Gossip Girl Season Finale Review: The More Things Change ...

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With one notable exception, Gossip Girl came full circle in its fifth season finale tonight.

Lily and Bart are married, with a spurned Rufus pining for the girl of his dreams. Dan, too, is back on the outside looking in, with no idealized visions of the Upper East Side or its denizens clouding his worldview.

Georgina is just waiting to stir up drama. Blair has her sights set on world domination. Chuck is reeling, desperate to escape from his father's shadow. Serena had barstool sex with Blair's boyfriend, then left town.

Nate is ... well, Nate. It feels like 2007 again, people!

Fortunately, for Chuck and Blair, "The Return of the Ring" was not just a return of previous near-misses. Cheesy gambling metaphors aside, when she showed up and told him she's all in, Chuck's face said it all.

Chair finally turned that corner, pointed squarely toward an epic endgame next season.

Chuck Bass and Blair Waldorf Picture

A quick review of Chuck, Blair and prior Gossip Girl season finales:

Yeah, it's been a long, often painful road to get this far, with some aspects feeling repetitive. There's plenty of work left to be done, too. We can't forget that Chuck rejected Blair again at 8:50 EST tonight.

Realistically, though, everything up until this point had to happen. Even his rejection of Blair's advances before the buzzed-about, season-ending casino scene injected fresh life into the romance once more.

Chuck's past mistakes and misdeeds are well-documented, but that doesn't mean he's wrong about Blair. Nor was Bart, despite the callousness with which he cut Chuck loose. He deserved better than this.

She needed to be all in, too, and now she is. It'll be interesting to see how they get there, but it's hard to imagine Chair not getting together for real, and for good, as the series draws to a close next year.

The fairy tale ending Blair, and so many fans, have been dreaming about for so long is now within sight. More amazingly, tonight's crucial events felt somewhat organic ... well at least by Gossip Girl standards.

No one here's defending Bart for his lack of compassion, respect, empathy or truthfulness (guess he didn't change too much in hiding), but his actions did lead Chuck to make a decision of his own, for the right reasons.

Bart also gifted us with the prospect of Chuck and Jack Bass on the same side to take him down, and for that we are forever grateful. But most significantly, he cleared the way for a new, honest and equal Chair.

Chuck and Bart Photo

Dair fans, please remove your belt and shoelaces and give them to loved ones ASAP.

Their love was real, and Blair and Dan's relationship brought us so many great scenes. But there's probably no coming back from this one. Hold out hope if you like, but Blair made her choice, then she doubled down.

It has nothing to do with his cheating, which she presumably isn't even aware of (it was also a bit unclear, given all the scheming going on, if Blair even told Dan, or tried to tell him, that they were done).

If she really didn't tell Dan, after all he's done for her? Not cool. Plain and simple. I'd like to give B the benefit of the doubt here, but even if it did take place off screen, the fans would've liked more closure.

Regardless, her choice was irrespective of Dan and Serena's surprising sex romp. He's right when he says using her to forget his pain is different than the manipulative act of destruction she tried to initiate.

That was just wrong, and you can't help but feel a little bad for Dan in all this. He became collateral damage as Serena's Gossip Girl exploits unraveled so rapidly that her feud with Blair reached critical mass.

Is (or was) Serena really in love with Dan, as she claims? Or purely using his body and Blair's minions to ruin her now-former BFF? Somewhere in between? In any case, the extent of the fallout was dramatic.

Give Dan credit for not taking Serena back after realizing how he got played. Doing so would've been beyond pathetic, even if his kiss-off line to her was harsh. The maligned muppet has a backbone, who knew!

Where do any of them go from here? The writing was uneven this season, but the producers did a nice job of making the story arcs that concluded tonight matter with heightened emotional stakes and lasting repercussions.

Adrift and alone, Serena is riding the rails in more ways than one. Ironically, Blair's diary was leaked online, but it's S who burned just about every bridge known to humankind, while Queen B is off to rule Paris.

