You know you love it. It's Gossip Girl, and tonight the twists and turns for the upper crust get harrowing as some life-changing decisions are made.
To catch us up to date, Chuck Bass (Ed Westwick), the brooding slime-oozing teen hedonist, has taken up a new hobby: blackmail. He's delighting in keeping Blair (Leighton Meester) away from the longtime love of her life, Nate (Chace Crawford), by threatening to tell Nate that the virginity he thought he took from Blair had already been taken -- by Chuck himself.
Meanwhile, poor little outsider, Dan Humphrey (Penn Badgley) is still struggling to find his way through this society of hoity-toity spoiled kids, while being the constant subject of a documentary about the same filmed by his friend Vanessa (Jessica Szohr). Vanessa has little to film until Dan gets a call from girlfriend and former bad-girl Serena van der Woodsen (Blake Lively) to join her at a party -- and that's where things start to take a serious turn.
The party is held at the school swimming pool. And no, it's not being sponsored by the school. One of the students stole a key, broke in, and soon enough a raucous party was in full swing, complete with drinking and drug use. (Bear in mind, we're to believe these 20-something actors are all high school juniors.) As with any illicit party, something goes seriously wrong, and the school authorities end up with an abandoned cell phone filled with pictures of the event. Despite having names and faces to associate with lifted glasses and snorted lines, the new school headmistress is more interested in expelling the student who opened the doors for everyone else -- and if no one steps forward, she'll expel the whole lot. The psychology game begins to play itself out as the viewers try to guess whodunnit, and one of the students falls victim to the "Becky Thatcher Syndrome," offering up a false admission to protect one believed to be guilty -- only to have it backfire.
Blackmail Backfires. It's sex, lies and videotape when Chuck
(Westwick) thinks he has video evidence to tie own Blair
(Meester) -- only to have the rug yanked out from under him by
Outside of the schoolroom drama, Serena's life is going through another dizzying spin. Her mother, Lily (Kelly Rutherford), has just received a proposal of marriage from Bart Bass -- Chuck's dad -- which would make the slime-king Serena's step-brother, a temptation for taboo that Chuck finds irresistable. But Lily is still wrestling with her buried romantic feelings for Dan's father, Rufus (Matthew Settle) -- until a push from Serena finally sets Lily firmly in one of the two directions!
Gossip Girl is securing its spot on the television teen scene with outrageously unbelievable situations, class-warfare conflicts, over-the-top moral quandaries, and tip-top, spit-spot fashion sense. Irredeemable (so far) villains and the continuing mystery of what turned Serena's life around serve to bring viewers back week after week. The only thing I've noticed that's slightly disappointing is that the Gossip Girl website -- run by the anonymous narrator, given voice by Kristen Bell -- has taken such a back seat to the show that it seems to have gotten off the bus entirely. Here's to hoping we see just a touch more of how this gossip site impacts the lives of those who live off it (and on it).