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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Oops, realised now that some of my comments were cut short. To finish my comment on the moment outside the mansion: Chuck's statement about secrets and where they stand and where he touched her hand made it clear that things still are not resolved between the, and a display of how far they've come. That scene made me feel, because it was simple. Such a small moment had such an impact and was so beautiful that it showed why they became so iconic in the first place. It's a tough act to folow. Second comment cut: Nate got some attention but Dan's story line with regards to the NJBC the writers may have written themselves into a corner because he's on the outside again and it looked like he could never be part of that world. With Serena he'd fight like hell and now he rolls over; I used to love him and relate to him. Now he's simply regressed. Now I'm done :)

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There is a reason Blair is with Dan right now and it's clear they are not going to remain as a couple. Dan was there when Blair needed someone the most he was a good friend and the friendship blossomed into romantic feelings however Blair does not love Dan, but Dan clearly loves Blair. I think the purpose of the two of them being together is to make Blair a stronger person and realize what she wants in life. It's clear he's made her a better person because of how he's cared for her but that's his purpose is to help her realize her full potential. I think that even after the end Dair there will always be this bond between them because of the type of relationship they had. It was honest and meaningful and easy however Blair needs to be challenged a bit and and likes to be challenged, Dan can not do that for her. They will realize this and move on and she will be with chuck but it will not end badly because they will both be thankful at what they gave eachother, a real, honest realationship that took them away from the craziness that is the upper east side. But yes sorry to say DAIR fans but its quite clear the Blair and Chuck are ENDGAME if they didn't do it they series would be a complete waste of most peoples time who only watch the show because of them and have been waiting around for 5 seasons for them to have their happily ever after. CASE CLOSED!! by the way I love dan humphrey just not with Blair, hes my muppet!

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First and foremost: ENOUGH with the shipping wars already!!! People on team Chair AND team Dair have acted really immature with this. People on BOTH sides have said they would quit watching the show if they don't get their way and all sorts of other foul things. It's a SHOW. Someone shouldn't be called an idiot or moron just because of their personal preference and opinions!
With that being said: I PREFER Dair. It's new and healthy. The back and forth between Chuck and Blair is EXHAUSTING. I personally feel to even have to make another choice after already making one is ridiculous. Enough with the who will she pick nonsense. If anything, Id rather see an end where all of the characters make it on their own but are still good friends. Their used to be wayyy more to this show than Blair's love life.
At the end of it all, everyone is entitled to their opinion. Just be respectful!

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(Cont.) Furthermore, whilst Dan's decision was stupid I understand that some find it romantic but for me, it lost the romantic appeal since the way it was written made me believe he turned it down out of desperation not to lose Blair. It's not fair on either of them and it cheapens the action as well as their relationship. I felt as if warning bells were going off for the couple but hey, they may fix it. Bart being alive has been speculated for months now (as well as Diana being post-op Bart) but its essence captured the old Gossip Girl. It just depends on how this plot line is handled that can either make it great or Days of Our Lives and basing my opinion on the lack of respect and laziness of the execution of the plot lines in this season I think it's a long shot. For me, they've taken Serena too far. I've always been fascinated by her inner darkness but in season 2 they got ot right, this season she's either bipolar or needs Prozak. All in all, I liked most of it. Nate got some attention but Lola has had no effort put into her character. Loved the NJBC interactions (even though it was more fractured than it used to be with multiple motives) It felt like the old days. In Dan's story line with regards to the NJBC the writers may have written themselves into a corner though because he's on the outside once again and it looked like he always would be. With Serena he'd fight like hell and now he rolls over; I used to love him and relate to him. Now he's simply regressed. Now I'm done :)

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I loved most of the episode. Frankly, ship wars are not going to change anything but I like analysing the couples based on facts and without preference. Personally, tonight Chuck and Blair were amazing. It felt like the good parts of Chair in seasons 1 and 2 and not the fractured mess it became. If Chuck and Blair do end up together, I saw a new type of relationship potential in tonight's episode. They still had that magic and that connnection, but it wasn't broken or painful.Instead, one could see a new respect and understanding of where they went wrong and how to change. I see two evolved characters (especially Chuck) that might have a shot whilst still maintaining the essence of what made them great. And if that is the case, even Chair fans have to admit Dan played a part in that. Whether that's where it's going is debateable. But that scene of "it's just you and me" felt more real than any other in the second part of season and I've seen no hope for them for a while now. So that moment really had an impact. When Chuck made that comment about secrets even I had to admit, this is the new Chair with the same bite that made them iconic. It's a tough act to follow.

Mrsbass3

Best episode of the season. Not shocking. NJBC, Chair, scheming, OMFG moment at the end - Vintage Gossip Girl. Dan getting neutered at the end was just icing on the cake :)

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what the hell happened last night???? awesome episode, really reminded me of season 1&2....CHAIR will be back very soon I guess...they have to...dair has had the worst chemistry ever...
so excited for the next two weeks.

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In a way, this episode just proved to me how I missed Chair. :)

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Loved Dan's face when he said "oh is that chuck?" Lol lol

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So omfg Bart finally! So I am assuming Bart saved his sons life and had to cover it up by Diana pretending to be his mother but why fake his own death what's the connection between the three of them

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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