School Lies is the 12th episode of the first season and the 12th overall.
On the Upper East Side, it's easy to think that the world is exactly as it appears. Refined, elegant, imposing... but sometimes, all it takes is a little key to open the door to the wild side.
Serena, Blair, Nate, Chuck and the rest of their friends break into the school swimming pool for a night of fun, but when an accident occurs, the school threatens to expel the person responsible for the break-in. Not wanting to risk his future, Dan clashes with Serena on how to handle the aftermath. While working on a documentary project, Vanessa accidentally captures Blair and Chuck discussing their affair. Meanwhile, Lily tries to tell Rufus how she really feels about him.
At Constance, Serena, Blair, Nate, Chuck, and almost the entire junior class break into the school swimming pool and throw a party. In the water, Nate grabs Blair and tells her that he knows she's avoiding him but that she should remember the night they had after Cotillion. They kiss, which she breaks away from and swims the other way. She emerges from the water to ask Chuck when he's going to give up because she can't ignore Nate forever. He replies that only time will tell when he will stop holding their affair over her head and encourages her to be patient before walking away. He runs into Serena, and reminds her that Bart and Lily are coming home the next day; and might be engaged. Meanwhile at the loft, Vanessa films Dan for a documentary she's making to enter into a contest for grant money. As she films, he gets a call from Serena; who invites him to come to the pool party, and he and Vanessa decide to go. They arrive and Vanessa continues to film as they're greeted by Serena. Across the room, two guys get into a fight, which ends with one of them being shoved into a metal pole and falling unconscious into the water. Blood quickly fills the pool and Nate dives in to save him. He's able to bring the guy out of the water and they begin to administer CPR. Serena calls for an ambulance as everyone retrieves their things to leave quickly. In the rush, Chuck sees the key to the pool on the table and takes it.
The next day at school, Headmaster Prescott introduces the new Headmistress Queller before showing them that they found someone's cell phone that contained photos of the party. Queller says that she expects them all to write ten thousand word essays on how they got into the pool and why they were there doing drugs and drinking. She also explains that she will be conducting one on one interviews until they figure out who initiated it and once she does, the person will be expelled; and if they don't figure out who, they will all face expulsion. Afterwards, Blair, Serena, Nate, Chuck, Dan, Penelope, Kati, Hazel, and Is discuss that they will stay quiet so no one gets into trouble. They all agree despite Dan feeling like it's not a good decision because he can't be expelled. He vents to Serena about it, but she promises that since she got him into the situation, she will get him out of it. Afterwards, Blair is called for her interview. Queller reveals that she reviewed Blair's record, which is pristine. She asks who broke into the pool, but Blair claims that since her participation in the party was way out of character, she would have no idea who. In the courtyard, Chuck finds Nate writing a heartfelt letter to Blair. Chuck reminds him that Blair has been clear about not being into him since they returned from Monaco, but Nate tells him that they kissed at the party. He explains that he thinks she wants him to suffer a little bit but that it will be worth it. Outside the school, Rufus calls Dan to say he knows about the party. Rufus advises him to put himself first and tell Queller anything he might know to keep himself out of trouble. At the gallery, Lily arrives to see Rufus. She informs him that Bart proposed and she is going to say yes. She also adds that she didn't get his voicemail until she was on the plane but found it endearing; but that he's been too hot and cold with her to know what he really wants. He makes a comment on how her current plan will be filled with the comforts of a luxury lifestyle and she leaves, offended.
At the Waldorf's, Dan and Vanessa ride up to the penthouse; where Blair is throwing a homework party for them all to work on their essays. On the way, Vanessa shows Dan that she got Chuck holding the key to the pool on film. Blair notices Vanessa's camera and tells Serena that she is clearly using it to get closer to Dan. Serena explains that she really needs the grant money but Blair doesn't buy it. She walks away and sees Chuck playing with the key; which she grabs to hide, as it's evidence. Dan then comes over to Chuck and informs him that he knows he took the key and broke in. However, Chuck says that the only reason he ended up with the key was to keep them all, including Dan, from getting in trouble. Upstairs, Blair is putting the key in a drawer when Nate enters, barely noticing her close the drawer. He presents her with the letter, but she ignores it to go downstairs to see her guests. When she's gone, he opens the drawer and finds the key inside. Downstairs, Dan goes to leave and tells Serena that no one is taking the situation seriously because to them it's not. Vanessa wanders over but Dan sends her away for privacy. He asks Serena to consider asking her friends to tell what they know, and he figures out from her reaction that she knows who broke in. Meanwhile, Chuck orders Blair to stop leading Nate on because he knows they kissed. Blair tells him to just tell him already because she'll just convince him that he's lying. Chuck, knowing Vanessa is filming them, says he has proof and asks for the tape. Blair says that since it's her house, the tape belongs to her, but Vanessa decides not to give it to either of them. Chuck grabs her arm to get it, but Dan tells him to back off and they leave.
