It’s back! It’s back! Swimming pools, movie stars, royalty, baseball. As usual, the Gossip Girl cast has scattered to the four winds for the summer, alighting everywhere that massively rich people can have fun. But if there’s one thing that can bring the gang back together, it’s a big fancy party. Or, in this case, the promise of one: Blair’s save-the-date cards arrive for one and all. In Fed Ex envelopes, for some reason. Apparently vellum’s out and cardboard’s in for royal weddings.

Credit: Michael Desmond/The CW 2011 The CW Network Photo: Nate, Serena, and Chuck Party on a Yacht in the Gossip Girl Season 5 Premiere, “Yes Than Zero”

Chuck and Nate’s invites arrive on the yacht they’re sharing in L.A. Nate promptly hides Chuck’s invite to spare his tender feelings, but Chuckles doesn’t seem to be hurting: He’s taken L.A’s easygoing vibe to heart and he’s saying “yes” to everything life throws at him. He encourages Serena, who’s working on the Beautiful and the Damned set as a production assistant, to do the same - advice she needs to hear, because girl has fallen far and fast. Apparently no one in L.A. reads Page Six (or Gossip Girl, for that matter), and Serena has gone from society darling to coffee-fetching peon faster than you can say “Mulholland”. Her brush with insignificance is mostly courtesy of her new boss, Marshall, a handsome but diabolical schemer who wants to keep S on the bottom rung of the professional ladder.

Dan receives his invite while playing baseball in the Hamptons, which on this show counts as a humble summer getaway. He’s chagrined that his massive crush on Blair is never to be consummated, but he’s got bigger things to worry about — Vanity Fair has a chapter from his book and they’re running it. Oh, and it’s about Blair. And Dan. The previous spring. Not exactly what a princess-to-be wants to find in her beach reading.

Credit: Michael Desmond/The CW 2011 The CW Network Photo: Dan and Blair Talk in the Gossip Girl Season 5 Premiere, “Yes Than Zero”

Serena, emboldened by Chuck’s apparent new zest for life, decides to go over Marshall’s head and suck up to the big boss, Jane. Jane, for some reason, allows this, and gives Serena Marshall’s job for the day. A full day’s work is such a novelty for Serena that she attacks the to-do list with zeal, including picking up some “medicinal” marijuana for the movie’s star. “I wonder what his medical condition is,” she ponders, proving that Marshall is right and she is way, way too naive to be allowed within ten feet of anything resembling responsibility.

After jumping off the roof of a building (how does that fit into his new philosophy? Did someone ask him, “Would you like to jump off this building, Chuck?”), C lands a date with a comely stuntwoman, and they zoom off on their motorcycles. Quick side note: Chuck + motorcycle = the most adorable helmet hair you’ve ever seen. But all is not well in Chuckville! For he has found Blair’s save-the-date, and it burns inside him! It burns! So he drive his motorcycle way too fast. He crashes it, but the worst thing that happens is that the stunt lady dumps him — and he gets a nasty case of road rash, which we think is a metaphor for his inner pain. Also, it looks grody.

And what of Princess Waldorf? Would you believe she’s a bit of a bridezilla? She and Louis’ mother are fighting like cats and dogs over every aspect of the wedding. Peonies are vetoed in favor of carnations, because apparently this is a wedding/junior prom, and worst of all, the Princess insists that Blair wear her wedding gown, as it’s a family tradition. Know what else is a family tradition? Eleanor Waldorf cutting a b*tch who gets between her and a chance to show off her designs.

Blair insists that Louis stand up to his mom for her, which he refuses to do, but he distracts Blair with an invitation to a fancy exclusive party. Wow, maybe they are meant to be. He sure gets her. But disaster strikes when Dan enlists Louis’ help to kill the Vanity Fair story, and Louis has to miss the party. Blair flips out and flees for the hinterlands, i.e. Dan’s loft. She demands that he take her out of town, which he agrees to immediately, with an adorably lovelorn pout. If those two don’t make out soon we will be very upset. However! Louis was lurking behind the Frosted Glass Door For Lurking, and he pops out, prompting Dan to confess that it’s his fault Louis missed the party. Blair flounces out, never once considering that when someone acts like that much of a jerk on Gossip Girl, it’s almost always because they’re in love.

Credit: Michael Desmond/The CW 2011 The CW Network Photo: Nate Meets Diana Payne in the Gossip Girl Season 5 Premiere, “Yes Than Zero”

At the LA party, Serena’s in big trouble — the movie star wasn’t supposed to have pot. Marshall strikes again. He convinces S not to sell him out, pointing out that he actually needs his job to live, while hers is more or less summer camp. She takes the rap and prepares to get fired, but her boss Jane apparently loves screwups in maxi skirts and decides to give S a shot at a full time job. Looks like Serena’s a California girl now.

Nate spends the party pretending to be “that guy from that movie,” and having a fling with a gorgeous older woman. We love how Nate’s putty in the paws of a cougar. This one apparently has hidden claws — she’s last seen on the phone with an unknown co-conspirator, plotting to once more “accidentally” run into Nate in NYC. Poor Nate is going to get a complex if people keep sleeping with him for schemes.

Oh, and wasn’t there one more loose end dangling from last year’s season finale? Well, wonder no more: It’s Blair who’s pregnant, and judging from her terrified look, she’s got no idea who the daddy is. Get ready for a super swanky version of Juno.

Speaking of loose ends, guess who Serena runs into in LA? Good old fake cousin Charlie, who’s now going by Ivy and working in a restaurant with her cutie boyfriend. When S shows up, though, she ditches the job without a backward glance. Will she worm her way back into the Van Der Woodsen fold? Time will tell...