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'Gossip Girl' recap: Dangerous when wet!

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Gossip_lThe wreaths have come down, the eggnog has been drunk — but the merry-making was still in full swing at the start of this week’s Gossip Girl.

I have to say, opening the episode with a pool party was a stroke of genius. Not only did we get to see the kids act like kids for a change, but bulky winter duds and snow clouds gave way to soaking wet skin and soft lighting. Why hasn’t this happened sooner? Also, nice touch with the cocktails on a kickboard and vintage-style suits, though personally, I expected a little more wretched excess: Where were the Hermes waterwings? The hired mermaids?

That said, in true GG style, this was no innocent aquatic romp: The partygoers broke into the school after hours and brought enough booze to turn the pool into a gigantic mixed drink. And sure enough, it took about two minutes before Swimming Extra No. 1 got hurt and everybody ended up in the headmistress’s office with an order to turn in the person who arranged the break-in… or else. At this point, I was getting all revved up for a Gossip Girl procedural — Law & Order: Fashion Victims Unit? —but the whodunit angle got dropped in favor of a rich-versus-poor storyline that felt a little tired.

We get it: Dan is poor. He lives in a sweet apartment in an expensive neighborhood and never wears the same shirt twice, but he is poor the same way Adam Brody was geeky and America Ferrera is ugly. And this makes his relationship with Serena very difficult. Thankfully, hotness transcends socioeconomic status (isn’t that the central theme of the show?), allowing Dan and Serena to weather yet another spat without much more than a pout and a make-up hug.

A second plotline found Chuck blackmailing Blair by threatening tospill the beans about their backseat tryst if she didn’t keep thingsG-rated (or at least, PG-13) with Nate. It was cute to watch Chuck’spassive-aggressive attempts at flirting, but I have trouble believingthat Blair would take it at face value. But she did, and things goteven goofier later, when Chuck and Blair had to vie for a videotape withevidence of their dirty deal, conveniently filmed by Vanessa for her”documentary,” which so far seems to be a stalker-y meditation on themany adorable faces of Dan Humphrey. Good luck with that, V.

Finally, we had a few arduous scenes with Lily and Rufus pining foreach other before she finally decided to accept Bart’s proposal. Thedeciding factor: Serena thought it would be gross if she and Dan werestep-sibs. Wow. Asking your mom to give up the love of her life so youcan stick with your high-school boyfriend? That’s selfish evenby Upper East Side standards. The silver lining was that Lily acceptedBart’s proposal, which means Serena and Chuck are going to bestep-sibs! Obvious debt to The O.C.’s Cooper-Nichol mergernotwithstanding, this is one awesome twist, and I’ll consider it a belatedChristmas present from Gossip Girl, whoever she may be.