Gossip Girl Review: Return of the Scheme Team

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In a word ... finally.

With the fifth season of Gossip Girl winding down and several key storylines intertwining, we were promised the biggest surprise of the year this evening and "Raiders of the Lost Art" certainly delivered.

Or perhaps we should call it "Raiders of the Lost Bart"?

That was a doozy of a plot twist, even on a show that goes through so many on a weekly basis and often concocts totally unrealistic bombshells through haphazard writing. Bart Bass? Who saw that coming?

I guessed it only after I saw Blair's mortified face. What else would cause such a visceral reaction from a girl who's seen everything? It had to be Bart, which B basically confirmed when she told Chuck to see for himself?

From the moment we met Diana Payne in the Season 5 premiere through three quarters of the way through tonight, however, that was one wrinkle I hadn't considered. Now the bigger question, obviously, is why?

Raiders of the Lost Art Photo

The how is at least plausible, seeing that no one saw Bart perish in his fatal car crash, or saw his body at his funeral in Season 2's "O Brother, Where Bart Thou?" He had the means and ability to stage his death.

Motive is another story. What the heck is the connection between Bart, Jack and Diana? Just as one mystery is solved, another begins on this show, which can become maddening if you're not thoroughly invested.

Therein lies the biggest shocker of the night: Not that Bart Bass lives, but how much this felt like old times. When was the last Gossip Girl episode that left you cracking up one minute, and on pins and needles the next?

Regardless of how long it took and how many bumps in the road led us to the brothel in Briarcliff Manor (a real town in Westchester), the stakes were raised tonight before the opening credits had stopped rolling.

Everyone had an agenda, and half the characters were being played without realizing it. Secrets buried all season, even all series, were on the cusp of being released. It wasn't perfect, but everything clicked for the most part.

The snark was back. So where the schemes. There was a bombshell actually worthy of the description, yes, but more importantly, there was palpable energy that had been lacking ever since the royal wedding.

Heck, it even looked like we were going to get a whiff of Gossip Girl.

If the episode had a weak point, it was the tease of bringing the titular character all the way out to the mansion, only to have her abscond with the laptop undetected. No one even got a look at her? Seriously?

Lola and Nate Photo

I'll allow it, though, if it restores order to the blog and ends the borderline ridiculous sequence of GG fill-ins. It was starting to cheapen the brand. Sorry S. I'm okay with an anonymous GG as long as she's badass.

Were Jack, Bart and Diana rendezvousing with Gossip Girl to buy her silence and preserve their secret once and for all? Crazy as that sounds, since we still don't know what their secret is, it's the best I can come up with.

(Also, Portuguese area codes notwithstanding, Diana better have a good reason for involving herself so intimately with Chuck and all his friends all year, because she's pretty terrible at subterfuge otherwise.)

In any case, we'll find out soon enough, and S' reign as GG 3.0 has come to an end. She had a good run, at least in her own deluded mind. Nate was sadly correct. The Serena he once knew is long gone.

S' surprising turn has been widely debated among fans in recent weeks, and after being upended like this, it'll be interesting to see if she reverts to the well-meaning Serena, or doubles down on her dark side.

Where will she go from here? Hopefully back in the fold with Nate, Blair and Chuck. Probably the biggest reason this episode worked so well in comparison to most lately was simple: The gang was back together!

How fun was it to see Blair get her mojo back, complete with her sexy-as-hell Diana-esque blue dress and customized code-breaking device, while Chuck and Nate cracked jokes in the midst of a deeply serious matter?

Between B's British accent to her digs at Nate's intelligence and coolness under pressure, in a high-end roving sex club no less, Waldorf was shutting it down. Maybe not at vintage GG levels, but it was a hoot.

Flummoxed at the onset, Chuck knew immediately that he needed Blair's help cracking this carefully guarded code - The Da Vinci Code was less complicated - and wouldn't you know it, she came through.

As a wise woman once said, don't eff with an effer.

Nate and Blair Pic

With the aid of some new blood in Serena Lite and Dorota - with perhaps her most hilarious moment in five seasons (which is saying something) - the Scheme Team brought its A Game. Hopefully they run it back next week.

Dan, meanwhile, was back on the outside. It really was like the old days.

