Gossip Girl – Season Finale – “The Thin Line Between Chuck and Nate”

“The Thin Line Between Chuck and Nate”

January 8th, 2008

[As you may be realizing, this is the review of Gossip Girl’s mid-season finale that aired in January. The show’s first season finale, “Much ‘I Do’ About Nothing” aired on May 19th, and Cultural Learnings has all the details in its full detailed review!]

While I can think of greater losses thanks to the Writers’ strike, Gossip Girl is somewhat unfortunate considering that it is still struggling to find its creative stride. Gossip Girl mentions that all a story needs to blow up is for an unexpected twist, but I really don’t think that this is the solution to the series’ problems. The O.C. didn’t become exemplary teen programming when it gave people pregnancy scares, but when it made us care about these people more than we were really intended to. And while Gossip Girl has made strides in this direction, there are important steps it seems to be skipping in its desire to raise the “with child” question.

But in the end the skipping of these steps was perhaps in the best interest of certain of the series’ characters – Chuck, Serena and Blair finally regained some of their humanity that has occasionally been absent. Nate is a lost cause, and Dan is pretty well consistent, which leaves these three individuals as the characters that need to be resolved. They are all over the map when faced with this crisis, but it also differentiates between their true colours and their affected personalities. The episode also returns Jenny to our central narrative, and signals a sign that Gossip Girl might be creatively on the right track when it returns post-Strike.

To discuss the thinning of the line, read below for the details.

First off, let’s discuss the title pairing and their heated confrontation. This is a moment where I really wish Chace Crawford was capable of acting – his side of the altercation, which was supposed to be the angry and vicious side, was flaccid and unmoving. I still don’t get Nate – his character seems purposeless, with no real motivation outside of an out of control libido. As a result, Blair and Chuck are forced to carry the burden of their confrontations, and while Meester and Westwick do some admirable work the series is best when it ignores his character.

The basic plot of the episode follows Gossip Girl’s ability to throw a wrench into plans: first Serena is pregnant after being spotted buying a test for Blair, and then Chuck gets revenge on Blair by telling Gossip Girl about her potential pregnancy and her multiple bed partners. Combine with a vengeful Jenny who overhears the information about Chuck and Blair, and you have an aware and angry Nate and a complicated scenario moving forward. The result is that everyone knows Blair’s indiscretions, and “the Queen Bee can consider herself dethroned.”

I like this development because it returns Jenny to the forefront, and forces her to make a decision that really makes her “one of them” in terms of her cutthroat behaviour. Her character has been a bit too goody-two shoes recently, so it’s a nice return to form. Dan is self-assured enough to maintain his self-defined integrity (Sometimes in an annoyingly pretentious fashion), but Jenny has the potential to fall into this world – by the end of the episode, she has minions offering to carry her books, and you can tell she could get used to this.

For Dan, he’s struggling with the complicated issue of “I Love You,” which he tells Serena in the midst of her supposed pregnancy scare. Jenny’s betrayal creates a trust issue between them, and the result is Dan expressing his love for real. Serena’s reaction is real: she struggles with trust issues stemming from her mother, but after a nice chat with Eric she realizes that she needs to be true to herself. And then he declares his love to her for all sorts of sappy reasons, and she melts into his arms, and all is well with the world.

In terms of Blair, it is a heartbreaking and powerful series of events which shows her tragic downfall from a personal and emotional perspective. After realizing that everything around her is falling apart, she visits Chuck who destroys her with some biting commentary. And yet, you can tell it pained him: he didn’t say it because he felt it, but because he thought it was what he should be saying as part of his character.

As a result, Blair’s attempted helicopter departure for a semester in France is that much more tragic: everything is horrible, and only Serena’s pledge to fight with her keeps her from jumping on a plane. It finally connected these two characters in a real way outside of their purported friendship, and is a strong emotional moment for the series. It was a strong moment to end on, and made this rush to pregnancy worthwhile – we have better characters, and sets up Blair specifically for the post-strike episodes (whenever they come, anyways).

Cultural Observations

  • Is it possible for anyone to possibly ever make a reference to rehab without making viewers think of Amy Winehouse? I mean, Nate asked Blair if she would go to rehab with him, but she didn’t say no no no, and it felt wrong.
  • CTV aired the episode with a warning about mature content, which could be because of the talk of condoms or sex in general. That’s the danger of this series airing at 8pm.
  • In the obligatory parents storyline, a bizarre and pointless exercise features two potential female companions vying for his affections. First, they both ask him out within moments of one another, and then both show up at the same time and one calls off their date. It’s a coincidental sequences of events with little to no actual value – if it was attempting to offer a parallel to his children or to any other storyline, it failed miserably. Matthew Settle is charming, yes, but his storylines are not.

20 Comments

Filed under Gossip Girl

20 responses to “Gossip Girl – Season Finale – “The Thin Line Between Chuck and Nate”

  1. anon

    i think this was the best episode yet, especially the ending. they left it on a note where anything can happen

  2. amanda

    I absolutely love Gossip Girl! Totally agree with you about Mr. Humphrey though, I think that the Humphrey parents are just way too unrealistic. Honestly, after 20 years of marriage and an affair you think they would act a little differently around each other. Perhaps fight a little more? And the whole Bex & B(something?? Betty? I forget) was weird. Why are adults so socially awkward? Nevertheless, I know I love it. xoxo

  3. This was a great episode, but seriously. They need to ditch any storylines with the adults that don’t directly intertwine with the teens, because they are all ridiculous. I can’t imagine one respectable woman hitting on Rufus in his Mr. Rogers sweater, let alone two within five minutes of each other.

