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Gossip Girl Review: The End and the Beginning

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After a startling cliffhanger and an excruciatingly long hiatus, Gossip Girl returned tonight with an episode that caught us up on what the characters have been up to since Blair went "Riding in Town Cars With Boys."

Continuing the season's dark tone, this evening's installment was an unconventional one by any measure. A time jump transported us from Thanksgiving to New Year's Eve, leaving flashbacks to fill in the blanks.

Did it make for an effective, compelling story? Yes and no.

Blair in Her Wedding Dress

The episode did improve as the night went on, culminating in a heartbreaking Chair scene for the ages. An intriguing new character was introduced, as were new twists to several existing plot lines.

The problem was that the bulk of this much-anticipated chapter was predicated on mystery that was a letdown at best and highly dubious at worst. Blair can't be with Chuck because of that? Seriously?

"Just because we can't be together, doesn't mean I don't love you."

Yes, she may still change her mind, and "The End of the Affair" may become the beginning of something greater - the fairy tale we all hope is coming. The past hour offered little resolution, however.

Watching Leighton Meester utter the above quote at both points in the episode was as believable as it gets. Sadly, the writing surrounding it was not; rather, it was at times both predictable and unsatisfying.

Obviously, B knows that modern medicine saved Chuck and not her plea for divine intervention. But as Serena said, why punish herself as a result? What's really holding her back right now? Nada.

Especially now that he's become such a wonderful person in her mind, and she's so unhappy with the man she's marrying in two weeks that she tells him virtually nothing about her life? Ever?

How is that the right decision, even if Louis is a good guy (which is highly debatable after Mr. Mad Computer Skills tried to out Blair and Dan's non-relationship at the Spectator New Year's party)?

It's obvious she doesn't want to marry Louis, and longs for Chuck. B is really deluding herself and everyone else at this point. Come on B. We know you've been through a lot, but pull it together!

Chuck and Louis as such close allies after all that transpired between them? A bit of a stretch, despite their shared goal. Dan's involvement in the faux-affair also felt forced and a little unnecessary.

Let me go on record saying that their friendship is awesome. I love Dan and Blair's banter and how close they've become in the past year. But the sneaking around felt like an unnecessary plot device.

Seriously, how awesome would it have been to see an actual Dair affair? Or at least some palpable romantic tension? Even if it was only on Dan's end? Alas. Just the Muppet helping facilitate B's bizarre shadiness.

Finally, the fact that Blair simply lost the baby was sort of phoned in. That didn't even play into her misery throughout this ordeal? It could've been implied, but there was nary a mention? Oh well.

Chuck Looking On

The saving grace is that Chuck isn't buying any of this either.

Dan and Serena's last-minute save - which actually somehow made sense in the context of so many things that didn't - explained Dair's creeping around ... sort of. But why was Chuck ostracized?

He will use everything in his power to find out. His words.

You've got until January 30, big guy, and we expect big things, in large part to make up for the spotty writing of this up-and-down episode. Dair and Chair both getting short-changed? Not a fan.

A brief rundown of what else happened tonight ...

  • Dan and Serena are totes in love! Well, maybe not yet. She's still hung up on him, clearly, and perhaps, if Blair and Chuck are truly meant to be, Serena and her Brooklyn Muppet will be too
  • Nate is The Man. The female members of our Gossip Girl Round Table will likely be swooning over the Spectator Editor-in-Chief's new take-charge businessman-with-integrity persona.
  • Nate is a target. Not everyone's a fan, though. With so much focus on Chair, it was a genuine surprise to learn that Nate was supposed to be in the town car with its brakes de-pressurized.
  • Gossip Girl is the missing link! A modern day, Blackberry-loving Deep Throat, G.G. holds the clues to the scandal. Will she reveal it - and herself - as Nate uncovers the truth!?
  • Serena is Gossip Girl 2.0, with a conscience! We'll see how long that last.
  • The real Charlie Rhodes! It was only a matter of time until she surfaced, but I didn't think it would happen so soon. Of course, Rufus and Lily didn't put this together just yet. Did Carol know Real Charlie was at Julliard this whole time? And how long before Chivy and her breathy voice return to tell more convoluted lies?
  • Rufus and Lily are cute. Too bad we didn't get to see the karaoke scene. Or thank goodness.
  • Eric and Jenny got a mention. Written off the show, but not the family. Good to know.
  • Penn Badgley will not get a haircut. The curls are off the hook. Fight the power.

