"Gossip Girl" returned after its annual month-long winter break last night with what I thought was one of the strongest episodes of the season, striking the right mix between resolving old stories and laying the groundwork for new ones.
The episode didn't pick up immediately after December's car crash cliffhanger, instead jumping forward to the "aftermath of the aftermath" as it was, which I thought was a good creative decision. Any savvy viewer knew they weren't killing off Chuck, so why spend a whole episode with his life in the balance when there are jucier matters to get to.
I do have to admit that at first the jump confused me; I thought the initial scene with Chuck and Louis in the rain was a Chuck dream sequence. But the flashbacks and Blair's eventual explanation to Serena of everything that had happened filled in all the gaps. A linear narrative might have made things easier to understand, but would have killed some of the intrigue with the Dan/Blair/Chuck storyline. Sometimes misdirections can work really well for this show (sure, they use them way too often, but when they nail them, like they did Monday, they nail them).
As much fun as all the Blair/Chuck stuff was in this episode, it's pretty obvious where that's going, which draws my interest away to other plotlines. In this episode, there were two in particular that I wanted to see more of -- or, more accurately, I'm looking forward to seeing more of in future episodes.
First, there was the whole Charlie aftermath. We learned that Charlie/Ivy went through with her plan to leave right after the accident, but didn't come completely clean with Rufus and Lily, who are still in the dark about her true identity. Lily tries getting in touch with Carol to talk to Chivy about coming back, but Carol's been evasive (which leads me to think she doesn't know where Chivy is either), so Lily hires a private investigator to find Chivy. Only, instead of finding Chivy, the investigator tracks down Famous Original Charlotte Rhodes (still living in New York) -- who Lily and Rufus proceed to dismiss as just a stranger who happens to have the same name. Only (DRAMA!) a scene at the end shows Famous Original Charlotte with a picture of her and Carol in her wallet, so she's the real deal. Don't think this is the last we've seen of her.
Then there was the big moment with Nate and his secret source at the end of the episode. He gets a text at one point telling him the paparazzi didn't cause Chuck and Blair's limo to crash, and he investigates. Turns out the brakes were cut. It also turns out that Blair and Chuck got in the wrong limo... NATE'S LIMO. OOOOhhh... who has it out for Nate? We don't know yet. But we do know who's got the dish FOR Nate... Gossip Girl (who, otherwise, has gone dark since the accident).
The best moments in this episode were definitely centered around Blair, whether she was sharing scenes with Dan, Chuck or Serena. But the best developments from the episode going forward were the B and C stories. Add it all up, and it makes for one great hour.