t be with Chuck because she had prayed for his life while he’d lain unconscious after the accident, promising to honor her engagement if only he’d recover. And moments later, he revived.
(Yeah, it was pretty thin, and very, very lame. I probably shouldn’t have expected better because hey, this is Gossip Girl, but I did.)
Anyway. Blair carried on, playing at would-be Princess and trying to devote herself to Louis, but still Dan was a constant in her life, whether comforting her or annoying her or allowing her to make fun of his hair. (Which totally deserves it, by the by.) When finally came her wedding day, Blair confessed her love of Chuck in such poignant, tear-stained terms that I was sure my Dair dreams were over – but then, while dreary Prince Louis (Hugo Becker) went through with the event even after the video of that heartfelt confession made its way onto the titular blog, he was humiliated and declared their marriage would henceforth be purely business. This – hurrah! – sent Blair running straight into the helpful arms of her friend Dan, who drove her from the reception straight to the airport whereat – and seriously, I am not kidding; it was by far the stupidest thing she has ever done – she tried to use a photograph of herself from a newspaper as a passport. (When you’re Blair Waldorf, apparently Homeland Security is something that only happens to other people.)
Sadly, Blair’s hope for a quickie divorce was dashed by the pre-nup she had been forced to sign, in which a dowry apparently totaling the sum total of all the Waldorf family assets was the penalty for her distinctly unroyal behavior. She was assigned a royal minder, was perplexingly allowed to live in New York (where there is, it seems, perplexingly little media interest in her; ridiculous!) and it was there, just three episodes ago, on Valentine’s Day, that Blair and Dan shared their first real kiss.
And bizarrely, it is Serena we have to thank.
Serena, who is in love (again) with Dan. Serena, who was lovelorn on Valentine’s Day, and whom Blair decided to help by setting her up with her old/new flame. Dan played along, all the while wanting Blair (of course), but he hardly dared hope until she was giving him advice on how to win over her best-friend:
“Just be your charming, wonderful self, like you’ve been with me all year,” she said, with unwonted sweetness. She went on to enumerate his many acts of kindness, where she was concerned. “If you’re that guy with Serena, how could she not love you?”
The dawning realization on Dan’s face then was so indescribably adorable that the fact that they later kissed, and in Chuck’s very bedroom no less, should have come as no surprise. (And yet, it did. A pretty good one, I’ll admit.) Oh, they’ve kissed before. There was an unsuccessful experiment last season, which did nothing but confirm Blair in her love for Chuck. But this was real; this, as Dan said, “wasn’t like last year. You kissed me back. I felt it.” Still, Blair remained in denial; an episode later, she desperately tried to convince Serena (and herself), that she felt nothing for Dan, even at one point suggesting that a kiss between them could never be passionate, but instead it would be: “perfunctory, like shaking someone’s hand. Or petting a dog.”
This was rapidly disproved, by the way. More than once. And then Blair finally acknowledged her interest in Dan, while Serena looked on wanly. But despite all of these signs of, at last, a consummation devoutly to be wish’d – for a little while, at any rate – I was filled with a sense of foreboding. In the latest episode before we set off for hiatus, it was at last revealed to all that it was Dan who sent in the fateful wedding day video to Gossip Girl. I feared the Wrath of Blair. I feared to see her once again in the arms of Chuck. But Dan was so soulful, so winning in his explanation; he hadn’t thought she’d come to him, he’d just wanted her to get out of her marriage so that she’d be happy.
So Blair forgave him… and then. Then! The episode ended with kisses and declarations and Blair actually calling him by his first name – he’s been “Humphrey” to her for pretty much ever – and all was (momentarily) right with the world. Or, at least, as right as a welcome plot development on a tawdry prime time soap opera can make it, anyway. Suffice it to say, as we headed into the credits I had a genuine smile on my face, feeling not even one quibble about the episode that had preceded it, which never happens.
And which happy state of affairs lasted right up until I saw the preview for the next episode.
I really try to avoid the teasers for what is up next on my favorite shows, just as I try to avoid movie trailers and book blurbs. But I wasn’t quick enough to change the channel, and so ended up seeing that when Gossip Girl returns on April 2, Dan and Blair will take their relationship to the next level… and that level will not be fun. In fact, the words “the sex was bad” were uttered, which really makes me wonder if all of this has been worth it. Oh, I certainly don’t want, or expect, this longed-for couple to stay together too easily, here. As I’ve mentioned before in these pages, all too often a TV HEA = RIP, and there will simply be no reason for me to tune in to this show if Dan and Blair become as tedious as the rest of the simpletons and sociopaths being offered up to us each week. But, come on! Can’t we get at least one episode to revel in the granting of this season-long wish before finding ourselves embroiled in issues just a shade too Reality TV for anyone’s comfort?
Or maybe this is a sign that the time has finally come. Maybe this next episode will be the one that does me in – or possibly sets me free. Frankly, after almost five years, with every possible permutation of coupledom explored and with the identity of our seemingly omniscient blogger still a total, doubtless unsolvable, mystery, it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world if neither Serena nor Nate nor Chuck nor even Dorota (Zuzanna Szadkowski) ever came in my way again. I really find myself wondering if maybe I should just consider this last episode, the one that left me smiling, my own personal series finale, and boycott any further outings entirely.
Oh, but who am I kidding? You know I’ll never do it. You know I love you, Gossip Girl. (XOXO.) And above all, you know I love you, Dan and Blair – no matter what cringe-worthy disappointment your bed games are set to bring. (And that, my friends, may well be the most embarrassing sentence I have ever, ever, written. Don’t tell anyone, okay?)
Rachel Hyland is the Editor in Chief of Geek Speak Magazine.