At The Palace, Rufus goes to see Lily. He asks why she really came to see him, and says he knows she wanted him to stop her from accepting Bart's proposal. They sit down and he admits he's still in love with her and is curious to see what would happen if they were really together. He advises her not to let her mother influence her again and to take control of her own life. At Constance, Nate tells Queller that he broke into the pool.As proof, he gives her they key but is stunned when she asks about a keychain. When she sees his confusion, she shows him a photo of the key on the night of the party attached to a lanyard. Realizing he's trying to protect someone, she asks who. Meanwhile, Blair tells Vanessa that she won't be able to use the footage because she won't sign a release. Vanessa says she doesn't want to distribute it, only use it to enter the film contest. Blair walks away and Chuck hands Vanessa a roll of cash containing $10,000. She initially refuses to take it but then accepts it, and gives him the tape. Elsewhere, Lily and Bart have lunch. He excuses himself to take a phone call and while he's gone, Lily looks around the restaurant before picking up her phone. She calls Rufus and tells him that she's ready to see what they could be. They make plans to meet that night to go away together to explore it. Back at Constance, Queller expels Nate in front of everyone for lying to her about breaking in to the pool. Afterwards, Serena tries to comfort Dan. He tells her to just give up whoever broke in and she admits that it was her. She explains that at the end of freshman year, she dated the swim team captain, who gave her a key that she never gave back. When she was hanging out with Blair, they got bored and decided to go to the pool; but then everyone invited everyone to come. Dan encourages her to tell Queller but Serena says that if she got expelled, no good school would take her because of her past. At that moment, an announcement comes over the intercom asking Dan to go to Queller's office after class. Elsewhere, Nate tells Blair that he took the fall to save her future, since he saw the key in her room. Blair explains that the key wasn't hers and she was hiding it for someone, but that she thinks what he did was romantic. He tells her he loves her but she just says that they can't happen at the moment. He asks why and she replies that she doesn't want to be with him.
Meanwhile, Serena arrives at The Palace to find Lily packing. She asks where she's going and Lily says she's going to the spa for the weekend. Her cell phone rings and Serena sees Rufus calling. Lily ignores it and Serena quickly figures that he's the reason she hasn't answered Bart's proposal. She pleads with Lily not to be with Rufus because her relationship with Dan is the most important thing in her life, then decides that she needs to go back to school to prove it. At the Waldorf's, Vanessa brings Blair the real tape. She tells her there are no copies and that the one she gave Chuck was blank. At Constance, Queller is meeting with Dan when Serena enters the office. She turns herself in and after reviewing Serena's record, Queller has no problem believing her. Serena explains that the person on her record isn't who she is anymore, as she's stayed out of trouble and never intended for anything bad to happen. Meanwhile, Blair goes to see Vanessa at work and informs her that she paid her rent for a year as a way to not be indebted to her. She also asks what Vanessa did with Chuck's money and Vanessa says she created a medical grant for teens with genital herpes in his name. Back at Constance, Serena excitedly tells Dan that she's gad Queller only gave her 25 hours of volunteer work and didn't expel her. Dan unenthusiastically follows her and she realizes he thinks she got off easy because of some sort of special treatment. She denies it but at that moment, a driver calls her name and tells her that Lily sent him to pick her up. Dan sarcastically remarks that she's right, special treatment doesn't exist, and she decides to walk home. That night, Lily, Bart, Serena, Chuck, and Eric meet in the VDW's suite where Bart announces that Lily accepted his proposal. She flashes back to meeting with Rufus that night and telling him that she hopes he understands that they can't be together. Afterwards, Serena and Eric notice how unhappy Lily looks about everything At the Waldorf's, Blair invites Nate over. She asks if he thinks that they can still make it work despite everything they've been through, and he says if she's ready to forgive him, nothing can tear them apart. She says she loves him too and they kiss. Back at The Palace, Bart reveals to Serena that he called Queller and was able to talk her down to the lighter sentence. He and Chuck laugh about how he also donated a library and Serena excuses herself for air. She goes to the loft, where she tells Dan that he may have been right about special treatment. They sit together and study.
