Monday's Gossip Girl was the 99th installment since the show's debut (all the way back in September 2007) and the final one before the royal wedding / 100th episode spectacular we've had circled on our calendars forever.
The question, especially after "The End of the Affair" last week, was whether "Father and the Bride" would be mostly light-hearted filler or raise the stakes with any dramatic developments leading into next week.
In terms of the central storyline, not a lot changed. Chuck came into tonight determined to find out why Blair is shutting him out. He got nowhere until the closing moments, when an unlikely ally joined his side.
Nate formed an unexpected partnership of his own discovered the truth about the accident courtesy of a quid pro quo with Gossip Girl. After one fake firing of Serena and a little subterfuge, Trip was outed as the perp.
Blair, meanwhile, was manipulated by Beatrice, got absolutely plastered with the bridge and tunnel people of N.Y., ended up in a Sixth Precinct holding cell, but ended the night on a happy note ... for the wrong reasons.
Yes, Louis and his ghostwriter Dan may be the most surprising duo of all.
CELEBRATE! It took 99 episodes, but an African-American guy was spotted on Gossip Girl!
While the episode certainly kept us guessing, had its share of comedic moments and did a reasonable job of advancing the stories, it still stretched the limits of believability and was rather uneven at times.
The motives of Father Cavallia are the hardest to believe/understand. It's not that a corrupt priest is implausible, but he wants to sabotage the wedding to ... maintain his spot on the royal court? Really? We care why?
Shows work best when you get to know characters over time - at least long enough to understand how they operate and why, so they don't have to rush an explanation of their actions in 30 seconds of thrown-together dialogue.
Cavallia and Beatrice's scheme to stop the nuptials came out of left field and felt forced as a result. I know Blair needed a push to get tanked and Chuck needed a conduit for information, but this was very spotty writing.
The bachelorette party was a fun time, don't get me wrong.
How can you not love Blair Waldorf reminiscing about her exes, slurring in her outdoor voice, dropping her guard and uncomfortably grinding on a bunch of dudes better suited for Jersey Shore than Gossip Girl?
This could've been accomplished without Beatrice's goal of getting Blair to humiliate herself, though. Why not let her have a real bachelorette party with Serena in tow, minus the unnecessary - and ultimately ineffectual - plotting?
All very strange. Entertaining, but strange. Heading into the wedding, we're pretty much right where we started this evening, save for Chuck becoming the priest's new apprentice and Louis enlisting ... Dan!
Typical Humphrey, confessing his true feelings for Blair in such a way that he doesn't have to own them. Come on Dan. Hopefully before Louis reads any of those heartfelt vows, their true author is revealed.
Presumably, Blair is somewhat familiar with Dan's writing, and clearly she and Louis don't share the connection she has with Dan. Or Chuck. Wouldn't she be the slightest bit suspicious?
Maybe I'm nitpicking. In any case, as much as I enjoy Chuck creeping around Blair and pretending to shop for velour track pants, I can't wait to see things come to a head next Monday.
CREEPIN': Charles doesn't stand out whatsoever as he lurks by the Juicy Couture store.
On a (slightly) less confusing note, Nate made a deal with the devil herself and came out on top. We talked last week in our Round Table about how we love take-charge, CEO Nate, and he stepped up again tonight.
Despite being born rich, handsome and charming, it's not easy being Archibald. Who knew he had it in him, now only going toe-to-toe with GG and outwitting Trip, but standing up to The Grandfather?
Breaking out of his family's shadow has been huge for him, and hopefully it continues. With enough investor capital, he may be able to buy his freedom, so to speak, from the influence of his relatives.
Even if "S By S" was disappointing as a column name, Serena proved she brings plenty to the table as Nate's right-hand woman, with her writing (!) and other attributes. I'm loving this duo. Professionally that is.
Intertwined with Nate's mission to expose Trip was her fake relationship with Dan, which he wanted to end so publishers would be interested in having him write something else besides a sequel to Inside.
Which was the book that put him on the map in the first place. Just saying.
You might as well just embrace it for one more book if you're the Hump. Serena proved at the end that she's not letting her faux beau go anytime soon. Besides, his other book ideas sounded pretty bad.
Finally, we have Gossip Girl, the titular never-seen, always-heard force.
With the Upper East Side event of a lifetime on tap, she make an appearance at long last, or at least make her presence felt like never before, now that Nate gave her a lifeline? Will he come to rue the day?
I was glad to see her "relationship" with Nate evolve tonight (if only over text and email), with the promise of more to come. That and Blair letting loose were the highlights of the week for me.
A brief rundown of what else we learned tonight ...
- Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage need to actually work on this show again. No offensive to Joshua Safran, but some of the plot lines this season have been beyond convoluted.
- Nate's email is natearchibald (at) nyspectator (dot) com. You're welcome ladies. It also never gets old how the Spectator uses a basic Gmail interface and the identical Gossip Girl font.
- Brooklyn coffee is half as expensive and tastes better. This is actually true.
- Rufus reads Serena's blog. Apparently. And got a nice new iPad.
Before we turn it over to your comments, here's next week's promo ...
What did you think of Monday night's Gossip Girl? Discuss below!