Gossip Girl Review: The Curious Case of Nate Archibald


THE CURIOUS CASE OF NATE ARCHIBALD

I'm back, bitch.

I'm back, bitch.

Welcome back, Gossip Girl. That show that was pretending to be you for the last few episodes just had to go.

Last night, “The Grandfather” reminded us just why we watch Gossip Girl.

-The beautiful tension between Chuck and Blair and the constant see-saw on who has the upper hand.

-The unspoken class war.

-Destinies being written out for kids before they even graduate high school and their search for themselves.

-Betraying your best friends by sleeping with their lovers.

-Vanessa gets trod on.

And at the center of this swirling tempest is…NATE ARCHIBALD? Yes, we forget that Nate’s mom comes from a dynasty of wealth, power, and civilian helicopters touching down on snowy fields. FYI, Vanderbilt’s are recession proof.

Also, apparently they clap when family members come back after a long time apart. If that happened with my family, Thanksgiving would a non-stop standing ovation. That was just plain silly.

But the rest of the episode, save a couple bits, wasn’t. Let’s heap some praise on Nate for starters.

Nate Archibald, I gave up on you. I didn’t think you capable of acting your way out of a wet paper bag, and you slapped me across the face and said, “Watch me with new characters.” Cousin Tripp and Grandfather actually transported your character into a different phase, one with direction, drama, and a distinct New York power family feel. It was finally nice to get guest stars who didn’t suck, and they boosted Nate’s performance (no small task). I think it was the absence of scarves. I’m absolutely correct about this. Nate going into politics is a good move. It gives him something to fall back on when he’s not galavanting around, kind of going to school.

However, Roommate Tony paused the DVR at one point (when we were told that Tripp was going to clerk for the Supreme Court) and said:

“Wait a sec. Hold on…just a moment. If you want any other indication that class divide is alive and well…Nate Archibald is heading for the Supreme Court. FML.”

I’m not sure what this says about Nate, though. Did anyone catch the irony of his exchange with Blair (in detail later) when he said, “I never knew who I was supposed to be…” when it’s more than a little obvious Nate is being shoved into this worse than Jack Shepard having to bring everyone back to the island?

"I don't get it. Why am I going out on the boat with Fredo?"

"I don't get it. Why am I going out on the boat with Fredo?"

Now while Nate being led by the nose to do something isn’t new (Marry Blair/go to Dartmouth, be a gigolo to keep his family in a home, romance Vanessa to stay in the plot, etc) it is an interesting plot device to get him back in the wealthy center of GG. He dropped Vanessa and moved on to Blair in like three hours! Vanessa, “He’s just not that into you.”

I would give Nate’s rebirth about three episodes, but now he’s tied into Blair so that will give him a little extra life. I’m interested to see what they do with this. Obviously we’re set up for a rematch of THE heavyweight fight, Chuck Bass vs. Nate Archibald. There is no one in the world more excited for that fight than me. Chuck Bass knocks out Nate in four. Pay me.

When Blair starts talking in a overly calm voice, get the hell out of the room.

IT'S GONNA BLOW!!!

IT'S GONNA BLOW!!!

If I was on Gossip Girl, and I had to do a scene with Leighton Meester one on one with any kind of emotion involved, I’d be petrified. The fact that Nate actually kinda pulls it off is such a relief, but for all of us who want nothing more than Blair, Blair, Blair, that was a great moment. Blair’s whole life gets stacked up on elaborate houses of cards, and when they fall down from time to time, we get great character performances. Oh, and she’s absurdly good looking (although that huge room where the Vanderbilts keep all their ghost sheets was kinda ludicrous).

This is not the first time that Blair’s had a breakdown (remember Serena’s intervention at the helipad?) but it’s the first time that Blair’s had only herself to blame, and of COURSE she’s going to focus that inner rage on other people. Blair going through the party, dressing down the guests was like Neo in “The Matrix Reloaded” smashing Smith after Smith until finally she ripped the social streetlight pole out of the ground and knocked Chuck into the stratosphere. The best part? We’ll never hear about the repercussions of that.

Lesson: never spill a mimosa on Neo.

Lesson: never spill a mimosa on Neo.

Blair’s descent into the heart of darkness was interesting. I guessed last week that she’d try to transfer to a different school, but I never thought she’d get denied. She’s Blair freaking Waldorf! With all the terrible, morally repugnant things that have gone on in GG, you really have a limit, private high schools?

