The Princesses and the Frog
||This article's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. (December 2012)|
|"The Princesses and the Frog"|
|Gossip Girl episode|
Serena holds back an unstable Chuck
|Episode no.||Season 4
|Directed by||Andrew McCarthy|
|Written by||Leila Gerstein|
|Original air date||May 2, 2011 (The CW)|
"The Princesses and the Frog" is the 85th episode of the CW television series, Gossip Girl and the 20th episode of the show's fourth season. The episode was written by Leila Gerstein and directed by Andrew McCarthy. It originally aired on Monday, May 2, 2011 on the CW. Executive producer Joshua Safran was criticized for the depiction of perceived relationship abuse and domestic violence in a controversial scene of the episode and negative reactions towards the character of Chuck Bass.
"The Princesses and the Frog" reveals Blair Waldorf (Leighton Meester) pursuing a fairytale romance with Louis Grimaldi (Hugo Becker) as she faces the challenge of winning the approval of Princess Sophie (Joanne Whalley) and possibly earns more than a royal approval, while Serena van der Woodsen (Blake Lively) attempts to ruin Blair by airing out every scandal she can draw out. Chuck Bass (Ed Westwick) slowly devolves into a downward spiral the longer he holds on the secret disappearance of Avery Thorpe. Nate Archibald (Chace Crawford) finds himself torn between his relationship with Raina Thorpe (Tika Sumpter) and his friendship with Chuck. Vanessa Abrams (Jessica Szohr) befriends Charlie Rhodes (Kaylee DeFer) for reasons that revolve around Dan Humphrey (Penn Badgley).
The episode starts with Chuck (Ed Westwick) informing his P.I that he doesn't believe his father is responsible for the murder of Avery Thorpe - Raina's mother - and for him to drop the case.
We are then shown Louis and Blair having a mock disagreement about museums in both of their home cities. Louis informs Blair that he has something he needs to discuss with her, when Serena interrupts, and offers to apologise in order to save her friendship with Blair and hear all about her blossoming relationship. However, at the end of the scene, it is insinuated that Serena is jealous of the relationship.
Lily, still on house arrest, has quarantined herself in her room, whilst Rufus has been offered an opportunity to produce a new band's album. This scene also introduces the new friendship between Charlie and Dan, but Dan insists that the pair are just friends. They meet for coffee later in the episode, which seems purely platonic, even though Vanessa, watching from across the room, may think otherwise.
Blair has been meeting with important figures in Monaco, trying to make a good impression so the country will allow their marriage. Louis warns her to be herself, but Blair expresses how much she wants their approval. However, unexpectedly, Louis' mother appears. Clearly unimpressed with Blair and the publicity surrounding the relationship, she announces that Louis is already engaged. Embarrassed, Blair flees, and it is revealed that Louis' mother was called to New York by Serena, in an attempt to stop Louis and Blair's relationship.
Despite Dorota's offers to have Vanya deal with the Prince "Eastern European style", Blair is clearly very upset, and likens Louis' lie to that of something that happens on the Upper East Side. A remorseful Louis appears, where he explains that he is not engaged yet. The Royal Court on Monaco have decided that he should be married before he is allowed to succeed to the throne, which is what he wanted to tell Blair earlier in the episode. Louis' mother has flown in her top 10 candidates for Louis' wife, as has demanded he choose by tomorrow evening. In order to continue dating Blair, Louis asks that she meet his mother, and convince her to be allowed onto his list on 'candidates', so she can continue to date him - "whilst wearing rings" - engaged. Blair, although sceptical of how soon in their relationship this is happening, agrees to go and meet his mother, and then attempt to impress the Royal Court tomorrow night.
Serena, on the phone to Blair, finds that her attempt to break up Louis and Blair has only made them stronger thus far. She fakes being happy for them, and afterwards explains to Eric that she is trying to break them up because Blair crossed "sacred territory" when she kissed Dan. Eric tells her off, saying that acting like Blair is no way to go on. However, Serena still seems determined to break them up.
