The Return of the Ring is the 24th episode of the fifth season and 111th episode overall. It's also the season finale.
Good morning, Upper East Siders. How do you look today? You know, image is everything. But under those perfect clothes and perfect smiles, everyone has those not so perfect secrets. Lucky for me, nothing can stay hidden forever. Whether the truth's in the diary or the daily news, once the truth is out, it changes everything. Let the chips fall where they may, along with the husbands and boyfriends.
When Gossip Girl goes after Blair as she's never done before, Serena admits she may have unintentionally played an important role in Blair's latest nightmare. Meanwhile, Nate invites Lola to move in with him, and Lily makes a big decision about the future of her marriage. Finally, by episode's end, Blair will make a choice between the two men in her life... will it be Chuck or will it be Dan?
The episode begins with Serena receiving a call from David O'Russell, inviting her to work on another movie set, which she gratefully accepts. Blair returns home and completely ignores her. At The Empire, Nate tells Chuck he's asking Lola to move in with them, and Chuck is supportive of the idea. Bart also arrives in the suite. At the loft, Dan asks Rufus if he's heard from Lily yet, after seeing him read a newspaper with a story about Bart's return. He says he hasn't and calls her. She ignores the call, pours alcohol in her tea cup, and begins to read a story on Bart's return. At the Waldorf's, Blair tells Serena that it's bad enough she read her diary but that she was planning to excuse them is even worse. Serena promises she wasn't going to expose anything, she just wanted to know that she could because she was mad about her and Dan. Blair says she stole Dan's phone but she's just postponing him eventually seeing them. Another post comes in, this time about Eleanor:
Another day of wedding planning where my mother needs to make me looks small so she can be the star.
She tells Serena that she better find a way to fix things before she loses everyone, and Serena says she's on it. Blair calls Dorota in, opens her chest of diaries, and says they need to find every mean thing she ever said about anyone so they can be prepared for damage control, and also tells her to call the minions. Elsewhere outside, Lola excitedly tells Nate that she was offered a part of a swing in Wicked, and it solves her summer housing problem due to Carol being in jail since it's a tour. She promises to come over and talk to Nate about his news after her fitting. At the Waldorf's, Blair goes to find Eleanor to apologize in advance if any of her business is disturbed by the publication of her diary. She hands Eleanor a paragraph to read:
My mother considers herself an arbiter of Parisian style but the only French she is intimate with are fries.
Eleanor says that the business she's in town for won't be affected, but she needs to talk to Blair about it. Blair says they can after she gets her own business in order and goes to meet her minions. They're hesitant to help after reading what Blair thought about them, but eventually agree to help. Upstairs, Serena gets a call from Dan. She assumes he's calling to yell about her providing the pages, but he is surprised Blair's diary is leaked, and that he was really calling to see if she's spoken to Lily since Bart's resurrection. She says she left her a few unreturned messages but that she needs to fix the Blair problem, and instructs him to stay of Gossip Girl. She finishes writing an email to Gossip Girl, which says she'll give her anything if she stops posting pages from Blair's diary. At the loft, Rufus' lawyer contacts him after Rufus asked what Bart's return means. He discovers that since Bart and Lily never divorced, they're technically still married so one of her marriages has to be annulled. He leaves to make sure his marriage to Lily isn't ruined. At the VDW's, Bart has come to see Lily. He explains that disappearing was the only way to keep her and Chuck safe, and Lily replies that if she had known, maybe they could have done things differently. Bart says he knows she was about to leave him for Rufus, and she apologizes, saying she should have had more respect for their marriage. Bart also says Chuck told him about the adoption, and thanks her for saving him. He continues that there is a part of him that wants to move back into the penthouse and repair their relationship. Lily responds that she has some wonderful memories, and Bart sadly says she would never choose him over Rufus. At the Waldorf's, Blair is directing her minions on who to apologize to and how to do it when another diary post comes in:
This new romance with Dan is fun, but is cultural stimulation enough? What if I never love anyone more than I love Chuck?
