Loyal readers may have noticed that my Gossip Girl recaps had stopped following the post-sweeps week hiatus. This had to do with a couple of things — lack of time available to write the recaps; Monday evening engagements that forced Gossip Girl to DVR status — but mostly it was simply out of boredom. To put it bluntly: this show was not good throughout season four.
That's a shame, since it had the potential to start out so strong. You'll recall that season three ended with Chuck and Blair almost getting together, Dorota having her baby, and Chuck getting shot. How that pretty great set-up for season four was wasted is still unclear, even with 22 episodes in the books.
Actually it's not that unclear: Josh Schwartz and his writing team devoted much of the first portion of the season to Jenny, Vanessa and Juliet attempting to destroy Serena, and then used the second half to tease the love square between Blair, Dan, Chuck and Prince Lispy Louis.
Which is a long way of saying that the season finale was a total surprise. Following a season of disappointments, who could have guessed that it would all come together in one big soapy bathtub of promiscuous sex, fake cousins, and surprise pregnancies?
Make no mistake, "The Wrong Goodbye" was easily the best Gossip Girl episode of the season. The way it wove multiple storylines and conspiracies together reminded me of the show's halcyon days of season two. It was the juicy soap that everyone had come to love, and not the homework exercise the show has become.
Take the ending, for instance (an Empire Strikes Back denouement if there ever was one): Cousin Charlie wasn't Cousin Charlie, but Ivy, a con woman hired by Lily's crazyass sister; Vanessa brought Dan's book about the secrets of the UES to a publisher under the name Anonymous, and was about to get it published; Georgina was back in town, doing the ridiculous things that Georgina does; Serena was taking random meetings in Los Angeles (!) about F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Beautiful and Damned (!!) with David O. Russell (!!!); and Blair was probably pregnant. With Chuck's baby. (Pfft to the idea that Prince Louis and Blair ever had sex; the man is like an amoeba.) It was an explosive amount of plot, the type of game-changing episode that can creatively save a dragging series from sliding into the abyss. If Schwartz, Stephanie Savage and their writing team can't make this plot hold together, then the show might as well shuffle off the air after season five.
Not only did "The Wrong Goodbye" set up a potential creative second-life forGossip Girl, it also appeared to invigorate the cast. Given just one word to describe the Gossip Girl stars this season, "sullen" comes to mind. From Leighton Meester to Penn Badgley to Chace Crawford to Ed Westwick, every man and woman on the show seemed unreasonably bored throughout season four. Failed set romances and burgeoning Hollywood careers likely had something to with that, but the scripts didn't help either. Yet in the season finale, not only was the cast performing on a level they hadn't all year, but they also looked like they were having fun. At the Bar Mitzvah Chuck and Blair crashed — that happened — the pair even smiled at each other. And Chuck's face didn't shatter into one million pieces. Quite the accomplishment.
So, where does Gossip Girl go from here? Well, it certainly seems like season five will be the last season (will Lively or Meester really do this show through 2013?), and that's probably good for everyone. Provided the ridiculous plots left over from the finale carry over strong next fall, it should be a victory lap for Gossip Girl. Either that, or another boring disaster. Here's hoping the content of "The Wrong Goodbye" says more about the next season of Gossip Girl than its title.
Christopher Rosen blogs at 42 Inch Television.
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