At dinner with Raina, Nate is avoiding the conversation of her mother, which Raina figures out straight away. Nate tries to convince her not to keep digging for information, so an outraged Raina leaves Nate alone.
Back in the apartment, Rufus announces that the meeting with the band went well, and he has invited them round for dinner. Eric mocks him on his 'street cred', so Rufus moves the dinner from the penthouse to his apartment back in Brooklyn. Dan then announces that he thinks Charlie does have a crush on his, and that he's trying not to lead her on.
In the bookstore, Charlie is seen reading a book on how to go from being friends with someone, to being their girlfriend. This is spotted by Vanessa, who is not warmly greeted by Charlie, who reminds her that she knows about how Vanessa ratted out the Blair kiss to Serena. Vanessa says that she's leaving to study abroad, and that even if they aren't friends, she loves Dan, and doesn't want to leave him with a girl who will "corrupt his soul". She then offers Charlie help on getting Dan to fall for her.
In her meeting with Louis' mother, Blair expresses her understanding of her fears concerning their relationship. However, during the conversation, Princess Sophie is given a booklet containing all of the Gossip Girl posts surrounding Blair. Clearly unimpressed, the Princess tells Blair to leave, but Blair stands up for herself, saying that the Princess now knows everything about her, and that Louis does also, and loves her all the same.
At the hotel, a clearly very drunk Chuck is approached by the P.I he fired at the beginning of the episode. The P.I says that he has found something else, which insinuates that Bart Bass and Avery Thorpe were having an affair, and Avery was going to leave him and go back to Russell. The P.I explains that this is now almost concrete proof, and that now Chuck can move on with his life. When Nate arrives, he explains to Chuck that Raina is insistent on finding her mother. Chuck then shows Nate the note.
At Blair's home, she is being given lessons on how to greet different members of the Royal family. Louis arrives, with a dress for Blair, saying that she will undoubtadly be the "most enchanting one there". Dorota announces that the Prince is growing on her.
Dan arrives at his penthouse, and finds Charlie. She offers to take him out to Queens, but he explains that although he likes her, he isn't looking for a relationship. Charlie tells him that she doesn't want that either, and that Dan is one of the only people she knows here, and that's why she wants to hang out so much. Dan invites her to his father's dinner with the new band, and Charlie offers to cook.
In the morning, Nate tries to convince Chuck to let him tell Raina about her mother. When Chuck tells him not to, Nate lashes out, saying that Chuck knows nothing about relationships; Blair was lucky to escape, and she's better off with Louis. Chuck gets mad, shouting at Nate that he doesn't understand him and Blair.
Back at Blair's, Blair is being tested on Monaco trivia by Dorota, when Serena arrives. Blair, oblivious to Serena's part in the almost collapse of her relationship, tells her about how happy she is, and invites her to the party with her. A slightly humbled Serena accepts, and says that one day she would be honoured to be Blair's maid of honour.
In the apartment in Brooklyn, Dan, Rufus and Eric arrive back to discover that Charlie has turned the dinner into a fancy evening meal, and probably ruined Rufus' meeting with the band. Chuck is then seen asking for his car, obviously going to the party where Blair is to try and win her back.
At the party, Blair is introduced to Princess Sophie. Blair, having studied her competition all day, is still slightly nervous, but Serena tells her that Blair doesn't need to worry, as she's been preparing for this her whole life. She is clearly in her element when talking to members of the court, getting on with them well, and quietly undermining her competition. Louis tells Serena that he believes her mother finding out about their relationship to have been good for them, and that he's pleased he may get a chance to marry someone he loves. Serena then notices that a drunk Chuck has arrived, and wants to speak to Blair. He tries to cause a scene, but Blair avoids him.
