With the absence of the UES' latest (returned) tormentor, Georgina, tonight's ep of Gossip Girl felt a little more like business as usual for our favorite band of Manhattanites! And by "business as usual," obviously we mean... Schemes! Mistaken identities! Death! Kisses! Plagiarism! Designer duds in hospital hallways! And... well, let's just get to recappin'...

Credit: Nicole Rivelli/THE CW ©2011 Photo: Chuck Looks Pensive in Gossip Girl Season 5, Episode 16: "Cross Rhodes"

The steamier of tonight's storylines involved our beloved Dan (Penn Badgley) and Blair (Leighton Meester) (naturally!), along with... a wee bit of Old Chuck (Ed Westwick)! Yesss, Chuck returned to his roots with a devious lil' scheme to get back at Dan for stealing Blair. Or "stealing," perhaps is more apt... For us at home, this maybe seemed like misdirected rage on Chuck's part because of the fact that there were two sets of lips involved in that Valentine's Day smooch, but then again, the man is nothing if not f-l-a-w-e-d, a'right? (We love him too, flaws and all! BUT STILL!) The scheme works swimmingly as Chuck nearly sinks Dan's book career by continuing to hang with D's lit agent, Alessandra (this poor girl), and replace his new book proposal with a — GASP — plagiarized somethingorother. Chuck: 1, Dan: 0.

Meanwhile, Dan is busy at the theatre of the Upright Citizen's Brigade, who are doing a reading from his book, Inside, for the sake of... mocking it relentlessly. (We'll be honest, from what we've heard/seen of Inside, it seems ripe for the pickin' and also like no work of literary genius! But we digress...). And by "busy," we really just mean that he seems to be in everyone's way and asking them if they need help, which they generally don't seem to. Oh, Writer Dan! You so pretentious!

Blair shows up to prove to her fumin' bestie Serena (Blake Lively) that she is a-ok hanging with Dan, which somehow means that she doesn't have feelings for him in some backwards logic designed by two terrible, terrible friends after they are locked in a formal dining room by Dorota. (Do we need to go there? Yeah, didn't think so...) Something about Lola (Ella Rae Peck), something about Serena, something about no-passion kissing later and BOOMMM, DAIR KISS. And it was just as good as it LOOKED, but, being set up to be another of B's characteristic brush-off kisses, it does lose some of its steam. Not to mention that SERENA shows up to see it, which leads to a BFF fight in the streets of Brooklyn which ends innn? You guessed it, Serena finding out that her grandma is dying. (You didn't guess it? Fair enough.)

Credit: Nicole Rivelli/THE CW ©2011 Photo: Blair Reads Dan's Book in Gossip Girl Season 5, Episode 16: "Cross Rhodes"

CeCe is rushed to a cancer treatment facillity in Manhattan with Chivy (Kaylee DeFer) by her side, and as the van der Woodsen-Rhodes clan descends... LOLA arrives! Yep, Ch-ivy v. Lo-lie face-off in the hallways of the hospitallll! And what follows is one massive Truth Bomb. The vdWs find out that the girl they've loved as Charlie is an actress hired to take family money, and they come face to face with a family member they've never met (Lola!). AND, it turns out that Crazy Carol – who, with every episode, lives up to that Crazy title – has made her poor daughter believe her whole life that she doesn't have a family! So Lola is shocked to see a bunch of family that she doesn't know! And it sort makes you... wanna cry! For the new girl! For the vdWs! For Serena!!

But this wouldn't be the Upper East Side without some concurrent drama going on in the lobby of the hospital (yes, we're rolling our eyes!). Blair arrives after hearing about CeCe's condition from Dan, and she tells him that she knows now that she does have feelings for him. (Which she discovered while subbing in at the Upright production after replacing Lola... who was playing Claire... who is the fictional Blair... and, well, you get the rest, right? At this point, we must ask — is it proper for the Princess of Monaco to live her life in the US? Wait, don't answer that or our suspension-of-disbelief will explode.) And it's epic, guys. It's pretty great. There's hand holding! There's this line from Dan: "It's you, it'd couldn't be awful." IT'S DAIR MAGIC.

And it's followed by another promising moment, in which Serena and Blair rekindle their terrible friendship and Serena says she won't get in the way of Blair and Dan being together (YESSS!). AND THEN, Blair calls Chuck to tell him that she thinks she's into DanHump (sorta), and to back off the poor dude and stop sabotaging his life. Chuck's majorly bummin', but he LOVES Blair, so he lets her say whatever she wants. (Chuck: 0, Dan: ...2)

And then, CeCe dies!! And we cried. WE'LL ADMIT IT, WE CRIED. Poor CeCe.

In the end, Lola leaves the hospital after giving the cold shoulder to her cousin Serena in a particularly biting scene – c'mon, maaan, she's havin' a heck of a day! Be nice! – and arrives back in the waiting arms of one... Nate Archibald. And guess what? It appears ol' Natey still has no idea about what is going on/what just went down inside/ANYTHING. We'd argue with Lola's secrecy, but it'd just be so out of character for Nate to be anything other than completely out of the loop. But how will he and his new lady love fold into his social circle with, GULP, Serena?! Awwwkwarrrd...

And fake Charlie (or is it real Charlie?? Technically real Charlie doesn't go by Charlie, so we're inclined to just give poor Ivy the name...), who COULD take this opportunity to just get the heck out of dodge, decides instead to do the next best thing – she contacts Georgina! (Make that the worst thing ever!) And by the look of next week's preview, that decision is gonna blow.up.

Oh dear...

And what of the apparently ongoing duel between Bass and Humphrey? Let's just say that after GG tips Chuck off at ep's end about Dan being the culprit behind the wedding-day video... Dan better be enjoying those Waldorf lip-locks while they last! Oh, Old Chuck! We've missed you!

And now for next week...

Credit: YouTube Photo: Sneak Peek of Gossip Girl Season 5, Episode 17: "The Princess Dowry"


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