The question heading into Season Five of Gossip Girl is whether the show will return to what made it great - humor, heart and a healthy dose of scandal - or continue on the path last season went down, with convoluted, over-the-top stories and, worse yet, our beloved characters not even acting like themselves.
So, did tonight offer fans reason for hope? Yes is most definitely the word.
Between the pregnancy reveal - so surprising I really didn't think Gossip Girl of all shows would go there - the tie-in with Daniel's novel, Nate's latest liaison and Chuck channeling his inner James Dean, "Yes, Then Zero" was a resounding success. We can only hope future episodes build on this and don't fizzle out.
"People like me don't write books, we're written about." - Chuck
When we first saw Mr. Bass tonight, adored in his ascot and roaring up to his newly-obtained yacht on his motorcycle, his change in attitude was apparent (even as his taste for the finer things remains the same).
Part cowboy philosopher, part rebel without a cause (unless you can consider going balls to the wall and saying yes to anything a cause), he's happy for the first time in awhile. Or at least doing a good job faking it.
But, as always with Chuck, there's a darkness lurking within. Witness his reaction to the crash, and his apparent unwillingness to seek help or dial back his adrenaline meter even after sustaining a pretty severe injury.
At some point, he's bound to take it too far, but it's fun to see him leap off buildings and some knowledge on Nate and Serena right now. Just seeing those three hang out and enjoy laughs as friends again was a welcome treat.
Chuck's two-headed sidekick was a bit boring at times, but that was almost the point. Both Nate and Serena seemed to acknowledge that they'd lost their way and don't even know who they are anymore (I blame the writers).
While Marshall's ploy to get Serena fired felt lame, considering she was kind of a model employee almost trying too hard not to step on toes, it's great that S was rewarded in the end for applying herself and doing legit work.
L.A. fashion clearly works on SoCal native Blake Lively, too. Not surprising.
On a side note, how funny was it to see Patrick Roberts, Olivia's old vampire co-star, in his Hollywood element? This little creative touch wasn't essential to the plot, but was surely appreciated by many fans.
Of course, this is still Gossip Girl and in the closing moments, Serena happened to bump into non-cousin Charlie in a city of 20 million people. Ivy apparently headed west with her boyfriend after her "acting" gig last spring.
What's she planning next? Does anyone care? The jury's still out now. We'll see what Charlie/Ivy has planned next week, and whether it will connect Serena's story arc with the rest of the gang back in New York.
If you've read any Gossip Girl spoilers this summer, you know Elizabeth Hurley's character, Diana Payne, is a media mogul whose manipulations of Nate, whatever they might be, ultimately involve Gossip Girl herself.
Once Nate started taking Chuck's advice and becoming the ultimate "yes" man, another notch on his bedpost was an inevitability. Only he was also being played by Diana, who was excited to have "made contact" with him.
Much as we all enjoy his usual displays of concern for Chuck, pot expertise and skill with the ladies, hopefully Nate will play a more substantive role this fall. Clearly he's being targeted for some role by Ms. Payne.
Hurley makes a sexy and intriguing villain for the Upper East Siders, and I'm dying to know what she's up to. There's something about her that makes the stakes feel heightened ... 10 times more so than with Russell Thorpe.
Back in New York, the dueling drama of Dan's story and Blair's wedding planning - with Louis caught in the middle of each - dovetailed brilliantly, revealing just enough at all the right moments to pique your interest.
It also ended with perhaps the biggest OMFG moment since we learned Serena killed someone.
However unrealistic the circumstances of its publication, Inside by Anonymous, a.k.a. Dillon Hunter, is apparently some book! The excerpt that was to run in Vanity Fair made it abundantly clear who the focal point was, too.
The future Princess of Monaco, Blair Waldorf, spent so much time fretting over typical Blair Waldorf things that by the time the wedding planner called her out - and she didn't deny it - her pregnancy secret was truly shocking.
Dorota did a great job fooling Eleanor and likely more than a few viewers, too, in covering for her BFF. But her body does not lie. I guess. Leighton Meester actually looks thinner than ever to me. But give it a few weeks!
Dan's behavior this week was truly eye-opening. His mannerisms and cryptic comments certainly made it out to seem like he and Blair did more than kiss. Like a lot more. More importantly, he's obviously IN LOVE WITH HER.
Even though he knew precisely what Louis was doing when he stood Blair up and why, Dan was prepared to let her skip town, with him, and leave her fairy tale behind. That's one whopper of a lie by omission, Lonely Boy.
You don't do that for someone you're not head over heels for. Dair is very much alive ... at least as far as the feelings on one side are concerned, and possibly an unborn child is concerned. Can you imagine if it's Dan's?
Penn Badgley is certainly looking the part of the unkempt writer, yearning for his past lover. I'm glad the writers didn't torpedo Dan's feelings for Blair altogether, which would've made so much of last season feel trite.
What happens between now and November 26 - save the date!! - will be interesting to say the least. Will Blair keep the baby? If so, will she start to show? Will Dan pursue her in earnest? Will Chuck, despite his motivational speech?
And obviously, the ten trillion dollar question: Who's the father?!
All in all, a strong beginning to Gossip Girl's fifth season, and one that should give you plenty to discuss with TV Fanatic as you hit the comments below! Come back tomorrow for news, promos and our Round Table!
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