Well, the twenty-third season of Gossip Girl has come to an end and everyone has scattered for the summer. Blair is off to Monaco, Serena to California, Dan (and Erik….) to the Hamptons, and Nate and Chuck to god only knows where. Let's see how they got there.

We began in medias res, the Constance Billiards Academy party in full, terrible swing and Blair captured by the mad Chicago warlord from Spin City. Will he kill our brunette heroine? Almost assuredly so! Meanwhile, Serena's cousin Chuck Charlie has been jilted by Dan and Blair's prince waits for her sadly with his mother, his champagne going flat, his heart slowly flattening. Where is Blair??? everyone wonders.

Blair is stuck in Chuck's new Brooklyn hotel, all exposed pipe and beam, held hostage in a small room with a drunk and dangerously despondent Russell Thorpe. Will she escape? Will Charlie Chuck come to rescue her?? Oh of course he will. But first he has to find her.

So he ran up to Dan at the party just as Serena and Vanessa, begrudging teammates on the Charlie hunt, did too, so the whole group stood there (Nate ran up to Chuck after he ran up to Dan to tell him that Avery knew that Raina knew about how her mom got burnt down) and Dan just sorta mumbled and stuttered while everyone shrieked at him about their problems. To make matters even more complicated, the wicked Michelle Trachtenberg, bored and married in the suburbs now, showed up to stir the pot and try to sadly butt in on the action. I'm not sure how Dan became the go-to guy for solving crises, but it's a role he takes as seriously as a lingering look from Erik. Which is to say very seriously.

"OK team!" he said. "Chuck, you go to the Empire to see if Blair's there. Nate, you stop your girly whining and go with Chuck. You can whine to him on the way. Serena, you search every inch of Constance Billiards for Charlie. Vanessa, you go away and die because nobody likes you, and Erik you go wait for me somewhere sexy. Ready… break!" So they all ran off to do their tasks, leaving a jilted Michelle Trachtenberg standing alone, farting softly into her satin dress, the party dull and droning around her.

Earlier Charlie had been dancing around the party, swilling vodker and dancing with befuddled old men, but now she was gone. So Serena looked everywhere — under tables, behind potted plants, in cabinets and cupboards, even in Headmistress Queller's private ether lounge. Speaking of Headmistress Queller, while Serena was on the hunt, the ethered-up old lady approached her and said "Serenaaa…. How are you? How is Providence?" And Serena was all "Oh, right, I was supposed to go to Brown. Well, I took some time off and then I decided to go to Columbia instead." Queller frowned, a bit of spittle dribbling out of her mouth. "Oh dearrrr. I had such high hopes for you. I thought you'd see the world, but I guess not." Wait, Quells. We're still talking about Providence, right? Is Providence "the world"? I mean, there's WaterFire and the Providence Place Mall, and I guess you could go to a PawSox game, but other than that… It's not really "the world." And is Columbia some stink-school for sad losers now? I think Queller should lay off the ether a bit and get her mind right. But even though these were clearly the drawled ramblings of an ether-mad woman, Serena took them to heart. She really hasn't done much of anything this past year and that kind of stinks. But, there was no time to deal with that now! She had to find Charlie. So she turned around to continue the search and ran smack into two annoying younger gossip girls who were all "Wait, you didn't end up with Nate or Dan? You're a loser. A straight up sad weirdo loser." Serena was all "Well, I did sleep with the teacher whose life I ruined and we had gross skeleton sex together, so there's that…" The girls huffed haughtily (is there any other way to huff, really?) and strutted away. The fuck was going on? Why was everyone being so mean to Serena the perfect?

Well, as it turns it out it was so she could have a true heart-to-heart with Charlie about how she's not actually perfect. Sort of. Yeah, after some needless interference from Michelle Trachtenberg, Sereenz found Chaz up on the top floor of the school, about to jump out a window or something. "Nooooooo!!!!" Serena yelled in a manly bellow. Charlie turned around and launched into a sad tirade about how Serena is perfect and every girl wants to be her and every boy wants to be in her and Serena shook her head and said "You could have that too." Hahahaha. Bitch didn't even deny it! She was just like "Yup, all of those things are totally true, but I'm going to placate you and say that those things could be true of you too, even though, let's be honest here, that is not the case." Classy, Serena. Stay great always.

Charlie, who had suddenly and magically sobered up, was all "Oh, OK. Sorry I stole your dress. Let's be besties again." Nice breakdown! Short and sweet. So the two new best cousins sauntered downstairs and Charlie said "Oh, you know what, I'll catch up with you, I just need to make a mysterious and secret phone call in the middle of a party of hundreds of people." Completely used to such behavior, Serena said "OK, cool. Catch you on the flipsies!" Charlie dialed a number and said "You were right, it worked perfectly. See you later." Hmmmmmmmm. Then Michelle Trachtenberg walked up behind her and was like "I don't think you are who you say you are. And I don't think you ever even needed pills." Charlie smiled a strange smile and that was that, for now…

Meanwhile Chuck didn't find Blair at the Empire and Nate was still squealing apologies at him so Chuck wheeled around and planted a firm, hot kiss right on Nate's lips to shut him up. "Nate. It's OK. Don't worry about it. It's cool." Nate, blushing, nodded his head and fell quiet. Good thing too, because just then Chuck got a phone call from Blair… ‘s pocket. Yes, stuck in the abandoned hotel, she managed to speed-dial his phone number and say "Russell, you have me trapped on the third floor of the hotel in a strange room and you are going to burn me down unless Chuck comes to rescue me." She was telling Chuck where she was, not Russell!! "Clever girl…" Chuck said and it was off to Brooklyn with Raina and a still rock-hard Nate in tow.

