Gossip Girl Review: Return of the Scheme Team

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In a word ... finally.

With the fifth season of Gossip Girl winding down and several key storylines intertwining, we were promised the biggest surprise of the year this evening and "Raiders of the Lost Art" certainly delivered.

Or perhaps we should call it "Raiders of the Lost Bart"?

That was a doozy of a plot twist, even on a show that goes through so many on a weekly basis and often concocts totally unrealistic bombshells through haphazard writing. Bart Bass? Who saw that coming?

I guessed it only after I saw Blair's mortified face. What else would cause such a visceral reaction from a girl who's seen everything? It had to be Bart, which B basically confirmed when she told Chuck to see for himself?

From the moment we met Diana Payne in the Season 5 premiere through three quarters of the way through tonight, however, that was one wrinkle I hadn't considered. Now the bigger question, obviously, is why?

Raiders of the Lost Art Photo

The how is at least plausible, seeing that no one saw Bart perish in his fatal car crash, or saw his body at his funeral in Season 2's "O Brother, Where Bart Thou?" He had the means and ability to stage his death.

Motive is another story. What the heck is the connection between Bart, Jack and Diana? Just as one mystery is solved, another begins on this show, which can become maddening if you're not thoroughly invested.

Therein lies the biggest shocker of the night: Not that Bart Bass lives, but how much this felt like old times. When was the last Gossip Girl episode that left you cracking up one minute, and on pins and needles the next?

Regardless of how long it took and how many bumps in the road led us to the brothel in Briarcliff Manor (a real town in Westchester), the stakes were raised tonight before the opening credits had stopped rolling.

Everyone had an agenda, and half the characters were being played without realizing it. Secrets buried all season, even all series, were on the cusp of being released. It wasn't perfect, but everything clicked for the most part.

The snark was back. So where the schemes. There was a bombshell actually worthy of the description, yes, but more importantly, there was palpable energy that had been lacking ever since the royal wedding.

Heck, it even looked like we were going to get a whiff of Gossip Girl.

If the episode had a weak point, it was the tease of bringing the titular character all the way out to the mansion, only to have her abscond with the laptop undetected. No one even got a look at her? Seriously?

Lola and Nate Photo

I'll allow it, though, if it restores order to the blog and ends the borderline ridiculous sequence of GG fill-ins. It was starting to cheapen the brand. Sorry S. I'm okay with an anonymous GG as long as she's badass.

Were Jack, Bart and Diana rendezvousing with Gossip Girl to buy her silence and preserve their secret once and for all? Crazy as that sounds, since we still don't know what their secret is, it's the best I can come up with.

(Also, Portuguese area codes notwithstanding, Diana better have a good reason for involving herself so intimately with Chuck and all his friends all year, because she's pretty terrible at subterfuge otherwise.)

In any case, we'll find out soon enough, and S' reign as GG 3.0 has come to an end. She had a good run, at least in her own deluded mind. Nate was sadly correct. The Serena he once knew is long gone.

S' surprising turn has been widely debated among fans in recent weeks, and after being upended like this, it'll be interesting to see if she reverts to the well-meaning Serena, or doubles down on her dark side.

Where will she go from here? Hopefully back in the fold with Nate, Blair and Chuck. Probably the biggest reason this episode worked so well in comparison to most lately was simple: The gang was back together!

How fun was it to see Blair get her mojo back, complete with her sexy-as-hell Diana-esque blue dress and customized code-breaking device, while Chuck and Nate cracked jokes in the midst of a deeply serious matter?

Between B's British accent to her digs at Nate's intelligence and coolness under pressure, in a high-end roving sex club no less, Waldorf was shutting it down. Maybe not at vintage GG levels, but it was a hoot.

Flummoxed at the onset, Chuck knew immediately that he needed Blair's help cracking this carefully guarded code - The Da Vinci Code was less complicated - and wouldn't you know it, she came through.

As a wise woman once said, don't eff with an effer.

Nate and Blair Pic

With the aid of some new blood in Serena Lite and Dorota - with perhaps her most hilarious moment in five seasons (which is saying something) - the Scheme Team brought its A Game. Hopefully they run it back next week.

Dan, meanwhile, was back on the outside. It really was like the old days.

Rufus, apparently living alone in the loft and maybe not even technically married to Lily after tonight's big reveal, proved again how much better he is at doling out advice than following it himself.

Neither he nor Blair did anything to hurt the other tonight, which was refreshing. Not all relationship drama stems from cheating or over-the-top theatrics. They even communicated fairly well. They were just ... apart.

He did the right thing not going in and confronting her, and she was quite forthcoming after. Yet as much as they trust (and quote Ray J to) each other, we witnessed the beginning of a Dair disconnect.

