Yes, Then Zero is the 1st episode of the fifth season and the 88th episode overall. It is also the season premiere.
The thing about expectations is that most of the time, someone else sets them for you, yet you feel they've been there all along and you can't wait to live up to them. But just because you know what's expected of you, doesn't mean you still can't surprise everyone. Nothing stays hidden for long, and you often find what you least expect is right in front of you: waiting to change everything forever.. whether you want to or not.
Serena loves her new job in Hollywood, but makes a mistake trying to impress her boss. Chuck and Nate arrive in LA as their last stop of their Lost Summer trip: where Nate meets a sexy older woman. Blair and Louis return from Monaco and begin planning their royal wedding, but a familial conflict puts their relationship at risk. A magazine is planning to run an excerpt of Dan's book.. until an unlikely ally helps him.
The episode begins with a clip from The Beautiful and Damned, which is in production in Los Angeles. Afterwards, Serena arrives, working as an assistant on the set. Marshall, her supervisor, tells her to get back to work in the production office. She reminds him that he promised her she could observe a day of filming before the shoot ends and he replies that it doesn't end until next week before walking away. Serena then receives a piece of mail that contains Blair's Save The Date. Meanwhile in The Hamptons, Rufus surprises Dan at a baseball game. He explains that he came home from London, where he was with Jenny and Eric, early to spend some time with Dan. He also gives Dan an envelope, which also contains a Save The Date for Blairs wedding. Dan questions whether she's inviting Chuck.
Back in Los Angeles, Nate and Chuck are staying on a houseboat. When Nate receives the mail, he finds two Save The Date's, one for himself and Chuck, respectively. Chuck arrives back with two models, and inquires if there's anything in the mail for him. Nate lies and says no, hoping to spare Chuck's feelings. In Manhattan, Blair and Louis arrive back from Monaco. Blair tries to avoid wedding planning, but is convinced to participate when Louis gives her a jewelry gift. She mentions that she can wear it to his uncle's speech at the General Assembly, but is surprised when Louis informs her that only members of the royal family can be there. He apologizes, for the speech and for the difficulties that will come with planning the wedding. In LA, Serena visits Nate and Chuck on the houseboat. She asks how Chuck is doing, and is surprised to see him healthy and very happy. He explains that he's saying yes to everything and it's giving him a healthier and happier state of mind. He asks her if there's anything more she wants out of her job on the set. She admits that Jane, a producer she really admires, asked her opinion on a scene and she was excited to write something up and share but Marshall didn't think it was a good idea; so she made herself look like a flake to Jane to placate him. She decides to find Jane the next day to share her thoughts and invites Chuck and Nate to the set to make sure she actually does it.
In The Hamptons, Dan is confronted by his old mentor Jeremiah Harris. Jeremiah tells him he read an advance copy of a piece of literature in Vanity Fair that reminded him of Dan's work, only better. Dan asks who wrote it, and Jeremiah says it's anonymous but everyone is talking about it. He says he thought of Dan because the protagonist's name was Dylan Hunter: same initials as Dan Humphrey. Dan, realizing it's his book, quickly leaves. At the Waldorf penthouse, Blair sits down Louis, Sophie, and Eleanor. Sophie informs Blair that most things on her list of demands can not be met due to Monaco traditions. The last straw is when Blair learns she will be forced to wear Sophie's dress. Upset, she turns to Louis for help and reassurance but he sides with Sophie and tells Blair that she will love her dress. Dorota appears carrying a tray of Prosecco whilst at the same time, a Gossip Girl blasts arrives informing of a pregnancy test found outside the Waldorf building pointing at either a potential Serena or Blair pregnancy. Dorota is first to read the blast on Blair's phone but deletes it before anyone sees. Blair questions what Dorota was looking at and Dorota does not tell Blair what she has just read on Gossip Girl then, she offers Blair a glass of champagne but she refuses. In LA, Serena is offered alcohol as well by Chuck but also declines as she says she has been off alcohol since the start of summer as it is the LA style.
