By Jodi Walker
July 15, 2021 at 03:57 AM EDT
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The teens are back in black-tie attire, the parents are simultaneously horny and a total drag, and Zoya has finally taken her rightful moniker as "Little Z" — Gossip Girl is well and truly back, baby! One half of this reboot seems to be functioning as is Miss Keller's Joker-origin-story, and the other, a tale of gorgeous, sullen 16-year-olds who exclusively drink martinis and complain about having sex with one another. And you may call me crazy, but I think I've subscribed.

As have others: the Gossip Girl reboot was HBO Max's most-watched original series premiere to date. But we, uh… we've got to talk about the "Gossip Girl" of it all. The bottom line is — and must be — that the teachers at Constance/St. Jude's are trash. Anything short of acknowledging that what they're doing is gross, pathetic, and predatory would be a problem. And I'm currently only talking about the teachers who are cyberbullying their teenage students via a hyper-local DeuxMoi-style Instagram account — we haven't even gotten to the teacher who's huskily chatting with his student about edging in the men's room. Truly: gross.

I'm hoping that the Constance teachers will get their comeuppance in the near future (and not via Julien's forms of justice, but more in the Law & Order bong, bong sort of way), but for now: Miss Keller complaining about how exhausting it is to write in the voice of Gossip Girl is HIGH camp. Is the number of times she exclaims, "this is working" in this episode meant to convince herself or us that this plan isn't just evil for the sake of evil?

Surely the answer is both, as the episode opens with Constance's annual parent/teacher conference where the teachers must come face-to-face with the parents whose children they're currently posting half-nude paparazzi shots of on the internet. The teachers must also, it seems, whisper as loudly as possible about the fact that they're Gossip Girl. You see, Miss Keller is becoming concerned because the DM-gossip-well has dried up. Sure, there are some tips coming in, but nothing so juicy that it would tear two sisters apart or end a friendship (y'know… in order to make them better students!!!). Until now. While all of the other teens flee to Dumbo Hall, puppy dog Obie shows up on Zoya's doorstep so she can talk about how wonderful his smile is (although, to have gorgeous Whitney Peak handing out compliments about smiles is a little like having Ariana Grande handing out compliments about ponytails — hers is the best, and we should say it).

And though Obie thought they'd be safe from probing eyes in the wilderness of the Upper West Side, someone spotted them standing within flirtin' distance, and sent a photo to Miss Keller's GG DMs, who posted it straight to Gossip Girl, despite the GG voice being so incredibly specific, "like if E.M. Forster got roofied by Dorothy Parker and Jacqueline Susann." And I kid you not, moments after she posts a photo of his daughter on her anonymous Instagram account, Kate is all, "it's Miss Keller" when Zoya's dad comes in looking for "Mrs. Keller." Ma'am, you are cyberbullying his child — it's Missssss Trash Can for you!

When Julien sees the photo of Obie and Zoya flirting outside her building, she's rattled. But Monet has a plan: changing the saturation on an old photo of Obie and Julien to make it look like they're together happening right now. Once Julien posts the pic, it paints Gossip Girl as a liar, and sicks Julien's loyal league of fans on GG's comments, tags, mentions, and worst of all, follower count. A fact that Miss Keller discovers while she's busy telling Nick Lott what a wonderful student his daughter Zoya is, and it is really just too bad that she's finding Constance to be such an unwelcoming environment.

And though Zoya has sworn up and down to her dad that she's going to keep her head down and do whatever it takes to hold onto her scholarship at Contance, she just can't help but pay attention every time Obie comes calling, which he does once more at school the next morning. To be fair, "So I was thinking about what we could do this Friday — oh shoot, did I forget to ask you out?" is a pretty good line. Do I love that it's being delivered to a 14-year-old? I'm honestly not sure, because I have no idea how old Obie is. The Gossip Girl reboot is very intentional about not mentioning what age most of the main players are, except for Max, who makes it very clear to his hot Classics teacher Mr. Caparros that he's "of age."

Anyway, Julien spots Obie and Zoya flirting in the courtyard, and is faced with the harsh reality ("reality" comes in the form of Monet and Luna snarking in both of her ears — "smite her, smite her now," is an actual quote, and it is perfect) that she isn't getting Obie back in time for Fella Friday or Thirsty Thursday, or whichever day would mean she had to post her boyfriend on Instagram, or risk her followers finding out she's been dumped. But Julien knows that if she chases Zoya out of Constance, Obie would just pine for her. So, the best option is to make him lose interest in Zoya, and that can only mean one thing…

"I need to talk to Gossip Girl."

Truly, music to my ears… until my harsh reality that Gossip Girl is a bunch of teachers picking on children sets back in. But Julien doesn't know that, so she tells Gossip Girl that she's open to a trade: she'll call off her fans from cancelling GG, if GG can find suitable dirt on Little Z. And GG does. Want to know how? By Miss Keller making Zoya feel comfortable with her — so comfortable that she accidentally says a little too much about the fact that she may not have so much left her last school, as been kicked out for a mysterious incident. Next thing we know, Julien is getting a video from Gossip Girl, the contents of which we never see, but will absolutely haunt me until we do.

