Gossip Girl, Ed Westwick, Leighton Meester, Penn Badgley
Loved it or hated it, you were probably reeling the last time Gossip Girl was on the air, aka the moment where Blair chose Dan over Chuck. In Monday's new episode, Queen B and the boy from Brooklyn are going to try their darndest to consummate their unlikely couple status by... well, you know. (The show, of course, will throw obstacles in their way, like parents inconveniently hanging around.)
Gossip Girl wedding day aftermath! Scoop on everything that happens next
But whether or not they succeed, there will be plenty working against Ms. Have and Mr. Have Not. Will they come out of Season 5 intact? When exactly did the writers decide Dan and Blair should be together anyway? Where does that leave Chuck? And what about Serena, whose heart was also broken? Is Gossip Girl's laptop going to spell war between B and S? We grilled series executive producer Josh Safran about the origins of Blair's choice and what it has wrought. Plus: He tells us exactly how much flak he and the writers have taken for making Dair happen instead of Chair.
Blair chose Dan over Chuck and then the show went away for more than a month. During that time, what kind of reaction have you gotten? Some people are pretty mad...
Josh Safran: The Blair-Dan camp has been as vocal throughout the whole season as they are now. It was not like, "Oh my gosh, she made that choice!" I believe the audience understood that choice was coming, you know? Also, we cannot change where the stories are going now because the finale wraps in three days. It's that strange thing where you hear from the fans, and some people are very happy and some people are unhappy, and there is really not much you can do about it.
The one thing I can say, though, is that we are very grateful and feel very lucky that people, five seasons in, feel so passionate about these characters and about these relationships. We know that is very rare and we do not treat it lightly. You cannot plan for that. There is no way to engineer that. It's magic.
You just said it isn't as though you can change the direction of the story. But would you do anything differently if you could?
Safran: I don't think so, because we are telling the story that we believe in. Obviously, people have different points of view and that is the whole point of... existence. [Laughs.] So we respect and we understand different points of view, but this is the story that we want to tell and that is the story that we are telling.
Ed Westwick tired of "lovesick puppy" Chuck, ready for Gossip Girl to end
What's the split of Dair to Chair fans? 50-50?
Safran: I would like to think that. It's not like we arrived at Dan and Blair because we thought, "Let's just put them together." We arrived at Dan and Blair because we felt that is where we were going. I would like to think that there is a larger portion of the audience who understands that. There are people who do not like it and, you know, all I can say to them is I'm sorry.
Now that Blair has made her choice, what will her new challenges be?
Safran: There are some really fun vintage Blair story lines coming up in her desire to return to her former self, or become an even better version of her former self. One of my favorites coming up is a great Blair and Dan story where they try to find their place in the world as a couple and find it easier said than done.
Does "vintage Blair" means the minions will be back for good? I loved Blair's bridesmaid auditions.
Safran: It is definitely along those lines. And the minions do make an appearance in the next episode after Monday's, but what I mean by "vintage Blair," at least in this one case, is that she's going to come up against an antagonist that she sets about trying to change. But that antagonist is actually not a person. It is a thing. I'm excited about it so I don't want to spoil anything. I want people to be surprised.
What happens now to Chuck? Will he be able to focus on something else besides Blair?
Safran: Well, he will. One of the major themes of this season is growing up. These kids are pretty much adults. They are all basically 21, or about to be, and they really are moving into their adult lives and who they are going to be. Chuck has matured probably, I would say, the most this year.
He meddled with Alessandra and Dan's book in Episode 16, but in the end he actually made it right. In Episode 17, he meddled again by revealing Dan as the person who sent the video of Chuck and Blair to Gossip Girl, like, "Oh, screw this. The gloves are off." But he lost. The new Chuck accepts that loss. Much like he said at the wedding, if she wants to marry somebody else, he want her to be happy and will not stand in her way. So Chuck has made as much peace with it as he can and is now going to be focused on thanking Jack for supposedly saving his life. Of course, there is a twist, and it's not what Chuck thought at all, and it opens up a whole new world for him that sort of shakes everything in his core.
And as that story line continues, he may or may not seek out Blair for help, and Blair may or may not feel compelled to help him, which may or may not cause problems for Blair and Dan.
Gossip Girl "End of the Affair" postmortem: Burning questions answered
Well teased! Serena's heart was also broken by the dawn of Dair. And now she has this laptop, which probably has a lot of incriminating things on it. Is she going to get even with him?
Safran: Serena has had an awful lot of things taken away from her, all the while trying to be a good person who supports the people who she cares about. Now this thing gets dropped in her lap via Georgina. Now that she maybe has a way to gain her power back, will she use it for good or will she use it for evil? We'll see where that exactly takes her in leveling the playing field amongst all her friends and enemies.
So she isn't over Dan?
Safran: I don't believe that her feelings have died.
Getting back to Dair, can you elaborate on the decision to put them together? How far back does it go?
Safran: I would like to say all the way back in Episode 4 in Season 1 we knew that they had a connection. We also knew that they were going to be the foils for each other and be aggravated with each other. They would constantly be at odds, but we always knew that when you are at odds, that means there is sort of something underneath, whether you like it or not. We knew that they had this spark and it was there for us to play with, at some point, if we wanted to or not. As the seasons progressed and you saw that relationship deepen, it just became more and more of an understanding between all of the writers that there was something real there between Dan and Blair. Last year, we realized Dan probably had [further] to go to have feelings for Blair because she had been terrible to him for so long, so then came the W magazine story. His feelings awakened first and then were not returned by her -- in that moment when she said that she did not feel anything in the kiss, but we knew that he did.
We knew where we were going to go in Season 5 right then. We knew that there was going to come a time where their friendship was only going to deepen and as that friendship deepened, Blair was going to begin to realize that Dan actually had these feelings for her and that was going to actually complicate her life. This season was very much about Blair. Ever since she was a child, we have said since Season 1, she always wanted to be queen, always wanted to be a princess. She finally got that dream this year, and then realized, "Wait a minute, I don't want this dream at all. Being a princess was not what I thought it was going to be. It's like Roman Holiday and I am stuck in a box." Coming out of that dream and into the arms of Dan, that was our goal. Here was this guy who has stood by her and been her friend and supported her. She realizes that he has these really true and honorable feelings for her and only wants what she wants for herself. They found each other.
You mentioned it started with Episode 4 in Season 1?
Safran: That was where Blair was dealing with her problems with her mother and the divorce and her issues with Serena, because her mother chose Serena over her, and Dan told her about his parents' divorce and with that they had a bonding moment. It was this one time when he let his guard down and she let her guard down and they actually connected as opposed to her again rejecting him.
Check out a preview from Monday's episode of Gossip Girl, airing at 8/7c on The CW: