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Gossip Girl Season Finale Review: The More Things Change ...

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With one notable exception, Gossip Girl came full circle in its fifth season finale tonight.

Lily and Bart are married, with a spurned Rufus pining for the girl of his dreams. Dan, too, is back on the outside looking in, with no idealized visions of the Upper East Side or its denizens clouding his worldview.

Georgina is just waiting to stir up drama. Blair has her sights set on world domination. Chuck is reeling, desperate to escape from his father's shadow. Serena had barstool sex with Blair's boyfriend, then left town.

Nate is ... well, Nate. It feels like 2007 again, people!

Fortunately, for Chuck and Blair, "The Return of the Ring" was not just a return of previous near-misses. Cheesy gambling metaphors aside, when she showed up and told him she's all in, Chuck's face said it all.

Chair finally turned that corner, pointed squarely toward an epic endgame next season.

Chuck Bass and Blair Waldorf Picture

A quick review of Chuck, Blair and prior Gossip Girl season finales:

Yeah, it's been a long, often painful road to get this far, with some aspects feeling repetitive. There's plenty of work left to be done, too. We can't forget that Chuck rejected Blair again at 8:50 EST tonight.

Realistically, though, everything up until this point had to happen. Even his rejection of Blair's advances before the buzzed-about, season-ending casino scene injected fresh life into the romance once more.

Chuck's past mistakes and misdeeds are well-documented, but that doesn't mean he's wrong about Blair. Nor was Bart, despite the callousness with which he cut Chuck loose. He deserved better than this.

She needed to be all in, too, and now she is. It'll be interesting to see how they get there, but it's hard to imagine Chair not getting together for real, and for good, as the series draws to a close next year.

The fairy tale ending Blair, and so many fans, have been dreaming about for so long is now within sight. More amazingly, tonight's crucial events felt somewhat organic ... well at least by Gossip Girl standards.

No one here's defending Bart for his lack of compassion, respect, empathy or truthfulness (guess he didn't change too much in hiding), but his actions did lead Chuck to make a decision of his own, for the right reasons.

Bart also gifted us with the prospect of Chuck and Jack Bass on the same side to take him down, and for that we are forever grateful. But most significantly, he cleared the way for a new, honest and equal Chair.

Chuck and Bart Photo

Dair fans, please remove your belt and shoelaces and give them to loved ones ASAP.

Their love was real, and Blair and Dan's relationship brought us so many great scenes. But there's probably no coming back from this one. Hold out hope if you like, but Blair made her choice, then she doubled down.

It has nothing to do with his cheating, which she presumably isn't even aware of (it was also a bit unclear, given all the scheming going on, if Blair even told Dan, or tried to tell him, that they were done).

If she really didn't tell Dan, after all he's done for her? Not cool. Plain and simple. I'd like to give B the benefit of the doubt here, but even if it did take place off screen, the fans would've liked more closure.

Regardless, her choice was irrespective of Dan and Serena's surprising sex romp. He's right when he says using her to forget his pain is different than the manipulative act of destruction she tried to initiate.

That was just wrong, and you can't help but feel a little bad for Dan in all this. He became collateral damage as Serena's Gossip Girl exploits unraveled so rapidly that her feud with Blair reached critical mass.

Is (or was) Serena really in love with Dan, as she claims? Or purely using his body and Blair's minions to ruin her now-former BFF? Somewhere in between? In any case, the extent of the fallout was dramatic.

Give Dan credit for not taking Serena back after realizing how he got played. Doing so would've been beyond pathetic, even if his kiss-off line to her was harsh. The maligned muppet has a backbone, who knew!

Where do any of them go from here? The writing was uneven this season, but the producers did a nice job of making the story arcs that concluded tonight matter with heightened emotional stakes and lasting repercussions.

Adrift and alone, Serena is riding the rails in more ways than one. Ironically, Blair's diary was leaked online, but it's S who burned just about every bridge known to humankind, while Queen B is off to rule Paris.

Their friendship may never recover, and clearly Bart's resurrection carried lasting repercussions. Chuck has been ostracized and left to fight for what's his. Rufus' marriage was annulled, just like that.

Much as certain thematic elements felt like deja vu, there's no hitting the reset button after this. Well, except maybe for Nate. He's pretty much back at square one, only wearing more suits. Bless his heart.

Georgina Sparks and Dan Humphrey

Clearly, opinions on the season finale and season overall will vary depending on how you feel about particular couples or relationships, but from a directorial standpoint, "The Return of the Ring" was a pretty good payoff.

There were twists, turns, consequences that matched the urgency of the building storylines and despite some eye-rolling moments - Blair listing off Dan and Chuck's respective traits to Eleanor; too many iPhone blasts, lies, gimmicks and convoluted ploys to even keep straight - it ended up being pretty darn entertaining.

This installment essentially blew up the nucleus of the show. Now, with 11 episodes to go before we close the book on the CW drama for good, we get to see it come together again. Bring it on.

