Monday, February 02, 2009

"Carnal Knowledge" - Gossip Girl, episode 2.17

This week we find out what our GG friends are really made of in an episode so bleak it deserves the honor of being named after an actual movie and not just titled with a bad pun. "Carnal Knowledge" feels like the episode that will set things in motion for the rest of the season and perhaps dramatically realign some of the relationships we've come to love over the past two seasons. Meanwhile my campaign to name Chuck Bass most irrelevant character on TV continues as he plays out his own drama involving a secret sex club and a missing woman.

When we saw Blair last her admission to Yale was threatened thanks to her attempts to embarrass English teacher Rachel into raising her grade. Blair's detention involves a Central Park cleanup assignment (carried out by Dorota) but that's nothing compared to what happens when she arrives at school and discovers that Rachel has orchestrated the seizure of all cell phones during school hours. This puts quite a crimp in Gossip Girl postings, but Blair is able to have a phone smuggled in (Dorota again; so, is she Blair's personal maid?) and thanks to a chance encounter in the hallway Gossip Girl is soon in receipt of a post implying that Rachel and Dan are having an affair. There's nothing to it of course, but (as one character observes later) Rachel's frequent meetings with students outside of school are certainly open to misinterpretation. You can understand why Dan would be want to spend so much time with Rachel, besides being cute she's the only character who seems to have time to give Dan good feedback on his short stories.

Chuck wakes up in a hotel room with a nasty hangover, a weird and vaguely Celtic tattoo and dim memories of a beautiful woman named Eva he met the night before at a party full of sexy masked women. With Nate and Vanessa tagging along Chuck doesn't have much trouble figuring out who the woman was (Kate French, last seen threatening Jenny's life on The L Word); she reveals that the invitation was meant for Chuck's late father and that the gathering was a secret orgy for the rich and powerful of politics and business. Eva goes missing at the end of the episode, so it seems that her error in admitting an outsider into the party didn't go unnoticed. It's good to see Chuck motivated, but I wonder what he can find out about his father now that will change anything. Get ready for rich old men threatening Chuck's life. Doesn't this whole plotline seem to ensure Chuck will have no time to interact with the other regulars? I did like Nate sending Vanessa a mask and inviting her over, it had a playfulness that's unusual for GG.

The theme of Serena's still-blossoming personality returns this week as she also basks in Rachel's acceptance while continuing to worry about Dan and their always tenuous relationship. Serena's decision to take a photograph that will have consequences for Rachel, Dan, and Blair is borne out of the same mix of an insecurity that prompted her to give up Yale in favor of a Blair-free Brown. How clueless is Blair by the way, taking advantage of Serena's picture and the crowing about it right in front of her father? I don't think Blake Lively is exactly the strongest actress on the show, but Serena is the GG character who I'm most interested in seeing in future GG seasons. How will Serena's free spirit affect the rest of the season?

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