Poison Ivy is the 3rd episode of the first season and the 3rd episode overall.
There's plenty of upside to being the spawn of the fabulously wealthy. But the downside? Super successful parents expect nothing less from their offspring. And when it comes to college, that means the Ivies. It's more than just getting into college, it's setting a course for the rest of your life. And for those few who aren't legacies? The pressures are no less. When parents have sacrificed for their children's futures, what kid would want to let them down?
As the Constance Billard/St. Jude's students prepare for a much-anticipated visit from Ivy League representatives, Blair uncovers a scandalous secret about Serena that may not remain a secret much longer. Dan has his heart set on the coveted usher position for the Dartmouth University rep, only to be beat out by Nate, who has no interest in the school despite pressure from his controlling father. Meanwhile, Jenny bonds with Serena's younger brother, Eric, and Rufus must swallow his pride and ask Lily for a favor to help his son, Dan.
At Constance/St. Jude's, the morning assembly begins. The Headmaster and Headmistress explain that Ivy Week is about over, with the exception of the mixer. Meanwhile, everyone begins to flashback to their morning. At the loft, Rufus remarks on the fact that Dan cut himself several times shaving. However, he promises that Dartmouth, Dan's dream school, will love him, but Dan isn't so sure. He reminds Rufus that he doesn't have a trust fund or anything and all he has is his intellect to get him in. Chuck and Nate attempt to sneak out to smoke a joint but Nate remembers a conversation he had that morning with his dad while they ran together. During it, Howard encourages Nate to work harder in order to get into Dartmouth. Nate tries to say that he's keeping his options open but Howard tells him that he and his mother, Anne, didn't work hard for him to not follow their plans for his future. Across the room, Blair is reminded that at the mixer, she is to announce the charity her community outreach committee will be honoring. Kati and Isabel wonder where Serena is but Blair couldn't care less. Instead, she flashes back to a conversation she had that morning with her housekeeper, Dorota, while having breakfast. She talks about how she'll go up to Dartmouth to visit Nate and how he'll come down to visit her at Yale, her dream school. She also mentions to Dorota that she hopes it doesn't make her feel too old to see her grow up and be off to college. Meanwhile, Serena arrives at school late. On her way in, she remembers how she told Lily that morning that she's still planning on going to Brown to get away from everyone on the UES. She runs into school just as the assembly is ending and runs into Dan and Blair, both of whom regard her coldly.
That afternoon during gym class, Blair attempts to downplay Serena during a game of field hockey. However, she gets herself carded several times after knocking her over and body slamming her several times. Serena eventually grows tired of Blair's tricks and tackles her to the ground. The two begin to roll around while Blair screams at Serena to get off of her. The coach tells them to break it up and Serena releases her. However, Blair starts yelling that her leg is injured and Serena is kicked off the field. Kati and Isabel help a limping Blair to the nurse's office. Meanwhile, Dan, Nate, and Chuck are interviewed for potential usher positions. Dan gives a very detailed answer; explaining that Dartmouth is his dream school and he's learned important values throughout his life that will make him a strong candidate for the school. Nate explains that while he thinks it would be an honor to attend Dartmouth, because of his father, it's not his first choice; and there has to be someone who wants the position more. Chuck merely says that since he is who he is, he deserves it. After school, Headmaster Prescott posts the results. Dan checks it and learns that the Dartmouth usher position was given to Nate, who comes up behind him. He asks Dan if he got the one he wanted but Dan rudely replies that he did. He also adds that it's because of his family and their wealth, which Nate takes offense to. Dan then makes a crack about Nate being respectful to J.L. Hall, the Dartmouth rep, that Nate has never heard of. Dan tells him to pick up his book, The Petting Zoo, before meeting him. He goes outside and runs right into Serena, who notices he's not in a good mood. Dan explains that he lost the usher position he wanted to Nate. She says she's sorry and he scoffs that that's life when you're not a legacy.