- 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 (Credit only, as she does not appear in the episode)
- Kelly Rutherford as Lily van der Woodsen
- Matthew Settle as Rufus Humphrey
- Connor Paolo as Eric van der Woodsen
- Jessica Szohr as Vanessa Abrams
- Amanda Setton as Penelope Shafai
- Nan Zhang as Kati Farkas
- Dreama Walker as Hazel Williams
- Robert John Burke as Bart Bass
- Linda Emond as Headmistress Queller
- Nicole Fiscella as Isabel Coates
- Reed Birney as Headmaster Prescott
- Kyle Gilbert-Gregory as Andrew Collins
- Last Night (Oh Yeah) by Moby
- Someone Great by LCD Soundsystem
- Autumn Pink by Harry Warren
- Cross The River by La Rocca
- Piano Quartet No.1 in G Minor, K. 478: III. Rondo (Allegro Moderato) by Sir Georg Solti & Melos Quartet
- Four Romantic Pieces, Opus 75 by Antonin Dvorak
- Come Home by One Republic
- Breakfast in NYC by Openheimer
- Orange by The Filthy Youth
- Come Flash All Your Ladies by The Filthy Youth
Blair: Isn't there someone else you could torture?
Chuck: Probably. But I choose you.
Chuck (on Serena's swimsuit): Why don't we turn that one piece into a no piece?
Serena: Find a floaty to talk to, Chuck.
Dan: Look, Blair, I know you have your sights set on Yale but this Skull & Bones stuff is a bit much, don't you think?
Blair: Maybe. But it works. Every time.
Blair (to Headmistress Queller): I'm innocent. Well, except for a crime of passion. I did something stupid with someone and even worse than doing that stupid thing, I did the same stupid thing with someone else and pretended I had never done that stupid thing before. You look confused. Should I walk you through it?
Chuck: Regardless of who you're currently sleeping with, you and I come from different worlds. In my world, if I'm suspended or expelled, a wing is donated in the Bass name.
Dan: That sounds like quite a world.
Chuck: Well it's not perfect I'll admit, but the one thing it does offer in spades is security. My family can take care of me. What do the Humphrey's have to offer? Used MetroCards? Your dad's cassingle? And in case you were wondering, you narc, I only took the key from the party to hide it so we didn't all get blamed. Including you
Blair (on Nate): And who do you think he'll believe? You, who bangs anything in his field of vision or me, his pure and honest girlfriend of many years?
Chuck: Well, now he'll believe me.
Chuck: Because I have proof. (to Vanessa) Good eye, DocuGirl, I'll take the tape now.
Rufus: I'm still in love with you.
Lily: So what exactly are you offering, Rufus? Some retrospective of the way we were over a decade ago? Look, we're not 20 and on the road.
Rufus: Thank god we're not, because your mother made this decision for you back then. Remember?
Rufus: Look, I don't know exactly what it would even mean for us to be together. But can you look at me and tell me you're not the least bit curious? You're at the same crossroads you were years ago. Claim your life this time. Live it the way you want to live it.
Chuck (on the $10,000): To Blair, this money's a couple of Manolo's and a Chanel bag.
Serena: You can't. Please, Mom, not this one.
Lily: Look, I will not base my personal life on your preferences.
Serena: Dan is my boyfriend. And I know we're too young to talk about forever but right now, that's what it feels like.
Lily: I know it does, sweetie, but-
Serena: But what? Tell me Rufus is that important to you. Tell me that whatever the two of your have is the most important thing in your life. Because that's what Dan is to me, Mom. The most important.
Chuck: How glad are you to see our families merge, sis?
Serena: So glad that if you call me that again it'll be the last thing you ever say, Chuck.
Chuck: I love it. Our first brother-sister squabble. I hope you're going to make yourself available for other missed childhood memories. Bathing together, for example?
Bart (to Serena): So, your new stepbrother told me about your problem at school. Frankly, I wasn't surprised, given your propensity for recklessness and adventure.
- The episode title is based off the movie School Ties.
- This is the first appearance of Headmistress Queller, Penelope Shafai, and Hazel Williams.