“Gossip Girl” delivers, but fails to truly sizzle

Akshay Agrawal

After a long summer away, viewers can finally tune in to the lukewarm season premiere of "Gossip Girl"

For most of us, summer vacation is a time to relax and let the events of the past school year become nothing more than a distant memory. For the characters of the CW’s hit series, "Gossip Girl," which broke viewer records on its Sept. 1 premiere, this is definitely not the case. As the ever-elusive Gossip Girl so plainly states in the opening scene, summer may be their busiest season yet. With ties that bind them to never ending amounts of drama that suck viewers in faster than they realize, it’s clear that our favorite Upper Eastsiders all have individual missions for the summer. The episode wasn’t as explosive as the show is known to be, but to give it credit, it did its job as a filler episode to catch viewers up on the storylines that are sure to consume us every Monday night for the next few months.
 
Over the summer, Dan finds himself interning for one of his literary idols, though he spends more time flirting with girls than actually writing. He seems to address everything over the summer – everything but Serena, who has locked herself away in The Hamptons to truly get away from the chaos of her junior year. Though Dan and Serena’s tumultuous relationship hit a halt at the end of season one at her mother’s wedding, the season opener proves that we may just be in for another season of constant relationship status changes. Perhaps they should invest in Facebook accounts so viewers can keep track of their relationship status easily?

Like his father, Nate also skips town (granted, not because he was being charged with about a billion federal charges) and finds himself in The Hamptons with an unusual summer fling – Catherine, an older and married woman. While their trysts when Catherine’s husband is out fulfill "Gossip Girl’s" customary "OMFG" shock moments, the storyline screams a repeat of the Luke Ward and Julie Cooper storyline from The O.C., which may come as no surprise since Josh Schwartz, the creator and main writer for The O.C., is also a contributing crew member of "Gossip Girl." The storyline doesn’t grab attention the way the central ones do, but is a good supplement to switch things up between sub-plots.

A pleasant surprise comes in the form of Jenny who is interning with Blair’s mother, Eleanor, at her fashion company. Still trying to get back in the swing of things after truly falling from grace, Jenny stays hard at work and fulfills the stereotype of the naive intern who believes that interns can actually possibly be treated as equals. She finds herself thrown into the pool of reality for a rude awakening by her boss and, using techniques she could have only learned from her escapades as the short-lived "Queen B" replacement, also manages to find her way back to the shore.

 The true gems of this series opener who will without a doubt continue to captivate viewers throughout the entire season are of course, Blair and Chuck. After leaving Blair alone at the heliport, Chuck quickly resumes his old way of life on the beaches of The Hamptons while Blair spends the summer in Europe with her two fathers. As soon as he finds out Blair is back in town early, Chuck does a quick 180, ready to sweep Blair off her feet and continue their relationship from where it should have been at the beginning of the summer. Blair, never one for public humiliation (having yogurt dropped on her head didn’t bode well for her, remember?), finds the perfect ammunition to wage war: a new boytoy, who turns out to be hiding some secrets of his own.

The chemistry between Blair and Chuck alone was enough to have anyone hooked on the show; the writers were perfect in creating angry quips that only Blair and Chuck can pull off. They are the two characters on the show that are shown as truly complex, the ones that have viewers’ on the edge of their seats, hearts pounding for the most unlikely yet most compatible couple to show how they really feel. The most noticeable change in the dynamic of their relationship is that while viewers are used to Blair and her icy demeanor toward everyone, especially Chuck, most were taken aback with the amount of emotion that Chuck showed during the episode. It makes me wonder if we’ve seen the last of the Chuck Bass – but I’m not underestimating him, because I think we all know why Blair fell for him in the first place. He’s Chuck Bass.

Normally the second season opener is a make or break for any show, but with a show with such a loyal following, "Gossip Girl" has nothing to worry about. Sure, the show was slow in that not much new ground was covered – the writers made sure that all loose ends were tied up with a conclusion or a potential storyline that can evolve through the next few episodes. But the episode also encompassed everything us Gossip Girl fans love about the show. Wit, unlikely characters that re-appear, great "Ooh, BUSTED!" moments that send the popcorn flying, and of course, Chuck Bass. Those who just tuned in to see what the show was like, give it a few more episodes (or if you want to actually reserve your Monday nights for homework and avoid yet another "unnecessary" addiction, this is the perfect time to bow out and promise yourself the DVD when it comes out.) and you’ll see why everyone is raving.

The stage has been set, the plots organized, characters in place, projecting a wonderful second season. Yet we all know the real pleasure comes in knowing that Gossip Girl will be the first one to ruin opening night with the latest scandal to make it that much better.