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Gossip Girl Review: Return of the Scheme Team

by at . Comments

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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@Lila
Yes you're right Dan should get the love that he deserve - and that is the love of his life, Serena! Dan is in love with an illusion - Blair! It is now clear to everyone! It is better to Dan to save Serena from crossing to the dark side, so would not he have stay alone?

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@Lorrain
You are little confused. Lily was widowed after the death of Bart, she was not divorced from him. Divorce and become a widow is not the same. When become the widowed Lily has not filed a request for annulment of marriage to Bart, because it had no reason for it, because Bart was dead. Now the situation is changed - Bart is alive and by letter of the law all over the world a present marriage between Lily and Rufus is not valid. Remains valid marriage between Lily and Bart! Lily can now file a petition for divorce or annulment of marriage as Bart is not dead - he was cheating Lily!

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@Beth You do realize that the magnitude of the melodrama and issues that CB have faced, relative to the "obstacles" of the last few episodes, is exactly what points to them ending up together? That's like... television 101. The couple that gets the real drama, the tearful scenes, the face-slapping, the OTT declarations of love... that's the couple that prevails. And IMO, if Blair loved Dan, she would've said it back. There was nothing stopping her from doing so- clearly she has no problem with expressing feelings, no fears of commitment, no hesitations about Dan as a person or as a boyfriend. She's told two other guys she loved them this year alone. So she had absolutely no reason not to... except not feeling it. And given the way she treats him, it doesn't surprise me. I'd actually feel bad for Dan, if I liked him.

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Dan falls in love with everyone, so there is nothing special about his relationship now. Can people tell me what they predict is going to happen next episode. Majority of viewers guesses are right lol

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Better sound in the Canadian promo: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v... Chuck and Blair all the way!

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@ Maribells Also didn't CB get, like, an ACTUAL sign from God that they shouldn't be together? LOL, jk, that was just what GG implied in her voiceover and Blair being crazy. But for real, having bad sex that was "clearly an anomaly" in Blair's own words and healthily moving forward by being a team/equals/etc in all of these episodes are really nothing to the relationship issues CB have faced and fallen because of.

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@ Maribells - I'm saying that Dan thinking Blair doesn't return his feelings is a speed bump for drama. I think Blair's heart still belongs to Dan like she said, and that he's the one she wants to be with right now.
- Sex isn't always amazing on the first try. It's clear DB ironed that out by being honest with each other (even if it took alcohol to get over the embarrassment of saying it), they conquered their bad coming out party, they conquered Blair's fairy tale anxiety, they got through her fears about equality. They are doing great, this episode is the first sign of trouble.
- I like a little angst, not a lot of melodrama. DB have had angsty stuff on Dan's end for sure. I think DB will break up b/c of a misunderstanding in the finale and have to iron it out next season.

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@Beth 1) Bad sex and failure at being part of each other's lives are not obstacles- they're signs from God that you're not supposed to be together. And if you're dismissing Chuck and Blair's relationship as a "little speed bump", the phrase "Chuck and Blair are never over" comes to mind...
2) Dan and Blair have never had "angsty goodness" in their relationship. Literally, not once. The closest they've gotten is sad-mopey-face. I thought the whole thing you guys liked about them was that they were "cute and sweet"? If you want angsty goodness, I'm afraid Chuck and Blair will be the ones providing that.

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I don't think I'll ever feel bad for Dan again, to be honest. After the way he's treated Serena and Chuck this season, he deserves whatever he gets. Maybe if something bad actually ever happened to him, I might... but the guy's had a horseshoe stuck up his ass for like 5 seasons now. But yeah, I agree that this episode didn't compare to S1/S2. I mean, when we say "best episode of the season", that's a pretty friggin' low bar to set. They "built up" Dair only to turn it into the world's lamest relationship, so anything even remotely S1/S2ish would seem awesome after that. I actually thought the best chemistry/sparks between Chuck and Blair wasn't in that scene at the end- although that was touching- it was in the fun, sexy bits earlier in the episode. I could watch those two snark and have eyesex all day long.

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Dan and Blair's relationship has been really great and strong this season. They have encountered and conquered every obstacle they've faced, and I think this is just a little speed bump for finale drama. People who are saying there's not a single episode they've been solid in have really missed the point! They were cute in this episode, though, even if Dan is panicking. I think Dair will break up over a misunderstanding because of it, but they will be back next season full of angsty goodness. Not sure what I think of Bart coming back, that's pretty outlandish. I guess it depends on why he faked his death.

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.

Gossip Girl