Chuck burst into the room, but not before hearing Blair trying to talk Russell down by telling him that it's possible to get over being hurt by a Bass, and Chuck took this to heart. Earlier, at the Billiards party, Blair's mom had said "Chuck, let her go," meaning Chuck should stop toying with poor Nate's feelings, but also that he should let Blonkers be her own woman and go marry the prince of a fake country in Europes. There was no time to ruminate on all this at the moment though, because the hotel was filling up with gas and Russell was playing with his lighter, so Chuck kicked the door down and rescued Blair. Raina stormed in and made peace with her father before sending him to jail for a long time and then Raina told Nate that she's going back to Chicago (Nate pretended to be sad, but of course he wasn't, the only thing running through his head was Chuck Chuck Chuck Chuck) and now the Thorpe storyline is finally over, thank heavens. What a snoozefest! Cold case hotel intrigue. No thanks ever again, please.

Veins pulsing with adrenalin, Chuck and Blair decided to get one drink before Blair headed off to the Billiards party to meet her prince and, as anyone does when getting one last I-still-love-you-always drink, Chuck and Blair crashed some kid's bar mitzvah. Yup. Just decided to go to a bar mitzvah at the Oak Room. You know, that old goodbye technique. It was a surreal and yet oddly lovely scene, with Blair and Chuck dancing in slo-mo and, strangely considering they were strangers and there were tons of other people at the party, being lifted up into the air on chairs like it was their wedding. (It reminded me one of the few good moments in I Love You New York, a dreamy shot of the chair dance at a Jewish wedding. Probably still not worth renting the movie though.) Basically the whole thing was meant to show the swooning ecstasy of their undying love, and it sorta actually kinda worked. Done with dancing, Blair led Chuck into a room, shut the door, and then kissed him. They undressed and, presumably, did it. Just had sex at some random kid's bar mitzvah. "Hey Ari, let me show you what my bubbie got me, it's in the other room here and OH MY GOD I NOW TRULY AM A MAN." Nicely done, Bluck. (That's their portmanteau, right?) As they were leaving, Chuck handed the kid a check for $5,000 and it was the best bar mitzvah ever.

Out on the street Blair was like "Well, I guess I gotta go can it with the prince." And Chuck made a weird expression. When they got to the Billiards party Chuck sprinted ahead of Blair and told the prince that he gave them his blessing. He was doing the adult thing and letting Blair go. Blair felt sad, but it also felt like the right thing to do. They had one last conversation about how theirs was the greatest love of all and Chuck sang a few bars of "I Will Always Love You," and that was that. An oddly wistful (and likely temporary) end to their rollercoaster romance. Blair returned to her prince, laden with a small, sad secret. Will he eventually find out that Blair and Chuck knocked latkes at Jacob Feldstein's bar mitzvah? Most assuredly yes.

Over in Brooklyn, Vanessa was at the loft looking for Charlie and instead found a typed-out-on-paper novel (that's how kids are writing novels these days) called Inside, written by Dan and all about Erik's butt breaking into the Upper East Side scene and all that. She sat on the floor and is apparently the world's fastest speed reader because she finished the damn thing and then called Dan and was like "I found your novel, you need to get it published." Dan freaked out and was like "What are you doing looking through my thiiiiings! Those are my own private thiiiiings! Stop it Vanessa, stop it!!!" Then they got into a weirdly expansive argument about how Dan had changed since the show started and how Dan secretly desperately wanted to be part of the scene and Dan admitted to it and they both said hurtful things to each other and I guess it was their way of getting Jessica Szohr the hell outta there. Yup, Vanessa's decided to move to Barcelona (lucky poor girl), but not before giving Simon & Schuster publisher Jonathan Karp (such connections Vanessa has! Amazing!) a copy of Inside , with the author listed as Anonymous. Karp loved it and was like "Where do I send the money?" because that's how publishing works, and Vanessa darted off to Barcelona, confident that Dan would take credit for the book once it came out and did well and stuff. Who knows! It's basically going to be like Deconstructing Harry next season, isn't it?

And then, my friends, we basically came to the end. Everything was wrapping up tidily. Blair was off to Monaco for a glamorous Riviera summer. She and Chuck said a gracious, if sad, goodbye at van der Woodsen Ice Palace, and she and Serena were friends again, giggling at their bad jokes. And then she was gone, sailing off on a large ocean liner, the Atlantic glassy and sparkling and infinite on the horizon.

