I find myself at a bit of a loss this morning to describe the Sturm und Drang that was last night's half-season-ender episode of Gossip Girl. O, Stephanie Savage. You giver of hopes, you taker awayer of those same hopes. What began as something that felt almost, almost like the sweepy melodrama this show should regularly be going for, eventually just yawed sideways and no one seemed to know what was up and what was down. So we were left with Aaron Rose and Serena's grandma getting more airtime than a lot of the principals. Ah well! We'll sift through the wreckage after the jump. Let's see what treasures we find!

Bart Bass, 1836-2008. May he rest in peace. Yes! Barty is dead from a mysterious carring accident that left Gossip Girl as chipper as ever and the casts' costumes blacker than Chuck's beady eyes. No one was really sad at first, just sort of squishy-faced concerned like they get. Then Lily, aggrieved widow, came breezing in all nervous energy and choppy line readings. I like Kelly Rutherford a lot, but she's not exactly funny. Please don't try to make her funny. But oh well. Her moms was there too, you know, that Old Lady Who Can't Act. She's always stirring up trouble, that Old Lady Who Can't Act. She meddles and purses her lips and we just kind of sigh and shrug our shoulders because honestly how much do we care?

Somewhere in the mix Dan and the on-the-verge-of-throwing-something-through-my-TV annoying Aaron Rose got in a foppish little battle of the Who Did Serena Text Firsts, which ended up with them both looking like the silly little Berenstain Bear and whiny rodent that they truly are, respectively. It was totally obvious that Serena wanted to head off down a sunny dirt road into a Bear Country with Dans, but there was the fact that, you know, she feels this inexplicable need to stretch out events in her life to be paced in such a way. You know, so she can deal. Aaron nibbled on a piece of cheese in the background and glowered at everyone. He's going to be revealed to be some sort of sinister impostor, I think. Not his character. The actor. He's been sent by some Dark Agency to glamor these people into doing unspeakable acts. That or Josh Schwartz needs to call Terminix.


The true tour de force of the evening was Ed Westwick's wild-maned, slurry, very very angry Chuckles Bass performance. That British fool can actually act! And what a joy it was to finally see someone on this show be open and expressive and unencumbered by some silly sense of how their clothes are falling or what light they're in or what emopop ballad is jamming above them in unseen editing rooms somewhere. Here was a dude just getting into the mud of acting, and smearing it delightedly on anyone nearby. Watching Chace Crawford try to hold up his stupid end of the stupid bargain was like watching a kid with construction paper feathers glued to his arms try to fly alongside a drunken, loop-de-looping Chuck Yeager. Comical, yes. Effective for an episode about Dying? No.

Chuckles' real rage was directed at the elders, Pa Humphrey and Lily, who he blamed for the still-unexplained death of his beloved Thinner actor father. They had been carryin' on somethin' untoward behind nobody's back and he was going to crush them for it. The only voice of reason was the mournful Blair, played by Leighton Meester with a new sense of whiny urgency that just didn't fit the character. The part where she told Mr. Thang that she loved him was good, but then she went into the house (where her mother was marrying a gnome) and cried the line "only a masochist could love such a narcissist" and I threw something in Stephanie Savage's general direction and yelped loudly because that is a really dreadful, dreadful line. Oh well! Like I could do better! ("Only a pharmacist could love such an allergist." Does that work?) Chuck ignored her lurve and went off to find out the mystery of Lily and Pa Humphrey, the Mystery that has hung over the show like so many invisible, undetectable particles of nothing for so many forgettable episodes. We all knew it was a secret baby anyway.

Meanwhile, other things happened: Erik, the gay one who talks like he has ice cubes in his mouth, sorta reunited with his twinky little friend Jonathan. Jonathan's a fine name and all, but could we maybe have like Jon or Jonny? Just so it doesn't seem like the kid poops Fancy Feast and cries diamonds and is scared of big flowers. So that happened and Dan and Serena continued their little flirtation/deep need for each other and Aaron invited Serena to go to Buenos Aires, which all the actors did a good job of pretending that they knew where that was. Eleanor became the Gnome Queen and Rufus and Lily expressed love for one another and made a plan to meet and go to Cornwall, where it would be gray and icky, Lily said. At first my roommate and I thought they meant Cornwall, England and we groaned and thought it was silly, but then we figured out they meant Cornwall, CT. Of which the poet Mark Van Doren wrote "The mind, eager for caresses / Lies down at its own risk in Cornwall." Though I don't think Rufus and Lily were planning on caressing each other's minds, if you get my drift. I mean their privates. They wanted to touch each other's no-no special places. Then in a limo somewhere Serena let her mom pursue Rufus by staying with Aaron, who said to her "I think I might be falling in love with you." And let me tell you, if someone ever said that to me, I would throw them out a window. Don't give me the preamble without the constitution, bub. Also, don't say gross things like that.

In the end, despite Serena's stepping aside, Rufus and Lils were not meant to be. We thought that the sour Chuck would spill the baby beans, but he kept mum and burned the document (that I imagined said: "On this day today this lady did give birth to this baby and give it away and did not tell her rockstar boyfriend. End communication") in his silly fireplace and put it in the special receptacle he had beside the hearth that is used for disposing of documents ominously burned in the fireplace. It's all very complicated. Anyway, he went mopping back to Blair and in probably some of the best, if not the best, blocking of the whole show ever, they had an awkward, hungry embrace. It was downright touching, I gotta say. Then of course he left later and the whole sad thing fell flat again.

Then the Old Lady Who Can't Act showed up at Pa Humphrey's and (off screen) dropped the baby boom on him and his face curdled into a million tiny embarrassments and Dan came home all mixed emotions about Serena/Lily/Rufus/Dan/Dorota (she got mixed up in there at some point, I'm sure. "Mister Rufus, your whammy bar is so skinny.") But then he saw his Pa's angry rumple of a face and then he didn't, because Rufus went storming out.

Smiling sweetly in the middle of busy Grand Central was Lily, with her sad little suitcases. Her smile crumbled when she saw how rockstarry mad Rufus was. "Tell me one thing," he hissed. "Was it a boy or a girl?" And then it was a girl! No, not their baby. Gossip Girl was talking! Because the episode was over! And there won't be another one until next year.

Things that I hope will happen in the bold new future: Serena will figure out that peanut butter works in the Aaron traps she's laid around the house. Eleanor will become mad with her new gnome powers and will have to be subdued by Dorota, a secret Gnome Slayer. Dan will go to Buenos Aires to find Serena, but will be perturbed and slightly embarrassed to realize that Belgium is not where Buenos Aires is and oh my god he just wasted so much money on this plane ticket and now he's stuck in fucking Belgium. Erik and little Jonathan will open a B&B in Cornwall called the Cornwall Cornhole, which will appeal to frat boys who like butt jokes but also oddly like third-tier character twink love stories.

And probably much, much more!

PS: My roommate thinks Bart faked his death. Agree? Disagree?