I feel like my thunder has mostly been stolen by the anvils in the 4x18-4x19 summaries and the new trailer that gift-wraps Dan as The Pauper. But that's okay since this post is hardly filled with brand new information. 90% of what I'm saying here, I've said elsewhere... and a lot. But I made you pictures? And consolidated it all into one place! So hopefully it doesn't seem too unnecessary.
How Gossip Girl Works
(I know it's kinda dry, but this is partially a theory about structure.) Not all episodes are created equal. The premiere, mid-season hiatus, and finale episodes the showrunners write on are the tentpole episodes of any given season. Here's how last season's premiere and finale fit together:
The mid-season hiatus episode ("The Debarted") established most of the character work that led to Chuck whoring Blair to Jack for the Empire, which set the events of the finale into motion. Season 2 fits the formula: Blair asks Chuck to say "I love you" in the premiere, says it to him in the mid-season finale, and then he finally says it back in the finale.
Season four is hard to predict because everything is doubled: two Paris premiere episodes, two mid-season hiatus episodes, two-part finale. But the trailer confirms what people have been thinking all along -- Blair had to choose between a prince and a pauper in both Paris episodes, and this season is building to another choice in the finale. And it looks like that choice will come down to Louis and Chuck, just like 4x02.
Except there were also those important mid-season finale episodes. In 4x10 and 4x11, the show subtly ties Dan to Blair's interactions with "Just Louis," and the show has continued to drop hints. Louis and Chuck were the princes-in-disguise of 4x01 and 4x02 respectively, but it seriously looks to me like they have established Dan as the prince-in-disguise of Blair's entire season 4 story line.
The Prince and The Pauper
Dan actually says "the parallels are striking," while he's arguing with Blair. WHY YES, DAN, THEY ARE.
Intentional cognitive dissonance? A lot of people picked up on and mocked the discrepancy because just a few episodes previous, Louis pretended to be a chauffeur and Chuck was working as a waiter. I think the writers definitely wanted us to make that connection. Obvious chauffeur parallel is obvious, but 4x11 also has the best Dan The Cater Waiter joke this show has ever done. [ETA: To clarify, Dan is shown shuffling around dishes, standing while everyone else sits, Nate shoves his plate at him, Blair flings her napkin at him.]
I also really love how the driveway is littered with expensive cars when Blair makes this observation. Cars that aren't slow and don't stall and have radios and GPS -- none of the flaws that Blair complains about re: Dan's ridic toy car. She even tries to make him park away from the house, "so no one can see us get in it!" Dan is so the pauper.
These last two could just be clues that Louis's return is imminent, but the way the camera pans from Blair's mismatched shoes up to her horrified face and suddenly Dan's *right* behind her in the shot? VERY SUSPICIOUS. And the image of Blair standing there forlornly after her epic fail day, looking out the window and holding a sad, empty bowl -- it's pretty striking. And there's Dan again.
Dan and Blair are doing the same things that Blair did when she Lonely Girled around Paris. The first film they bond over is tied back to Blair's time in Paris. "Nenette is an inspiration! Last summer, I'd go to the Jardin des Plantes all the time just to visit her!" They're making not!dates to museums, which is how Blair met Louis.
This scene in Paris is one of my favorites of the season. I love how Le dejeuner sur l'herbe frames everything. The scene in 4x10 reminds me so much of the scene in Paris, especially because Dan is staring out his window thinking about Serena, and Blair is staring at a painting in which the main figure is meant to represent Serena.
And besides the way these were shot and the commonality of Serena in obvious and non-obvious ways, 4x10 doesn't just mirror Blair and Louis's first meeting. It also mirrors Dan and Blair's first meeting, as remembered by Dan in 1x09:
They met saving Serena on Thanksgiving, and saving Serena on Thanksgiving is how the writers chose to kick off Dan/Blair's season 4 arc. Serena is what brings them together -- the ONLY thing they have in common. Except not, as they are kinda horrified to discover at the end of 4x11.
The best prince-in-disguise hint of all. Blair's "glass slipper" is kicked off under Dan's coffee table, framed in the light of his window. He's not the prince she imagined. He doesn't waltz into her life in the perfect way she dreamed. (Blair has said some variation of "What are you doing here?" to Dan in every episode since their arc started.) But we make our own fairytales, and this one involves pizza and DVDs and art and coffee and Blair being happy.
EDITED TO ADD:
The dress Blair wears the first time she kisses Dan (4x17) is one of the dresses we see in the Paris shopping porn montage while Blair and Serena are shopping for her date with Prince Louis (4x01). It really is the exact same dress; have a closer look at the dress in Paris and the dress on Blair.
Rochellena from FanForum noticed this parallel:
In 4.01 they do a montage of a bunch of Paris stores, one of the few times they actually focus on a dress for 2 seconds instead of just one is when they are showing the dress that Blair later wears in the first kiss scene. I thought it was kind of interesting with all the speculation about parallels and hints from the first episode.
Totally Snow White
PUT ON YOUR TINHAT. Or don't. I know this part is cracky, but it's so fun!
