After the longest previouslies ever and one of the shortest credit sequences, Gossip Girl informs us of the event of the week: Blair Waldorf's annual sleepover (a tradition since the year 2000, each more decadent than the last, says G.G.) a lavish affair with yummy-looking cupcakes and lavish beauty supplies, for which she is planning in typical over-intense Blair style. But guess who's missing? That's right, Serena van der Woodsen, who is going out on a really-truly date with Dan Humphrey that night. Even the beautiful Dan manages to become unsexy while he prepares for the date by cashing in his piggy bank, which he still has, and which was shaped like a Ninja turtle. He wants it to be perfect, meaning that, of course, it will be a disaster.
But Serena is convinced it's worth missing Blair's sleepover and Blair, cunning as always, lights upon Jenny as a replacement, assuming she'll be an easy target. Jenny, poor dear, is all excited. Meanwhile, Rufus Humphrey is acting as immature as his offspring, wanting to visit his ex-wife in person to give her the news that his ex, Serena's mom, bought her first painting.
Serena's also worried, asking Jenny what to wear on the "surprise" date. Jenny assures her that the Humphrey men do casual Friday every day, but of course, Dan shows up in a suit to the surprise of a jeans-clad Serena. "Talk to me while I change?" she says, weirdly and kind of hilariously. Serena dons a black poufy mini-dress I'm not sure I like, but again, her hair is great, and they head out to a fancy place where a gauche Dan totally embarrasses himself over the menu (because poor people don't know how to behave at nice places, and apparently also don't know that fish can be creamed) and Serena considerately picks up the tab. They decide to move on to play pool in a more casual setting, and the date gets cute, although I loathe with every fiber of my being the ultra-tired boy-teaches-girl-to-play-pool conceit as a method of getting the characters into close physical proximity.
Meanwhile, Jenny shows up at the party with a dorky sleeping bag and even the maid seems to laugh at her. You're thinking She's dead now, if you weren't before, and Gossip Girl chimes in pleasantly, "Hope that Hello Kitty sleeping bag doubles as a parachute!" Ha. The Truth-or-Dare starts immediately with Blair's sidekicks making out. Jenny tries to refuse a martini with "I don't like vodka," but Blair evilly and truly says that it's gin, "as it should be." Peer pressure! Jenny succumbs, and soon the game escalates. When we next see the girls, Blair's pulling a fake-out on the receptionist at the Ostroff clinic so they can break Eric out and take him to a bar. It's quite cute.
Of course, the Ostroff center calls Lily, who immediately calls Serena, who left her phone at home. Desperate, she calls Rufus for Dan's phone number, which he refuses to give for Lily's lame reason that "Eric is missing... from his hotel room!" -- but, showing his true colors, he calls Dan himself and ascertains that Eric's not there. By then Lily's shown up at his door, and she coolly demands that he cook for her, leading to a bit of flirtation and reminiscence.
At the club, Jenny dares Blair to make out with the nearest sketchball, "and mean it," she says, thinking she's all wicked. Blair finds this extremely easy, and saunters back having also lifted the guy's cell phone, just as he crows about his girlfriend Amanda not finding out. She makes Jenny call the girlfriend, and Jenny starts out with, "This is Bla -- Claire." Hoookay. But she immediately picks up her game, following this up with the statement that she just shoved her tongue down the guy's throat, and ending with a Mean Girls-esque grin on her face.
Things come to a nice little climax with the requisite fistfight when Dan and Serena show up at the club to get Eric. Eventually they all leave the club. Serena yells at Blair, but Eric says he's glad for any company other than Serena and his mom, "even if it's Blair -- no offense." So Serena and Dan leave with Eric, Blair leaves with Jenny, Lily reluctantly leaves Rufus. Eventually Lily tells Eric he can come home now for real, and Serena and Dan, out on the streets, make with the smoochies.
The coup of the episode goes to Jenny: Blair dares her to steal a jacket from a mannequin in one of her mom's stores. The girls all run away while Jenny's in there, setting off the alarm, but Jenny manages to pull her escape off with panache, telling the police that she's Blair and that her mom's out of town but she'd left her jacket there, and oh, by the way, I have a set of keys, see? They let her go, and she strolls back in to confront a very surprised Blair with three smaller surprises: she's not staying the night, she's keeping the jacket, and she and Blair are going to have lunch on the steps on Monday. Blair agrees, looking absolutely charmed by this turnaround. As are we all.
Well, what can I say? This show is like crack. It's mocking and mockable and twisty and knowing and also sort of weirdly innocent in the way that CW shows tend to be, with romances sprouting up on the streets of New York all the time and people earnestly talking about "who they are." I like Blake Lively more with every episode -- either she's improving or I'm just lulled into submission by the awesomeness of the show. The lack of Chuck was sorely disappointing, yet Blair brought enough tricks up her sleeve for the both of them, so nothing felt incomplete in this episode. Jenny's transformation was sudden and gratifying, but we all know it can't be complete quite yet -- look for cracks in her facade over the next few months.
In Summary: I'm cutting down the review portions of my posts about Gossip Girl because, as fun as it is to recap, and hopefully helpful for random googlers who missed the episode, I can't just keep repeating "this is awesome" every week. But, yeah. Awesome.