Tuesday, September 22, 2009

"The Freshman" - Gossip Girl, episode 3.2

Last week I wrote that GG never really gets off the ground until the characters go back to school, and darned if "The Freshman" didn't prove me right. The sophomore episode of GG's junior year follows Dan, Vanessa, and Blair through their first days as NYU freshmen and sets up a new social hierarchy for the show. Are we ready for a world where Dan Humphrey is the life of the party? That world is here my friends.

Chuck offers an unusually helpful comment to Blair before she heads off to freshman orientation. Blair is determined to rule the NYU social scene, more out of a sense of obligation than anything else. Chuck correctly points out that at college one's address and personal wealth are irrelevant before going on to make a weird Liza Minnelli reference that lets slip he thinks it's 1978 (and maybe tips his hand re that upcoming "Chuck makes out with a guy" episode). Of course Blair can't be stopped; she hasn't been at NYU a day before she's recruiting potential followers. But this isn't "GG Goes To College." "The Freshman" marks the return of Michelle Trachtenberg's Georgina, who in a cunning bit of social engineering had previously ensured she'd be Blair's roomie. Her brief conversion to Christianity last season notwithstanding Georgina is the one character who consistently knows how to checkmate Blair's maneuvers. It's too early to tell exactly what Georgina's game is, but I loved watching her play Vanessa (and her documentary) against Blair's plan to host a sushi feast on the hall.

There's one GGer who doesn't make it to college of course: Serena defers her admission to Brown after first hiding out at Chuck's. Her current plans seem to include dating blah Carter, being a friend to Blair (their scene on the Met steps was amazingly grown up), and generally causing havoc to attract the attention of her absent father. Although this episode included a rare instance of Rufus actually being useful (counseling Serena on her decision), I hope that there's a plan for Serena to impact the life of one of the other GGers in a major way. I don't want a GG where Serena is trying to be good, dating such a dull guy, and peripheral to the action. Serena's disruption of Chuck's business plans (to create a secret sex club in a bank) felt like a bit of the old S., perhaps the two unmatriculating major characters will be at odds.

In the first great GG moment of the season Blair disrupts Georgina's rooftop party with the Christian crusaders Georgina's was hiding behind last year. It's classic Blair, but it's Dan who fires back by rallying the crowds to Georgina's side. Dan is quite quickly assimilated into the NYU family; he's in a writing group and reconciled with Vanessa, who's still dating Rufus & Lily's child Scott. Whatever else one can say about Scott he's not exactly a social animal, there's a weird gag about him rating his professors that doesn't go anywhere. The weirdest thing about this strange new terrain that our heroes find themselves in is that Blair might need Dan and Vanessa to get by; she "makes" him take her to Georgina's party after all. The possibilities for comedy seem endless.....

Oh, in case you haven't heard the GG producers have decided to spin Nate's character off into a new show that runs concurrently with GG on the same network (a TV first)...something to do with politics and an Amy Adams lookalike.

Paging Taylor Momsen......Taylor?

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