This week on Gossip Girl, Lily revisited her high-school years in the totally rad '80s, while Blair approached the end of her high-school days and realized she was ready to move on.
The long-anticipated flashback episode finally arrived! The always enjoyable Brittany Snow portrayed a teenage Lily Rhodes (circa 1983) who was dealing with her parents' divorce, a recent cross-country move, and the absence of her older sister, Carol. So Lily went and got herself kicked out of boarding school, hoping to move in with her music-exec father. She so desperately wanted to win her father's affection, and he had absolutely no time for her. My favorite sun-drenched flashback scene was when Lily was dining with her parents. The intense anger she already felt toward CeCe (played in flashbacks by Lost's Cynthia Watros, perfectly channeling Caroline Lagerfelt's present-day performance as CeCe) was on full display. And how much fun was it to see Andrew McCarthy back in the 1980s, playing someone older but maybe not wiser? In his '80s heyday he often played the quiet, sensitive guy, but this time out he was simultaneously charming and smarmy.
After getting nowhere with mom and pop, Lily searched for her sister, Carol (Veronica Mars' Krysten Ritter), a free spirit who left the trappings of her privileged background to make it on her own as an actress in Hollywood. Though happy to see her sister, Carol looked at Lily as a goody-two-shoes. And young Lily reminded me a lot more of Blair than Serena: She was preppy and snobbish, and when in a "cool club," she made comments such as, "Yeah, cool place to catch hepatitis." Though she didn't have too many good quips — she was more like Blair without the edge as she nervously rambled on (she had the unfortunate but necessary task of having to reveal a lot of exposition in her dialogue).
Lily met Carol's likable restaurant coworker Owen, and together they saw an awesome '80s band called Snowed Out (portrayed by No Doubt, who seemed to be having a lot of fun). Then they ran into Carol, whose speech was peppered with Valley Girl talk ("as if!"). Together with Carol's friend Shep, the four of them were off on Carol's mission to get back at a music video director, and this involved breaking into a house where there was a party. They met up with said director, the obnoxious Keith van der Woodsen (uh oh — Serena and Eric's dad is a total asshole?), a man with whom Carol had an ill-fated fling. A fight broke out, Lily beat Keith with her handbag, and soon she had her first mug shot (which she can now put Serena's right next to in the family album!). Carol bailed her out of jail by selling her car, and the two of them then had to...take the bus back to Carol's place (a new experience for Lily)!
The '80s are certainly a fun decade in which to set a show. While I can't speak from experience (my personal memories of the '80s center more on Smurfs and Cabbage Patch Kids), the producers seemed to have captured popular elements of the teen culture at that time (at least, what I gathered was popular from watching John Hughes movies over the years). However, at times it felt like they were trying too hard, throwing everything and anything '80s at us, including Lily's fashion montage, Carol's talk of MTV videos and fanny packs, a barrage of '80s music, Rubik's Cube, and Jane Fonda's workout videos. At this rate, they won't have anything left to showcase.
Back in the present day, CeCe was no longer working out with Jane Fonda, but she was still arguing with Lily. In fact, things got so bad that Lily not only threw "toxic" CeCe out of her penthouse, she threw her out of her life. But then Lily went to apologize to Rufus (for her behavior last week), and he explained to her that while Cece will never change, Lily can. Lily confronted him about his almost-proposal, and while Rufus wasn't ready to pick up from that exact spot, he was ready to be there for her and give her some good advice. He convinced her to forgive CeCe, which she did. CeCe's response: "Lucky me" (said with sarcasm). Lily then hugged her mother, right on the sidewalk in New York City, and after a moment, CeCe let a little of her ice melt as she reciprocated the hug.
As for Lily and her own daughter, they didn't see eye to eye at first regarding Lily's creative parenting methods (I loved the scene in the beginning where Blair, Chuck and Nate sent Lily daggers with their eyes after waiting four hours at the police station for Serena). Serena and Lily then chatted, and the result was that Serena decided to stay in jail. Finally, Dan sprung her from the pen (courtesy of CeCe's money), and like a knight rescuing a princess he took her to the ball — or rather, the senior prom. Dan apologized for his tattling behavior last week, and after a night of fun and dancing (let's not even get into Dan's bouncing style of dancing), Serena was in a much more understanding mood and sent Lily an apology via text message.
While Serena may have felt like a rescued princess, Blair was certainly the queen of the prom. For the first time, Constance and St. Jude's participated in the very "suburban school" tradition of having a prom king and queen. Blair found the whole idea tacky, until she realized she was nominated, and that a tiara was involved. This could make her evening perfect, even though things weren't going so well (her first dress was ruined, Nate had problems getting the corsage, limo and hotel room, etc.).
Unbeknownst to Blair, the Mean Girls planned to fix the voting so that Nelly Yuki would beat Blair at something yet again. Unbeknownst to the Mean Girls, Chuck had been planning all along to make this Blair's perfect evening, going so far as to ruin her first dress so that a better dress — one that matched her scrapbook image — would be hers the night of her prom. And he went so far as to vote for her for prom queen 150 times. As happy as Blair was, Chuck was even happier. He was actually beaming as he looked at her up on stage with her crown — a rare genuine Chuck smile, not a sneer!
Gossip Girl's voice-over mentioned that as perfect as things were for Blair, she was standing with the wrong king (Nate). Shortly thereafter, Blair commented to Nate that she felt sad, like something was ending — and not just high school. Blair talked about how Nate was her first love, how their being there together was as it was meant to be, and that the night already felt like a memory. A confused Nate asked her why she was talking in the past tense. And then they had their last dance and their last kiss. Aww...it was a great scene, and very bittersweet, as the final weeks of high school truly tend to be.
BFFs Blair and Serena then gathered on the steps and Blair shared with her the news that she and Nate had just broken up. Serena almost finished her sentences for her, as she understood that Blair considered Nate her "high school" boyfriend and was now ready to move on. They then reflected on their friendship, and Serena said, "You are high school to me" and called Blair her sister as they huddled together. How far these two have come since their bickering ways in the pilot!
Speaking of pilots, what do you think of the possible Lily-in-the-'80s spin-off? Are you hoping it earns a spot on CW's fall lineup? And did you like the gang's bittersweet prom? Next week: Graduation occurs on the season finale!
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This week on Gossip Girl,
Lily revisited her high-school years in the totally rad '80s, while Blair approached the end of her high-school days and realized she was ready to move on.