Gossip Girl closed out 2011 with a wild episode tonight, a dark installment that kept us on the edge of our collective seat throughout even as one of its central storylines came to a tragic, predictable end.
The title, "Riding In Town Cars With Boys," alluded to the accident that left Blair and Chuck fighting for their lives after an episode that saw the Princess-to-B battling paparazzi and conflicting emotions surrounding her baby and future. Just as Blair found the fairy tale ending so many viewers have longed for, it all came crashing down.
The baby will almost certainly not survive. But will the love of her life?
On one hand, it's a cheap cop out for Blair to suffer a miscarriage and the slate to be wiped clean after all this time. It's lazy writing (as is having key conversations happen in public ALL THE TIME).
On the flip side, the tension escalated (relatively) believably for the last hour and for the past 10 weeks as a whole, with some surprising twists and new wrinkles thrown in to complicate matters.
There were so many in the last 15 minutes tonight, where to begin?
We'll discuss Chuck's fate shortly, but first, a word about Dan. Those who worship the Muppet may have wished he'd been sharing that getaway kiss with Blair, but it wasn't to be. Instead, he put his own feelings aside to help the girl he worships so much that he could unflinchingly love another man's baby just to be with her.
And for that, how can you not love Dan?
Ironically, tonight marked watershed moments for both Dair and Chair. Both men proved their love for B, even if only one came out and said it. Dan's actions deserve praise, even if he didn't get the girl.
While some people think only of advancing their own interests, even if that means putting others' lives at risk (cough, Chivy), Lonely Boy would rather be lonely than see someone he cares about unhappy.
This selfless realization spurred him to reunite Chair for good. He did the right thing for his new best friend and for the woman he loves, even if it most likely dimmed the hopes of a Dair romance for good.
So is Chuck ... no. He can't die. He just can't. He has more lives than we can count at this point, but he's got to have one more left in him. Especially after these last few weeks, his loss would be catastrophic to the show.
When Gossip Girl returns January 16, he will fight for his life. It will be tense, drawn out and painful, but Chuck Bass will rise again. The question is where he and Blair Waldorf will stand when he does.
The royal wedding is still on for January 30, although it's unclear how much of a time jump will be involved between now and then. My prediction: Blair leaves Louis at the altar for Chuck on that date.
One thing tonight's Gossip Girl did that many episodes don't is tie the storylines together in an intriguing way that doesn't feel convoluted and forced. Okay, everything about Chivy is forced, but even so.
Max threatened to expose Chivy as a white trash fraud (he loves to call her W.T.), so she sent a blast to Gossip Girl, which in turn drew hordes of celebrity gossip media to the impostor's debutante ball.
Blair and Chuck were at the party because Dan chose it as the place to bring them together (maybe not the best spot in retrospect - hindsight is 20/20, D). Then Chair fled, with paparazzi in hot pursuit.
The fact that Chivy tipped them off was the straw the broke the camel's back for her, as she confessed to Rufus of all people that she's a giant fraud ... only to have his attention diverted at the hospital.
Max, meanwhile, got paid (somehow) and Jack Bass, Diana, Trip and the Grandfather all could be implicated in the crash that nearly killed Chair, with their tangential connections and varying motives.
There are many theories with limitless potential, which made for a great ending to the first half of the season, even if it was a devastating one for Blair that still felt inevitable. She wasn't having the baby.
Can you see Blair raising a child at 21, whoever the father actually is? The show wasn't going to go there and decided to go the Princess Diana route with the Upper East Side version of Kate Middleton.
Making Blair pregnant was a major OMG moment, but the pregnancy was swept under the rug in recent weeks, only to be given a sense of urgency tonight. Very disjointed, but it did open some new doors.
What was perhaps Gossip Girl's greatest scandal has been replaced by another. Who is Gossip Girl, and how far will Nate, Serena & Co. go to take her down? What enemies (or allies) will they make?
With GG now the target of the NJBC, you have to wonder if the royal wedding / 100th episode will mark something major on that front as well. Will she try to crash the thing? Again, infinite possibilities!
Hopefully, Nate and Serena play expanded roles this spring. They're Blair and Chuck's best friends (okay, Dan can tag along too now), and they now have a common enemy ... maybe even multiple.
He may be manipulated easily, but Nate has been kind of the man these past few weeks, and I'm glad he doesn't look like he's about to be pushed around - or have his plot buried for the 20th time.
Chace Crawford may have even acted a little bit this evening (crazy, I know), and Leighton Meester deserves a special nod for her performance as well. Such a range of emotions conveyed in one night.
Tonight's episode and the fall season overall were good despite some flaws. The show has improved greatly upon last year with some coherent and compelling storylines (the wedding, the book, the pregnancy, the love quadrangle, and now GG / The Spectator) focused on the main characters. Mostly. Plenty to build on in 2012.
I now turn it over to your comments, but first, our first glimpse at the show's return!
Looks like Chuck is in serious trouble. Check out the promo for January 16 episode ...
Will Chuck make it?
What did you think of the Gossip Girl midseason finale? Discuss!