Afterwards, Blair calls Serena to vent about the wedding planning meeting. Serena tries to rationalize Louis' behavior and Blair voices her concerns over whether Louis will actually talk to Sophie about letting Blair have her way on some of the decisions. Nate and Chuck arrive on set, ending their phone call. Dorota asks Blair if she's seen GG recently, and she answers that she hasn't. Dorota tries to talk to Blair about something that will affect both their futures, but Blair leaves after receiving a text that Louis has spoken to Sophie and needs to look good for her first royal apology. On set in LA, Marshall tells Serena he didn't approve a set visit for her friends and asks who Chuck is in which Serena and Nate both say Chuck Bass. Chuck meets a stunt coordinator, and asks what the stunt is. She offers to show him how a stunt works and he agrees. Marshall agrees to tell David about her friends if she gets back to work. Serena goes off to talk to Jane and sets Nate up on an audition. In Brooklyn at the Humphrey loft, Dan confirms that Vanessa stole his story. He explains that they're only running it because it's maybe about a celebrity: future princess of Monaco Blair Waldorf. He realizes there's only one person who can help him fix the situation, and runs off to find them.
At the Waldorf penthouse, Blair is waiting for an apology from Louis, but is confused when Sophie's dress arrives. Louis admits that he didn't talk to Sophie because it's hard to say no to her and he doesn't want her to make things difficult down the line. Blair replies that she wants them to walk into their future together with no limits and if he can't stand up to Sophie, she isn't sure of her choice. Louis tells her to be ready at six, for she will be on his arm at the General Assembly despite not being a member of the royal family yet. In LA, Serena finds Jane and apologizes for not following through. Jane tells her that certain things don't go unnoticed, and offers her a little more responsibility on set. Marshall finds Serena after and is angry that Jane gave her his tasks to finish. He gives her a tablet with a list of his things to do, and she informs him that she'll have it done by the party later that night. He tells her he hopes he doesn't see her there and she leaves. Meanwhile, Chuck does the stunt he was shown, without permission. When the coordinator finds him and tells him he's going to be in a lot of trouble, she realizes he doesn't care. He asks her out and she agrees.
Serena and Nate quickly finish Marshall's list of tasks, including getting Patrick Roberts his medicinal weed. Nate reveals that after the past few years, he really just wants to reinvent himself. Serena offers the idea that he can do so at the party later that night, In Manhattan, Eleanor mentions how beautiful Blair looks on her way to the UN for Louis' uncle's speech. Blair tells her that she's testing Louis to see if he actually will stand up to his mother for her. Meanwhile, Dan finds Louis and asks for his help in killing a story, and that Blair is the one in the story and he won't be happy if it comes out. In LA, Chuck's date arrives at the boat to go with him to the party. He asks why she didn't go with her friend, as originally planned and she explains that she had to go with Patrick Roberts; who has to stay sober or the film will get shut down. Chuck is ready to go on his bike, but his date offers her truck since the road the party is on is dangerous to ride. Chuck agrees and goes inside to put his helmet away, but discovers the Save The Date that Nate didn't tell him about. Upset, he tells her he wants to ride anyway.
At the party, Serena returns Marshall's tablet to him and says she finished everything on the list. She asks where Patrick is, to give him his weed, and he tells her that he's outside by the pool. When she walks away, he deletes the weed task from the list. Outside, Serena reminds Nate that he can still reinvent himself. At that moment, some girls approach Nate asking him if he was "that guy from that movie", and he answers yes. They ask for his autograph, and he again answers yes. They also ask if it's his party and house, and he of course says yes. Another woman approaches and asks for a private tour, to which he quickly agrees. Serena finds Patrick and gives him the weed. Surprised, he asks if she's sure production and Mary Lou, is handler, said it was okay. Confused, she says yes and he goes off. Back in Manhattan, Blair is again disappointed when Louis doesn't show to escort her to the UN. He calls to apologize and says he won't make it to the gala after all because he was busy doing something else. Angry, Blair doesn't believe him and tells him to just admit he's inside with Sophie already and to spare her the lie. She hangs up on him and tells Dorota to get a cab for her.