Can they weather the storm? He clearly wants to, turning down a prestigious fellowship in Rome to be with her. Given the sparks we saw from Chair tonight, an epic season finale decision looms for B.

Whether the Blair we saw tonight can be involved romantically with Dan for the long haul is an open question. He's been there for her all year when no one else has, and no one can take that away from him.

The one-time Queen B has been a shell of herself months, though, and is a much different creature when she has her swagger. She clearly has that, as well as chemistry, with Chuck. But can he give her lasting happiness?

That remains to be seen, but it was fun to watch the other side come out tonight in what was the first top-shelf episode in some time. Before we turn it over to your comments, here's next week's promo:

What did you think of tonight's Gossip Girl? Discuss below!

Review

Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
  • 4.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 2.7 / 5.0 (840 Votes)

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

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oops - that last bit is meant to say when HE (Dan) touches her arms before professing his love.

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Something that I picked up on, though - was Blair's body language in this episode.
First, when she let Chuck touch her hand (I'm not gonna go all fangirl saying OMGG this is pure love!) - but the fact that she didn't pull away or accuse him of being a Basshole trying to make a move on her (like she's done before - lol) shows a certain level of intimacy. Now - it can also mean that she was distracted by just having seen Bart Bass (ahem). But let's not dwell on that.
When she comes back to Brooklyn and talks to Dan, then leans in to kiss him - it all felt kind of....fake. She pulled away rather quickly, like it was more the right thing to do rather than what she wanted to do. Honestly, it reminded me of how I acted when I was desperately trying to convince myself that I still loved my boyfriend, when there was affection but no love or attraction.... (it sucked, btw).
Finally, when she touches her arms before telling her he loves her - she seems stiff, not comfortable.
Thoughts?

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I'm re-watching season 2 of Gossip Girl and I just finished the episode with Dan and Chuck spending the night in a cell together. Chuck's words: "My father doesn't care enough to get angry.", "He hated me. His beloved wife died giving birth to me. Sometimes I swear he thinks I killed her. Who knows, maybe I did?" Two of the greatest pains Chuck has ever experienced is that of his relationship with his father and the "killing" of his mother. Both turned out to be lies. His mother simply didn't want him and his father never really died. All that suffering was for nothing. Chuck Bass has payed for his mistakes. I never realised his tragedy until I saw that episode again and realised what the future held.

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I have just watched the episode and I sincerely cannot believe how, giving all the absurd, unrealistic and convoluted storylines, this stupid ship discussion is still the majority among the comments. Seriously people, give it a rest.
I don't know if it's because I have outgrown Gossip Girl websites and spoilers forums or if it's because the couples and characters have reached such a screwed up point that is hard to even root for any ship now, but I just can't give a crap about that anymore.

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Let's forget arguing about whether Dan loves Blair or not. I'm willing to say that he does. That's actually a part that I've never been able to argue with, though I think he loves her in the box that he has put her in and I don't think he easily sees the things she does that make her less than perfect but that's neither here nor there. The biggest question is whether Blair loves Dan and she has given zero indication that she feels more than friendly affection for him. He told her her loved her (which I saw as a ploy to see where he stood with her and from his desperation of the day, not as the heartfelt declaration that it should have been) and she was like, "Great, let's eat." Blair's lack of showing that she cares about Dan at all makes this whole relationship ludicrous. I never saw what changed between him kissing her and her deciding that she was willing to sacrifice her friendship with Serena for Dan. I just don't see anything that shows me that Blair loves Dan. I think she likes how he treats her. I think she likes that he likes her. I think she likes that it's simple with him. I don't think she really gives a crap about anything truly makes him Dan. She shows zero investment in him.

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Dan and Blairs relationship can indeed cause his mental block. Yes she was an inspiration for a whole book but that was before he had the girl. Now he has what he longed for.

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of sense..... Sorry! iPhone playing up!

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@niks4u
Finally someone who makes a whole realm

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@niks4u
With jerks I do not speak!

Niks4u

@Zoran: they never lasted long enough to have any real impact. And numbers are a combination of a lot of things, so I prefer not to talk about them.
Your next point is unsurprisingly faulty again. You say that Dan does not believe Blair when she says that there is nothing between her and Chuck. He does believe her, he is just not secure enough about their relationship yet. Is it that big a deal that a guy feels insecure about a girl he is in love with? That's why relationship is a journey where people who love each other, overcome their insecurities. Is that really a novel concept, because I thought it was the eternal truth which everyone knew. To say that Dan is a control freak is ignorant and lacks any factual proof. You say that you are a Derena fan and a regular one at that but frankly it doesn't seem like that. You can masquerade as a peacock all you want, but when something looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.