Warning: This recap mentions mature themes, including drugs.
The wizening, silver grazing stubble men of Wall Street are used to diligently hidden playbooks noting the elite’s most bachelor and bachelorette names. Its leather-bound pages left inspiring camera flashing affairs, black and white photos tracking dips into a trillionaire pool. That is until a technology-shifted world glamorized itself through Tinder’s swanky parody, Raya.
Craftily spun into a risqué slideshow, one can only assume it’s how our Julien ended up in Italy’s faraway kingdom and trading healthy, vegan recipes with a boy tugging around the famous “Jonas” last name. Meanwhile, her sister has one arm latched to a bus handlebar and another to her phone, leisurely scrolling through the latest sightings of the day — her being in all of them beside Otto. Audrey’s boy troubles, on the other hand, are sharing Constance Billard’s toilet stalls as she airs her Max side of it all. In the last episode, she slept with him, and now she’s left worrying if a verified Gossip Girl will put the 411 on an illicit blast.
It’s the same sort of buzz that would ricochet off lockers if word got out that Aki had a sauna kiss with Max; Otto gently says there’s nothing to panic about if the said person doesn’t dare to kiss and tell. Somewhere between a Quizlet lesson plan and a gossipy exchange is a mandatory meeting found in the teacher’s emails. Kate’s not fussed. Zoya, however, is, as her social media scrolling has turned into the picking up of inventive bullying through polls comparing her to the city-approved icons such as rats feasting on pizza slices and the flavor infested buffalo wing. It may not be much of an issue to daily, candid model Otto, not only does he look good eating whatever he deems, but he stays right off of the platforms. Maybe that’ll change after dinner with Zoya’s father, which is happening that very night.
Playboy Max is inciting dating advice. Julien’s very hard to get to know, meaning she’s curated from meticulous posts and twisted details from her personal life kept on lockdown. So, they’re heading out on a “Manhattan Max-ploration,” stringing together a digitally imprinted wild night out. Here’s the thing, parents who may not know how to fix a light bulb but are rich enough to call several people who do are warning to pull their donated money if the school doesn’t take down Gossip Girl. In a Kristen Bell voice narration, Vivian is determined to strip it of all pop culture-ish tones to decode instead who’s behind this rendition. How will she do it? By an intelligence agency.
This has the teachers behind it writing up a stealthy get out of detention plan; first step, like all of its posts (since, you know, other teachers are also bizarrely doing that), no DMs from their personal accounts, and a ban on all postings done at school. There’s also a newly rummaging secret about librarian-having affairs, placing it under a blind so those who know about others doing the dirty deed can send in tips. Dressed in a corset, Gideon, one of Max’s fathers, has an entire row scoped out for the opening of a play dated for the next night. Simultaneously, Otto’s talking about his parents to Zoya’s dad. They sound like rather respectful people, humbled down by his incessant plea to do the charitable thing. However, #Zugly is trending, a chain effect twittering off of Luna’s. She puts away her phone with the hope of going on an actual date subtracted from any third-wheelers, something that’s not rushing in but steadily approaching.
Audrey and Aki are still in dry paradise; they’re not doing it for each other, causing an awkward bedroom pursuit. Max’s LinkedIn profile is sure to get some ghostly visitors as Julien is splashed dancing provocatively in the Daily Mail. She takes a double shot of space coke, the fluorescent blue swirl of lights hazily slur around her. The bathroom, however, has a yellowish tinge as Zoya sits down on its toilet seat, horrified at the mass amount of postings all tagged with #Zugly. She decidedly calls Luna who has plans to back-to-school wardrobe her from a harshly critiqued hashtag to a style copy and pasted trending It Girl; think Gigi Hadid’s golden 2015 era. Before Zoya can give her an answer, there’s the sound of a phone call ending.
With the silence of an I love you, curling into their respective sides to turn away from each other, Aki and Audrey’s phones vibrate with the blind — not uttering a peep about either of their forbidden displays. Julien’s picked up a friend in the club’s bathroom; she looks a lot like the blonde from You, taking the form of a Gossip Girl alum, Penn Badgley Easter egg. She’s ranting about being a man’s secret. Something tossed into an underwear drawer so no suspecting possible girlfriends or wives can spot her. Walking past an appreciative glaring Max, Julien just behind her, she disappears off to a table where Davis is. There seems to be a troublesome father problem with Max’s, too, as his profile shot rests in a square mosaic with other freshly available men. The teachers are on a scout for a fall gay, a penned term for pushing Rafa under the school board’s bus. The only problem is that he’s too charming, so it opens the question of if not him, who?
Julien runs into Otto, her hangover kit consists of a water bottle, a Starbucks drink, and a plump orange branded unidentifiable. He’s a bit too distracted by Zoya, though, which causes Julien to want to walk off, yet he stops her apologizing. Unfortunately, it’s too late since she already has a snarky remark rolling off her tongue, a poison for their D&M sesh. Otto comes with good news; he’s been given permission for his first date with Zoya, her face breaking out into this magnetic smile as the setting is the play’s opening. Luna’s standing on the other side of the hallway, not bothering to wait for Zoya to rush after her. Max seemingly believes the school is covered in side pieces, so there’s no reason for anyone to believe the blind is about Aki or Audrey. With the intel still unbeknownst to them, they each separately press him about it. Julien’s found the bathroom blonde’s Instagram. Her job description reads singer-songwriter, and her photos are littered with saccharine smiles.
