It's amazing that an episode heavily featuring characters that bore me to tears could still be so satisfying, but I suppose such is the puzzle that is Gossip Girl. What was it they said on The Facts of Life? "You take the good, you take the bad?" "You take them both and there you have?" Well, if having to sit through a ridiculously childish love triangle plot with adults who really should know better (the bad) gets me to experience the glorious wonder that is flashbacks of the pre-feud Blair, Serena and Nate friendship (the good), I say bring on the bad.
Let's talk about the bad and just get it over with, so we can purge later (spoiler!) by rhapsodizing extensively about the good. The adult love triangle of Rufus/Allison/Lily has got to go. Why? Because when you have the big confrontation between all parts of the triangle and it turns out as dull as this, it's time to reevaluate what you are doing and change course while you still can.
Part of the problem with this triangle is that, aside from Kelly Rutherford as Lily, the actors portraying the adults are quite lacking in charisma and simply don't have the chops to keep up with the lively younger set. More troubling, though, is the immaturity of the plot. Rufus and Allison have been married for at least 16 years. Shouldn't she be over jealousy of his first love by now? It's not as if Lily and Rufus have seen each other regularly throughout the Humphrey marriage. They've made it pretty clear that they just reconnected recently, after Allison left Rufus for parts upstate. So what is Allison's damage here? By making the entire situation a much bigger problem than it needed to be she simply alienated an audience that was just getting to know her and came off as a controlling, insecure little girl.
At this point, if we are going to be forced to deal with separate adult storylines I think they should drop Allison for good and go for the Rufus/Lily pairing, because at least Rutherford has some spark and is enjoyable to watch. Best case scenario, though, is reducing the adult presence on the show altogether to only have them in scenes with the younger set from here out, because what they are doing now is not working at all.
Now the good, which was so good that it permeated the rest of the show and almost made me forget the bad. Gossip Girl went on a well-deserved Thanksgiving vacation this week and instead of new barbed words graced us with "classic" content, which meant FLASHBACKS! Ever since the fun flashbacks of Wild Serena in the beginning of the season I've been waiting for just this very moment, and they didn't disappoint. The trip back in time took us to last year's Thanksgiving which must have been pre-affair, because Serena, Blair and Nate were happy and obviously the best of friends. These flashbacks revealed various pieces of the characters' individual and collective backstories, showing that Blair has issues with food, Serena really was a wild child and alcoholic, and Nate had a personality. I know! The best part of the flashbacks was that it brought a new dimension to the already interesting Serena/Blair friendship, showing that Blair was really Serena's caretaker most of the time and that was probably the most stable relationship in her life. This added additional shading to Blair's heartbreak when Serena left town without a word, and by seeing how much she likes to be in control and how out of control she felt when her father and then Serena left her, it deepened Blair's character even more. And did I mention that flashback Nate had a personality? And smiled? It was nice.
These flashbacks were also really important to Serena's character, to show how messed up she was and why she would do the things she did and then leave to try to deal with the mess that was her life. When she went to help Blair after her (heartbreaking, devastating) relapse with bingeing and purging, you saw just how strong their bond is and why Serena tried so hard to make up with Blair when she returned to New York at the beginning of the season. If you think about teen dramas, it isn't often that you get a complicated, strong, loyal, realistic friendship between two girls, and what they are doing with Blair and Serena here is fantastic. Either one would do anything for the other, but that doesn't mean they don't in some way resent each other and they definitely aren't afraid to hurt each other. It's a great piece of storytelling to behold, and I only hope they can expand on this and deepen their bond as the series goes on.
We also learned more about Nate's family this week, but I honestly don't care. I try to care. I do. But I don't. I think I am doomed to only like Nate in flashbacks.
Next week: Blair and Nate might have SEX. Blair and Chuck might have SEX. Dan and Serena might have SEX. Let me tell you, someone needs to have sex next week or I am going to be really angry with The CW promo monkeys for promo-teasing me like this.