She dismisses the girls, but tells Penelope that her new task is to find every secret Serena has because she needs the biggest to destroy her with. At The Empire, Chuck is setting up the press conference that Bart will be speaking at when he sees the blast, and the diary post. Elsewhere outside, Dan also reads the blast. Later, Blair goes to see Dan and invites him to the Shepherds' divorce party. She realizes Dan has seen Gossip Girl and he says he knows she took his phone. She apologizes and says she wrote the thing about Chuck before they had sex, but Dan says that she wrote about her feelings, not sex. He reminds her that he told her he loved her and she acted like she didn't hear him. She brushes him off and he says she's doing it again. He tells her that she has to tell him how she really feels by nighttime, because he doesn't want her coming to Italy if she isn't committed. At The Empire, Lola arrives to talk with Nate and is happy to find William there too. He says he's there to sign Carol's half of CeCe's estate to her. Nate casually asks her to move in with him, and that she can't say she's not a part of the UES world because it's her world now too. She says she needs to talk to Carol before she makes any decisions. Upstairs in the lounge, Rufus delivers annulment papers to Bart, and lies that they're from Lily. Bart says that all the time he spent in hiding made him realize what's really important and that if Lily's happiness depends on his signature, she'll get it. At the Waldorf's, Serena confronts Blair about starting a fake rumor that she never read The Beautiful and Damned and got her fired. Blair says she isn't sorry when another page comes in:
I'll never love Chuck again after what he did tonight. He's a monster he deserves to be alone forever.
She asks Serena if she's happy now that she's as alone as she is, and Serena replies that she's only alone because of Blair. She then brings up how Blair is still in love with Chuck but won't admit it, which pushes Blair over the edge. She tells Serena to pack her things and leave her key with Dorota. Meanwhile, Lola goes to see Carol at the jail. Carol tells Lola that Abrams & Weil read about her in The New York Social Diary and agreed to take her case pro bono. Lola is suspicious that they offered out of the blue, but she doesn't say anything. Carol encourages her to move in with Nate, and to not turn her back on the life she almost screwed up for her. She's then escorted out. After she's gone, Lola texts Lily asking if they can talk. Back at The Empire, Bart tells Chuck he's proud of all the accomplishments he has achieved. Chuck asks how things went with Lily, and Bart admits that he now regrets not treating her better. He asks if Chuck is back together with Blair, and Chuck admits he made some mistakes after Bart's "death". He explains that when he realized how bad he messed up and had the ring to propose, it was too late, and now he's not sure how she feels about him or Dan. Bart encourages him to try and win her back. At the VDW's, Lily assures Lola that she had nothing to do with Carol's lawyers since she won't speak to her, but if they need help paying she's glad to pitch in. Lola says they're working pro bono, and she has the money from CeCe's estate. Vanya then comes up and brings Lily a delivery from her attorney. She opens the envelope to find the annulment papers, already signed by Bart. She asks Lola to see herself out and goes upstairs. Lola picks up the envelope and notices Lily is represented by Abrams & Weil, the same firm who took Carol's case. At The Empire, Blair goes to see Chuck. She says she came to check on him and make sure he wasn't hurt by her diary. He says he isn't hurt because they've made amends, and maybe she came to tell him something else, like maybe she and Dan broke up. She assures him they haven't, and he replies that he needs to move on now that he spent a year waiting for her with no avail. Blair then gets a text from Dan saying if she cares about him at all, she'll meet him at the party to say how she feels. She tells Chuck she has to go and leaves. Outside the Waldorf's, Serena meets Penelope, who explains that Blair fired her. Serena informs her that neither she or the other minions are going to the divorce party, because they'll be making sure Blair isn't there either.
At the party, Serena gets a text from Penelope confirming their plan to keep Blair at the Waldorf's. She finds Dan, and he explains that Blair texted him that she'll be there. Serena tells him to stay off Gossip Girl but he checks anyway and sees Blair was spotted at The Empire. However, she assures him that Blair was probably just telling Chuck that it's over between them and is on her way there now. At The Empire, Chuck tells Bart that it's important the world knows he's back and the press conference will do it. Bart then reveals he has the Harry Winston engagement ring Chuck bought for Blair, and he got it when he was there getting a present for Lily. He again encourages him to make a grand gesture for her, but Chuck says he might just hold onto it. Lily arrives and asks for a moment alone with Bart. Kati then sneaks up and takes a photo of Chuck holding the ring. At the Waldorf's, Blair confesses to Eleanor that she's torn between Dan and Chuck. She weighs the pros for each, and Eleanor is supportive of both. She tells Blair that she is the most powerful woman she knows and therefore wants her to take over Waldorf Designs, as she wants to retire and trusts Blair with the position. Blair immediately accepts. Penelope enters and says since Blair's diary said she was pathetic for showing up everywhere alone, she thought maybe they could go to the divorce party together. However, she warns Blair that Serena is wearing the same color scheme so Blair excuses herself to the bathroom. Penelope sits down to wait for her. At the party, Dan and Serena are taking shots. He asks if he should call her, but Serena says that would ruin the romance of her showing up to be with him so he shouldn't. Dan then gets a Gossip Girl blast containing the photo of Chuck and the ring. Serena remarks that after being rejected she doesn't thinks Chuck would make the move unless he was sure of her answer. Dan replies that he wants to hear that from her, and then a cater waiter spills champagne on both of them. Serena says she knows somewhere they can dry off and leads Dan away. Back at the Waldorf's, Eleanor asks Penelope what she's still doing at the apartment. She answers that she's waiting for Blair but Eleanor explains that Blair went through Serena's room to avoid her. She quickly leaves and texts Serena that she lost Blair. Meanwhile, Dan and Serena are in the bar drying off. She takes her dress off, leaving only her slip, and Dan says Blair's not the type to choose Chuck and be quiet about it. Serena reminds him that he's not in love with the real Blair, he's in love with the Blair he created in Inside and Blair is only using Dan because she knows she loves him. She kisses Dan.