If you’ve seen one of those before and after segments, then you’ll know the stylist usually comes with a sack of tricks; it’s about the size of a trunk and as deep as Hermione Granger’s beaded handbag. Miscellaneous items from smize-able contact lenses to sweating Botox injections all come out of Luna’s, offering them up between the interchangeable edit of Zoya prancing down the library. Arm slung around Aki’s shoulder, Max is in the quirky mood to start up a fake account to lure his dad into flirtation. They’ll be cloning Rafa’s account through Aki’s phone!
Additionally, on the undercover prowl, Julien is watching the singer-songwriter and about to be stepmom triple threat walk out of a coffee shop proceeding her shift. She walks up to her apartment building, where there’s a bunch of names scattered to the side of those who live there, Julien snapping a picture for purposes categorized as later. Julien asks Max for another ticket for the play, him agreeing.
Green eyeshadow dusts Zoya’s eyes as she nervously walks up to Otto, who is waiting for her on the theater’s steps. Usually she takes the bus, which he hints at, but this is a newly designed Zoya, and it comes with a few alterations. Max doesn’t exactly want to read possible sext-y interactions from his dad, so Aki summarizes the messages; it includes a date night proposal for the following weekend. Davis’ secretive girlfriend surprises him; she’s thinking this is the night they’re going public, he’s wondering what exactly she’s doing showing up there. Ticket in hand, Rafa walks up to Max and Aki, Max trading his seat for the one that’s been gifted. The pre-show paints the theater in a lustrous blue, Max pigeonholing himself between Audrey and Aki. Rafa sits himself down next to Roy, who gives him a puzzled look.
Zoya’s not eating; she’s actually quite self-conscious, leaving Otto on a wondering “but,” flicking her head in Julien’s direction as she’s behind them. Julien waves to Davis’ blonde, her working out the connective dots that she’s indeed his daughter and the person behind the invitation tossed into her apartment. As every flashy premiere event has a boozy after-party, this one does not differ; Zoya’s golden hair clip slid into her half-up hair, being our guide to its noisy room bursting with people. Davis stops Julien, nearly reprimanding her until she turns it around on him, admitting they both have a public and private life, and the latter should weigh up if she wants a boyfriend who’s afraid of being seen with her.
Seated around a circle table so they can all see each other’s nervous reflexes are the teachers; Reema’s husband went to a public school, so he doesn’t quite understand elitism politics. It’s not that, more so, the intelligence agency wanting to lead a Gossip Girl takedown has a long crossed-off list of billionaires. When he excuses himself to go to the bathroom, Reema sips on her water, stating she likes her job. Why give it up? Zoya is finally scarfing down what looks to be sushi, overhearing the harsh criticism about the play, and it’s then when she wants to revert back to her old-ish ways. Listing off an inspirational list of her favorite playwrights, someone under an impressive gaze interrupts, dragging her away. Roy slithers up to Rafa at the bar, creating a foursome chat with Max joining alongside Gideon. It’s not long before it’s out, Roy is on Scruff, the pocketed dating app, and while we know Rafa wasn’t exactly the one who chatted with him, it sure does feel like that for a few minutes for the others. The phone is thrown around, Rafa reminding Max he’s the ringleader. There’s a love bound between Roy and Gideon, but he’s just no longer attracted to him.
A confused Otto waits for Zoya. She’s finding it hard being in the Prince of New York’s shadow. He wants her to be her, the girl who stuffs food into her mouth and encourages him to talk to Julien. He apologizes to Julien, being too afraid to see parts of himself through another familiarity, and she knows she can’t cave into a curated image. Reema’s phone rings; she’s able to get her husband’s job back only if she writes up a Gossip Girl post. Snorting away at a table, Max is an outright mess, a truth-teller spell as there’s the declaration of what Audrey and Aki have participated in. They’re left tear-glassed. The city’s skyline’s the slinky backwash to Davis playing around at the piano; it’s sweet, him admitting he wanted Julien to feel like she’s the only woman in his life even if it comes at the hands of hiding blonde girlfriends. She forgives him, wanting to meet her.
The last stop of the night is Zoya’s apartment building, Otto kissing her, being immortalized through the receptionist’s phone. Max is with Rafa out on the steps. He had hoped his elaborate plan ended with his fathers making up. Rafa reminds him every secret has its appointed hour and then offers up a place for him to stay. Roy exits his once shared home. Audrey and Aki call a truce. They love each other far too much. Reema makes her way out. She’s been fired, the teachers working out who would be the perfect scapegoat. However, the cliffhanger falls on a whisper into Monet’s ear, staking an arbitrary war between two half-sister socialites caught in the public eye’s tangled web.
Gossip Girl airs on HBO Max on Thursdays, with episodes coming out weekly.