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'Gossip Girl' Boss Talks Blair's Soul-Searching, Serena's New Status and Finale Clues (Q&A)

Executive producer Josh Safran tells THR of the season 5 closer: “It is like somebody pushes a button and detonates a huge nuclear bomb on the Upper East Side.”

Blake Lively Josh Safran Inset - P 2012
The CW; Getty Images
"Gossip Girl"

It’s back to business on Gossip Girl.

After Blair (Leighton Meester) made the bold choice to move forward with a real romance with former “Lonely Boy,” Dan Humphrey (Penn Badgley), the two find themselves dealing with unforeseen challenges in tonight’s return. And, it has nothing to do with Chuck (Ed Westwick).

“For us, it's more the fact that Dan has loved Blair for a long time and when you have those expectations for a very long time, they can cause problems because so much is riding on it,” executive producer Josh Safran told The Hollywood Reporter in previewing the rest of season 5.

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That’s not all that’s going on in the Upper East Side when the CW picks back up again – and shall we add Brooklyn to the mix? With Lily (Kelly Rutherford) and Rufus (Matthew Settle) banished from Manhattan thanks to fake Charlie/real Ivy (Kaylee DeFer), the unexpected move will cause friction for the married couple. And while Blair and Dan struggle to overcome their obstacles, Chuck finds himself knee-deep in a family reunion and Serena (Blake Lively) may have finally found her calling.

In a chat with THR, Safran revealed details about an unexpected adversary for Blair, Chuck’s family reunion, Dan’s follow-up to the controversial tell-all, Inside, and much more.

The Hollywood Reporter: Blair chose to explore a relationship with Dan in the last episode. Is there hope for Chuck and Blair fans?

Josh Safran: Chuck and Blair obviously continue to be important in each other’s lives and continue to share scenes with each other. That story will go a certain way and you’ll have to wait and see. They are by no means out of each other’s lives.

THR: Can you speak to how Chuck’s uncle, Jack (Desmond Harrington), comes back into the fold?

Safran: Chuck has come to believe that Jack has helped save his life [after the car accident that landed him in the hospital], brings him to town and while there, he discovers maybe not all is what it seems. It starts Chuck on a hunt to figure out his path and what exactly happened. It’s a really big story for Chuck.

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THR: Is that Chuck’s arc for the remaining episodes?

Safran: That is his arc for the remainder for the season. As he gets deeper and as it gets more and more layered and emotional, Chuck may reach out for support from the only person who can support him – or has supported him in the past – which would be Blair. Whether or not she helps him, you’ll have to wait and see.

THR: What are the chances that Bart Bass will appear?

Safran: There have been reports that [Robert John Burke] has been on-set. Bart, since he died, has been on the show as a ghost in flashbacks so [we’re] just following that extension as Chuck is in a family story.

THR: We know it was intentional to have Serena’s life fall apart this season. Will her friendship with Blair be back to levels seen in previous seasons?

Safran: Their friendship definitely comes to a turning point because this season, like you said, Serena has lost a lot and that has been what’s happening. She’s had these things that she’s cared about stripped from her, whether they’ve been her job or Blair or Dan and I think now that the [Gossip Girl] laptop has landed in her lap, the question will be will she use it for good or will she use it for bad? Is it Frodo and the ring in order to take her power back and that is very much her arc in these last episodes.

THR: Has she found her calling assuming Gossip Girl identity?

Safran: She may think she has. That is all I will say.

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THR: If and when Dan’s second book, Monarch of Manhattan, gets published, will it cause similar problems to his first tell-all novel, Inside?

Safran: His next book is meant to be fictional, alternative history. Whether that ends up ultimately being the book that he writes will be revealed in the finale.

THR: There has been a lot focus lately on Blair’s romantic entanglements. Will there be a concerted effort to move back to her career aspirations?

Safran: Absolutely. The whole plot with the prince was about how ever since Blair was a child, her dream was, “I want to be a princess, I want to be a queen.” That was her goal; that was what she was always striving for. Then she got it and when she had it, she realized it was so not what she wanted at all. Now that you’ve had a lifelong dream and now that that dream is over, you have to dream a new dream. What will that new dream be? Who do you want to be? Who is Blair Cornelia Waldorf, now that the one thing she has always hoped for, it isn’t what she wants. In the last batch of episodes, it very much drives her. We have a great vintage Blair story and a very funny adversary – and it’s one of my favorite stories we’ve ever done. I think the audience will like it. It’s very much in the vein of Blair getting her groove back.

THR: You mentioned an adversary. Can you offer hints as to who it is?

Safran: It’s not a person. [Laughs] It’s not a person it’s a thing. It’s a really, really funny story. I’ll tell you: It’s in episode 21.

THR: What kind of obstacles and hardships will Rufus and Lily be forced to overcome now that they’re not living in Manhattan?

Safran: It is definitely not easygoing for Lily. She’s never loved Brooklyn and she does not love Brooklyn now. It’s definitely going to put a wedge in her relationship with Rufus because he is going to discover how much he has missed Brooklyn. He was written as a trophy husband in Dan’s book and now here he is finally back on his turf not in the Upper East Side as a trophy husband, realizing how much he misses it.

THR: Is it safe to say that that will fuel their story in the remaining episodes heading toward the season finale?

Safran: That definitely only continues to create problems. It’s the tip of the iceberg.

THR: Will Chuck and Blair find out that Tripp endangered their lives in “Riding in Town Cars With Boys”?

Safran: It’s one of those things where in our minds we believed that they do know. It was off-screen. So many months passed in that hiatus that we figured that Nate and Serena told them and Tripp has been taken care of. I realize that we should have shined a light on it but we had so much going on with Blair and Chuck in that episode back.

THR: Chuck has been drowning in his sorrows lately. Will there be a light at the end of the tunnel for him or is more scotch in his future?

Safran: I won’t comment on that, but I will say that he’s definitely going to have a lot more to drink over in the upcoming episodes. [Laughs] Whether he does or not, I’m not going to say, but he’s definitely – there are definitely some major shocks coming.

THR: Is the Chuck-Dan friendship going to resurface at any point in the near future, perhaps in the sixth season?

Safran: Of course, the way we had had seen this season it was important to us that it was about these two brothers in love with the same girl, that was the way we looked at it. There has to be a winner at some point and what that does to the nature of their friendship obviously. That is a continuing story and their feelings for each other will absolutely continue into the next season. That is a longer story line, one that will be resolved this year, their friendship with each other.

THR: Will the identity of the real mastermind behind Gossip Girl ever be revealed?

Safran: We are not telling that story to not end it properly.

THR: The end of this season?

Safran: It might be. It could be. That is an ongoing story. Our goal wasn’t to be like, “It’s Georgina! It’s Serena!” There is a real person behind that personage who may not be very happy that their laptop and their server has been taken over.

THR: Diana (Elizabeth Hurley) will be back to stir up more trouble. How does she factor in with Nate (Chace Crawford)?

Safran: Every story will actually dovetail together so while Serena might be dealing with this laptop, we know from the beginning of the season that Diana’s goal was to eliminate Gossip Girl. So while Diana is dealing with Nate and Lola, she also has her eye on finishing what she came to start in the beginning of the year.

THR: What will the season finale entail?

Safran: It is like somebody pushes a button and detonates a huge nuclear bomb on the Upper East Side and nothing will ever be the same from that point forward.

Gossip Girl returns Mondays at 8 p.m. on the CW.