Their friendship may never recover, and clearly Bart's resurrection carried lasting repercussions. Chuck has been ostracized and left to fight for what's his. Rufus' marriage was annulled, just like that.

Much as certain thematic elements felt like deja vu, there's no hitting the reset button after this. Well, except maybe for Nate. He's pretty much back at square one, only wearing more suits. Bless his heart.

Georgina Sparks and Dan Humphrey

Clearly, opinions on the season finale and season overall will vary depending on how you feel about particular couples or relationships, but from a directorial standpoint, "The Return of the Ring" was a pretty good payoff.

There were twists, turns, consequences that matched the urgency of the building storylines and despite some eye-rolling moments - Blair listing off Dan and Chuck's respective traits to Eleanor; too many iPhone blasts, lies, gimmicks and convoluted ploys to even keep straight - it ended up being pretty darn entertaining.

This installment essentially blew up the nucleus of the show. Now, with 11 episodes to go before we close the book on the CW drama for good, we get to see it come together again. Bring it on.

Other side developments and burning questions from the Season 5 finale:

  • William got Carol's half of Cece's estate transferred to Lola ... who give it all back to Ivy when she learned Lily was sabotaging Carol's defense, ordering her former impostor to take Lily down.
  • Lola turned down the chance to live with Nate, but it was amicable at least. Guy was serious about her, too, but it looks like she's gone the way of vintage GG vanishing love interests past.
  • Diana sent Nate a surveillance tape of their near-rendezvous with Gossip Girl two weeks back, and ... is Gossip Girl actually a dude? In a black hoodie? Shockingly, we didn't see his/her face.
  • Will Dan channel his rage into the next work of literary brilliance? Or at least cutting his hair? Is Georgina really the best muse? Does he have any friends left on the UES except Nate?
  • Does this mean Rufus will resume his music career?
  • Any chance J (or V) makes a comeback next fall?
  • Do people really throw divorce parties?

Time to turn it over to you. What did you think of the finale? Everything you thought it could be? A miserable failure? How do you see things playing out in the (unfortunately shortened) sixth and final season?

Share your comments with us below!

Review

Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
  • 4.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 2.8 / 5.0 (1849 Votes)

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

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@Fra
The only true love is between Serena and Dan, and between Chuck and Blair. For Dan, Serena will always be the girl he wants to be, all the other are illusions, or the material for his new book. Blair was never supposed to choose, because she just always loved Chuck. Dan for her was just a passing adventure. Sex between Serena and Dan's was a real explosion of passion, excitement and true love. Everything that Dan and Blair are not and never will be. Serena and Dan are returned the audience to five years ago, and showed what true love is, which survives with so many obstacles. Serena will not become addicted to drugs, because Blair will rescue her with the help of Dan! Lily is an old bitch, that two young and naive girls could destroy her. Rufus was the number 5 husband of Lily , so the number 4 husband is Bart.

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my comment got the second half cut off. Weird. :/ anyways, here's the rest of it.
As I was saying, Serena is missing a backbone and a mature perspective. (B was right, she's still acting like it's high school.)
I love that Ivy and Lola are working together. I always felt that Ivy got screwed worse than she deserved, so I'm glad for this twist. And I'm glad that Dan is writing again. He's bitter and a jerk, but at least he's writing, and hopefully he'll get over it and find his moral compass again before the series ends. Glad to see G again, and I really hope J comes back for an episode or two. Always liked her too and the way she left was lame. Her story needs closure.
yeah, great episode. Looking forward to the final season!

