Gossip Girl S05E16: “Cross Rhodes”
Last night’s episode of Gossip Girl was dedicated to documenting the trials and tribulations of the ladies of the house of van der Woodsen, a famous clan of martyrs who double, double, toil, and trouble in a harsh Upper East Side wasteland, knocked around and oppressed from all sides, always.
It’s always a shock to see how these women react to the low-grade roller-coaster of minor ups and downs that is life; you would think there had never been a more persecuted group of people in history. Everything that happens on the show happens to them, at them, specifically to make them suffer. And this week, we learned that this penchant for narcissistic misery is all hereditary.
The episode opens on Serena van der Woodsen, a popular, bubbly blonde who is currently living rent-free in an opulent, elegantly appointed penthouse owned by the fashion designer mother of her best friend Blair. Last week, Serena walked in on her ex-boyfriend Dan who was kissing Blair behind closed doors at a private party–making her a victim of white slavery. But, don’t worry, guys. Serena will not stand idly by and allow this subjugation to go unchecked. She is ready to lash out.
Tensions come to a head between Serena and Blair as the two share the most extravagant home breakfast I have ever seen in my life.
“I told you that I’m sorry,” pleads Blair who, again, is letting Serena crash indefinitely in her home for no reason, even though Serena is exorbitantly wealthy and has a luxurious family penthouse of her own, located within walking distance. “I don’t know what came over me.”
OH DID AN ALIEN TAKE OVER YOUR BODY? is Serena’s sophisticated reply.
“I would never do anything to hurt you,” begs Blair.
OH YEAH WELL THAT VEST YOU WORE YESTERDAY WAS REAL, REAL UGLY, snaps Serena. She is a plucky underdog and we are all rooting for her.
“I’d like some more bacon,” Blair says, eventually, to her maid.
OH WHY DON’T YOU JUST TAKE MINE. YOU DON’T SEEM TO HAVE A PROBLEM DOING THAT, Serena jumps in. Simply a treasure!
At this point, Blair’s maid Dorota snaps and locks the girls (ladies they may be in bra-size, but they are tweens or toddlers in personality) inside the dining room, vowing to keep them trapped there until they work out their issues, or until two minutes have passed, whichever comes first.
During this extremely brief imprisonment, Blair concocts a cockamamie plan to hang out with Dan—as friends, guys, as friends!—to prove to Serena once and for all that she’s not in love with him. Serena sees (hallucinates?) the logic in this, but argues that she doesn’t want to be around the two of them while they’re spending time together, even though that is obviously exactly what she should do if she wants to observe their interactions. She does want Blair to send her pictures, though, as proof of their chastity.
Right about then, my head exploded. By the time I had re-assembled all the bloody pieces into a rough head-shaped approximation, the plot had advanced to:
The camera sidles over to Lola, the beautiful cater-waiter/secret heiress, just kicking it in Nate’s apartment in the middle of the day, because, even though these people have jobs, absolutely none of these people have jobs. Lola has apparently forgotten how much she hated and was determined to avoid Nate in all previous episodes, and is smiling into her coffee mug, flirting up a storm. She’s also stealthily trying to glean some information about her elusive imposter, the hugely be-forehead’d Fake Charlie Rhodes.
Nate casually reveals to Lola that he and Charlie had a brief fling, and she tells him that she appreciates his candor, adding, “Honesty is hard to come by these days.” Then she asks to use his phone and, a minute later, lies about the reason. Suddenly, Nate’s obsession with honesty makes sense. As the most gullible character in this whole troop of morons, he is subject to near-constant manipulation. No wonder he’s paranoid.
As Nate soon discovers by checking his outgoing calls list…
…(delete that mess, girl! That’s a rookie mistake!), the person Lola called was not, as she claims, her director at the Upright Citizens Brigade, but Plain Jane Charlie! The two of them had a brief but hilarious back-and-forth, an excerpt of which is reprinted, word-for-word, below:
Lola: “Look, I know you’re using my name, I just don’t know why. Are you in trouble?”
Charlie: “It’s complicated. But, I swear, I’m not doing anything to hurt you.”
Lola: “Well, then, explain it to me.”
Charlie: “I can’t. Just let it go, Lola, please.”
Just so we’re all on the same page, the “it” that Charlie wants Lola to let go is the fact that she, a random girl Lola met once in an acting class, has now stolen Lola’s identity and is using her name and family connections to rub shoulders and bump uglies with Manhattan’s elite.
Unbelievably, Lola is reluctant to “just let it go,” and, guided by a Gossip Girl blast that Charlie was spotted entering a hospital, soon finds herself face-to-face with her imposter, her mother, and the frowniest, most put-upon mother-daughter duo in the tri-state area: Lily and Serena.
Over the next thirty seconds, secrets are revealed (Charlie is an imposter! Lola has a family!) and, predictably, every woman involved interprets each new development as directly affecting of her most of all.
The best line of the showdown came courtesy of Lola’s mom, Carol, who defended her actions (which included: lying to her daughter about the existence of her family and hiring a stranger to portray that same daughter so that she could have access to the girl’s trust fund) by shrieking “You don’t know these people! What they’re capable of!”
But, how sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have a thankless child! Rather than being appreciative of her mother’s attempts to cut her off from her family and her fortune, Lola acts totally annoyed! Then, in true Rhodes fashion, lashes out at an innocent bystander trying to make things right. In this instance, that bystander is Serena, who offers to take her newly-found cousin out “for coffee or something” so the two of them can get to know one another.
“Up until ten minutes ago,” Lola snarls, “I didn’t even know I had a family, so forgive me if I’m not really interested in coffee or something.”
Hey, Serena? YA BURNT.
Unfortunately for everyone who is not Charlie, we haven’t seen the last of Charlie yet. The final shot of the episode finds her pulling from her wallet a paper napkin (that I guess she always carries around with her?) scrawled with GossipGeorgina’s name and phone number.
Elsewhere in the episode:
The Return of “I’m Chuck Bass” Chuck Bass: Chuck got back to his primeval bastard roots this week, whispering even more than usual, and flawlessly executing vengeful mayhem on those he has singled out for spite. He had office sex with a huge-boobed literary agent, framed Dan for plagiarism, and got back in Blair’s good graces, all with minimal effort.
In his final scene of the episode, Chuck learned it was Dan who sent the infamous wedding-ruining video of Blair to Gossip Girl. Fingers crossed he goes completely overboard on LonelyBoy next week.
Rufus Suicide Watch: Rufus’s saddest storyline last night had him digging around the Brooklyn loft in search of an old jacket of his that Lily hates. Dan runs into him shortly after he finds it and glibly confirms that the coat is, indeed, terrible. After his son walks away, Rufus peers down at his dingy green sleeves. “Why does everybody hate this jacket?” he mumbles. He doesn’t wear it again for the rest of the episode.
This amazing shot of Carol confronting Lola, surrounded by syringes:
More terrible art from Chuck:
1. Be honest: Do you think the van der Woodsens were relieved to discover the real Charlotte Rhodes was way prettier than the imposter?
2. How do you feel about Grandma Cece’s death? I, for one, will miss our master manipulator, as she drove Lily crazy in ways no one else could. Also, it’s a shame she went out looking like she’d already been dead for about six days.
3. Do you guys remember a couple of weeks ago when it was kind of a big deal that Blair got married and became a member of the Monegasque royal family? Can anyone name even one way in which that seems to have affected her everyday life? What happened to the psychotic royal minder we met last week? What happened to Blair being a princess?!