Recap after the jump.
Party of the week is Eric's 18th birthday party. As usual, all roads lead to this event. Lily is doing all the planning leaving Serena free to spend time with Ben. She certainly won't be spending it with Blair who between work, college and social engagements barely has the time to sleep. All of her interns at W magazine have split, unhappy with her management style so Blair enlists the aid of her minions instead. Jessica is sent to sit in exam in her place for which she will give dictation. Penelope is to seek out (tasteful) gifts for Eric and her mother. New girl Emily is sent to track down random idol of Blair's of the week
Over on the serious (?) side of the show, Nate are Chuck are plotting something big. Well, Chuck is anyway. Nate is sent to find Raina and extol Chuck's virtues to her. He just happens to bump into her as she's heading for a meeting and informs her that the quickest way to get wherever she's going is to walk through the park and he offers to chaperone her. Once inside, she remarks on how she hasn't been in a park since she was three years old and he offers an impromptu ice skating lesson. What the hell is this, a Disney movie? Well, anyone who can't see where this is headed hasn't watched enough television. She blows off the meeting and they go back to his suite. He claims that he was going to study but then admits that actually he was going to play video games and smoke weed all afternoon. In her "day of firsts", she resolves to try some. He makes a few clumsy attempts to bring up Chuck but she deflects it and somehow, they get t o the point where she is feeding him food.
The man himself approaches Lily at brunch attempting to apologize for the events of the last episode but she brushes him off. He loudly accuses her of harboring feelings for Thorpe who is conveniently present at the restaurant within listening range. Sure enough, it all turns out to be a show for his benefit. The idea is that Thorpe is still in love with Lily and upon hearing that she may reciprocate his feelings, will call her out for a date and while that's happening, Chuck will sneak into his office and uncover whoever else is investing in the takeover. It works as planned - Thorpe calls Lily and while they're having lunch (wait, weren't they just having brunch? I'm confused) Chuck goes through Thorpe's e-mail and finds the contact details for the other investor, Bradley Kidd, and invites him to Eric's party in the hopes of convincing him that keeping Bass Industries intact is much more worthwhile than the alternative.
The birthday boy Eric has big problems of his own. Damien has ordered him to collect tulips for him - it's just a cover for a cocaine shipment. Since Damien is under close surveillance by his father, he needs someone else to take the heat for him. Eric admits the scheme to Serena and Ben who fight over it. Serena wants to help but Ben doesn't think they should risk any involvement - although Damien has threatened to out Lily's perjury, Ben doesn't care since the perjury is what led to him being imprisoned. Serena and Eric instead go to Blair for help so she takes matters into her hands, writing a note for Penelope to collect the shipment. However, having finally admitted to Dan that she needs his help, he takes that note by accident.
For Blair, not much is going right. Her minions can't seem to get anything right and overall she can't seem to get much done either; even her daily W blog "The Blair Necessities" has yet to be updated. Dan brings the tulips to Eric's party instead of whatever he was actually supposed to be doing. Thanks to unclear instructions in Blair's note, it turns out they're not even the right damn tulips! Damien is now demanding a payment of $100,000 for the lost shipment. Ben is angry that they tried to follow through on the plan and storms about in a huff. Since Eric is eighteen, his trust fund kicks in so he and Serena decide to go search amongst his presents for the details.so they can pay up.
The party underway, Thorpe shows up giving Rufus the opportunity to finally do something, acting along with Lily's story about a broken marriage. However, he spies his co-investor talking to Chuck and figures out what's really going on. Kidd actually likes what Chuck has to say and is unhappy that Thorpe concealed the fact that Bass Industries would be more profitable kept intact and stays at the party while Thorpe leaves. Blair's night meanwhile collapses around her. After failing to impress Brynhildr thanks to ill paired shoes, she discovers she has failed her exam and all the gifts have been sent to the wrong people. At least the blog post got written as she is surprised to hear. Who could have done such a nice thing for her? (Hint: Dan)
Earlier in the episode, Vanessa (finally) showed up at the loft looking for Dan, now she turns up uninvited at the party. Dan berates her and reiterates his unwillingness to talk with her, still upset about her plot with Juliet and ushers her out. Meanwhile, Lily catches Serena and Eric writing a cheque for Damien. She's upset but non-committal over the best course of action and Damien shows up to take his payment. Ben is lying in wait as he leaves however and threatens to have him KILLED! Apparently, he made some useful friends in jail. Damien figures that money will solve all his problems and gives the cheque to Ben. Unbeknown to both, Vanessa of course witnesses the entire exchange. Ben takes the cheque back to Lily and tells Serena that although he is still upset by what transpired in the past, he is willing to overlook it for her sake.
A triumphant (for now) Chuck calls up Nate to see how it went with Raina. Nate lies and claims it went terribly... seems he has his eye on her. Blair is fired from W after her epic fail of a day. She admits to Dan she was trying to prove herself as a successful independent woman in the mold of Raina to Chuck but it didn't seem to make any impression on him at all. While he has moved on, she is further back than ever. She settles for sharing a pizza with Dan. As the episode ends, Damien goes to Thorpe with some mysterious proposition. Ben and Serena consummate their relationship, ignoring Vanessa's attempted
Looks like Chuck and Nate will soon be back to warring states. Next week is supposedly some kind of landmark episode for a potential Dan/Blair pairing but I have no idea how it would come about because he seems to still be obsessed with Serena. All the moves will probably have to be made by Blair. OK, there's no possible way that Thorpe's real motivation involves secretly being in love with Lily, right? How stupid would that be? He's supposed to be this hardened businessman. I don't care what anyone says, I like Vanessa. I don't get this thing where Gossip Girl characters think they can exile someone from a city. Doesn't she go to NYU too? Isn't anyone missing her? As long as you didn't think about it too much, this was a decent episode; it moved along at a nice pace with good humor behind it all.
"Gossip Girl" airs Mondays on The CW at 9:00 pm EST.