At the Waldorf's, Kati and Isabel ice Blair's injured leg. When Chuck calls her, she asks the girls to get some heat for her leg so she can talk privately. Once they're gone, she tells Chuck that she needs answers on the real reason Serena came back to town and he agrees to help her figure out what it is. At the loft, Dan comes home to find Rufus excited about his Bolognese sauce. However, he silently goes into his room and slams the door. Rufus follows and asks if he got the position. Dan says no, that he lost it to Nate. He apologizes to Rufus for not being good enough to make up for the sacrifices he's made but Rufus says that's not it. Dan asks to be alone and Rufus leaves the room. Jenny admits to him that Humphrey's aren't royalty uptown, which she isn't okay with, but is used to. Elsewhere, Chuck follows Serena in his limo. He spots her entering The Ostroff Center and snaps some photos of her as proof. He also calls Blair, who is hanging with Nate at her penthouse, and tells her that she won't believe where he found Serena. Later, he brings her the photos and she uploads them onto her computer. She wonders what she's doing there and Chuck explains that it's a rehab center for the disturbed or addicted. He asks what her plans are now, and she replies that it's time for total social destruction. At Ostroff, Serena, Eric, and Lily sit down with a counselor to discuss Eric's next steps. Serena advocates for Eric's release and his being able to return to his old life. However, Lily thinks he should stay there for awhile longer. The counselor asks Eric what he thinks and he initially says that he wants to leave, but changes his answer to not when he sees Lily's face. Serena suggests that he accompany her to the Ivy League mixer so he can get out for a night with familiar people in a familiar place. The counselor agrees that this is a good idea and Eric accepts her offer to go. Lily isn't pleased with the idea and leaves to go set up for the event, as she's chair of the Parent Committee. At Constance/St. Jude's, Rufus tries to get Dan an usher position but fails. The woman he talks to directs him to the Parent Committee chair, which is Lily. He asks for a moment with her, which she initially doesn't grant. At the loft, Rufus comes home and tells Dan that he got Dan a job as head of the refreshment committee. He also adds that he is head of the entertainment committee. Jenny offers to go to be a roadie and Rufus explains that he worked hard to get Dan in the program.
At the mixer, Lily tells Eric to tell her if he starts to feel anxious or panicky. He tells her he will and they all enter together. Inside, Rufus plays guitar while everyone mingles. Serena spots Blair talking to the Yale rep and attempts to sabotage her conversation. She offers to escort him to get a drink refill and leads him away from Yale. Blair asks Chuck why Serena is with the Yale rep when he's supposed to be the usher, but he says he switched. He then introduces Blair to her special guest, Dr. Donald Ostroff. Elsewhere, Nate tries to make conversation with J.L. Hall but the conversation turns awkward fast. Meanwhile, Lily is greeted by Bart. He also says hello to Eric, and asks how Florida was. He excuses himself to go inside the school and runs into Jenny. He also runs into Howard, and lies again how great Florida was. Eric admits to Jenny that it's a long story and she replies that she has time. At the refreshment table, Serena fills Dan in on how she's trying to undermine Blair. Nate also comes to the table and promptly ignores her. Serena goes back outside and Dan asks how J.L. Hall is. Nate admits that they have nothing in common and Dan suggests he talk about Dr. Seuss or how his prose style was influenced by early Faulkner. Nate listens, then tells Dan to bring the drinks over while he gets some fresh air. Dan accepts and Nate tries to leave but is stopped by Howard. He orders him to go back and finish what he started but Nate finally says that he doesn't want to go to Dartmouth. Elsewhere, Eric tells Jenny that he attempted suicide because he was so lonely after he and Lily moved into The Palace. He also says that he's at Ostroff because Lily thinks they have the best counselors, but he knows he's really there because the doctors are paid to keep their mouths shut. Jenny promises not to say anything and offers to help him think up believable lies about his supposed time in Florida.
Outside, Blair announces that the charity her committee has chosen to honor is The Ostroff Center; since one student in particular is being treated there. She reveals that it's Serena and invites her to come up onstage. Lily tells her not to go but Serena goes up anyway. She confesses that she is in treatment and Dan asks Jenny if it's true. She answers that it isn't because Eric is the one in treatment. She begins a speech on how you should seek forgiveness from those who you have wronged by Blair hushes her quickly. She goes to leave but is followed by Lily, who says that despite the rough patch with Eric; they are still a family. Serena tearfully replies that that's why she did what she did and asks to be excused to end the fight with Blair. Outside, she confronts Blair and asks if they're even now. Blair says no, because nothing she does will ever be worse than what Serena did to her. Serena pleads to end the fight anyway but Blair refuses and walks away. She leaves, and Dan follows her. He tells her that what she did for Eric was very cool and wants to know if she's okay. He promises not to ever say anything about it and offers to be there if she needs anyone to talk or not talk to. She thanks him and he also apologizes for anything bad he ever said about her because he doesn't know anything about her life. She asks him to call her, saying she would like to take him up on his offer sometime. Inside, Lily tells Eric that they should leave but he asks to do one thing before they go. She allows him and he goes up to Blair. He reveals the scar on his arm from his suicide attempt. Shocked, she says that she had no idea and he tells her that that must be a new thing for her. Once he's walked away, Chuck asks what that was about. She says nothing.
