Since the show’s advent, “Gossip Girl” has been pushing the envelope of ridiculousness with its convoluted plots, surprisingly emotionally developed characters — excluding Nate Archibald (Chace Crawford) — and willingness to brazenly depict social taboos like drug use and teen sex.
But after almost 100 episodes, the viewer is left wondering, “What next? What could ‘Gossip Girl’ possibly do to top itself?” Behold, Blair Waldorf (Leighton Meester) is pregnant.
In this week’s episode, viewers’ suspicions from the previous week’s show were confirmed: Blair, fiancee to European prince Louis Grimaldi (Hugo Becker) and all−around Upper East Side force of nature, is with child. At the close of last season, viewers caught a glimpse (OK, a complete eyeful) of Blair’s sexy one−night stand with her ex−lover Chuck Bass (Ed Westwick) before she returned to her doting fiance. Though Blair and Louis’ courtship was quick, their love seems genuine enough.
Blair does not know which of the two men is the father of her child and struggles throughout the episode to keep her morning sickness and discomfort at bay when in the company of Louis’ jealous sister, Beatrice (Roxane Mesquida), who seems hell−bent on discovering Blair’s secrets and flaws in order to secure the throne for herself.
Meanwhile, Nate bakes pot brownies and sleeps with a cougar from Los Angeles. What else is new? It seems that for Archibald, each season begins with a tryst with an older woman that fizzles out before the middle of the season.
Certainly, his newest conquest will go the way of the others within a few weeks, after she’s served her purpose as a plot−pushing plaything for Nate.
Still in L.A., Serena (Blake Lively) runs into her imposter cousin “Ivy/Charlie” (Kaylee DeFer) at a cafe and, in a whirlwind of assumptions and pushiness, convinces Ivy to leave the West Coast and return to New York City with her. Last season, Ivy was employed by Serena’s aunt to steal money from the Van Der Woodsen family, and Serena’s rediscovery of her cousin threatens to ruin Charlie’s carefully constructed lie of a life.
While Dan Humphrey (Penn Badgley) continues his quest to find out who is attempting to publish his manuscript novel about the lives of his Upper East Side social circle, he turns to Chuck for assistance, only to find him enveloped in a world of “Fight Club”−esque (1999) behavior on a quest to “feel” again since losing Blair to Louis. His behavior has resulted in dangerous bruises and injuries, yet Bass maintains he is in control.
This week’s episode highlighted all that is fundamentally right and wrong with “Gossip Girl”: Each character developed his or her own plot line and we are left with a wealth of speculations, assumptions and — you guessed it — gossip about their futures. After teasing through DeFer’s genuinely bad acting, Serena’s mind−numbingly aloof and self−involved disposition and Nate’s stagnant and stale plot line, we are left with an emotionally and physically scarred Chuck, Blair in crisis and an amazing soundtrack. Only two episodes deep into the new season, “Gossip Girl” has already re−taught viewers that things can fly off the handle as quickly as you can send a text message.
Despite the show’s cult−like following and incredibly involved fan community (research “Gossip Girl” fan fiction if you have free time, and prepare to be amazed), it continues to deliver relatively mediocre viewer numbers compared to other shows in its time slot, which include “How I Met Your Mother” and “Dancing with the Stars.”
Meester performs at her best when Blair is in a moral conundrum, and her talent definitely shone through in the latest episode. Meester’s ease in emotional transitions and believability are a definite credit to the show, and serve as a buffer for Lively’s seemingly one−dimensional rendition of Serena as a self−serving heir without emotional challenge or depth.
As Chuck Bass, Westwick does not reveal much of his character’s certain inner torment, at least not yet. But Westwick still matches Meester’s intensity blow for blow. His skill renders Becker’s portrayal of Prince Grimaldi, a lover and future husband, futile in the wake of Chair (Chuck and Blair).
Blair has successfully concealed her pregnancy from her inner circle, save Dan, but when her body begins to betray her, all of the players are in for a hell of a season. XOXO.