Back in Brooklyn, Rufus goes to head off the band downstairs and take them somewhere else to eat. Dan lies to Charlie, telling her the band had to cancel; it seems Charlie was unaware that they were catering for a band, and thought they were entertaining business associates. She realises that she screwed up, and confesses that Vanessa had told her to put on a fancy dinner to impress Dan.
In Raina's office, Nate arrives to try and apologies. Although at first unforgiving, Raina wants to hear why Nate was so secretive about the situation with her mother.
Back at the party, Chuck embarrasses Blair by likening Princess Sophie to a stewardess he slept with over Lithuania. He refers to himself as "the love of her life", telling Princess Sophie that everyone else is "a waste of time". Blair tells Chuck to leave, telling him she's embarrassing her. Chuck violently grabs her, and Sophie calls for security. Chuck then begs Blair to tell her prince that she still loves Chuck, but when she doesn't, he asks that she just tell him. She doesn't answer, and Chuck is escorted out. Horribly embarrassed, Blair leaves - thus backing out of the 'competition', and Sophie tells Louis to end it.
Back home, Blair refers to what happened as the worst that has happened to her. She reflects on how her past with Chuck has come back to haunt her, but Serena says that even though he was out of line, she felt bad for him, and she always thought they would end up together. Blair, insulted that she would take Chuck's side after everything, tells Serena she knew it was her who tried to break up her and Louis, and that she had assumed it was payback for Dan. She tells Serena that she was happy with Louis, and didn't want Chuck.
In Raina's office, Nate has clearly told Raina about her mother, who reflects on how she thought her mother didn't love her. Raina says that the truth is too unbearable, but she now understands why her father wants to crush Bass Industries. Raina then decides to set out on a warpath against Chuck, for being as bad as his father.
In Brooklyn, Charlie is explaining how Vanessa told her to throw a classy dinner for Rufus' guests, and how it clearly wasn't the right thing to do, but she did it to convince Dan to date her. Dan then convinces her to confront Vanessa, saying it's how she'll become an Upper East Side-r.
Louis appears at Blair's door. She lets him know that there are no hard feelings if he needs to break up with her, but he tells her that when he overheard her conversation with Serena, he wanted to be the one who makes her happy, even if it means forgetting his family. He proposes.
When Rufus arrives back at Lily's, he tells Dan that he got the production part. Charlie goes to meet Vanessa, telling her that hiring expensive caterers didn't work and that she was humiliated. Vanessa is shocked, saying that wasn't what she told Charlie to do at all. It becomes clear that Vanessa did actually give her good advice, but Charlie pretended that she had been set up by Vanessa in order to remove her from the picture. Back in Brooklyn, we see Charlie and Dan getting on better than before.
Blair arrives at Chuck's, where he tells her that he needs her now more than before, because the only thing that's been real in his life has been her. Blair tells him about Louis proposal, and that even though she wanted to be Chuck's for so long, she can't be anymore. Chuck gets violent, punching a glass wall which in turn cuts Blair's face. Blair flees, and a watching Nate realises the extent of Chuck's problem, and calls Raina to tell him he chooses her. At the same time, Raina is on the phone to Jack Bass, hoping to get his help with dealing with Chuck. Chuck is seen sitting alone, holding his engagement ring. Blair, still at odds with Serena, calls her mother, to tell her she's engaged.
The Borgias actress Joanne Whalley had been cast in an episode of Gossip Girl following a Screen Actors Guild casting notice. Whalley was rumoured to play an adversarial role to Kelly Rutherford's Lily van der Woodsen but turned out to be that of Princess Sophie, Louis Grimaldi's mother. The party at the Monégasque Embassy was filmed in the Ukrainian Institute of America on Fifth Avenue.
"The Princesses and the Frog" was watched by 1.27 million live viewers and achieved a 1.5 rating in The CW's target audience of Women 18-34 and received mixed to negative reviews. The episode received negative remarks following a controversial scene of Chuck Bass subjecting what many perceived to be domestic violence to Blair Waldorf.