Rufus, apparently living alone in the loft and maybe not even technically married to Lily after tonight's big reveal, proved again how much better he is at doling out advice than following it himself.

Neither he nor Blair did anything to hurt the other tonight, which was refreshing. Not all relationship drama stems from cheating or over-the-top theatrics. They even communicated fairly well. They were just ... apart.

He did the right thing not going in and confronting her, and she was quite forthcoming after. Yet as much as they trust (and quote Ray J to) each other, we witnessed the beginning of a Dair disconnect.

Can they weather the storm? He clearly wants to, turning down a prestigious fellowship in Rome to be with her. Given the sparks we saw from Chair tonight, an epic season finale decision looms for B.

Whether the Blair we saw tonight can be involved romantically with Dan for the long haul is an open question. He's been there for her all year when no one else has, and no one can take that away from him.

The one-time Queen B has been a shell of herself months, though, and is a much different creature when she has her swagger. She clearly has that, as well as chemistry, with Chuck. But can he give her lasting happiness?

That remains to be seen, but it was fun to watch the other side come out tonight in what was the first top-shelf episode in some time. Before we turn it over to your comments, here's next week's promo:

What did you think of tonight's Gossip Girl? Discuss below!

Review

Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 2.7 / 5.0 (840 Votes)

Steve Marsi is the Managing Editor of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Google+ or email him here.

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Serena is a muse and inspiration for Dan. However, now follows the question that was still unanswered, why is Blair the main star in the novel Inside? It has not yet been clarified by a series of writers, perhaps in season 6!

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@niks4u
Of course I disagree, because we are on opposite sides. However, you completely missed. Blair was not the inspiration for the Dans novel Inside. Remember when Dan began writing the novel Inside, if you watched the show from season 1. To help you, Dan began writing a novel Inside at the beginning of season 2, when he went to Hemtone to reconcile with Serena. Dan admitted to Serena that she was the inspiration for his novel in episode 5x5 or 6x5. When Serena and Dan talked about the film rights to the book Inside. Then, at the beginning of season 2, Dan had a blockage in the writing, as now, and did not get a recommendation from their mentor for college. Simply, Dan was not able to write anything all summer, because he felt that he should not break up with Serena. Flaring up again Love between Serena and Dan at the beginning of season 2 broke a Dan blockade in writing. Serena is a muse and inspiration for Dan. However, now follows the question that was still unanswered, why is Blair the main star in the novel Inside? It has not yet been clarified by a series of writers, perhaps in season 6!

Niks4u

@Zoran: Once again you say that Dan is in love with an illusion of Blair but fail to provide any evidence to substantiate your claim. Dan has no illusions about Blair, as evidenced in "Despicable B". He is fully aware of who Blair is, he has been for a long time. He was the first person to see the Blair hiding behind the facade of Queen B. He loved the Blair wanting to be a powerful woman and he loved the Blair lost in the mess of her life. He loves every single aspect of Blair and that is a fact.
Your next point about Dan having insecurities has already been answered by me but it looks like in your eagerness had the better of you.
"This experiment has reduced audiences for the series, with 3.5 million in season 2 to 2.5 million in season 3." How are Season 3 couples responsible in the decline of audience of S3 premier. And anyways S3 was Chair season, so the subsequent decline in numbers from S3 premier onwards hardly lies on the couples you mentioned because they never lasted long enough to have any real impact. And numbers are a combination of a lot of things, so I prefer not to talk about them.

Niks4u

@Zoran: Once again you are pointing to some facts selectively and presenting your views based upon that, without actually providing any substantial arguments. Once again I will try to dispel your notions generated from your biased understanding of the scenarios.
Your point that Dan's creativity is being hampered by his relationship with Blair is baseless. That girl has been his inspiration for a whole novel. I would counter that nothing inspires Huphrey as much as the sun rays passing through Waldorf's hair. But that's neither here nor there and without any factual proof and so is you point.

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@niks4u
Now we totally not understand. Of course that it is a healthy communication between two people is required, but Dan does not believe Blair anything about Chuck, although Blair constantly assures him that there is nothing! The two were always together, yet the Dan still does not believe her. Dan can not tell Blair that he followed her when she was with Chuck, because then she will be angry with him. Which means that Dan is completely insecure in relation to Blair, and he wants complete control over her, so at least I understood that . If again I was not clear, then we have different opinions about the course of action in the series.