I wonder how much of her seduction of Nate was based on actual emotion, or was this just another modified Carter Basin phase, intended to hammer Chuck into the ground? I can’t decide yet. Either way, Gossip Girl got half a brain and they’re back to focusing on Blair getting back on her feet. The fact that Nate and Chuck have been sucked in means fireworks in the future that we will enjoy. Quick, other characters! Jump in and stay relevant!

Casualties of rebirths

Somewhere, a hooker shivers and turns off her phone.

Somewhere, a hooker shivers and turns off her phone.

Character who has nothing to worry about, no matter how slighted he is: Chuck.

Character who will ALWAYS be smacked down, kicked, sabotaged, and ALWAYS come back for more: …if you really don’t know, I judge you. Vanessa!

Chuck was vintage Bass, using his contacts and resources to vanquish a foe and succeeding before the third act. CB’s quiet approval of Serena, “Why? What do you have?” made us all feel a bit nostalgic for the times when Chuck would INVENT PEOPLE to force Serena into her born role of queen, etc, etc.

Two pretty good quips from Chuck: offering to lick Blair’s wounds for her (has Chuck EVER missed an opportunity to gross Serena out with his Gotham Casanova ways?) and calling Carter an “insect.” Anytime you get to call someone an insect is a good day. Hush.

And at the heart of it is Chuck’s true love for Blair, which is only matched by the pretty unprecedented look of betrayal and horror on his face when he realizes previously-non-factor Nate has come back to claim what was once his. Maybe an indication that Chuck doesn’t have the heart to battle his best friend again?

Dorota cursing out Chuck in her native tongue was pure poetry. I half expected Chuck to say something coarse in the same language. Can I get a translator on that?

To say I’m excited for Chuck’s revenge against Blair and Nate is an egregious understatement. I kind of wish Panic! At The Disco would put out a new album just for it. I’m not the only person who thinks this is a good idea.

And oh, sweet, poor Vanessa…

"No, I'm having fun...but why is that big countdown timer always following us?"

"No, I'm having fun...but why is that big countdown timer always following us?"

What has Jessica Szohr done to the writers of GG to make them beat her worse than Batman on a particularly angry day? The most terrible part of it is Vanessa is pretty much the SOLE voice of reason on the show, the only character who sees through the facades and has practical, helpful advice on how to deal with it?

Of course, our socialite Cassandra will never be followed and always get abused. But when will enough be enough? When will Vanessa start throwing social haymakers? On that day, kids, we will know pure vengeance, and I’m not saying that because she’s “street” (ok, kinda).

Dan and Serena were appropriate non-factors, though I was hopping up and down when Dan noted that Rachel “wasn’t my teacher,” shouting, “Give ‘im a fresh one! Go for two!”

Speaking of unintentional comedy, let’s address this episode’s glaring weak spot:

You’re really going to build a whole spin off on these characters. Really.

We just. Don't. Care.

We just. Don't. Care.

Rufus Humphrey needs to quit his job as a musician/gallery owner/part-time dad and become a private investigator. This is the second episode IN A ROW that an incredibly important piece of paper has magically fallen into his hands. Put this dude in a boat and he’d find you a map to Atlantis. Ironically, he can’t find a reason for us to care about him and Lily.

Part of what made the other Schwartz teen series, “The OC” so good were the great parent storylines. Maybe it’s because there’s not a single stable household in the entire series, but LOCK IT THE F UP ALREADY!! The whole “let’s make a list of our conquests” is so juvenile (wholly appropriate for Lily, who if we’ve forgotten, is a slut) that you’d expect it for Dan and Serena…not grown-ass ADULTS.

“I just think you should get a peek at his little black book before you drop the yellow pages on him.” HEY! LILY! Your own daughter is calling you easy! SERENA! VAN DER WOODSEN! At what point did you think “lists” was a good idea?

One of the creators of “Friday Night Lights,” said “when someone says, ‘remember when,’ it’s a signal to go to the bathroom. Most times I see Lily and Rufus together, that’s my signal. Enough. Just…enough. I’m almost missing Bart Bass.

Sprinkles on this insanely expensive cupcake

You can't stop her. You can only hope to contain her.

You can't stop her. You can only hope to contain her.

It’s nice that the Gossip Girl folks have finally discovered MGMT. Also, that touch football game was great. Where were Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson?

The guy who plays Carter must be thrilled and pissed to have that role. He gets to drop in with the best characters, make out with Blair…and then gets his ass handed to him and has to leave for a whole season.

Blair talks about her facebook page. Hey myspace, remember when you got mentioned in the pilot? Has your name been mentioned since? It hurts a bit, we know. You can share.

