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The Ending Of Gossip Girl Season 1, Part 1 Reboot Explained

The HBO Max "Gossip Girl" reboot has hit its midseason finale, which means we have a few months to process the events of the first five episodes before the show returns for Season 1, Part 2 later this year (via Deadline). For now, we have a new cast of characters established and numerous plotlines in motion, each of which could upend the group of teenage friends at the center of the show or the parents and teachers around them. While the end of Part 1 is relatively cliffhanger-free, what it achieves is cementing the characters and their dramas in place as it ostensibly ramps up to even more intense heights in Part 2. This is arguably the biggest takeaway from the Part 1 finale, although there is still a multitude of details from Episode 6, "Parentsite," to ponder.

As the first part of the "Gossip Girl" reboot came to a close, a few major plots emerged. Two arcs involved a handful of key characters — Julien (Jordan Alexander), Zoya (Whitney Peak), Obie (Eli Brown), Max (Thomas Doherty), Aki (Evan Mock), Audrey (Emily Alyn Lind) — while another focused on their parents. Throughout each of these arcs, the perennial "Gossip Girl" concerns around the various intersections between money, class, power, love, family, and friendships emerged. Each of the aforementioned characters now finds themselves steeped in potentially life-altering issues which touch on one or more of these themes. As for the C-plot, we once again turned our focus to the teachers running Gossip Girl as they tried to establish a less problematic way to intervene in the lives of their students as they seem to do every episode; hopefully, Part 2 finds an answer to that problem.

Let's break down the ending of "Gossip Girl" Season 1, Part 1, shall we?

Julien and Zoya's sisterly bond is tested by a potential love triangle

Julien and Zoya went from sisters in secret to a secret sisterly alliance to full-on ride-or-die sisters over the course of the first five "Gossip Girl" reboot episodes. What began as long-lost half-sisters formulating a plan to spend time together led to Julien and Zoya actually getting closer. There were bumps in the road, including Julien's cruel birthday surprise for Zoya, but the sisters reconciled and Julien became a shoulder to lean on through Zoya's relationship troubles with Obie. 

In the Part 1 finale, a fracture begins to appear in Julien and Zoya's relationship at the same time Zoya and Obie are on the outs. Julien finally admits to her dad (but really, to herself) that she still has feelings for Obie, but doesn't want to risk hurting Zoya. Zoya and Obie finally call it quits after a group dinner with Obie's mom exposes just how mismatched they are, freeing up Obie to kiss Julien at a protest outside a building his mother owns and leaving Zoya in the cold.

It's been clear from the start that this particular love triangle is meant to remind us about the one involving Blair, Serena, and Nate in the original "Gossip Girl." It's a tale as old as time — two close female friends torn apart by the conflicted rich guy they both have feelings for. What the "Gossip Girl" reboot seems interested in doing is exploring a different path for this particular triangle to play out, with this original couple getting back together and the newer love interest striking out on her own. If Zoya continues to fly solo, it could lead to someone new dating Zoya and opening up the group to even more drama. 

Speaking of love triangles, Aki, Audrey, and Max are...together?

Unofficial throuple alert? Another central arc in "Gossip Girl" Part 1 revolved around Aki, Audrey, and Max. More often than not, "Gossip Girl" left audiences wondering if Aki and Audrey would break up and one of them would get together with Max, or if the three lifelong friends would go poly based on their shared moments of intimacy. It was the juiciest version of "Will they or won't they?" served up on television this summer while also being one of the more frustrating arcs to follow because the drama seemed so contrived. By the end of Part 1, Aki and Audrey appear to have brushed past any of the relationship problems that plagued them in earlier episodes, bonding over their separate dalliances with Max and uniting through the trauma of Audrey's mother, Kiki (Laura Benanti), ending up in the hospital. The young couple took it a step further when Audrey's "thank-you" dinner for Aki and Max led to a threesome.

Thus far in the "Gossip Girl" reboot, the drama surrounding Audrey, Aki, and Max has felt the most reminiscent of drama we would have seen in the original "Gossip Girl" series. The love triangle feels like an inversion of the Blair-Serena-Nate love triangle from the original "Gossip Girl" Season 1, a rewriting of history that imagines a much cozier, happier ending for lifelong friends who find themselves with a case of the feels. It's unclear if Aki, Audrey, and Max will stick together as we roll into Part 2 later this year, but seeing this particular arc wrap up offered satisfaction in every sense of the word.

The parents of the Gossip Girl reboot come into focus in the Part 1 finale

Parents noticeably took up a solid chunk of the spotlight in the Part 1 finale. While the previous episodes did feature Julien and Zoya's respective dads, Davis (Luke Kirby) and Nick (Jonathan Fernandez), both characters spent a lot of the time sidelined as watchful, albeit quietly feuding, eyes over their progeny. The same goes for Max's dads (Todd Almond and Jonathan Benjamin Hickey), whose crumbling marriage was the B-plot of Episode 3, "Lies Wide Shut," before fading into the background as an occasional issue.

This changed dramatically in the Part 1 finale as the parents became more active participants in the show. Davis took an active interest in Julien's life as an influencer and grew closer with her in the process. Nick attempted to start a romance with Kate Keller (Tavi Gevinson) in an effort to get his own personal life on rails in his new home. Kiki and Audrey reconciled following Kiki's depressive episode and sudden health scare. We also finally met Obie's mother, aloof real estate mogul Helena, and Aki's parents, a Rupert and Wendi Murdoch-esque couple played by Malcolm McDowell and Hettienne Park.

Over the seasons, the original "Gossip Girl" gave more and more time to the parents as well as the teenagers. This allowed for new dramas to percolate and stakes to feel even higher as privilege and power mixed with family dynamics. It seems the "Gossip Girl" reboot is interested in bringing this element back into focus. (Heck, even the episode title, "Parentsite," is a play on the movie title "Parasite," another nod to the troubled dynamics of the wealthy.) The parents seem to poised to find themselves steeped in entanglements in Part 2, so keep an eye on them.

The biggest questions ahead of Season 1, Part 2 of the Gossip Girl reboot

The biggest obstacle Part 1 faced going into this reboot was the fact that it would have to strike the right balance between feeling like a logical continuation of the original "Gossip Girl" while also subverting expectations in an effort to keep us hooked. Part 1 of this first season achieved that primarily by revealing the identity of Gossip Girl in the premiere. It also helped matters that viewers were introduced to a bunch of new characters whose personal dramas are amplified by the rise of social media and whose privileged lives overlapped with the real issues of the present day. 

However, there is still plenty of room for the "Gossip Girl" reboot to grow and evolve past its predecessor, which is probably the biggest expectation heading into Part 2. Because we've essentially hit the midseason finale, Part 1 didn't contain a high number of cliffhangers on par with what we'd expect for a season finale. Then again, there are still a lot of questions that need answering and open loops that need closing in Part 2.

For the teenagers, we can expect screen time to be dedicated to the potential fallout of Julien and Obie's kiss. Will their rekindled romance make the Gossip Girl timeline? Speaking of Gossip Girl, Kate, Jordan, and Wendy are going to have to deal with fellow St. Jude's teacher Rafa (Jason Gotay), who now has access to the Gossip Girl Instagram account and who they now know had sex with a student. That's going to be tricky. There is also the odd message Aki's father left him, which teases a possible problem involving Obie's mom. Will this threaten Aki and Obie's friendship?

"Gossip Girl" Season 1, Part 2 arrives on HBO Max November 2021.