Episodes of Gossip Girl revolve around parties, and the soiree that's at the center of "Never Been Marcused" is as inconsequential as most of what's at stake in this ho-hum second episode. Instead of the usual blend of ridiculously fraught teen emotions and Upper East Side glitz, this week we're in pure fantasy land. Or to paraphrase Blair, "Roman Holiday" with a gender switch.
Last week there were a couple of tart almost-moments between Blair and Chuck, as they danced around the attraction (improbable yet just right) that blossomed late last season. But after admitting that the guy she picked up on the trip back from Europe was just a beard to hide her real feelings, Blair changed her tune upon learning that her faux beau was in fact a British lord named Marcus. Blair's social climbing skills are in full swing this week; she's reading Debrett's Peerage, referring to Marcus as "My Lord," and plotting to meet his family.
This could all be hilarious if a. Marcus weren't a complete stiff and b. (SPOILER) maybe not who he says he is. It seems Marcus has an as yet undefined relationship with Catherine (Madchen Amick), the woman last seen having a summer fling with Nate. Catherine is either a Duchess and Marcus's stepmother or they're a pair of con artists a la the brother-sister team that GG's Kristen Bell played one half of in Deadwood (and that did not end well). But to get back to Blair, the party she throws to impress Marcus fizzles - she doesn't know any of the guests - and like most most of her behavior this season seems to come from a place of general bitchiness rather than any specific desire for social or personal advancement. Leighton Meester does her best, but I'm ready to see Blair as Queen Bee again.
Dan and Serena flirt with the idea that last week's hookup was a mistake, but who are we kidding? They can't keep they're hands off each other, be it on the jitney or at Blair's party. They get a pass this week since they're just there to move the story along. Perhaps even more at sea is Chace Crawford's Nate, who learns in short order that his family is broke and that Chuck has bailed his Mom out. Since Crawford is the only cast member who looks like he believes what he's saying, it's especially unfortunate that he seems to be stranded in glumsville. Oh, and was it just me or was there a flicker of a very inappropriate something between just off the road Rufus and Vanessa (at least on his end); she has turned part of his art gallery into a cafe while he was on the road. Whoever wrote Matthew Settle's line, "Tanya Donnelly has a college tour coming up" needs to look at a music magazine by the way.
When does school start? Gossip Girl has been pleasant thus far this season, but it needs the rigid hierarchy of an Upper East Side prep school to rise to last year's heights.