Lily remembers beautiful girls throwing themselves at Rufus, but he was “pining” over a “blonde photojournalist.” So that probably made Rufus the rumored gay member of Lincoln Hawk, right?

Has someone put out a missing persons report for Erik yet? They haven’t even TRIED to explain where he is!

Oh, so THAT’S how it’s gonna be…

oh SNAP!

oh SNAP!

So what’s next?

#6 on my old facebook note, “Seven things I’d like to see from Gossip Girl that they’d never do”…Chuck and Vanessa are totally going to use each other to get back at their exes. This is PERFECT.

The wrath of Chuck is magnificent, and hopefully Vanessa snaps like Jodie Foster in “The Brave One.” A boy can dream.

Sadly, I see Dan and Serena getting together. When I get more energy, we’ll revisit this topic.

So what did YOU like? Leave thoughts in the comments!

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: This week I’ll be posting an interview with Aaron Tveit, who plays Tripp Vanderbilt, right here on the blog! Check in for updates, and if you have a question, post it in the comments and we’ll see if he want to take a crack at ‘em!

One line, ladies. No pushing.

One line, ladies. No pushing.

‘til next week!

You know you mentally seduce me,

W

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10 Responses

  1. Thing I forgot to mention: have we ever seen Chuck RUN? He walks leisurely pretty much everywhere. I would love for some hardcore fan to know if Chuck’s ever busted out in so much as a trot. Please.

  2. Great analysis. This episode brought us back to good stuff. It was to GG Season 2 what the “Dog Epilepsy” episode was to Conchords Season 2 — getting things back on track and how they should be. If only Rufus could play folk songs…

    For the love of God, spell Jack ShepHard correctly! Blasphemy!

  3. I’m surprised you forgot about the “Love your films by the way” comment from Chuck.

    Also, I hope they aren’t saving the undead boy from Boston for the spin-off!

    Love the blog! Glad it’s gaining a great following.

  4. Chuck and Vanessa (whatever their names are) are dating in real life – that picture could be between takes, not during a scene for the show. But maybe not?

    I just really want Chuck and Blair together. The back-and-forth thing isn’t doing it for me anymore. They better get together (for real) by the end of the season. Last season is them realizing they belong together. This season is the whole star-crossed-lovers thing, but it better end well or it will be meaningless/boring.

    The whole “Blair steals oversized sunglasses” thing was so Breakfast at Tiffanys.

    Fashion: Yes, Blair is insanely beautiful (loved the nautical/elegant dress with oversized cardigan look), but she was a little overdone in this episode. I think it was the lipstick. Or the lipstick/ringlet combo.

    Oh, and I care about Lily and Rufus. Well, I care about Lily, anyway, and by extension I care about Lily and Rufus. I don’t know why.

    I had thoughts from last week (mostly angry ones) but this episode sorta started to make up for it. Not as blown over by this week’s episode as you were Woody, though it was an improvement for sure. I hope the whole “secret men’s club” thing is finally behind us.

    OH and the idea that anyone should give up an internship that could be a great career opportunity to travel with their HS girlfriend/boyfriend (who they think they will love forever and ever, but really it will be 3-9 months maximum) is lame. Same idea behind Devil Wears Prada — she absolutely did the right thing going to Paris, and did the wrong thing quitting. Nate does the right thing choosing his future over some girl.

    And did I mention that Blair and Chuck should get together, finally, for real?

  5. Lucy! How did I miss that one? I thought that part was great.

    The undead boy won’t be back until season three, and it’ll be to help out Dan or Serena. Trust me on this.

  6. good review. now how about a rousing game of where’s waldorf?

  7. As much as I love and am excited for a good Chuck vs Nate smack down, I have to admit I like when Serena and Blair fight better.
    The Serena/Blair fights always seem to make the show so much better, but they never last more than one episode. It drives me crazy, but hopefully I’ll get enough out of just-hitting-and-no-scheming-which-is-way-less-awesome Chuck and Nate battle.

  8. I thought the actors playing Lily and Rufus were getting a divorce in real life? So how is that suppose to help a spinoff? Either way, I don’t care about those characters whatsoever. The spinoff should be nothing but Chuck & Blair and their dayplayers. C plots be damned!

  9. please god, please let Trip be evil! At the very least, let his financee be pulling some strings. She certainly seems a little off.

  10. The thought of Vanessa and Chuck hooking up both disgusts me and intrigues me all at the same time ..

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