In LA, Nate continues saying yes to everything asked during his private tour. When they arrive at a bedroom, the woman tells Nate that they should destroy it and he agrees. Outside, Serena is visiting with people when she sees an intense conversation between Mary Lou and Marshall. She goes over and learns that Patrick has to stay sober or the movie gets shut down, and everyone is lucky Marshall confiscated the weed from Patrick before anything happened. Mary Lou goes to ask Patrick where he got it from, and Serena realizes she was set up by Marshall. In Brooklyn, Blair arrives at the loft to hide out with Dan. She admits that she needs a friend and reveals she's about to call off her engagement due to Louis' inability to stand up to anyone. She says when she ends it, she'll need to get away and asks him to take her to CeCe's house in The Hamptons. But before they can leave, Louis comes to the loft.
Back in California, Chuck and his date are speeding up the road to the party. On the way up, she tells Chuck to take it easy and he replies that he isn't scared of anything. He speeds off and ends up crashing and landing hard. He easily gets up, unfazed. She runs over and asks if he's okay. When she sees he is, she tells him that he needs to get some help to deal with the darkness inside him and ends the date. At the party, Nate and his mysterious woman finish in the bedroom. She kicks Nate out and informs him that it's her house and party, and the bedroom they're in is the smallest guest one, not the master. Outside, Serena confronts Marshall about what he did. He explains that he didn't actually think she could come through and wanted her to have to tell Jane she couldn't finish in time. He continues that he has student loans, rent, and a car lease to think about and this is his career, while Serena is only in it for the summer. She decides to tell Mary Lou that she was the one who gave Marshall the weed but only because of a misunderstanding. She apologizes and tells Marshall to tell Jane she'll clean her desk out in the morning.
At the loft, Dan explains to Blair that Louis stood her up because he was helping Dan kill a story on her. Blair, upset, yells at Dan for almost letting her walk away from almost everything when he knew the truth. She demands to know why, but Dan says nothing. She leaves with Louis. The next day, Chuck, Nate, and Serena reflect on their need to grow up and mature. Serena leaves for work and Nate goes to get his phone from the party house. Meanwhile at the Waldorf penthouse, Blair is getting ready for her Vogue Paris shoot. Eleanor confronts her about a book on pregnancy she found in the pantry. Blair is speechless but the conversation is interrupted by Dorota, who announces she's pregnant with her second child.
At the party house in LA, Nate's mystery woman is on the phone with someone, explaining that she didn't expect to make contact with Nate until New York and since she has his phone, she'll probably see him again really soon. He arrives at that exact moment and she hangs up. He apologizes for pretending to be someone else and that he doesn't know who he is. She says she had fun with him and maybe they'll see each other in the future before sending him away. On set, Jane calls for Serena. She hands her a new list and says she heard about the events from Mary Lou, but still offers her a more permanent position after production wraps the next week. Serena replies that she would love to. At the Humphrey loft, Rufus comes over to spend time with Dan. He thanks him for letting him read the whole story that was killed, but is confused why it had to be because it shed a positive light on Blair. Dan asks if he made it to the end, and Rufus asks if what happened at the end really happened. Dan is coy, and says he hopes the book that story came from never comes out. He then finds mail from Barcelona, where Vanessa is now living, and he finds a check enclosed for ten thousand dollars along with a note congratulating him on his first novel.
