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Gossip Girl, Season 1: Ep. 8 ‘Seventeen Candles’ Review

Hypothetically, at the crux of Gossip Girl’s cruel intentions, is the East Side Story of Dan and Serena–except, these days, there’s no story to tell.

Sure, this episode featured something that might pass for tension between Serena and Vanessa over the affections of Dan, but aside from the one scene of Serena playing air-guitar “Freebird” to win a video game competition, this saga is going nowhere.

Serena’s suicidal brother has simply become a non-factor; her mother hasn’t been seen in weeks, and the nastiness that dogged her return from boarding school has been forgotten in a love-fest of “can we still be friends.”

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Dan, meanwhile, has become another high school kid fumbling his way through puppy love, his stakeout of the moral high ground seemingly lost to an endless game of kissy-face.

Likewise is the return of Dan’s mother, Alison Humphrey (Susan Misner), who has been missing since the show started–supposedly off having a torrid affair and destroying her family in the process.

This episode brought her back into the fold with little more than a polite temper tantrum from Dan and Rufus rolling over faster than one can cook waffles. Turns out, the torrid affair was a one-time dalliance and, according to the rules of this show (where it’s not really cheating if you don’t manage to make front page headlines) that barely counts. So all is well in Brooklyn once again.

Thankfully, giving us a break from all this bliss, the supporting cast has stepped up–and by supporting cast, I mean specifically Chuck Bass.

Someone at the CW finally realized that the most interesting thing going on Gossip Girl is Chuck’s interest in Blair. Now that Nate’s grown a pair and called off that romance, there’s plenty of space for the Dark Prince to take over.

Chuck’s a guy with some serious rot at the core. A guy who plays by his own rules and always plays to win–which is to say, despite all the feints to the contrary, Chuck has always been the black heart of the show and–with all that other claptrap out of the way–that heart beats on.

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