All in all, the 2012 debut gave us a lot to discuss, even if it wasn't all positive, and piqued our curiosity going forward. Here's hoping that "The End of the Affair" is the beginning of something better.

Before we turn it over to your comments, here's next week's promo ...

What did you think of the winter premiere of Gossip Girl? Discuss below!

Review

Editor Rating: 2.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 2.1 / 5.0 (983 Votes)

Steve Marsi is the Managing Editor of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Google+ or email him here.

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Didn't like the episode, at all. The big parts were really predictable ! Blair's deal, we knew about that already: I remember comments were made when the promo came out, suggesting the content of the deal, RIDICULOUS ! Get a grip Blair for Pete's sake ! Oh and Nate's car, please, that one came up too ! Serena's "plot" was just boring, the "only plan" she could think of was pretending that Dan and her are together, cOME ON ! She didn't want him with Blair ! How convenient. The only thing that was interesting : Charlie Rhodes, the Original. At looong last ! Thought she was dead or something ! And Blair's line to Chuck , the scene was really sad. Gossip girl putting Nate in her pocket was a smart move considering the fact the he wanna take her down... Apart from that, disappointing episode.

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On the other hand, Derena was cute. I never thought I'd say that again.

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I knew this was the stupid thing from The End of the Affair. I know GG drew inspiration from other stories, but this one is a shitty story and should have not made it in.

Ninasmileface

What a lame episode for the Chuck/Blair/Louis storyline. I just feel like that the writers are trying to stall Chair until the wedding just for the sake of a wedding, lame. Yay for Derena! Even though they are siblings it still doesn't feel awkward. The reason why seasons 1 and 2 were the best was because of Chair and Derena. Bringing the real Charlie in is intriguing and I hope that she's better than Ivy, who I hope will never come back. Nate is finally interesting! The text from GG in the end gave me chills. I love it when GG is actually involved in the show. Overall I thought the episode had a lot of good set ups, but the main storyline just feels long and Blair becoming religious? Come on! I bet that a 5 year old could come up with a better sl.

Ninasmileface

What a lame episode for the Chuck/Blair/Louis storyline. I just feel like that the writers are trying to stall Chair until the wedding just for the sake of a wedding, lame. Everyone knows that Blair and Louis are over and I feel like all this build up for the wedding is pointless. I feel like this season will finally be good after the wedding. Yay for Derena! Even though they are siblings it still doesn't feel awkward. The reason why seasons 1 and 2 were the best was because of Chair and Derena. Bringing the real Charlie in is intriguing and I hope that she's better than Ivy, who I hope will never come back. Nate is finally interesting! The text from GG in the end gave me chills. I love it when GG is actually involved in the show. Overall I thought the episode had a lot of good set ups, but the main storyline just feels long and Blair becoming religious? Come on! I bet that a 5 year old could come up with a better sl.

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Blair needs therapy, or at least a less idiotic priest. Father Smythe is an idiot. He needs to go do some training with the priest from season 1, who pointed out that God is not a genie. Dan and Serena enabling this bothers me too, but Dan has to in order to fill the role of the suspected second affair that never actually happened. I'm surprised by how much of this was lifted from the film version of EotA. I wonder if they have to pay a royalty to the Greene estate? The return of stalker Chuck would have been more fun, if it hadn't been part of a nonsensical partnership with Louis. And as much fun as stalker!Chuck can be, I hope he quits by 5.14, because 5.13 is the wedding episode.

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I really enjoyed this episode. Though Blairs reasons are irrational she did just lose her child what woman would be rational. Couldn't help myself tearing up during the countdown scene with the music and the look on Dan's face it broke my heart.

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Well Chuck's maturity flew right out the window in this episode, a really nice grown up threat to Dan Chuckels.

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What a LAME assed excuse for Blair not to be with Chuck! So absurd! It doesn't even make sense that she is marrying a man she isn't in love with! Why does she feel the need to be with anybody? Can't she just be single? Surely it would be more logical to stay single than marry a man you don't love. I miss the good old days of season 1 & 2 when gossip girl was fun & sexy! Now it is just ridiculous & dull! ZZZZzzzzzzzzzzz...

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Just a little suggestion - in my opinion, a review of an episode of tv should at least offer a synopsis of the episode. I would like to read the review and have an idea of what happened on the show. Instead, these reviews are more editorializing and criticism. Maybe it's me, but most times I don't find these reviews helpful if I missed an episode - save the comments for the roundtable, and just let us know exactly what happened - stick to the facts, or at least offer all the facts.