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Great finale. I like how the ending wasn't dramatic and cliff-hanger-ish, but still gripping. Great idea to show how much the characters have changed by underscoring the ways in which they haven't changed. Sooo glad that Blair finally picked someone. Really actually made a choice, one that she will fight for. She's never done that before. I would have been okay with any guy (if Blair approves of him, it's not my business to say she shouldn't), but I'm sorta glad it's Chuck. He's proved he deserves her by how much he has actually changed. Anybody notice that Chuck is the only main character who didn't revert to season 1 behavior (apart from his dad treating him like crap)? I thought that was interesting. Serena on the other hand-- is acting exactly the way she did in the first episode of the series. Except now, she's alone. Completely-- not even with a mom or brother around. Sad. I hope that she comes around and that she and B can patch things up. I always liked her, but she's missing a backbone and a mature perspective. (B was right, she's still acting like it's high school.) I love that Ivy and Lola are working together. I always felt that Ivy got screwed worse than she deserved, so I'm glad for this twist. And I'm glad that Dan is writing again. He's bitter and a jerk, but at least he's writing, and hopefully he'll get over it and find his moral compass again before the series ends. Glad to see G again, and I really hope J comes back for an episode or two. Always liked her too and the way she left was lame. Her story needs closure. yeah, great episode. Looking forward to the final season!

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cheap,cheap super cheap ending!first of all,Dan loves Blair but cheats on her...just because he saw a picture on GG...seriously???this is soooo true love. And then Blair, COME ON...she needs to choose now...did she even consider to tell Dan something, the guy declared his love and she just went back to Chuck??? soo wrong in so many level!The Derena sex was even cheaper...no comment here for S, she's going to be a drug addict?thanks God,she'll have something to do!The only thing that felt right was Lola and Ivy,looking forward to see Lily's downfall. That woman has no limits. Back to husband number...3??? because she has some prob with husband 4?or just because she sooo LOVES money!!!!

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I love how all of the Dair fans are proving themselves to have actually been Dan fans.

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the season finale was EXTREMELY DISAPPOINTED
im contemplating discontinuing the show on the whole
they need new writers who have new ideas and a new direction for the show

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Loved the ep! Glad that Chuck said no to Blair, after the way she's toyed with him all season- but I'm also glad she's fighting for him now, and I hope they both go "all in" together (cheesy gambling metaphor, haha).

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She looked only their own interests, without worrying about the fates of the people around her! My point was that Dan and Blair watched one film during spring break, when only two of them stayed in NYC, and not throughout the season 4! And I do not care for Dan and Blair, they are for me the second biggest mistake in the series, after Safran producer!

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@Arya
If you do not want to agree with me, and you say that , and do not speak untruth. Obviously we are on opposite sides. Again you are wrong. Series not started with sex between Serena and Nate! The series was begun returning Serena in NYC, take a look again start of a season 1! Sex scene between Serena and Nate is mentioned in the 1x1 episode when Nate refuses to have sex with Blair and when Chuck tries to rape Serena! Serena has not jumped on Blair boyfriend, bat Nate cheated on Blair! Serena was unhappy about what happened, and therefore later she and Blair manage to reconcile. Again you are wrong to the end of season 5. At the time of sex between Dan and Serena, Blair has already decided to be with Chuck! Sex between Serena and Dan was voluntary, and no one forced anyone! If you say who stole a boyfriend from whom, then it is only Blair. Blair has no remorse to stole from Serena the love of her life! Blair knew exactly what Serena feels about Dan, but Blair did not care. She looked only their own interests, without worrying about the fates of the people around her! My point was that Dan and Blair watched one film during spring break, when only two of them stayed in NYC, and not throughout the season 4! And I do not care for Dan and Blair, they are for me the second biggest mistake in the series, after Safran producer!

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They were not having something romantic but they were getting to know each other and enjoying the time they were spending together. AND: it was good, come on.
Watch Dan and Blair scenes. Watch their first kisses, the one at the party, rehearsal, the big one in Brooklyn. I think they were pretty passionate but the show just couldn't manage or didn't chose to ride that for long. As I said before, IT WAS DAN'S HAIRCUT.
:)
By the way what happened to their schools?