At The Empire, Lily says she thought Bart wanted to be honest moving forward, and he says he does. He asks if there was a problem with the annulment papers and she mentions that he didn't say anything about them earlier. He replies that that's because Rufus didn't bring them by until after and he assumed that she chose. Rufus then enters and demands to know how Bart lured her up there. He leaves to go down to the press conference, and Rufus says he wanted to give them a chance to work on things before Bart got involved. Lily angrily says that their problems predate Bart's return and it will be her choice who she stays with, and rips the papers up. Downstairs, Chuck introduces Bart to the press. At the party, Serena and Dan have sex. Elsewhere in a car, Blair is on the phone with Eleanor. She explains that she knows who she needs to be with and is on her way to tell him now. She enters The Empire in time to see Bart publicly cut Chuck out of Bass Industries. On the roof afterwards, Bart tells Chuck he thinks the conference went well. Chuck angrily asks what just happened, and Bart calmly answers he did what was best for the company. He mentions all Chuck's mistakes related to Blair, and finishes that he proved he hasn't grown up when he took the ring. Chuck says that Bart is the one who encouraged him but Bart replies that it was a test that he failed. He says that Bass Industries needs to be run by a man, not a boy, and maybe Chuck can start growing up now. At the party, Dan and Serena have finished and he hands her her phone. He notices her camera is on and that it recorded them, then sees that she had Penelope keep Blair away from the party. He yells that Serena manipulated them so he would cheat on Blair, but Serena argues that they both did it. He goes to leave when Serena gets a text from Kati that Blair is back with Chuck. She tries to make him look, but all he says is he doesn't know who she is anymore and leaves. At The Empire, Blair finds Chuck on the roof. She confesses that she's still in love with him and now they can finally be together. Chuck says that's what he wanted before he lost everything, but Blair says that Waldorf Designs can be their future. He says that Bart was right and she always bet against him. She asks again to be a part of his future but Chuck responds that he doesn't want to become Mr. Blair Waldorf, and he needs his own success.
A week later, Chuck tells Nate and Lola he's headed to meet Jack, who was also cut out of Bass Industries by Bart. Nate wishes him luck and he takes off. Lola asks if he's sure he doesn't want to come tour the northwest with her, but he says that while he would love to, he's worked too hard on The Spectator to leave now. She says she has to go finish donating CeCe's money and Nate asks where it's going. She mysteriously replies that she found a worthy cause. At the VDW's, Lily presents Rufus with annulment papers. He asks if she's sure, and she replies that what they have just isn't a marriage anymore. He leaves, and Bart emerges, saying they have a lot of making up to do but they'll do it together in The Hamptons. At the loft, Dan is deleting all of Blair's emails without reading them when Serena arrives. She says she deleted the video but what happened was a mutual using on both ends. Dan reasons that she did it to hurt Blair, and he did it because he was hurting. She confesses her love for him again, and adds that he wouldn't have done what he did if he didn't still have feelings for her too. Dan replies that now that Rufus and Lily are splitting up, he never has to see her again. She leaves and on her way out, she calls someone and asks if they can meet her. At a cafe, Lola meets with Ivy, saying the money was originally left for her and she's giving it back. It's revealed that their agreement is that Ivy will take down Lily in exchange for the money. Meanwhile, Blair and Eleanor arrive in Paris. Eleanor asks if she has regrets about leaving without speaking to Serena, but Blair says no, and that she's ready for her new venture. In Monte Carlo, Jack and Chuck are at a casino trying to win enough money by counting cards to buy themselves into the only game that can take down Bart. At The Empire, a envelope from Diana arrives for Nate. Enclosed is a note asking if this could be Gossip Girl, along with a flash drive loaded with a video of a person dressed entirely in black searching, and taking, the laptop back the night of the brothel. Elsewhere outside, Georgina gets into a car with Dan, ready to go to Italy with him. Dan says he needs her to help him write the book about the Upper East Side that he should have written all along: a scathing expose. On a train, Serena is leaving town when she meets with a guy sent by Damian Dalgaard. She buys coke from him, and doesn't hesitate when the guy, Zeke, tries to hook up with her. In Monte Carlo, Blair arrives at the casino to see Chuck. She tells him that she's come to fight for him, and that she's all in.