The Los Angeles Times' Judy Berman praised the direction of the episode, ""Gossip Girl" is finally fun to watch again. The writers pulled out all the stops this week: Glass shatters! Blood spills! Engagement rings gleam! Friends and near-strangers double-cross each other! A disastrously drunk Chuck Bass revives his catchphrase, "I'm Chuck Bass"! Even Nate earns his screen time." Steve Marsi of TV Fanatic however, had mixed reviews regarding the episode, stating the overall narrative "felt sorely lacking." and that the plot lines "became really twisted and confusing and the relationships too tangential." Serena's actions throughout the episode were called out, followed by Chuck's slow downward spiral that culminated in forcing himself on Blair. Marsi continued his review on Chuck, stating that his behavior "leaves little room for redemption". The sudden absence of Dan and Blair's relationship was panned by Marsi, who disapproved of the lack of interaction between the two characters. New York Magazine hailed the return of Nate and Chuck's "bromance", praised the change of direction for the character of Charlie, and Blair dating prince but generally panned the episode for its shortcomings and the closing scene. Chris Rovar and Jessica Pressler hoped that the show "could make it up in the coming weeks."
Charlie Rhodes became the subject of praise with her successful integration into the Upper East side. Marsi praised her choosing to confront Vanessa alone, calling her "a natural" at schemes and that "even an outsider can thoroughly outshine an outcast." TV Guide praised the ousting of Vanessa by Charlie, stating that "it didn't take her long to cross over to "the other side"".
Serena van der Woodsen's actions throughout the episode received negative reviews. New York Magazine called out her character inconsistency and Serena's actions against Blair, "as much as this show has tried to teach us that nobody can be trusted and any friend will turn on another at the drop of the hat, we really don’t believe that Serena would go so far out of her way to ruin Blair’s chance to be a princess just because Blair once kissed Dan (whom Serena isn’t dating and is related to). It just doesn’t make sense." Berman noticed her abrupt change in character, stating "It's a pretty evil, slightly out-of-character move, and S spends most of the episode looking conflicted over what she's done."
Following the 20th episode of Season 4, Safran spoke on behalf of the series regarding the scene in which Chuck became violent with Blair.
|“||The way we viewed it, I think it's very clear that Blair is not afraid in those moments, for herself. They have a volatile relationship, they always have, but I do not believe—or I should say we do not believe—that it is abuse when it's the two of them. Chuck does not try to hurt Blair. He punches the glass because he has rage, but he has never, and will never, hurt Blair. He knows it and she knows it, and I feel it's very important to know that she is not scared—if anything, she is scared for Chuck—and what he might do to himself, but she is never afraid of what he might do to her. Leighton and I were very clear about that.||”|
In response to these comments, Carina MacKenzie of Zap2it stated, "We're left wondering if Safran missed the part where she went home bleeding because Chuck was using physical intimidation to release his own emotions." PerezHilton.com also disagreed with the show's decision to rationalize Chuck's behavior as "passion". The site further stated, "Is this what the writers and crew want to showcase to their audience? That it's okay to treat the supposed love of your life like this because you're going through 'issues?' "
While reviewing the episode, Tierney Bricker of Zap2it remarked that there were "really no excuses for Chuck Bass anymore." MacKenzie concluded that Chuck's behavior throughout Season 4 fit the signs of an abusive relationship, citing examples from HelpGuide.org, a non-profit health resource. She noted Chuck's public humiliation of Blair, his attempt to pawn her during a business deal, and his use of physical intimidation. MacKenzie also called the show's explanation "disturbing, particularly given the young, female target demographic of Gossip Girl and The CW."
Berman later addressed Safran's description of the controversial scene. "Considering how terrified Blair looked at the end of their encounter, and how quickly she got out of there, the show is sending a mixed message at best." She went on to state, "We have no right to expect Gossip Girl to be a paragon of morality, or even realism, but the idea that true love requires taking a shard of glass to the face is disturbing even in this alternate, soap-opera dimension." 
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