But it will have to wait, because between now and the end of the episode, Julien changes her mind about six more times regarding how she wants to deal with/destroy her half-sister.

And speaking of conflicted: poor Audrey and Aki — so utterly bored with their monogamous relationship at the age of 16 (I mean, I think 16). Luckily, they have Max, their sexual deviant friend who they seem to both want to experience some sexual deviancy with. Max is slightly distracted by pursuing Mr. Caparros all over town, who technically evades him, but also gets way too close to his student's face in order to complete said evasiveness, and who eventuallyimplies that his "I don't f--- my students" rule means he'll f--- Max the moment he graduates. Disgusting!

During one trip to a bath house to find Mr. Caparros, while they both hold hand towels over their junk, Max asks Aki if he has his consent to try and make their teacher jealous… and Aki just leans right in to kiss Max himself. Which they both seem to enjoy. And after one particularly rough black tie event wherein Audrey's mom (Laura Benanti!!!) finally shows up for her, but then gets so drunk that she causes an embarassing scene, Audrey wakes up with Max in her bed rather than her boyfriend. (And, to be clear: these are the kinds of boots we were hoping to get rebooted in the Gossip Girl reboot.)

But if you can believe it, the black tie event is even more complicated for a few other Constance students than for our budding throuple. Both parents and students are attending in order to raise money for… other, less privileged students' vague school supply needs. When Julien arrives with her hot, distant dad, Davis (Luke Kirby, severely underutilized thus far) in tow, it's with the intention of delivering Gossip Girl's dirt on Zoya directly to Obie. She wants to get her boyfriend back, but she doesn't want to destroy Zoya entirely…

That is, until she spots Zoya in attendance with her own father — two people she has not yet informed Davis that she lured to New York, and who she didn't expect to run into since they couldn't afford the tickets. But Obie secretly bought them tickets so that he and Zoya could hide their first date in plain sight; so while they sneak to romantically buy school supplies (and Miss Keller sneaks out right behind them to creepily take their picture), Nick Lott and Davis Callaway finally run into one another. And it is not

That bad, actually! They just glare a little, and Nick tells Davis that he can ask his daughter for more details on why he's there. And with that, Julien has had it: her dad being disappointed in her, in addition to the new photo GG just posted of #Zobie canoodling over three-ring-binders has Julien sliding into Gossip Girl's DMs once more. She demands to know where Zoya and Obie are, and as she marches over to the dropped pin, she calls her dad, telling him to grab Nick (sure!) and head her way: "That way you can both see for yourself who Zoya really is."

So, to recap: the current plan is to expose whatever dark Zoya secret is hidden in that video to Obie, Davis, and Nick, and to do it live in front of the school supply store.

But once Julian arrives at the school supply store and sees how much fun Zoya and Obie are having to the tune of "Saturday" by Twin Shadows, feat. HAIM, she can't go through with it. She tells Monet and Luna that Obie used to always ask her to do spontaneous things like this, and she'd always say no. We presumably only miss Monet and Luna vomiting on the sidewalk because the camera has to focus on the two dads arriving, just as Zoya and Obie step outside. Miss Keller is, of course, filming the confrontation from across the street as Nick explodes at Zoya about lying to him again, sneaking around with Obie when she's supposed to be grounded and staying out of trouble.

He tells Zoya not to "blame [her] sister for this," and now it's Zoya's turn to explode: "Oh now she's my sister?!" Davis, for some reason replies, "Of course she is," and I'm starting to wonder if these dads aren't also secret besties. They both eventually apologize to their daughters for keeping them apart unnecessarily, but the next day at school, Julien discovers that Zoya and Nick are on their way to the headmaster's office to withdraw her from Constance. Julien sprints to stop them, asking to speak to Zoya alone, and they head back into the bathroom where they officially met in person for the first time. They re-establish that their mom left them a clue she wanted them to know each other in their names ("Julien Elizabeth, Zoya Jane," a code I have not entirely cracked), and Julien insists she's not ready to give up on their connection yet.

Zoya says that if she stays, she needs to be able to be honest about who she is and what she wants, and the episode ends with Zoya and Obie openly walking down the hall holding hands while Julien looks softly on. Oh, and it ends with one more thing: in exchange for not using any of the dirt on Zoya, Julien gets Gossip Girl verified. It's a scathing indictment on Instagram's verification process, and a true horror for all of the Constance students being secretly terrorized by their teachers. See you back here next week in the hopes that someone — anyone! — overhears Miss Keller's loud, prolific declarations that she is Gossip Girl, and promptly traps her in a trash bag.

BEST TEEN MOMENTS:

  • Switching to finsta
  • The Instagram days—two days
  • Where are you going?! I ordered Jello shots from Instagram!

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