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But my point is that Dan has to believe his "girlfriend" about everything, and about ex-boyfriend, but Dan does not do that. Rufus gave him advice in the last episode that he should believe Blair, but Dan did not obey, but he went to follow her. As for Olivia, maybe I was not clear. I thought of experiment series producer - Dan and Olivia, Dan and Vanessa and Nate and Serena in season 3. This experiment has reduced audiences for the series, with 3.5 million in season 2 to 2.5 million in season 3.

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@niks4u
I am a regular viewer of series, from season 1! Immediately to emphasize that I am a big fan of Serena and Dan! Carried away by my referring was to Dan blockade in writing. Of course Dan and Blair would be doing in Rome what they do in NYC - talking about books or watching movies! Dan has a blockage in the writing and his relationship with Blair does not help him to overcome. But as you know, Dan already had a blockage in writing, at the beginning of season 2, when Serena helped him to overcome the blockade! Evidence that Dan is in love with the illusion are here, in previous episodes. Dan is in love with an illusion - Blair, Blair in what she is not. Dan does not believe anything Blair! That two people who are in a relationship is not enough to love or common interests, there must be a confidence, which in this case does not exist! Of course Dan is insecure to Blair about Chuck. But my point is that Dan has to believe his "girlfriend" about everything, and about ex-boyfriend, but Dan does not do that. Rufus gave him advice in the last episode that he should believe Blair, but Dan did not obey, but he went to follow her.

Niks4u

@Zoran: "Dan can not talk to Blair about his insecurities, because that way only further distanced himself from Blair. Or Blair realized that she was with the wrong guy, and then returned to Chuck." You think that a girl is going to dislike a guy who believes in honest communication and loves her so much that he is willing to open his heart to her. That defies conventional wisdom, to put it mildly.
The fact my friend is that selective finger pointing isn't going to help you prove your point. Neither is bashing a character a way to present your argument. Next time before you write to me, I would suggest you to come up with solid facts and arguments, not a flimsy rant. See you when I see you.

Niks4u

@Zoran: ex again. I find it very normal to have such insecurities. That's why people take time to work on their relationships, so that their can be no doubts before they say I do. Blair didn't take her time with the Prince and she paid the price. No Dair fan is saying that Dan and Blair don't need to work on their relationships.
"Now you mentioned Olivia, who was a stupid experiment produced of the series in season three, which led to a series of setbacks." What setback are you talking about? They had a pretty smooth going until the threesome, which happened at the time when she was going away anyway. My point was that he never had any insecurities about her, despite of her being a movie star and rumors about her and Bloom, but now he can't even talk to Blair with whom he had a pretty solid friendship about his insecurities. I said that I find that hard to believe but instead of giving a valid argument, you write nonsense like that argument. Its pretty pathetic to say the least.

Niks4u

@Zoran: "Dan is in love with illusion and the illusion falls apart, so he makes mistakes." He has been with her when she was down and out. When people stick by you at the times when you really need them, then they become so close that they know each other inside out. If they have had any illusions about each other then those are broken at those times. To think that Dan has any illusions about Blair is idiotic to say the least.
"Dan is insecure about Blair, and he does not believe to her anything." As far as I can understand, you mean to say that Dan does not trust her with Chuck and is insecure about their relationship. Is that not human nature? He knows Chuck and he knows Blair. He knows that it will be pretty hard to find two people with that much history, whether good or bad is debatable but there is no denying that they have a history together that Dan is aware of. Is that so hard to imagine that he may have some insecurities about the girl he loves getting too close to her ex again. I find it very normal to have such insecurities. That's why people take time to work on their relationships, so that their can be no doubts before they say I do. Blair didn't take her time with the Prince and she paid the price.

Gossip Girl Season 5 Episode 22 Quotes

Dorota: Miss Serena, all you do all day is type type type. You take laptop with you everywhere. It not healthy.
Serena: Well after last week's family meltdown, this laptop is the only thing keeping me sane. Writing is my new outlet. You should be happy for me.
Dorota: If you say so. But Vanya say same thing about Warcraft and then DSL bill comes.

They say in life there are two sides to every story. But on the Upper East, we always have three. There's his, hers — but the most important is always mine.

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