"Gossip Girl": Season Five Heads To The West Coast
Last season’s finale left the cast of “Gossip Girl” split: half finally began to take their first steps toward independent lives, finally ditching the security of their Upper East Side clique, while the other half found themselves stuck in the same spot as they’d been throughout the series.
Blair (played by the stunning Leighton Meester) and Chuck (played by Ed Westwick) finally let their complicated relationship go as Blair accepted her engagement to her French Prince Charming, Louis. Serena (played by Blake Lively) also felt pressure to liberate herself from the confines of New York City following a run-in with her high school principle, who told her that she’d always imagined Serena escaping her label of mere socialite. Meanwhile, the men of “Gossip Girl” ended the season alone, especially Nate, who was dumped by Reina, yet another woman with too much baggage for their relationship to handle.
With this in mind, season five of “Gossip Girl” introduces something unprecedented in the show’s history: the prospect of authentic maturity. Though each character has made efforts to grow up in the show’s past seasons, none seemed genuine and lasting.
This season, Serena, Nate, and Chuck continue on their quest toward self-sufficiency and personal fulfillment. Serena has accepted a job as an assistant on the set for the film adaption of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Damned and the Beautiful,” while struggling to assert herself against a manipulative and deceitful supervisor. After a summer of abuse and empty promises that Serena will eventually receive more responsibility, he tricks her into buying pot for the lead actor in their film -- a move which threatens to get Serena fired, as well as halt the production of the entire movie. However, Serena’s acceptance of responsibility back-fires on her evil supervisor, and lands her a permanent job in Los Angeles on the set of Warner Bros -- thus proving that she can escape the Upper East Side.
Chuck’s maturity is the most impressive of all this season. He begins the episode in traditional Chuck Bass fashion, as an adrenaline junkie and participant in a litany of threesomes. But after a motorcycle accident resulting from his own recklessness, Chuck realizes his own darker tendencies, and understands that he might need a safer method to achieve a thrill.
Surprisingly, Chuck’s character becomes the instigator of the autonomous theme in this season's premiere.
He sums it up best: The Upper East Side clique needs to start taking responsibility for themselves before others. After Chuck finds a save-the-date invitation to Blair’s wedding, which Nate had loyally hidden from him, he requests that Nate refocus his attention on bettering his own life instead of protecting Chuck’s feelings. Nate, who reverts to teenage-angst throughout the course of the episode, takes Chuck’s advice and falls in love with Hollywood mansions and teenage fan girls. But most importantly, Nate elates in the prospect of reinventing himself on a whole other coast.
Chuck also advocates that Serena distance herself from a life in New York that she never wanted. The three then group-hug in an outrageously corny, yet endearing and unique moment.
Unfortunately, Dan and Blair have trouble following their co-stars’ foot-steps. Blair’s immaturity runs high as she secretly tests Louis' loyalty to her; if he stands up for Blair’s wedding plans against his mother, the French Princess, then Blair will marry him; if he does not, then she’ll bail. Though Blair’s concerns were legitimate after a summer warring with her soon-to-be mother in law about wedding plans, her approach to solving the problem raises the question of whether Blair will ever grow up.
Dan, too, embodies an uncharacteristic immaturity. He receives word that Vanessa attempted to have a chapter from Dan’s book published – the chapter about Blair, following their brief love affair. Dan requests that Louis immediately kill the chapter before it is published. Louis attempts to prevent the publishing of the chapter, which prevents him from meeting Blair, which she interprets as a sign of him wimping out rather than confronting his mother.
Dan, though aware of why Louis was unable to meet Blair, comforts Blair without defending Louis' whereabouts. Even Chuck Bass demonstrated more chivalry than Dan at last season’s finale; Chuck put his feeling for Blair aside and accepted Louis' commitment to her as what best suits her needs. Dan, on the other hand, does quite the opposite by letting his lingering feelings for Blaire get in the way of the truth.
Beyond the recurring theme of maturity, there’s still juiciness and drama to come in this season of “Gossip Girl,” with a pregnancy for Blair and multiple paternal possibilities, and the return of “Charlie,” an imposter who posed as Serena’s cousin last season. This season promises a fine balance of cattiness and character development for the show, asserting its place among primetime’s other most scandalous dramas.
You can catch "Gossip Girl" Monday nights at 8pm on the CW.
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