This episode of Gossip Girl was all about backstabbing, schemes, lies and deceit.
We know, they all are. But this one even more than usual!
SERENA, NATE AND CARTER
Serena and Nate team up to get Carter off the hook with Buckleys, who are making him fly to Galveston, Tex., to work on a Buckley oil field.
Nate gets Serena into a high stakes poker game with the brother of the jilted Buckley, and puts down the initial $25,000 to get things going.
The hope is that she wins enough to buy Carter out of his forced labor.
When Serena starts blowing it, Nate throws a picture of his cousin Tripp, about to take a hit from a bong, in the pot as a winner-take-all bet.
Tripp is running for public office, and the Buckleys being their old rivals on the Republican side, giving up an amazing piece of Vanderbilt gossip was the ultimate bold more by Nate.
But he figures Carter’s freedom is worth the gamble.
He's also got something up his own sleeve. As Serena plays, we see Nate on the phone with the real photo - and there is no bong.
Nate lied to Serena because he thought the real photo, which is actually just beer-filled, but has no bong, would actually make the Buckleys look bad, and make Tripp look good, if they did leak the bong one first.
But S isn’t happy and takes the real picture back to the Buckleys, which actually gets Carter off the hook from his trip to the Lone Star State.
Serena is let down anyway, though.
Carter, instead of being thrilled he's off the hook, tells Serena he’d rather prove himself than have her feel sorry for him.
Then he gets in his limo and leaves Serena.
CHUCK, BLAIR, DAN, VANESSA AND OLIVIA
It was a pair of unlikely rivals who ended up going head to head over an unlikely prize - Blair vs. Vanessa over who gets to do a toast at an NYU parents weekend event.
On a normal day, it wouldn’t be a fair fight, but Vanessa stoops to levels we didn't know she could reach in order to take B down. Gotta admire V's gusto at least, right?
The short list for the speech has two people on it. Vanessa is one and Blair thinks she’s the other. But it turns out Dan’s girlfriend Olivia (Hilary Duff) is the school’s speaker of choice.
Olivia only agrees to do the big speech after Vanessa convinces Dan, who is positively smitten with her, to invite her to the event to meet his parents for the first time.
Vanessa realizes her gesture backfired and instead of pleading with Olivia honestly to let her do the speech (Vanessa had invited her mom, who we've never before seen, and this was kind of a big deal) she goes all Blair Waldorf on us.
V lies to Dan, telling him Olivia is nervous about meeting his parents and that he and Olivia should stay home and cook instead. Dan listens and Vanessa gets her speech back.
But is Vanessa just being played as part of Blair’s plot to get the speech?
It looks that way. Vanessa gets forced into taking the whole mess even further when Olivia asks why Dan changed his mind.
She tells Olivia that Dan’s parents don’t like movie stars.
Once Blair’s knocked Olivia out of the picture via Vanessa’s deceit, she calls in Chuck to finish off the plan and secure the speech for herself.
She convinces him to play some a scene out with Josh, the NYU guy in charge of deciding who speaks and gives the coveted freshman toast.
Chuck thinks it was part of their role-playing game and complies.
But it turns out a kiss with Chuck Bass was on a scavenger hunt list and Blair sold it to the speech guy and lied to Chuck to make it happen.
Oh yeah. Chuck kissed a guy, and when he learns he has been played, he did not like it. Not one bit. More on that in one moment.
Meanwhile, Vanessa is so steamed by Blair’s plot to get the speech, she confronts her. Blair tells Vanessa she is just plain better than her.
Vanessa grabs a microphone and confronts Blair again just as she’s about to speak. Blair spews about how she’s totally better than Vanessa and how she even lied to Chuck to make this speech happen.
The entire party hears the speech over the loudspeaker. Chuck leaves and Blair is devastated. Even Lily tells her she messed up big time.
Vanessa fesses up to Dan and Olivia, but not in time to save Olivia from making a fool of herself in front of Dan’s parents by playing up the Hollywood diva thing to make a point.
Olivia gets called up to speak after all and Vanessa is left out in the cold, embarrassed that her mother showed up to hear her speak and she completely blew it with this nonsense.
Vanessa and Blair actually bond and commiserate at the end. Guess that's a silver lining.