Other side developments and burning questions from the Season 5 finale:

  • William got Carol's half of Cece's estate transferred to Lola ... who give it all back to Ivy when she learned Lily was sabotaging Carol's defense, ordering her former impostor to take Lily down.
  • Lola turned down the chance to live with Nate, but it was amicable at least. Guy was serious about her, too, but it looks like she's gone the way of vintage GG vanishing love interests past.
  • Diana sent Nate a surveillance tape of their near-rendezvous with Gossip Girl two weeks back, and ... is Gossip Girl actually a dude? In a black hoodie? Shockingly, we didn't see his/her face.
  • Will Dan channel his rage into the next work of literary brilliance? Or at least cutting his hair? Is Georgina really the best muse? Does he have any friends left on the UES except Nate?
  • Does this mean Rufus will resume his music career?
  • Any chance J (or V) makes a comeback next fall?
  • Do people really throw divorce parties?

Time to turn it over to you. What did you think of the finale? Everything you thought it could be? A miserable failure? How do you see things playing out in the (unfortunately shortened) sixth and final season?

Share your comments with us below!

Review

Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 2.8 / 5.0 (1853 Votes)

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

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I thought this season was overall extremely weak, but this episode was a relative high point- Blair's horrible styling in the first half excluded. The Chair interactions were fabulous, their dynamic and Ed Westwick's acting just elevate this entire show, IMO (his face in that Chuck/Bart scene was just heartbreaking). I anticipated all the Serena bashing I've seen online, but I actually felt really bad for her. The people who she loved most, and who supposedly loved her, have been treating her like crap all season, and she finally snapped. I think Dan's going to end up feeling really guilty when he sees the outcome. I can sort of sympathize with Dair fans complaining about not getting a breakup scene, but I think they did that to maintain the suspense over what she was going to do at the very end. I'm sure you guys will get some sort of closure scene the next time they see each other. Mostly, I'm just happy to see Blair strong and in charge again, and going after what she wants. I don't think she's going to spend all next season fighting for Chuck, because quite frankly, I don't think he's going to resist for long. I think they're going to end up fighting together, "turning their duplicity on others", which is what I've always wanted to see. Chuck and Blair vs the world!

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@PoorS
I agree with you, because as you know I'm a big fan of Serena and Dan. However, it seems that the only way that Dan does not publish a new book is that if Serena is pregnant with him. But I am not convinced that the story about the child would realize. On the other hand, Serena would never have told Dan that she bears his child, and that it thus taught to be with her. Serena wants Dan to be with her because he loves her! If Dan still write that book, than NJBC may have to destroy him at the end using sex video between Serena and Dan. However, it may be season 6 more like in season 1. So perhaps, after all, prince Dan put shiny armor and save princess Serena. However this is GG, and everything is possible!

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@Ley: It does make sense... poor S, Dan's mind is still far, far away mourning the "loss" of his beloved B. I really hope he puts himself together and ditch that crazy book idea. First of all, it'd hurt all the people he could call friends, and second of all... repeating the same theme with his second book? D, Please! Your career will never take off like that. Just get your damn shinning armor and go save your princess!!

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Haters gonna hate. This people saying hurtful things and in denial wouldn't have been able to handle the great dramas of decades past as Dallas, Dynasty and E.R., to name a few.

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Chuck is a disgusting ogre. I hope he ends up jumping off a roof one day.

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This was the worst season finale I have ever seen in my life. I. HATE. CHAIR.

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and yes, Serena leaves because Blair's said the best time of her life was without Serena in it. S is true friend, we should wait for it to be proved
xoxo

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Serena has done everything, every single minute of this episode, to save Blair. Is it so hard to get it? Remember when she sent the letter to GG asking her to stop posting B's diary in exchange for anything? That's it. GG made het stake - Serena had to bring her sex tape with Dan to save further publications of the diary. Serena wanted B to be happy and stop hiding Blair's real feelings, cause she knew best who is her BFF and who is her true love of all these years.
Spare us laments about Dan, he's judgmental hypocrite. And the worse part of his personality is his ability to blame a woman, to blame others for his blindness and his misdeeds.
Regarding, not-saying-proper-good-bye-to-dan, you know, it has happened OFF-SCREEN as lots of "juicy" and "organic" "fun" staff in this excruciating season. ;) say Safran he knows we love him!

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I'm really glad CHAIR is back together. Let's face it: Chuck and Blair were meant to be. And so are Dan and Serena! For god's sake! Dan and Serena deserve as much to be together as Chuck and Blair do. This show was all about them, until the producers decided to add some drama by keeping them apart, and hell they've done that enough. Doing the hatchet job on Serena wasn't cool either. This whole season the writers have twisted her into some manipulative dark version of Serena. Please guys, CHAIR + DERENA! That's it!

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(cont) idea of Blair fighting for Chuck, I don't think it's what we saw in season two. It's a different kind of fight. This time around, boh are not afraid to say how they feel and both have realised and discussed and forgiven their mistakes. I think this fight is more Blair going to show Chuck that this time, it's the final choice and her mind won't be changed at the next pact with God or whatever other excuse. And after this season, who can blame Chuck for wanting it. The fight is to fix the flaws and to make their relationship work this time instead of taking the easy way out and trying to move on. A far cry from the Weakling and Coward they've been branded as. So others see a reversion but I see some realism and a subtle parallel to show the growth. Because let's face it, they're 21 and people don't always change as quickly and easily as others unless they've been forced to; something many of UES have never experienced because they haven't needed to.

Gossip Girl Season 5 Episode 24 Quotes

I don't want to be Mr. Blair Waldorf. I'm Chuck Bass.

Chuck

You say I always bet against you. Not this time. I'm all in.

Blair