Season Analysis: Though it was saddled with some deadweight from its lesser seasons, Season 5 was the best since Season 2: Blair was as good as always (even with occasionally insulting material), Dan was the best he’s ever been, the writers finally figured out how to write for a well-behaved Chuck, Nate was mostly boring but at least he’s a good guy, and Serena … well, I guess I can accept that the writers are not perfect.  But then it was all ruined with a season finale in which all the major characters became the worst possible versions of themselves.  Dear Gossip Girl writers: the “it was all a dream” reveal is generally an unwelcome cop-out, but you will need to do something like it to make up for the mess you made with that finale.

“Memoirs of an Invisible Dan”

Gossip Girl’s best bet for success is to have as many characters as possible crashing into each other at once.  “Memoirs of an Invisible Dan” provided a doozy of a way for this to happen – a way that the entire series had been building to (whether it realized it or not): the announcement of Dan as the previously anonymous author of Inside, the novel chronicling life on the Upper East Side, featuring characters very similar to those on Gossip Girl.  This episode actually managed to have it both ways: its style matched that of the way The CW often promotes the show (a series of frothy OMG moments that ought to be followed by a wah-wah sound effect) and the actual style of a typical episode (in which the emotional beats are just as dramatic, but more realistically drawn out, and actually allowing for a chance of resolution).  The offense that Dan’s friends took at their portrayals in Inside were unnecessarily harsh, considering that they were fictionalized versions and the book’s narrator, Dylan Hunter, had a consistently and unrelentingly cynical view of his world, even more so than that of Dan Humphrey.  But, these characters were based on real aspects of the pasts and personalities of the people in Dan’s life, and thus they had the capacity to really cut to the heart.  Ed Westwick showed off some of his finest work in many an episode, as Chuck Bass alternated acknowledged just how right Dan had gotten him, but this acknowledgement also led him to ponder over his life’s severe emptiness.