Charlie returned to Florida by bus, because it was more picturesque that way or something, and when she got there she was greeted by her mother. Only we found out that… she isn't her mother! She's some girl named Ivy that the mother hired to play the daughter so she could get her hands on those sweet, sweet blank trust fund checks! Lily's sister is a huckster! A flimflam woman! A grifter and a cheat! And so is Charlie/Ivy! She'd deliberately made those pills easy to find and we were fools for making fun of that. (Sorry, writers!) The sister was all "You sure your normal life is going to measure up now that you've gotten a taste of sweet Big Apple pie?" Charlie/Ivy said yes but there was a gleam in her eye that said no. She looked in her bag (which had a secret set of trust fund checks in it) and took out Georgina's number. Oh yeah, Georgina gave her her number back at the party, feeling a schemer's bond between them. So Charlie/Ivy will return and wreak bland havoc next year, I presume.

Serena headed off to live with her aunt in Montecito for the summer, where she planned to stroll lazily by the beach and find herself. And run into some cute movie assistant guy (he was the guy from the 10 Things I Hate About You show, yes?) who was having trouble reading an F. Scott Fitzgerald book. She was all "I love that book," because Serena has always seemed like such an avid reader, and then all of a sudden David O. Russell walked up (seriously) and was like "Hey kid, did you read the book? We have the big movie meeting in a few minutes!" The kid stammered and stuttered like Dan watching Erik eat a banana and Serena was like "I read it! It's good!" and so David O. Russell offered her a movie job. Seriously. It was an extremely weird scene and sets up, what, exactly? A movie career plot for Serena? Who knows. Who will ever know.

Back in New York, Chuck was feeling all sad about Blair so Nate tried to cheer him up by bringing over a globe and saying "Spin it and point to a random spot and we'll go there and slowly make our way back here. Just two bachelors on the road. It'll be great." Chuck did it, spun the globe and traced it lazily with his finger, arbitrarily stopping somewhere that looked like eastern Siberia. Good choice, Chuck! Ian Frazier would be proud. The two boys smiled at each other and poured another drink and the sun shone in through the window and for a brief moment it looked as though they were on fire with possibility, two young men burning bright and big and so full of light they might glow like that forever.

And that, I guess, leaves us with Dan. Or it leaves us with Erik. Or it leaves us with both. Dan has decided he'd like to spend the summer out in the van der Hamptons house, just get out of the city and clear his head, as Rufus tells him it's going to be empty all summer. With a curious twinkling dance in his eye, Dan said "Hey Erik, want to come with? We could be each other's wingmen, like Nate and Chuck. Break up a few couples." Was that code? "Each other's wingmen"? "Like Nate and Chuck"? I have to believe it was. And I have to believe Erik knew it was when he gave Dan a small, happy smile and said "Yeah, let's go. Let's do it."

Toward the end of the episode there was a fun reveal that Erik is going to Sarah Lawrence in the fall, because of course Erik is going to Sarah Lawrence in the fall. He'll be headed up to Bronxville where he'll meet plenty of queers and weirdos and artists and other assorted folk, and though it is close, it will feel a million miles away from all of this. He's stepping off into the unknowable future, almost into the sad and curious world of grownups, and he barely even knows it.

At least there is first this, this summer, this gauzy idyll with Dan. The two of them playing house, eating waffles, lounging nude by the pool, feeding each other cherries, the blood-red juice dribbling down their chins until it is caught by the other's tongue. Long nights of getting tangled in the sheets, longer days of lying on the grass, Dan reading aloud from a book, Erik resting his head on Dan's chest and feeling the warm thrum of his heart. The sun lemony and cozy above them, a soft green breeze whispering through the yard. In the years after, in the many years after, Erik will look back on these few months as perhaps his happiest ever. A time when two people disappeared into each other and created their own universe together. When a house and a person was enough. When the world was simple and uncluttered and impossibly lovely. When a boy named Dan Humphrey would come bounding out of the house onto the porch, carrying a pitcher of lemonade or a bottle of wine and would stop for a brief moment, smiling as he gazed at Erik sitting and waiting, Erik seeing that Dan was as happy as he was. That he too wouldn't mind letting the rest of the world forget them forever.

But of course the world always finds us, always interferes once more. And then there is college, and then there is… life, I suppose. The rattle and clamor of wheels rolling on drowns out the rush of the ocean, the hollow song of wind chimes, the hush of hot breath on a neck. That's just what time does. It moves us along and eventually evaporates us — we are but clouds in the sky. We are merely molecules and memory, secrets and skin. As ephemeral as wishes, as fast and as fleeting as gossip.

Happy summers, everyone.

Programming Note: I have decided that this will be my last recap of this show. I feel like I've made as many jokes about these people being gay and farting as one man can make, so I think it's best to just let the rest of the tale be unknown or imagined. It's been fun! Thanks to you few remaining readers (I won't lie and say that dwindling traffic on these posts wasn't a factor in my decision) for continuing to read, and thanks to all the "Gossip Girl" people for making such a silly show that is so fun to (lovingly, really, sincerely) make fun of. If any of you are reading (I profoundly doubt you are), thank you and, of course, xoxo!