The next day, Rufus proudly looks at Dan's signed copy of The Petting Zoo. Dan admits to Rufus that it wouldn't have been possible with him and Rufus smiles. He says that nothing will ever get in the way of him making sure Dan gets everything he deserves in life, then suggests that he and Jenny also apply to Dartmouth so they can all go. Realizing he's joking, Dan says that that's not remotely funny. At The Palace, Nate gets a call from his dad; wanting to meet to go running. He gets dressed and heads over. When he arrives, he finds Howard waiting with J.L. Hall, who is also a runner. He lies that Nate had food poisoning the night before, which is why he left, and then brags about Nate's sport accomplishments as they begin to jog. At Ostroff, Jenny comes to visit Eric. She asks if Lily will be mad and Eric explains that she gets a massage on Saturday mornings and is probably getting an extra long one after the night before. Jenny notices a bouquet of flowers and Eric says that the Brown rep sent them for Serena because his cousin did time at the center. At Central Park, Blair finds Serena reading by herself. She brings her a letter that she wrote while she was still away but never sent. She reads it aloud and begins to tear up. Afterwards, she tells Serena that she's hurt because she knew she was aware of how her life was falling apart but didn't even call. Serena says that she didn't know how to be her friend after what she did and apologizes. Blair admits Eric told her what happened and that she knows their family is going through a hard time too.
- Blake Lively as Serena van der Woodsen
- Leighton Meester as Blair Waldorf
- Penn Badgley as Dan Humphrey
- Chace Crawford as Nate Archibald
- Ed Westwick as Chuck Bass
- Taylor Momsen as Jenny Humphrey
- Kelly Rutherford as Lily van der Woodsen
- Matthew Settle as Rufus Humphrey
- Connor Paolo as Eric van der Woodsen
- Zuzanna Szadkowski as Dorota Kishlovsky
- Nan Zhang as Kati Farkas
- Robert John Burke as Bart Bass
- Sam Robards as Howard 'The Captain' Archibald
- Nicole Fiscella as Isabel Coates
- Reed Birney as Headmaster Prescott
- Darren Pettie as Jed 'J.L.' Hall
- Glamorous by Constance Billard Choir
- Brandenburg Concerto No.4 in G Minor - BMV 1049: I. Allegro by Johann Sebastian Bach
- I Got It From My Mama by Will.I.Am
- Can't Be Happening by The Marlows
- Raise Your Hand by The Lights
- I Feel It All by Feist
- Dusk Till Dawn by Ladyhawke
0Serena (to Lily): Do you have one maternal bone in your entire body?
Blair (to Serena): Too bad you missed the assembly. Not that it matters. Brown doesn't offer degrees in slut.
Chuck (to Headmaster Prescott): Why should I be chosen to be an usher? I'm... Chuck Bass.
Blair: No one likes to be on the ground floor of a scandal like Chuck Bass.
Chuck: I am a bitch when I wanna be.
Jenny: We're Humphreys, Dad. Not exactly royalty uptown.
Rufus: You okay with that?
Jenny: No. But I'm used to it.
Chuck (on the photos of Serena at The Ostroff Center): Admit it. Even for me, this is good.
Blair: If you weren't such a perv, I'm sure the CIA would hire you in a second.
Chuck: Defending my country. Now there's a future I never imagined.
Blair: With good reason. What is she doing there?
Chuck: What is anyone doing there? It's a facility for the disturbed or addicted.
Blair: You must have your own wing.
Chuck: You don't get nearly enough credit for your wit.
Blair (on learning about Eric's suicide attempt): Eric, I didn't-
Eric: See that coming, yeah? Well, must be a shock for someone who thinks she knows everything.
Blair (reading her letter): Dear Serena: My world is falling apart and you're the only one who would understand. My father left my father for a 31 year old model. A male model. I feel like screaming because I don't have anyone to talk to. You're gone, my dad's gone, Nate's acting weird... Where are you? Why don't you call? Why did you leave without saying goodbye? You're supposed to be my best friend. I miss you so much. Love, Blair.
- The episode title is based off the movie Poison Ivy.
- The listed usher for Harvard is a student named Steven Spencer; one letter short of the name Steven Spence, Serena's eventual boyfriend.
- This is the first time the song I Got It From My Mama by Will.I.Am is used. The second time being in Crazy Cupid Love at a party thrown by Nate.
- This is the only episode where the Headmistress of Constance is not Headmistress Queller.