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This episode of Gossip Girl begins is all about debutante season and Blair tells Serena (Blake Lively) that she's glad she's going to the Ball with some Prince Theodore character instead of Nate. Serena has chosen not to be presented at the ball at all, because that's not her style nowadays.
Or so she thinks. Serena's grandmother CeCe has been the chairwoman for the event forever and now Lily is on the committee. Lily asks Jenny to help out, and J jumps at it despite being on the outs with Blair.
CeCe is not pleased with Dan, who gives his honest opinion of cotillions, and CeCe is even more upset to learn that Dan is none other than Rufus' son. Cece tells Lily she might have cancer and her only wish is to see Serena presented at the ball. Lily (Kelly Rutherford) buys it and orders Serena to go.
Jenny (Taylor Momsen) asks Rufus if she can volunteer for a charity event on Sunday, but that's the same night as Alison's art opening so she can't. Later, Jenny lies to Lily that she has permission from her parents to go, and they bump into Alison while shopping for clothes for it. Alison grounds Jenny but she defies her mom.
Dan finds out that CeCe has already set up Carter Basin to be Serena's date to the cotillion. Cece tells Dan that he will always feel like an outsider around their class. In retaliation, Dan announces that he will be Serena's escort to the ball after all! Not to be outdone at her own game, CeCe's next move is to go to Rufus and offer to buy everything in his gallery in exchange for convincing Dan not to.
Rufus tells her that like himself, his son can't be bought. But CeCe has the last word when she reveals that, years ago, she told Lily to choose between Rufus and her inheritance. We don't have to tell you want Lily chose, and this hits Rufus hard. He tells Dan about it, too, and he tells Serena he's not going to the ball in light of this.
Blair and Chuck (Ed Westwick) are still hooking up, but keeping it a secret. Nate comes over, interrupting their latest hookup, to ask Blair to go to the ball. He misses her and she accepts. Nate is confused by her behavior lately, and suspects that she may be seeing someone. He asks Chuck about it, but Chuck is jealous that Blair might be getting back together with her ex.
It's time for some classic Chuck scheming.
A New York Times reporter is writing a piece entitled "A Night Out With Blair Waldorf" (really) so Chuck stats by badmouthing Nate in front of him. Then Chuck snaps a picture of Carter Baizen - remember him!? - going to Blair's. He's really there to pick up a jacket he left at a posh tea party the day before, but Chuck emails this pic to Gossip Girl. He then tells Nate that Carter Baizen is moving in on his girl!
CeCe has set up Serena with Carter, conveniently, as a date to the ball, since Dan bailed. Chuck tells Nate that this is just a front, that he's gonna make his move on Blair. Jealous and angry, Nate (Chace Crawford) punches Carter out! Chuck's plan is working ... or is it?
Lily scolds Serena for making a fool out of the presenter - she changed her statement at the last minute when she learned her mother or grandmother had written it for her and it was nothing like her. Serena throws it in Lily's face that all her mother cares about is her image. Lily has a change of heart and goes to meet Dan directly to apologize. Awesome scene.
Serena learns that CeCe does not have cancer after all and manipulated the entire night. Then her knight in shining tuxedo arrives, with Lily smiling ear to ear, and Dan (Penn Badgley) whisks S away and dances awkwardly with her at the ball. You wouldn't know it was awkward, of course, because they are so in love.
Jenny comes back to the art gallery and tries to apologize to Alison, who is not thrilled with her daughter and says that rather than apologize, the teenager should instead really consider every decision she makes and the person she becomes as a result.
Rufus calls Lily and asks why she left him all those years ago. Lily comes clean about it choosing money over him, saying she wasn't strong enough. That's when an emotional Rufus (Matthew Settle) tells her, after a long pause, that he should have known... and that he never should have let her go!
Blair (Leighton Meester) returns to the ball after fixing her dress, which was ripped during the brawl. Chuck tries to make his move, but it appears his scam backfired as Blair figures out he tipped off Gossip Girl about Carter. She ends their "thing" and runs off. Chuck later tracks her down, but when he does, she's in the arms of Nate, telling him how hot it was watching him stand up for her and punch Carter out.
Chuck watches them kiss with a look of anguish in his eyes. Nate spies him and winks knowingly. Nate and Blair go home and tear each other's clothes off in a seriously not scene. Wow. Just wow. Chuck, meanwhile, packs his bags and asks his limo driver to take him to the airport.
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