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Welcome back, Upper East Siders ...
LILY AND RUFUS
The Lily-Rufus plot line is pure filler, but still enjoyable. While working with her art dealer, Lily learns that she and Rufus used to date. Lily is caught off guard by this and asks Rufus if he has any other secrets he'd like to share.
Rufus asks if she really wants to go there, and she suggests that they make a list of all their exes. She regrets this immediately but is now forced to go through with it.
The next night at dinner, Rufus hands her an index card with about a dozen names. Balking at its small size, Lily pulls only half her list from her purse - and it's still enormous. Rufus is slightly taken aback, but knows she had a wild past and lets it go. When he reaches into her purse to tip the Chinese food delivery guy later, though, he finds the other half.
He is, understandably, thrown off by the fact that there were that many more guys in her life, but even more upset that she kept it from him.
Rufus walks out angry, but comes back later that night with a new list - of things Lily loves. That's all he needs to know, about them and about their future. They make up.
NATE AND VANESSA
Vanessa tells Dan how excited she is for her upcoming summer in Europe. She and Nate are going to travel throughout the continent, just the two of them.
She and Dan are going to Nate's to watch college basketball, but it turns out someone beat them there - his cousin, Tripp, who's encouraging Nate to attend the family reunion this weekend, saying their grandfather really wants to see him.
Nate wants none of it because his family didn't stand by him in his time of need. V encourages him to bury the hatchet. Accompanied by Vanessa and Dan, he decides to show up.
There, he learns from Tripp that the grandfather didn't exactly ask for him to be there - it was all Tripp's idea. But the grandfather is indeed happy to see Nathaniel standing there when he gets off his private helicopter at the family estate.
Nate and the grandfather have a heart-to-heart. Instead of being ashamed, as Nate assumed he was, the Vanderbilt family patriarch was proud of the way Nate convinced his dad to do the right thing. He wants to take Nate back under his wing.
While Dan and Nate play touch football with his relatives, Tripp's fiancee tells Vanessa how the grandfather is a powerful man, and thinks highly of politics and public service. He is grooming Tripp for powerful positions down the line, and will do so for Nate if he has his way.
Later, right before the big family banquet, Vanessa finds out from Tripp - before Nate even said anything - that their grandfather pulled some strings and got Nate an internship at the mayor's office.
She confronts Nate about it, and he's clearly torn - he likes V and wants to spend the summer with her, but the fact that his grandfather wants him to be part of their legacy and believes in him means a lot.
MEANWHILE, IN THE LIFE OF BLAIR WALDORF ...
Spurned by Yale, Blair eschews her traditional Waldorf life in favor of a more wild and unpredictable lifestyle, causing Serena and Chuck to have serious concerns about their friend.
Chuck is shocked and appalled to stop by her home and find her wearing some sexy attire ... with Carter Baizen getting dressed. Chuck pleads with Blair to ditch this loser, but she's bizarro Blair now, and seems to be enjoying this fling with Carter. She blows Chuck off.
He decides right then and there to get rid of Baizen, whatever it takes.
He's having trouble getting dirt on Carter, though, until Serena tells him she'll take care of it.
Serena basically blackmails Carter to leave town ASAP or she will dish on what happened between them in Santorini. Those details aren't revealed to us, but her plan works and he hits the road - but not before he says that he's just a symptom of Blair's disease, not the cure. Getting rid of him won't get them their friend back.
Meanwhile, Blair sneaks off again, destination unknown. Dorota caves and tells Chuck and Serena where she is.
They're thinking it's some crazy party, but it's really the home of a dean of a small college, where Blair is begging for a chance at admission. He denies her because of the hazing incident, however, sending her spiraling even harder out of control.
Doubly embarrassed to be rejected from a lesser school AND caught in the act by Chuck and Serena, she vows that the Blair Waldorf everyone knows is officially dead.
The next day, Chuck learns that Blair is planning on attending Nate's family reunion, and that's when ...
THE STORY LINES INTERTWINE ...
Blair immediately starts making snarky comments to all the high-society New Yorkers at the mansion about how they're alcoholics, gold diggers, etc. The heck with social tact - the new Blair Waldorf is going to burn every bridge and have fun doing it.
Among the casualties? Dan. Blair casually mentions to Serena how he slept with Rachel in the costume closet. Serena confronts and slaps Dan. He explains that they were broken up, but agrees that he probably deserved the slap. Serena apologizes and they go to get him some ice.
Chuck confronts Blair about her behavior and says it isn't the real her. She asks if he remembers the first time he saw the real her, at Victrola.
B moves in close, starts kissing him and seductively tells him to take her now. Chuck won't do it, though, saying she's not the Blair he wants.
She never will be again, she says, and abruptly leaves.
Nate finds Blair off by herself, wondering how her life has gone so awry. He too is reeling from the expectations placed upon him, and clearly finds some level of comfort in being alone with his ex. He pours his heart out.
They confide in each other, as Nate reveals his own insecurities over who he has always felt he must become, as opposed to who he really is. He tells her that she is Blair Waldorf, and that will never change. They smile.
Back at the party, Nate's grandfather introduces him proudly to the whole family, and Nate makes a little speech about how he's excited to take the job and the mayor's office. Sad V goes to the Humphreys and cries.
Later, Chuck tells Serena what happened between him and Blair. Serena tells Chuck to fight for Blair, to go after what he wants, to be the person she needs him to be. Emboldened by this pep talk, C heads off to B's home.
In the foyer, he is greeted by Dorota, who says Blair is asleep. Chuck says to tell Blair he has something he needs to tell her. Dorota says she will, in the morning.
That's when Chuck sees ... Nate's jacket by the stairs!
Up in Blair's room, Nate was just making sure she got home okay, and was about to leave, but she takes his hand and tells him to stay ...
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