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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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i think dan should just go back to serena's arm. he can still be an artist and observe the crowd and still be part of the elite through serena. plus, dan makes serena happy and that way he's also pulling serena out of the darkness. because if he is with blair he will then have to choose if he's gonna be part of blair's world or not and we all know it wouldn't be blair's world without chuck in it. and thus if dan chose to be with blair he will always feel threaten knowing chuck is lurking in the shadows. so the best choice for him is serena and he'll be assured that he's the one.

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@Zoran i'm not bashin on blake lively. i'm actually defending her against all the people who think she's so terrible because honestly i saw all her films except "accepted" and i think she was really great in them. and i agree with you that it is the writers fault that serena is somehow a terrible character but despite all that i really like serena and i hope tati is wrong about the suicide thing because it also crossed my mind and i think gossip girl with a dead serena van der woodsen will further decrease its viewership. it's just unimaginable thinking serena is not there.

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@ Lorrain
We finally understand @ Lorrain. Now you understand my point. As far as morality is superfluous to mention in this series.

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@ Lorrain we are not understand to well. You talk about when a woman's husband disappears at sea or at war, and he has goon a few years, then WOMEN THROUGH THE COURT FINDS HUSBAND DEAD, in order to receive a pension or something else. She does not know whether her husband was really dead, because he is missing. It is well known in the jurisprudence of the world. Of course after a court decision that a husband is dead, she has the right to remarry. But here in the series is not the case. Bart has fake his death, and Lily became a widow. Barts death and their marriage ceases to be valid, so Lily could marry Rufus. But as Bart is alive, everything that happened after his fake death ceases to be valid. Of course now, Lily has the right to seek annulment of marriage or divorce with Bart, because he made a fraud. Each court shall expressly to annul the marriage between Lily and Bart.

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I still think Blair and Dan have a mature,well-balanced relationship. She was honest with him about the scheming. One thing though, Dan should have said yes to the Rome opportunity. No good will come from that decision.

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@Zoran
As I came to think a bit more, you might be right about the marriage, but I believe the problem is debatable. Because if he's dead and there is a death certificate, the marriage gets canceled ex lege. But - if there isn't a death at all, then the death certificate should be nullified as if it was never issued. But then again, it comes the moral aspect of whether the first marriage should be reinstated. So maybe the case law gives the answer if the law itself doesn't. :)

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All Dair shipers say that Dan love the rial Blair. After last episode I don't think so. Way?If he loves Blair he mast accept that Chuck is a part of her life and she'll always be with him when he needs her. As a friend, as a family...When Dan decide to be with Blair he was aware of this and hi is trying all the time to make her to forget that. But this is not the real Blair. The real Blair is living in a world with Chuck in it.When Dan accept that I will agree that he has grown up and he is the best choice for her.

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@Zoran
Well, as I said, Idk how it is by the US laws. But here if someone is dead (or he is announced to be - by issuing a death certificate) the marriage gets cancelled and there is no hindrance for the widow to get married again.
The motives are from the moral side - for example there could be children born during the second marriage - and it won't be humane to make them illegitimate because the dead turn out not to be dead. So, in my opinion Lily and Rufus' marriage will stay legit, BUT as I said, there could be huge difference between different law systems and besides I'm sure there are certain people on the show whose duties are to check such legal matters(e.g. Cece's testament; Lily being guardian of Chuck etc.) So I'm sure they will direct that storyline in a way that it fits with the US law. So, we'll see :)))

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amazing episode. was so great to have it twisting and turning and actually making sense! the suspence this episode had was fantastic and what it should be in a drama show. great work writers!

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Actually part of me hopes that Dan does end the whole series alone and doing all the things that will make him a great writer. And this is because I like his character. He's better off not being involved with UES and their self obsessed ways. Seriously he's the only one that has managed to something for himself. Everyone else is so privileged but do sweet all with it. What a waste!

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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