Gossip Girl: “Valley Girls”

Recapper here. I have been looking forward to this backdoor pilot/flashback episode since it was announced. When I learned that the CW is no longer sure about the Lily spin-off, I was worried it would suck. But from the clever intercutting between past and present, to the homages to 80s movies, to the kick-ass (and undoubtedly expensive) soundtrack, I loved it. Lily, at least in this episode, lives in 80s movies, rather than 80s reality. It fits, since the Gossip Girl kids live in an equally stylized version of the present.

We open in Malibu, 1983. Meg Pryor, I mean Brittany Snow, I mean teen Lily, phones her Dad. From a booth. That’s old school. She’s been expelled from her boarding school in Santa Barbara.

In the present, Blair laments that Serena’s been in jail four hours, longer than Nicole and Lindsay combined. Lily arrives to bail her out. She flashes back to a guy named Owen Campos getting arrested. Serena tells Lily that she’d rather give her kids up for adoption then end up like Lily, snarking that, actually Lily already did that. Burn! Serena used her phone call to summon CeCe. We flashback to teen Lily’s mugshots.

Teen Lily has lunch with her Dad, a record executive played by Andrew McCarthy! To her surprise, he already knows she was was kicked out. Young CeCe arrives, played by Cynthia Watros. Watros and Snow together? It’s a mini 1990s Guiding Light reunion. He has convinced the school to readmit her. Lily wanted to be expelled and live with him. She isn’t like her sister Carol, who ran away to be an actress.

In the present, CecCe’s surprised to learn that Lily and Rufus’s son is “dead.” They argue about their history. Lily kicks CeCe out of her house. Serena calls Blair from jail. She’s decided to stay until Lily lets her live her life.

Teen Lily searches for Carol at a diner where she works. She relates her tale of woe to the guy behind the counter, Owen. He tells her Carol will be at a gig at the 607. He warns that her preppy clothes are all wrong. Owen shows her Carol’s locker full of 80s LA regalia. She reminisces about ice skating with Carol when she was a little girl. In the present, Lily has the same memory. Teen Lily turns herself into an 80s cliche, which is to say she looks like she went shopping at Forever 21 in 2009. Owen, wearing a Thrasher magazine T-shirt (good detail!) thinks she looks great.

No Doubt is anachronistically performing at the club, which is so Nick Cage’s hang out in Valley Girl. Carol is thrilled to see her. They, and Carol’s sketchy date Shep, drive off in her Impala. Lily’s appalled by her new lifestyle. Carol swears things will change once Shep’s music video gets on MTV. She doesn’t want their Dad’s help, and hasn’t told her friends who he is. They sneak into the director’s place to steal the video he’s holding hostage until they pay. There’s a very Less Than Zero party going on downstairs. Lily gets drunk. Keith Van Der Woodsen, (!) the director, does coke as Depeche Mode’s Can’t Get Enough plays. Serena and Owen have cheesy 80s movie dialogue and kiss. Keith tells everyone that Carol already slept with him. Lily tells Keith that nobody treats the Rhodes girls this way. A girl tells them to take the trash back to the valley. A big fight breaks out. Lily and Owen are arrested. She calls CeCe, who is doing the Jane Fonda workout. She lambasts Lily. Carol jumps on the call, saying that Lily will stay with her. She sold her car to pay the bail. They take the bus, which nobody does in L.A.

In the present, Lily asks to have the charges dropped. The police officer tells her Serena’s already gone. Rufus counsels Lily to forgive CeCe. He turns away from her kiss. CeCe tells Lily she’d rather have twenty Dan Humphreys then that “boy from the valley.” Lily reminds her she took care of that. She points out that Lily ended up with Serena. They make up.

Dorota tells Blair the dry cleaner ruined her prom dress, but she got a replacement from Paris. It’s Blair’s dream dress from childhood. Nate tells Chuck that all his prom plans have gone awry. Chucks assures him that he isn’t a prom saboteur. The Constance Prom is a sedate affair, that intercuts with teen Lily’s party. The Mean Girls announce they’re having a prom court this year, though Blair points out that’s for lame suburban high schools. Ha! The girls plot to elect Nelly queen.

Serena changes for prom in the backseat of a cab. Dan bailed her out with CeCe’s help. Blair accuses Chuck of sabotaging her prom queen dreams. Balir is elected queen after all, with Nate as king. This truly is Chuck’s handiwork. He did sabotage her dress, to give Blair her dream prom. He tells Serena to give her the key to the penthouse suite. Blair realizes that Nate is, ultimately, just her high school boyfriend. They break up. Serena sweetly proclaims Blair her sister. She texts Lily that she’s sorry.

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The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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