    When I heard this was going to be a pregnancy scare episode, I totally groaned — but they totally worked it. I loved how it had a ripple effect that touched every main character on the show. That’s good storytelling.

  4. You’re spot on, Carrie – it would have been one thing if Rufus’ actions at least spoke to another storyline, but it was just a cliched situation straight out of a letter to a love columnist.

    “Help me, Dr.! I’m newly single, and two ludicrously similar looking brunettes are vying for my attention. I didn’t know that running an art gallery would be so lucrative, or that I would spend so much time getting into awkward and pointless altercations with them. They just have no character, which makes them intriguing…or boring, I can’t decide.

    Anyways, love the column!

    Woefully Uninteresting in West Brooklyn*”

    * I am Canadian, and thus terrible at New York City Geography, so I’m going to pretend that’s correct instead of coming up with another alliterative phrase.

    Also: totally agreed on the pregnancy. It was a nuanced and tactful handling of what could have been awful.

  5. Aisyah

    does anyone know WADS HE SONG used at the start of the finale episode??? . . . .

  6. paul

    hello , iam paul and i live in EU holland , i watch this show and iam totaly like it, adictit “:) why stop the serie its so good america people alwys stop good series why ? the same as veronica mars and the oc ? same

    i just want to say that, here in holland people like it
    byebye

  7. Hey Paul,

    Don’t worry! While it may have stopped for the immediate future, once the writers are back to work (They’re on strike right now) the show WILL return. So, the good people in Holland will soon be able to enjoy it again!

    Thanks for commenting!

  8. Holly

    Are there really only 13 episodes in the first season ?
    I think there should be more.

  9. Arabella

    Gossip Girl is without doubt the best show i have ever seen, i look forward to it every week, it isnt too heavy and is really good to escape into their world which is nothing like mine or many other peoples, who cares if it is silly or meaningless. I aboslutely love it and love the characters and will be truly dissapointed if it is stopped.
    P.S I am from Australia and hopefully they will broadcast the second season here if they make one!
    xoxo

  10. Cristian J.

    Hi, im want to say that Gossip Girl is really amazing here in D.R ( Dominican Rep.) we love it, I’m pretty short it’s addicted everyone here is expecting the 2nd season just for the record and remind that gossip girl is hot and people likes the show because is a kind of fusion of CRUEL INTENTION, THE O.C,& Mean girls… and i can’t be totally agree with Mr. Humphrey thought it would be nice if he can act a little differently for once he always making breakfast is a kind of boring … well i hope the make a second season too.

  11. Cristian J.

    Hi, im want to say that Gossip Girl is really amazing here in D.R ( Dominican Rep.) we love it, I’m pretty short it’s addicted everyone here is expecting the 2nd season just for the record and remind that gossip girl is hot and people likes the show because is a kind of fusion of CRUEL INTENTION, THE O.C,& Mean girls… and i can’t be totally agree with Mr. Humphrey thought it would be nice if he can act a little differently for once he always making breakfast is a kind of boring … well i hope they make a second season too.

  12. Mary G

    Gossip Girl is deffinitly my favortie series on tv!!
    I think the plot and characters have nothing wrong with them. I’m am, whatsoever sick of people saying “Nate ( Chase ) can’t act ” there is nothing wrong with anyones acting on the show!

    oh Crisitian J ( above), there is going to be a 2nd season, the last episode i think it was in Febuary, well that wasn’t the season finial, they never said anything. There is going 2 be 5-6 more episodes till the finial.

    from the #1 gg fan
    m

  13. Camilla B.

    Hello everyone!!!!!do you know what between Serena and Dan?
    XOXO

  14. S

    I don’t normally get overly sucked into TV shows, but I love Gossip Girl!! We don’t get it on free-to-air TV in Australia, so I have to wait until each episode plays in the US before I can go online and watch a dodgy version. But I still do it ‘cos it’s such a good show! My favourite episode was when Blair and Chuck hooked up in the cab – so hot!! I was never really interested in the two of them until that happened, now they’re the only ones I really care about hooking up – hope it happens soon again!

    Love S
    xoxo

  15. kitty

    The new guy ben is great really cute!!! i hope he stays on the show

  16. Pingback: 16 mm chuck key

  17. mar!o

    well… I don’t think THE OC is a good roll model for any show. The fun stopped when the character of OLIVER arrived; and the show lost the charm by the time season 2 started.
    How’s a good example a show where the lead female character became annoying and made so many happy by dying??

  18. Mar!o, I won’t argue that The O.C. was a perfect TV series, but its intelligent and witty approach to teen drama was something that was always smart even when some of its characters or actors didn’t quite live up to that potential. I’ve yet to relate to any of Gossip Girl’s characters to the level I felt for Seth, Ryan, Summer, Julie or the Cohens, but I can only hope that with time they can achieve that type of characterization.

    Trust me, Marissa is not the goal.

  19. Hey I just watched a new Gossip Girl Season 2 promo of what is comming up when it airs on Sept 1

    Take a look: http://www.watchgossipgirl.info/?p=51

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