- 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
- Kaylee DeFer as Ivy Dickens
- Kelly Rutherford as Lily van der Woodsen
- Matthew Settle as Rufus Humphrey
- Margaret Colin as Eleanor Waldorf
- Desmond Harrington as Jack Bass
- Michelle Trachtenberg as Georgina Sparks
- Zuzanna Szadkowski as Dorota Kishlovsky
- Amanda Setton as Penelope Shafai
- Nan Zhang as Kati Farkas
- Aaron Schwartz as Vanya
- Robert John Burke as Bart Bass
- Ella Rae Peck as Lola Rhodes
- Sheila Kelley as Carol Rhodes
- Alice Callahan as Jessica Leitenberg
- Bombs by Golden State
- Give It Back by The Ting Tings
- Get Alone by Ted Brutes
- Hurricane by MS MR
- In Your Nature (David Lynch Remix) by Zola Jesus
- Space by Magic Wands
- Misery Train by Conduits
- We Are Young by Fun (feat. Janelle Monáe)
Serena (on Blair's diary): Like all those terrible things you said about me, that isn't how you really feel!
Blair: It is now.
Penelope: Why should we help you when you called us back of house?
Jessica: That was you. She said my hair is as thick as Jessica Simpson's.
Kati: That says head.
Blair: You should be grateful that your names are mentioned at all. That guy spent one week with Marilyn and he's still living off the royalties. Your grandchildren will brag that their ancestors were belittled by Blair Waldorf!
Bart (to Lily on Rufus): It would be foolish to think you would ever choose me over him.
Blair (on the Shepherds): I should have know that marriage was doomed when Serena banged my boyfriend at the reception.
Rufus (to Bart on Lily): She made her choice two years ago when she decided to leave you for me. Nothing's changed.
Serena: Oh come on Blair, you're the one who can't move on. You're still in love with Chuck and you still won't admit it.
Blair: Get out. I mean it. I want you gone for good. Pack your things.
Serena: You can't hold me responsible for everything bad in your life.
Blair: I can because you are. The best time I ever had was when you were gone six years ago.
Bart (to Chuck): No one does a big romantic gesture better than a Bass.
Chuck: I can't play this game anymore, Blair. I've spent the whole year waiting for you. I need to move forward with my life now.
Eleanor (to Blair): I can't believe how much more grown up you are at this age than I was. I suppose it's the divorce... and all the other mistakes you've made.
Serena: Don't you see, Dan, the Blair you're in love with isn't the real Blair, it's the one you created in your book.
Chuck: Blair has nothing to do with the way I've handled this business!
Bart: You didn't try and trade her for a hotel deed? You didn't let everything fall apart when you ran away from her all the way to Europe? You didn't just three months ago nearly bankrupt yourself trying to get her out of her marriage? I had hoped you would have outgrown such foolish behavior but you're still willing to throw everything away for a girl whose done nothing but toy with you.
Chuck (to Bart): I got you out of hiding. I took down your enemy. I BUILT THIS EMPIRE.
Blair (to Chuck): I love you. I'm in love with you. I have tried to kill, to run away from it, but I can't and I don't want to anymore.
Chuck: My father was right. I always put you first. But you bet against me every time. Now I have nothing.
Blair: You have me.
Chuck: It's not enough.
Lily (to Rufus): I can only have one marriage. And this just isn't one anymore.
Dan: Serena, there is no us. There's only you. And now that our parents are splitting up, I never have to see you again.
Blair (to Chuck): You fought for me all year. I've come to fight for you.
Dealer: Will you be joining the game?
Blair: You said I always bet against you but this time I'm all in.
- The episode title is based off the movie The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.
- The episode takes place on May 7, 2012.
- This is the fifth season finale to feature Serena, Blair, Dan, Chuck, Nate, Rufus, Lily and Georgina, the second to feature Eleanor and Ivy and the first to feature Lola.
- This is the second season finale not to feature Vanessa and Jenny, and the third not to feature Cyrus.
- The Shepherds', whose divorce party was featured, were the ones getting married when Serena slept with Nate before Pilot.