In the long-awaited premiere of the final season of CW’s Gossip Girl, we discover that Serena van der Woodsen (Blake Lively) has been missing without a trace since the beginning of the summer. Our favorite one-percenters head back to New York from all over the world to find her. Blair (Leighton Meester) comes home from Paris, where she’s been working with Waldorf Designs and spending time with a handsome French stranger. Chuck (Ed Westwick) is in Dubai investigating Bart’s (Robert John Burke) business activity, and nowhere near Blair’s side after the two of them began their summer with a bang in Monte Carlo. Dan (Penn Badgley), with a new hipster haircut in tow, has taken Georgina (Michelle Trachtenberg) with him to Tuscany for the summer, where she used her photographic memory to help him write his tell-all book about his adventures on the Upper East Side. Nate (Chace Crawford) is already in the city as he spent his summer running The Spectator by himself and working on a big story.

Dan and Georgina assume that, wherever Serena is, her situation is bound to be dismal and humiliating. They know that finding her before her friends are able to cover it up could give them the perfect ending to Dan’s book. Nate, Blair, and Chuck have other ideas and are worried about Serena’s well-being. Also on Serena's trail is Lily (Kelly Rutherford), who renewed her vows with Bart over the summer, and shows up at Rufus’ (Matthew Settle) loft to discover, with much horror, that Ivy (Kaylee DeFer) has been living with him.

The Spectator is developing a groundbreaking story about Gossip Girl, and Nate trades the story’s evidence to the blogger in order to bait her into giving him whatever information she has about Serena’s whereabouts. Following a Gossip Girl tip, all five socialites find themselves in the woods somewhere in Poughkeepsie, imagining all sorts of scandalous and dramatic fates for Serena. They are shocked to find out that, after overdosing four months earlier, she is alive and well, dating a holistic health guru and going by the name “Sabrina.” As they arrive, she is about to partake in a wedding ceremony that her friends mistakenly believe to be hers. They find out that Serena is not the bride but rather the maid of honor, but not before Blair attempts to stop the ceremony by proclaiming Serena’s true identity to her lover and all the wedding guests.

Blair reveals to Dan that she and Chuck made a pact to be apart until they were “ready” to be together after dealing with their own lives, much to Dan’s disgust. She also then pulls a typical “best friends no matter what” speech that follows every epic B and S showdown, saying that maybe they’re just stuck with one another. Serena breaks Blair’s heart by turning their friendship down in favor of a fresh start.

After such a strange day, Dan comes home to the Brooklyn loft to find the mother of all surprises Rufus and Ivy in bed together. True to her usual wishy-washy ways, Serena realizes just how much she misses the city and vows to live in Manhattan with her new man instead of staying in Poughkeepsie. She declares to her lover that “no one can ruin this, no matter how hard they’re gonna try.” Watch yourself, S!

Some things never change. The wealthy New Yorkers are still as fickle and young-spirited as they were at 17, and Rufus and Lily are still on and off as they’ve always been. The series brings back its trademark gorgeous aesthetic with beautiful clothes and shots of New York landmarks, and its witty, sarcastic dialogue that is only pulled off by its obvious borderline corniness. With only ten episodes airing this season, things are about to start wrapping up for these trust fund babies. Maybe these defining last episodes will mark great change and developing maturity for each of them, but let’s be honest, we all know in our hearts how unlikely it is that they'll grow any the wiser. It's more likely that what we’ll be seeing this fall is just another dish of drama, scandal, and designer dresses and we secretly love it.

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