Back where it all began, in the first episode of the first season. The mysterious Serena van der Woodsen is back after her disappearance last year, and Blair is trying to ‘seal the deal’ with her boyfriend Nate.
Serena van der Woodsen
Serena is the first character we’re introduced to, who returns to New York after a year away at boarding school. Her disappearance to boarding school was abrupt and unexplained, and her return is met with hostility from her best friend, Blair Waldorf, and awkward conversations with Blair’s boyfriend, Nate. In this episode, Serena is accosted by Chuck Bass, a boy from school, and ends up going on a date with Dan Humphrey to see his father’s band. We learn that her return to New York was caused by the attempted suicide of Serena’s brother Eric. We also learn that she left after sleeping with Blair’s boyfriend, Nate, at the Shepherd wedding, which was witnessed with Chuck.
Blair is the daughter of a fashion designer, and is dating the very handsome Nate Archibald. Spurred by Serena’s sudden return, she decides to sleep with Nate for the first time, but he reveals he slept with her best friend, Serena, last year. Blair also hosts the Kiss On The Lips party, but actively decides not to invite Serena, who left abruptly last summer and didn’t inform her of her return.
Nate is the boyfriend of Blair Waldorf, who slept with her best friend, Serena, the year before, when Nate and Blair were still dating – they have been dating since Kindergarten. After revealing this information, we see him forced into reconciling with Blair as his father wants to sweeten a deal with Blair’s mother and her fashion company.
Dan is the kid who doesn’t fit in – he doesn’t live on the Upper East Side, and he lives in a loft with his father Rufus and his sister Jenny. He is hopelessly in love with Serena van der Woodsen, who he ‘accidentally’ bumps into at a hotel where she asks him on a date. They end up going to see Dan’s dad’s band, and then saving his little sister Jenny from Chuck Bass. Dan is often ignored and is ‘invisble’ to others at school, including Nate and Chuck.
(also can we mention how ‘accidentally’ bumping into a girl is quite creepy!)
Jenny is Dan’s younger sister who aspires to fit in with the kids at school, and makes copies of designer dresses she likes on her sewing machine. She gains an invite to the Kiss On The Lips party in exchange for addressing all of the invitations, and is taken advantage of by Chuck Bass who plies her with alcohol and forces himself on her.
Chuck is the resident ‘bad boy’ which is a bit of an understatement in this episode – he forces himself on two girls (Jenny and Serena) and tries to persuade Nate to sleep with Blair. I’m not impressed with him as a character at this point but his behaviour isn’t condoned and he is confronted by Dan at the end of the episode.
There is so much music in this pilot! Every scene is accompanied by cinematic shots of New York and some tune.
Hints at a past romance between Rufus Humphrey and Lily van der Woodsen.
Pilot starts and ends with a similar shot of Serena staring out of a window pensively.