Gossip Girl returns for a second episode in high style. Narrated by the title character, who packs on gems like "Looks like Blair and Chuck arrived with an appetite... FOR DESTRUCTION", Blair and Serena continue their power play in a ridiculously entertaining hour of teen soapiness.
Ready for a synopsis off the top of my sleep-deprivation-addled head? Take a deep breath...
So Serena and Dan's date ended with a wave from Dan, which, OMG TEH TERRIBLE, so he goes to "wait for", aka "stalk", Serena at her hotel. Meanwhile, Nate, last seen deeply regretting his promise to cut Serena off, also decides to stalk, leading to an uncomfortable couple of minutes. Serena's off trying to win Blair back again, only to find out that Blair knows she slept with Nate, so... no dice. Blair thinks Serena better not show up at the big brunch today! Anyway, Dan wins the standoff, mainly because Chuck comes and distracts Nate right as Serena's getting back, and Serena wangles him an invitation to the big brunch.
At the brunch, which is staffed by gray-painted people posing as rock statues (yeah, I... whatever), things get ugly. Chuck and Dan give each other "hateful," aka "subtextually homoerotic," glances; Nate gives Serena "meaningful," aka "vacant" glances. Nate convinces Serena to meet him upstairs in Chuck's suite so they can talk, but then stupidly lets Blair bring him to Chuck's suite for Blair's deflowering. Whoops. I must say, I wouldn't betray my best friend for someone that stupid. Blair's a wee bit annoyed and runs downstairs to reveal Serena's big sin to Dan. The five main characters stand in a circle and get all dramatic; things end with Dan pushing someone, causing a big accident (Blair's face at this is priceless, a battleground between her cool facade and her glee at the dramatic success of her scheme), and ditching Serena. Last scene, Nate and Blair make up.
Whew. Then there's Jenny's pursuit of popularity, for which she takes Blair's cast-off designer dress in exchange for support against Serena, and Dan's dad flirting with Serena's mom, who's sleeping with (I think) Chuck's dad. Or possibly Dan's dad. But hell, does it matter?
Blake Lively (Serena) definitely improved this week, in my opinion. She still does the pursed-lips thing that I thought Keira Knightley might have taken out a trademark on, but less often. Leighton Meester (Blair) is fantastic in a way I didn't notice last time. She has a bit of a big-sisterly vibe with Jenny, but her flashes of concern, even tenderness, for the younger girl are so intertwined with her need for power over both Jenny and the larger social world. It's crazy and complicated. Weird for that to happen on this show.
Half the time, when I laugh, I don't know if I'm laughing at or with Gossip Girl... and I don't care. The sheer delighted over-the-top-ness of this show just sweeps you along. The dialogue hits a perfect combination of cliches, Clueless, Bring It On, and The OC circa "The Model Home." It's audacious and ridiculous and slickly-commercialized and, yeah, kind of silly, but... awesome.
In Summary: Soon we'll all be calling each other by our first initials. It's that addictive.
09/21/07: Gossip Girl Pilot -- Full Review