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Post Mortems

Gossip Girl Returns: Get the Story Behind Monet's 'Satisfying,' Overdue Power Grab in Season 2 Premiere

Gossip Girl Season 2 Episode 1

Monet de Haan’s ascension to power has been one of Gossip Girl‘s more frustrating slow burns, but the fandom’s collective patience is finally rewarded in the show’s second season premiere, which ends with a fiery declaration of war.

In the first of two episodes now streaming on HBO Max, Julien’s decision to rethink her future as an influencer comes as a slap in the face to Monet, whose tireless efforts were largely responsible for the success of her personal brand.

Her attempt to humiliate Julien at the debutante ball is a colossal failure, one that ends with Camille telling Monet she’s embarrassed to know her (ouch!), but this minor setback only strengthens her resolve.

“I have been wasting my talents keeping you at the top when you never truly deserved it in the first place,” Monet tells Julien in the premiere’s final moments. “It’s time to lift up a queen who actually wants it — me.” Julien offers to surrender her throne without a fight, but it’s a hard pass. “I’m going to make you,” Monet says. “Here’s the thing about war, Julien. It only takes one side to start it. The other side only has to respond. So get ready, because I’m not stopping at taking your place. I’m taking you down to the studs, bit by bit. There will be no abdication, only execution.”

From the attack poodles to the literal fire in Monet’s eyes, this was a moment — one that actress Savannah Lee Smith has been anticipating right along with the fans.

Looking back at Monet’s time as the brains behind Julien’s brand, Smith tells TVLine, “I was kind of like, ‘Girl, she keeps messing this up. Why don’t you just do it yourself?’ I think all of us were expecting it to go there, and I was ultimately very happy that it did.” That rage we see in the premiere is “something Monet was harboring all throughout Season 1. Playing this character was a little bit of a tease, because I ultimately knew what was going to happen and I just wanted to get there. So it was really satisfying.”

Julien and Monet’s power struggle has been in the works since Day 1, according to showrunner Joshua Safran, who tells TVLine in no uncertain terms: “We always knew that she was going to do this.” Their conflict was originally going to more comical, “like a bee constantly buzzing,” but that all changed when Safran saw Smith’s audition. “I saw what she was bringing, and I thought, ‘This isn’t a bee. This is a victor.’ And where do you take it from there?”

So, tell us: Was Gossip Girl Season 2 worth the wait? Are you ready to swear your allegiance to Queen de Haan? Grade the premiere below, then drop a comment with your full review.