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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
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User Rating:

Rating: 2.7 / 5.0 (842 Votes)

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

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I can't read half these comments--the writing is awful :( I'm calling suicide attempt, or even completion, for the finale. If there are only going to be 13 episodes, IF we get another season, it can deal with how everyone else deals with the suicide, how it causes them to reflect on what they have done with their lives so far, and examine what they want the rest of their lives to be like. Victim? Serena. The writers/producers said something would happen to alter the fabric of their lives...

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OK! i cannot wait to watch the next episode. I need answers. what was this brothel business? why was he hiding? and what the hell is wrong with Serena? she seems so depressed and ill. like all she wants is to run into Ryan Reynolds' arms. i miss the old Serena.

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i still love gossip girl but they honestly ruined the show. it was never well thought out. dan louis chuck louis chuck dan louis chuck dan dan? its so stupid. serena is just a blob now. nate is still adorable but they give him a new girl every 5 episodes that he drools over. i just dont get it.they shoul dhave kept chuck and blair together from the moment before chucks car crash. i like dan and blair but it makes blair look so stupid and like she cant even understand her own feelings. everytime she is in a relationship (for example with chuck) she needed to feel like an "independent important women" so she dumped him! now, dan is doing something great so she needs her "swag back". i love blair but the WRITERS are ruining the show..not the actors.

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OMG!I know this may sound funny but there was this tv show(A Traveller from India) few years ago in iran,where i live,and it's storyline was exactly like this!there was a rich guy who faked his own death and his son found out at the end of season.plus his son was in love with this girl everyone disapprove,and when he got in to an accident and was about to die his girlfriend made this promise with god to never see him again IF god let him live.

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Ugh, it's really annoying how this cuts off your comments. "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?" This, I agree with completely. It's been depressing watching Blair turn into this whiny, mopey, self-absorbed brat she's been for most of S5, so it's about time she got some of her mojo back. In terms of lasting happiness, I think the entire point of Chuck's storyline this season is to show how much he's grown, that he's become the man she always wanted him to be. So I have no doubt that he can make her happy long-term. What I doubt at this point, actually, is whether Blair can make him happy. She's treated him abhorrently this season, and that can't just be erased in two episodes. Of course, if Chuck can just let it go, maybe we're supposed to as well?

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"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." I take a little exception to this, actually. Not the part about Dan being there for her (of course he has, although I would argue that it hasn't done her nearly as much good as he seems to think), but the suggestion that no one else has. Other people weren't there because Blair pushed them away, not because they weren't just as loving and supportive as Dan. And I think it became quite obvious tonight why Blair's been pushing Chuck away- because the second they come into proximity again, the sparks start to fly. "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?" This, I agree with completely. It's been depressing as hell watching Blair turn into this whiny, mopey, self-absorbed brat we've been seeing most of the season, so it was wonderful for her to regain some of her old mojo here. In terms of lasting happiness, I'd like to think that Chuck's shown over the course of this season that he's finally grown up and become the man she always wanted him to be, so there's no doubt in my mind they could be happy together. So the question in my mind, at this point, is actually whether she's capable of making Chuck happy. She's treated him abhorrently for most of the season, and you can't just erase that in a couple of episodes. Although, I guess if Chuck doesn't care, maybe we're supposed to just let it slide?

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@someone
Why such harsh words. I do not think actress Blake Lively plays poor the role of Serena, on the contrary. Actress Blake Lively plays a role that was written by writers, and it is their fault if the audience does not like. I think that's why the public roll-call Serena. It is the nonsense that one of the best if not the most beautiful, and very talented young actress in Hollywood, has written a story so bad this season. As for the Oscars, I think Blake could get it for her role in Elvis and Anabela or Young Pipa Li, and this is just a tv series! I think that's the point of the story about Serena. Serena this season was put aside and the audience does not like. We miss it Serena from season 1 and 2, and of course her love with Dan! These two are the cutest couple in the series! Serena is the love of his life, Dan is the love of her life!

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Urg why give us dair if u are gonna make her cheat or choose chuck in the end (Ps why is lola still around we all know nate & serena are meant to be)

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Best episode ever. Chuck Bass dad alive . What does that mean for Lily and Rufus. Will Lilly have to go against Papa Bass. What is going on with Jack and Papa Bass. What does that mean for Chuck. Chair was amazing . Loved to see the old gang back. I was tired of the solo of the group. Loved the group plotting and scheming. I didn't even mind Lola that much. If Lola is to stay her and Serena need to make up because she is getting on my nerves. Nate and Lola not too much chemistry. Chair love them Dair boring but I understand it. Love that serena is lost and needs to find herself. Let us hope that B and S can connect again. Tired of not seeing the Loved it that is the Gossip Girl that I miss.

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This episode gave me hope for chair again and is probably the best episode I've watched this season which is quite sad. I love how they brought season 1 blair back again she's been far too boring lately and i'm happy that nate finally got some lines! Unpopular opinion I know but I like lola and her relationship with nate, I think she balances him out. Personally the couples i'm hoping for in the end Chuck and Blair
Dan and Serena (Even though dan will have to do some serious grovelling and be less of an idiot)
Nate and Lola That for me would be my perfect ending butttt I respect other peoples opinions and ships etc so I won't criticise :)

Gossip Girl Season 5 Episode 22 Quotes

Dorota: Miss Serena, all you do all day is type type type. You take laptop with you everywhere. It not healthy.
Serena: Well after last week's family meltdown, this laptop is the only thing keeping me sane. Writing is my new outlet. You should be happy for me.
Dorota: If you say so. But Vanya say same thing about Warcraft and then DSL bill comes.

They say in life there are two sides to every story. But on the Upper East, we always have three. There's his, hers — but the most important is always mine.

Gossip Girl