The bulk of "Valley Girls" is intended to be a lead-in for next fall's supposed spin-off focusing on Lily's teenage years in California. That series' fate currently hangs in the balance as the CW prepares its fall schedule, so there's at least a chance that this episode might wind up being merely a very expensive footnote in GG mythology.
I had a hard time imagining Brittany Snow as the younger version of Kelly Rutherford's Lily; Snow seemed a little too smart and knowing for a girl so desperately craving Daddy's attention and ready to get expelled from prep school to get it. The premise of the '80s segment is that Lily's mother CiCi (eventually Serena's grandmother) is so self-absorbed and her record executive dad (Andrew McCarthy) absent so the only guidance available to the future Mrs. Bass is her older sister Carol (Krysten Ritter, who has been winning Todd's praise in his Breaking Bad recaps). Carol has been living the life of a struggling actress in L.A. with a circle of friends who look like the basis for a John Hughes movie. We don't know what caused Carol's estrangement from the family but I'd put my money on her being a sort of Serena-lite, uninterested in the strictures of high society when she could be having a good time. Things culminates in a brawl at a ritzy party which feels like a scene from a Bret Easton Ellis book and Lily and Carol deciding to live together. The sequence is all setup; Ritter (who doesn't look a thing like Snow) is appealing as the apparently doomed sister but Snow is miscast and nothing about the men made me want to tune in next week. Don't be surprised if this is the last we see of '80s Lily.
Back in 2009, Serena's arrest at the end of last week's episode has caused a multi-generational rift. Lily is ready to drop the charges but Serena isn't prepared to make nice with her mother and calls CiCi for help instead. The issues dragged up by Serena's arrest are thoroughly predictable, with Lily blaming her mother for decades of interference and emotional unavailability. The eventual peacemaker is Dan, who bails out Serena in time for the prom and doubles as her date. Here's to future stepsiblings falling in love.
It's all a prelude for next week's finale, where Blair's college plans will be decided. Her breakup with Nate after they're crowned prom royalty has been coming for some time, and now it's on Chuck to take advantage of the opportunity he was offered all the way back in the season premiere. I'd imagine nothing will be resolved in any real sense, but I am looking forward to seeing our GGers bump up against the wider world that college offers in season 3.