In LA, Chuck and Nate are preparing to leave for Manhattan but Serena tells him she isn't leaving because Jane offered her a more permanent position. The three of them decide to pop open a bottle of champagne, and it explodes all over Chuck. While cleaning up, he takes his shirt off and finds a large purple injury on his chest and ribs but when he touches it, feels no pain at all. At the Vogue Paris shoot, Blair is in Sophie's dress and is handed peonies instead of carnations by Louis; who also tells Sophie that there will be other changes that need to be made. When putting the finishing touches on Blair, the stylist asks Blair if people know. Playing dumb, Blair asks if who knows what. The stylist asks how far along in her pregnancy she is, and guesses six weeks. Blair insists she isn't pregnant, but the stylist reminds her that she'll be showing by the wedding. In Los Angeles, Ivy is celebrating with her boyfriend their one month move to LA from Florida. They're working together at a cafe, trying to make ends meet. Right before starting her shift, Serena spots her and calls her Charlie. Both surprised to see each other, they leave together to catch up.
- 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 (Credit only, does not appear in the episode)
- Matthew Settle as Rufus Humphrey
- Margaret Colin as Eleanor Waldorf
- Zuzanna Szadkowski as Dorota Kishlovsky
- Hugo Becker as Louis Grimaldi
- Elizabeth Hurley as Diana Payne
- Michael Michele as Jane
- Ethan Peck as Marshall
- Jenny Lewis as Herself
- Jonathan Rice as Himself
- Houdini by Foster the People
- Shuffle a Dream by Little Dragon
- Bad Karma by Ida Maria
- Charleston by Paul Reeves
- Circles by The Exiles
- Kill Me by Make The Girl Dance
- The Freeworld by The Uglysuit
- My Pet Snakes by Jenny and Johnny
- Lemon Peel by Snowden
- The Future Will Destroy You by Viva Voce
Chuck (to Nate): If you hear anything crazy, that means I'm doing something right.
Eleanor: A civil service and a religious ceremony? Who has ever heard of such a thing? Our guests will be sitting longer than a Terrence Malick movie!
Serena: Usually when you smile like this you look like a creepy Cheshire Cat. What is your secret, and if it's legal, I want some.
Chuck: It's not a substance, it's a state of mind. One word.
Serena: Let me guess, a dirty word.
Serena: ...Yes it's a dirty word?
Chuck: The word is yes. I say it to anything. If the opportunity presents itself, I take it. There's nothing I won't try once. Even happiness.
Blair: Hand me downs are for charity or second children, not the bride on her wedding day!
Chuck: You must be Marshall.
Marshall: Who are you?
Nate and Serena: He's Chuck Bass.
Nate: Well, the zip codes might be different but douchebags are the same no matter where you go.
Nate (on his audition): Well, after I told them I wasn't an actor, they said "that's too bad, because you'd be perfect as a kid from an East Coast political family who's constantly manipulated while trying to keep everyone around him happy". They said that.
Eleanor: Testing a good man who loves you never ends well.
Chuck (on everyone benefiting from the yes state of mind): Serena, you accepted responsibility without hesitation for maybe the first time in your life. And Nate, you had more fun not being you than you've ever had actually being you. Which means you now know you need to change.
Chuck: People like me don't write books. We're written about.
- The episode title is based off the book Less Than Zero.
Sarah Burton: Rufus mentions the designer when explaining why he left London early.
Fed Ex: Rufus tells Dan that Chuck most likely got an invite if he's anywhere the postal service can reach.
Terrence Malick: Eleanor compares the director's movies to the length of Blair and Louis' wedding.
Cheshire Cat: Serena compares Chuck's smile to the fictional character.
Vanity Fair: The magazine that is publishing an excerpt of Dan's book.
Vogue Paris: The magazine wants photos of Blair in Sophie's wedding dress.
Grayson Carter: Dan says the editor of Vanity Fair read his piece and decided to run it.
Helmut Newton, Lisa Taylor, & Lauren Hutton: Artists mentioned at the party in LA.
Andy Cohen: Rufus mentions the TV personality when saying he should make a show about Lily's constant redecorating.
What to Expect When You're Expecting: Eleanor finds the book on pregnancy in the pantry and mistakingly assumes its Blair's.