In my humble opinion, which I would say that no one asked for except that you signed up to read this newsletter, we are officially entering one of the all-time best stretches of "Gossip Girl" episodes in the entire series. Starting with this episode — "Victor/Victrola," the seventh in the first season — through to episode ten, "Hi Society," (maybe 11, "Roman Holiday," I'm on the fence), the writers were really firing on all cylinders.
Episodes one through three move pretty fast, because we're doing a lot of world-building and fast-paced drama setting; they gotta get you hooked, after all! Then four through six are a lot of character building and introducing the seeds of the real drama that will bloom for the rest of the season, which is important but can feel slower compared to what came before. Now, starting with "Victor/Victrola," we're here to party, baby.
The tension between Blair and Nate finally comes to a real head with Blair realizing Nate isn't over Serena and isn't able to appreciate her the way she wants to be appreciated. Dan and Serena, after a rocky start, are now an established couple, but they still come from different worlds that they'll have to navigate together. Rufus and Lily clearly played too close to an existing flame and rekindled their feelings for one another, but they each have current relationships to deal with. Jenny broke into the Upper East Side scene but she's going to have to learn what it takes to stay there.
And Chuck...well, he's still Chuck. But this is arguably the first episode where we get to really see a more well-rounded Chuck; we saw how his father treats him in "The Wild Brunch" and we saw him be a good friend to Nate in "Bad News Blair," but in "Victor/Victrola," all sides of the character Chuck becomes are on display, from the tender, sensitive underbelly tied to wanting his father's approval to his eye for good business — and, of course, the budding attraction to Blair.
Personally, I think the fact that the show starts getting really good with this development shows how much you do really need Chuck at the heart of the show, too, to say nothing of the Chuck-Blair romance. It's not that you don't get invested in the Dan-Serena relationship so much as it feels like its a given for them, versus the tension that exists between Chuck and Blair.
Regardless though, some of these episodes are my absolute all-time favorites and I cannot wait to talk about them.
Best Lines of the Episode:
Blair: “You want your dad to invest in a strip club. How Midtown.”
Bart: “What’s with the business formal? Are you being arraigned for something?”
Dan: “See, you curl your fingers into a fist, and with several thrusts of force, you knock on the door.”
Vanessa: “Hey, I didn’t use the fire escape. Baby steps! And what are you doing watching porn?” [ed note: Uh, duh?]
Dan: “It’s not porn, this is art cinema.”
Vanessa: “From what I saw earlier, you don’t need to be doing research.”
Dan: “I can’t talk about this with you.”
Vanessa: “I’m curious though, about the change in your attitude, because may I remind you that in your pale, romantic, tortured days, you’d wax on that — and I quote! — ‘Sex is meaningful, like art, and you don’t rush art.’”
Dan: “That was in 2005, I was more idealistic then, much younger. And there wasn’t an actual girl who wanted to have sex with me.”
Jenny: “Thanks for helping me out with the bracelet. I didn’t know a broken clasp could cost that much.”
Blair: “It was my pleasure. Oh, wait, no, it wasn’t.”
Lily: “Well, this is a new strain of obsessive-compulsive.”
Rufus: “The art piece projects up to the ceiling.”
Lily: “Still doing anything to get a girl on her back, huh?”
My Favorite Outfit of the Episode:
I know you're all expecting me to say the mint colored Marc by Marc Jacobs dress — the one Blair claims "would be very nice if I was sailing up on the Mayflower" which is just wrong — but actually, Blair's Philippe Adec blazer gets a slight edge up in terms of styling! I mean, this is a Hall of Fame Blair headband. I also love the really casual look she's wearing at home, with the cream cardigan layered over the plaid button down and navy polka dot skirt. These blink-and-you'll-miss it outfits! They kill me softly.
Final Stray Observations:
A burlesque club! How 2007.
I cannot say enough how much I love that Blair is the first person Chuck takes to Victrola. The show has done a decent job establishing that they share a kind of mutual respect, which shows here; Blair tells Chuck that she's proud (aw!) and he replies, "And you are my toughest critic — well, second toughest." We also get a glimpse of the coming dynamic between them when Blair says, "Don't be nervous! He's gonna love it."
The Cap says, "I've landed the Waldorf account! And my son has landed the Waldorf." Jesus, dude. Gross. Also the obsession these adults have with their kids getting together is ridiculous in this episode.
Making out at school before the bell even rings! Ah, to be young and horny again. They're right, though, there's nowhere good for teens to make out in New York City. That's the only explanation for the amount of them I see hooking up on the subway.
The absolute cluelessness with which Nate moves through the world, from making the horrible "Oh, Serena, right?" joke at Jenny to immediately handing off the chocolates he bought for her to Blair (even though she prefers the Gold Collection, obviously): Classic dumb teen boy.
Okay, well, with Bart and Lily hooking up in his office before noon, I guess Serena comes by her horniness naturally. And good for them!
