It's a brand new season, with some appalling new hairstyles. Seems the boys have discovered hair gel with less-than-stellar results (moderation, please!), and Jenny and Vanessa are still incapable of taming their now super long scraggly locks. Why add length to the problem?! We know this isn't Gossip Girl Hair, but the new, fugly 'dos were our first major impression. Where's Ken Paves when ya need him?
"Reversals of Fortune" opens with Chuck (appearing to be) poised to cheat on Blair with Ashley Hinshaw, a model IRL. Noooo, Chuck, don't do it! But wait, Blair shows up and gives Ashley an earful for nearly hooking up with a guy in a relationship. Ashley runs off, and Chuck and Blair make out. What the? Ahhhh, we get it: they're breakin' all the conventional rules of coupledom, and should we expect any thing less from the tricky twosome? After a chat with Serena, Blair begins to doubt Chuck's fidelity and tires of their Chuck-acts-the-playboy-Blair-acts-the-scorned-girlfriend game. Chuck assures her that he just wants her to be happy. He sighs, "I'm not Chuck Bass without you," and we know he means it. Blair realizes she has no need to be suspicious or worry that they will become a boring couple; there will always be titillating games for them to play. At the end of the episode, they move on to role playing—Chuck plays a waiter and Blair, the disgruntled restaurant customer. Sexay.
In the meantime, Dan, Rufus, and Jenny are getting a little too comfortable with high-end labels, lots of cash, and a newly upgraded lifestyle. The Humphreys have spent the summer in the Hamptons sitting in the lap of luxury, and now they are returning to NYC…but not back to Brooklyn. Rufus and co. (well, just Jenny and Rufus) are staying at the palatial van der Woodsen pad in Manhattan until Lily returns from caring for her ailing mother, CeCe (Kelly Rutherford's on maternity leave). Movin' on up!
Unbeknownst to Dan and Rufus, Serena has been traipsing all over Europe, partying and sexin' it up—or at least that's the impression given by the gossip rags (Hello!, Gente, Voici, and Bunte) and Interwebs. Topless on Valentino's yacht? Doing body shots with Prince Harry? Oy! Serena will never mine attention in a normal way. But she doesn't just want the spotlight—what's she really up to? When Dan confronts her about Carter Baizen's presence in the bulk of the paparazzi shots, Serena tells Dan that Carter's been stalking her. She fails to tell Dan why she's suddenly become the darling of the gossip rags. Shame, shame, shame.
Vanessa gets whiny and annoyed with Dan because she assumes that money has changed him. Yeah, she's still hopelessly obnoxious…and now weirdly envious of Dan's good fortune. (Dan should use that wad of Benjamins to buy V a hot oil treatment for her hair, btw.) In the absence of Dan, she has taken up a "friendship" with Scott Rosson, Rufus and Lily's love child. She confides her frustration with Dan to her new pal.
Nate Archibald and Bree Buckley hook up on the way home from Europe…without knowing one another's last names. Oopsies! It turns out that the two have met before—years ago at White House functions. The Vanderbilts and Buckleys are rival political families, and Nate and Bree are now the Upper East Side's version of Romeo and Juliet. With Bree, Nate sees a good-looking (literally) opportunity to cement his independence from his overbearing grandfather William Vanderbilt, but could ol' Gramps best him at his own game?
Cue the event! Everything comes to a head at the annual Vanderbilt polo match—maybe it's because wide-brimmed hats and pastels invite drama and celebuspawn (Note the cameo by rock 'n' roll royalty Alexandra Richards, daughter of Rolling Stone Keith Richards and model Patti Hansen). Gossip Girl alerts, "This just in, an unlikely alliance is forming on the Upper East Side." Dan and Blair team up (WTF? More of this please!) against Carter in defense of Serena. Sneaky Serena has other plans: after throwing the first ball of the match, she steals a horse (sorry, Nacho!) and tears off, Grecian dress and lovely locks flowing (yeah, we're prettttty certain that's a stunt double). Carter follows on another horse and they end up meeting in a picturesque patch in the woods. Serena reveals her laser focus is on getting the attention of her long-lost daddy—in what we think are some weirdly inappropriate ways. Two words: Daddy. Issues. Carter seems oddly understanding of her antics—could it be the lust? Yep, they end up knockin' boots in the trees. How Adam and Eve of them.
Also at the match? Scott, who has come along as Vanessa's "plus one." He introduces himself to Rufus as Scott Adler, telling his biological dad that he's always been a fan of Lincoln Hawk. Who knew the young folk were still into acid rock? Not convincing, Scott. At the same time, Dan and Vanessa have a falling out because Vanessa is a pain-in-the-ASS and Dan calls her out on it. (She and Scott end up in a little street-side makeout sesh at end of the episode. Gross.)
Finally, Nate brings Bree to the polo match and introduces her to his grandfather, William Vanderbilt, who hates the Buckleys. Upon realizing what's going on, Bree feels betrayed: "I didn't know you were bringing me to a family event." She reveals that she's on the outs with her own family and is trying to work her way back in; she doesn't want to do anything to further sour her relationship with the Buckley clan. Nate apologizes and assures her that he's "good at secret relationships. I've had a lot of practice." (More like good at being a manwhore. Hey-yo!) After Nate tells his grandfather that he's not going to take the fall internship, conniving Gramps Vanderbilt pretends to be accepting of Nate's decisions (romantic and professional) and calmly hands Nate the keys to the Ferrari California. Gramps then calls Trip, letting him know that he has finally found a way to undermine the Buckleys. Oh, that Gramps Vanderbilt is sly like the fox! Sorry, Nate! Looks like you and Bree might be doomed to die on the altar of politics…but at least you have a hot ride.
In the end of the episode (after the polo match), clueless Rufus, in an effort to protect his future step-daughter, drops a lot of dough to buy up all the paparazzi photos of Serena…save those from one photographer. Serena has gotten to this guy before Rufus, and she persuades the photog to sell the sexy snap of her Lady Godiva stint on the polo pony to gossip publications in Europe and Asia. She *really* wants her daddy to call, but will this single photo do the trick? It's kind of a twisted way to grab the attention of her estranged father. Does Serena want to become, like, the object of his desire? Hello, Electra Complex! Honestly, the girl can be such. an. idiot.
What did we learn from this Season 3 premiere?
- Nate looks good in helicopters and red Ferraris. Not surprising. His new hairstyle is questionable, but we wouldn't kick him out of bed.
- Chuck once hooked up with Ivanka Trump (the "enemy") and Serena hooked up with Portuguese soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo (one of Paris Hilton's old exploits).
- Rufus can survive without flannel or plaid.
- Carter Baizen has unusually large nipples.
- Jenny's is single-handedly bring back Heroine chic. J, is that you under all that weave?
- Chuck has self-control when it comes to women. Who knew?
- Blair and Chuck are cuter together than we'd ever imagined.
- Vanessa is utterly hopeless. We beg for less screen time!
- Serena is multi-talented: She can ride a horse…in a dress…without messing up her hair, and she is also adept at faking a wardrobe malfunction. PUH-lease.
- Designer style works on Dan Humphrey. Looks like the Brooklyn-born really know how to work that Dior.