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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OK I may go against the majority but this was a serious caricature of season 1 and 2 ! They wanted the NJBC back together, ok nice, but they were more like an UES version of Inspector Gadget with the most unrealistic plots added. S. is just so messed up too it's exhausting to watch, it's been like that forever now it has to stop, not that Im a big fan of her but it's getting beyond ridiculous.
Oh and BTW, some see the spark between Chuck and Blair...Come on it's just the usual overwhelmed depressed Chuck face/ Blair on the edge of crying situation. It seems some fans never get tired of it.
Ok I'm mad because Blair didn't return the ILY to Dan, but that line of Dan almost made me cry, it's like he put all his heart in it with the best devotion and sincerity. I felt so sorry for him, poor baby ! He has to get the love he deserves asap.

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These writers are making me want to punch the TV every episode I watch. Just end the show already if you're going to keep this up. Serena pining to be GG to have a purpose? Sitting in her room on her laptop posting gives her joy these days? Dan is back to being insecure and dropping everything for a girl (shock) Blair set on owning the Upper East Side again? They spend the entire season building up Dair to make it miserable to watch after the 1st episode of them as a couple. Everyone wants the great writing of the first seasons not a repeat of them watered down and boring the second time around...

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@Maribells that's so true :) and yet that 'perfect relationship'thing seems their most recurring argument :/ don't really get it myself

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@Rogue I'm hoping we don't have to read anymore "Dan and Blair have the perfect relationship" posts because it's so clearly untrue. They've had problems in every single episode so far- bad sex, trust issues (dowry), that disaster of a party, Blair scheming to hijack his speech, and now more trust issues. They actually haven't had a single episode where their relationship was solid.

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dear dair fans, i really hope that soon i won't have to read anymore 'dan and blair have the perfect relationship' posts cause the only thing their relationship is is perfectly boring.
i know blair hasn't redeemed herself yet, but her 'whatever' face after dan's ILY almost did it :)
so here's hoping for a new episode of NJBC scheming, chair flirting and dair breaking up ;)

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Best episode of the season !!

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* CONTRACTED
(typing mistake)

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And just another thing, I've just posted it in the round table thread, but I will post it here too, as I think it might be some food for thought : in my country and probably in most of the European countries (due to the legal systems here), actually IF ONE IS DECLAIRED TO BE DEAD, A MARIAGE CONTACTED BETWEEN ONE'S SPOUSE AND A THIRD PARTY WOULD REMAIN LEGIT EVEN IF ONE TURNS OUT TO BE ALIVE.
Idk how it is with US law, but if it is like in the european system, then may be Rufly's marriage would still be legit.

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I would love it so much if in the season finale Blair chooses Chuck but he tells her that she should spend some time thinking how she's been treating him lately and to work on being a powerful independent woman all by herself.
So, season 5 ends with Blair alone.
All that for Chair to get back together at the end of season 6 - happily ever after! :) And seriously, COULD THE STYLISTS PLEASE WORK ON BLAIR'S APPEARANCE A BIT? I mean, she's nowhere near her looks in season 1 & 2.
Her hair is disgusting - so flat and no shine at all. And her clothes - I miss so much the chic girly outfits she used to pull off! Now it's all about buns and boring dresses! Even her sleeping attire is boring!

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I would love it so much if in the season finale Blair chooses Chuck but he tells her that she should spend some time thinking how she's been treating him lately and to work on being a powerful independent woman all by herself.
So, season 5 ends with Blair alone.
All that for Chair to get back together at the end of season 6 - happily ever after! :) And seriously, could the stylist PLEASE work on Blair's appearance a bit? I mean, she's nowhere near her look in season 1 & 2.
Her hair is disgusting - so flat and no shine at all. And her clothes - I miss so much the girly flir

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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