Chuck and Blair both get along so well because they want their parents' approval! They're both so desperate for it! Chuck will do anything to get Bart to Victrola! I love my demented little babies.
"It's not very 'High School Musical' scandalous," Blair says about the video of Serena and Dan making out at school, and wow, remember that mess?
I don't really understand why, in this scene where Kati and Iz are judging Dan's sex skills, he has Kati holding her number upside down when literally just a few episodes ago she was essentially explaining quantum physics or whatever to one of the Ivy reps. She's smart! Is this meant to be a read on how Dan views these girls?
Oh, big deal Chuck, who can't tie a cherry stem with their tongue?!
Eleanor brings up that she spoke with the Captain and Ann about the Vanderbilt ring — prompting Blair to say, "Nate spoke to his mother about our future? He actually asked for the family ring?" — and again I simply MUST point out that these children are 16 years-old!!!
Serena tells Dan that only having twenty free minutes to hook up is plenty and oh honey no.
Lily caring for drunk Chuck is very sweet; it turns out she does have a maternal bone in her body. It's nice set up for how their relationship will develop.
Chuck's rant about his dad is a good summary of why he wants Bart's approval so much: Bart has given him everything, but also begrudges his son for not starting from scratch like he did, which is really gonna give a kid a complex.
That being said, Lily telling him that "no good parent likes to see his child go without" implies Bart is...a good parent. Which he unquestionably is not.
"I'm sure Serena knows what to do, what with her vast experiences" is some way harsh slut shaming from Vanessa! What did they teach you out in your parents' commune, ma'am?!
Blair has to begrudgingly tell Jenny that "game recognizes game" when it comes to her sneaking into the masked ball while Jenny still wears a question mark instead of an initial necklace - again, that's great attention to detail!
Blair spits "How could you hurt me?" at Jenny right before she confesses Nate kissed her at the ball, which only shows Blair has a lot to learn about how much power Little J can accrue.
Speaking of which, between Jenny and Nate, this is a big episode for people thinking that coming clean will help get them out of trouble. Not in this zip code, honey!
Both Rufus and Vanessa tell Dan to lose the football sheets (which, why does Dan even have those when he does not seem remotely sporty but I digress) and Cedric, which only reminds me how astounded I am that the writers never put Vanessa and Rufus in some twisted love situation, but whatever!
AGAIN, these people are being so weird about this engagement ring thing! A coked-up Cap forces Blair to try on Ann's ring and says, "Let's focus on our family's other joint venture — every time I look at Ann's finger and see Blair’s future engagement ring, I can hardly contain my joy." Hey, weirdos, they're teenagers.
Bart walks around saying things about a burlesque like "I love the idea of being a patron of burgeoning talent," and he's surprised Chuck turned out the way he did?
The way Nate immediately sells out the Captain to the cops, telling them to check his pockets, and then pays off the doorman to stay silent! If this man isn't mayor of New York City in the reboot I'm gonna need to know why.
The absolute heartbreak of Blair telling Nate she thought she was doing everything right — you sweet bean! You'll never do anything right enough for Nate because he's a flake! Which I think she realizes, because when she gets to Victrola, she tells Chuck she feels relief about them possibly breaking up.
This episode really captures what I love about the Chuck-Blair dynamic: He gets her to loosen up and let go of her perfectionism while she encourages him to be his best self and pursue business the way she knows he can. Beautiful!
THAT BEING SAID: We do have a club full of people watching a 16 year old girl strip. So.... (and god knows I love Blair but no sweetheart, you do not "have moves.")
Dan had a vinyl player back in 2007! True hipster status!
Wait the Cap doesn't just have a coke problem because he's got a one MILLION dollar bail set for EMBEZZLEMENT AND FRAUD, BABY! Bring on that Great Recession LFG!
Jenny, on some actually good advice from Vanessa ("Maybe you don't go back, maybe you go forward") hauls her tiny ass out to Hudson to get her mom to come home. I smell trouble....
LIMO SEX!!!! [slams on the table] Limo sex! Limo sex!!! LIMO SEX!!!!! [clears throat calmly] And that's all I have to say about that.
And Now, Your 'Dan Is a Psycho for This' Moment of the Episode:
Dan was actually pretty sweet this episode. I feel like I can't get him for much, considering he actually made Serena nervous because no one had ever looked like that before. That's nice! I can't dog on that!
That being said, the scene where he's imagining Nate and Serena banging on the bar at the Shepherd wedding — complete with the same music cue, which is genius — is kinda weird in the context of him being Gossip Girl. Like, thinking about Dan spending the last six months or so really ruminating over the specifics of this hook up when he probably got intel on it right after it happened...a little strange.
And that's it! Thank you for signing up for Lincoln Hawk Fan Club; if you have any thoughts, questions or comments, I'd love to hear them. Hit me up at LTylerMcCall@gmail.com. XOXO!