"The Last Days of Disco Stick" is underrated. It's Blair's only success at NYU, and it's just so Blair how she is the producer! co-star! and director! of her fairytale. And Blair plays the wicked queen, which is perfect since Blair is her own worst enemy when it comes to her real life fairytales. In 4x01 she wanted her Cinderella moment so badly that she ended up being the ugly step-sister instead. And in a season where the show is throwing around a ton of fairytales -- Cinderella, the Prince and the Pauper, The Frog Prince, Dorota's novel about the Princess and the Time Traveler... I think it's worth revisiting Snow White.
Three things: (1) Blair insists they do Snow White, a fairytale about a kiss that breaks a curse. (2) Dan plays Prince Charming in Blair's fairytale cabaret. (3) And when he's supposed to kiss the princess, he totally hesitates. Blair stage-whispers You have to kiss her! and glares at him for ruining her fairytale cabaret. Willa shouts KISS HER! from the audience. And then Dan finally does and ~awakens himself to the feelings for Vanessa he'd been denying.
"Dr. Estrangedlove" sort of parallels the Snow White cabaret. Chuck puts a "dating fatwa" on Blair, and the only way she can break it is to "kiss some guy so I can splash it all over Gossip Girl." A kiss breaks the fatwa, just like the kiss in Snow White breaks the curse.
Blair even ends up at Bleecker bossing Dan around, just like she did in 3x10. He takes her to the art-party where she intends to find a "sacrificial lamb" to break the fatwa/curse... except she doesn't. She prefers to wait, and in doing so she builds up the kiss even more.
It's a case of missing princesses and
Since 3x19, we've seen Blair kiss two guys besides Chuck -- Prince Louis and Dan. The kiss in Paris was a chaste kiss goodbye while Blair had Chuck on her mind (the someone who did the something she had to honor), so IMO it was not the fulfillment of 3x19. But 4x17 *definitely* qualifies. The kiss isn't about Chuck at all. Blair clearly wants to kiss Dan; she's practically vibrating while she waits for him to kiss her. Which, of course, he doesn't. Prince Charming freezes up just like he did in the Snow White cabaret, and it's Blair who kisses him instead.
In the movie, Ruth Gordon's character brings over some mousse ("Point taken. The mousse was creepy.") for Rosemary. It's drugged, unfortunately for her. And the scene the writers show Dan and Blair watching is Rosemary letting Ruth Gordon into her apartment. DON'T LAUGH, but it totally reminds me of how Snow White isn't supposed to let anyone in, but then there's this harmless old lady who needs a place to rest, and she's got this shiny red unsolicited apple that she insists Snow White eat... And _kirsty pointed out that Dan and Blair also discuss the curse in the movie.
IDK if this is something Gossip Girl is actually doing, or if it's just a fun way to interpret a season full of fairytale references. Blair does compare Chuck to the evil queen from Snow White in 4x02, but that's the only specific reference to Snow White this season. There's been a lot more Cinderella.
I do think, though, that it's fair to say the writers have portrayed Blair's feelings for Chuck as a ~curse she needs to break. It's like watching constant self-sabotage. They've been tying her failures/worst moments to him in a way they never have before. And I think they expect us to feel frustrated that Blair cannot move on. I think it's really suspicious that they're not going to show Dan and Blair's kiss in 4x18 (WHAT), especially since it's such a big deal that Dan/Blair spend the next two episodes talking about how much of a big deal it wasn't.
This scene totally caught my eye when I was rewatching the premiere. Blair and Dan's parents pit the Humphrey and Bass names against one another. It's a pretty random moment. A sign of things to come?
When Blair is trying not to follow her heart in the S3 finale, she spouts off a material list of the ~only things she loves. And the show ties that list of things to Louis in the S4 premiere. Sorry, Louis.
Another interesting thing about the premiere is how much of it has tied back to Dan, how many of the things Blair says she wants in a guy in 4x01 and 4x02 are roles that Dan has subtly been filling for the past seven episodes. Her wish was to meet someone who is doing the same things that she is doing, who is feeling the same way she is feeling. Dan is absolutely that person in Blair's S4 story line. He is all of the things she says she wants, just in the wrong package.
And Dan being the prince-in-disguise goes back to Gossip Girl's roots. That's the ~Palace hotel, where Chuck is the
They've set this up so well! DON'T LET ME DOWN NOW, SHOW. But it sort of seems like they will. I'm ambivalent about the spoilers. They're both better and worse than I expected, if that makes any sense. The trailer was kind of disappointing (too much Chair, the stuff with Louis seems super OTT), and Chuck looks so ridiculous I cannot even. I have honestly never felt more traumatized/scarred/violated by any fictional pairing; they make it so difficult for me to enjoy the show. But I'm still pretty hopeful that they'll pull out a happy ending for Blair. Maybe her powerful woman arc will slam right into her prince arc, and she'll choose herself.
But then what the hell did all of these hints mean?
CREDIT: figueroa (fatwa = curse parallel), Ellen Olenska (prole parallel), swamp_ariadne (food parallel), Ruggiero ("Who pretends to be poor?"), _kirsty in general, basically everyone I ever talked to about this, plus homeofthenutty and rawrcaps.
Anonymous commenting is on! There's a tumblr post you can reblog here. If you want to repost some of these images on tumblr or anywhere else, that's totally fine. Just don't hotlink and a link back would be nice.