Gossip Girl Recap of Season 6, Episode 8, “It’s Really Complicated”: Love Is a Winning Game
Just when we thought our favorite CW soap had lost its grip on dramatic tension, style, and all things Chair (read: the most important things in life), showrunners served up Gossip Girl Season 6, Episode 8, "It's Really Complicated.” Although the characters were meeting under the guise of a traditional holiday meal, it was essentially just a way to roundup up all of the UES’ most dysfunctional characters at one big table. Aside from the usual hilarious quips and meddling moments, the show took the time to funnel all the lessons from the past six years into one succinct message: Do you want to be happy or do you want to win?
In Chuck Bass (Ed Westwick) and Blair (Leighton Meester)’s case, happiness and winning are tied together in a single fate. The episode begins with the OTP fated love birds not speaking to each other. In fact, Chuck has gone so far as to have Blair banned from The Empire (unsuccessfully, naturally). Chuck’s failure to ruin his father has landed him flat on his face in bed. Or, as Nate puts it, Chuck’s only hobbies are “drinking in bed and arguing with Monkey.” Hey, we’d watch that reality show.
Blair weasels her way into The Empire by posing as a stripper, wins Chuck back with “a push up bra, a purse pouch, and Bart [Bass]’s passwords.” A murderous wolf in sheep’s clothing — and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Blair’s two coy plays work: Thanksgiving dinner ends in disaster for Serena (Blake Lively) and Dan (Penn Badgley) (more on that later), toppling her BFF’s dysfunctional relationship. Then, Blair bests Chuck at his own game of war, persuading Lily (Kelly Rutherford) to finally see the homicidal light shining from her husband’s heart hole.
Blair wins Chuck back by showing him that Bart can be toppled — with a strategy focused fully on truth rather than deception. Lily needs to believe that her stepson is the one who is honest, and it is Blair who finally convinces her.
In stark comparison to Chuck and Blair, Serena and Dan’s future hinges upon dishonesty. Dan is out to prove that he is no longer an outsider to the UES, while Serena is blind to Dan’s motives — and hungry to believe their love is a real thing. When Dan tells his father he can’t “win” without Serena, we didn’t fathom that he meant ‘win’ by ruining her — and ruin her he does, vis a vis Vanity Fair on Thanksgiving Day. Of all of the ways to fall from grace, this one smacks especially of a van der Woodsen unseating.
Dan has written not one but two chapters on Serena. The first, as Georgina (Michelle Trachtenberg) so cunningly puts it, is Dan’s love song for Serena, the second being the honest and frank take-down they’ve been plotting all summer. Dan’s wordy-entitled chapter, “Serena van der Woodsen: Golden Girl Falls From Grace, a Faux Love Story” is published mid-Thanksgiving dinner, vindicating everyone — especially Blair, who had just called him a “wool-headed whiner.”
Serena is shocked by Dan’s betrayal (seemingly the only one of them who is), and spends the rest of her Thanksgiving evening pouring over the chapter on her iPad. “Serena is nothing, she is a golden shell,” Dan writes (what is this? Sweet Valley High?). Dan tells her he only wrote the truth, hoping to break into the UES castle, upon whose steel doors he’s been pounding since we first met him. Serena still can’t see that she considers Dan an outsider, and is furious with his betrayal. “You used to be different,” she tells him. “I used to be, but it got me nowhere,” Dan retorts. Then, to really send the ostracism message home, Nate (Chace Crawford) punches him in the face.
Lily and Bart are supposed to be in St. Bart’s by the time Thanksgiving hits, but instead get waylaid by a “storm” (and Lily’s empty Valium bottle). In perhaps the best scene in the entire episode, Lily chortles to Blair about the hors d'oeuvres: “The toasted almonds are such a lovely surprise.” Blair promptly segues into murder: “Speaking of surprises, did you hear Bruce Caplan died by falling off the Bart Industries yacht?” Lily is aghast that her husband has entangled himself in yet another murder.
By the end of the episode, Lily has somehow recovered her wits from where she’s been storing them for the past 7 episodes and calls Chuck while she’s running away to the country. She tells Chuck that she read all the microfilm containing the top secret info before tossing them in the fire. Worried for both of their safety, Lily’s decided to turn her trust — and implicating information — over to Chuck. “Be safe, Charles,” she cautions.
Nate, crippled by guilt about what he’s done to Chuck by selling him out to Bart, falls back into Sage (Sofia Black-D’Elia)’s wily grip. “Now you’re the good boy and the bad boy. I’m not going anywhere.” Truer words, never spoken.