Gossip Girl Recap: Bathhouse Rock

Ah, teacher-student romances — what would teen dramas be without them?

The original Gossip Girl had one in Season 2 (Dan + Ms. Carr 4ever!), and now the reboot is following suit even sooner with Max and St. Jude’s far-too-hot “classics” teacher Rafa Caparros. But like most aspects of HBO Max’s reboot, the circumstances surrounding their forbidden flirtation are a little different this time around.

First of all, no one is beating around the bush here, literally or figuratively. Max and Rafa’s banter is direct. “I’m bored, I’m of age and I’ve already had most of Dumbo Hall,” Max tells his teacher after following him into the bathroom for a thorough urinal-side inspection. “We’re off campus. Want to take part in an away game or two?”

Rafa appears to consider the invitation for a moment before replying with a line he’s probably recited before: “I don’t f–k my students.” Undeterred, Max responds, “Cool, I’ll top then,” which Rafa apparently doesn’t appreciate. No sense of humor, this one. “For your safety, security and continued enrollment in St. Jude’s, I’m going to pretend this conversation didn’t happen,” he says on his way out of the bathroom.

Max is ready to throw in the proverbial towel, until he overhears some guys talking about Rafa. “That man is the f–k of New York,” one says, wistfully recalling their night together. “I couldn’t walk for a week… and I didn’t want to!” (OK, calm down, Samantha.)

After some light Instagram stalking, Max graduates to actual stalking, recruiting Aki (naturally) to join him at Rafa’s favorite cruising spot. The plan doesn’t sit well with Aki, but as Max explains, “A man only selfies his bi-weekly bathhouse visit if he wants to be found.” (Readers, take note.) Max then asks if he has Aki’s consent for “whatever,” at which point Aki finally realizes that Max wants to use him to make Rafa jealous. At one point, you can literally hear the wheels turning in Aki’s sweet, simple mind. Bless his soul. And because Aki is such a good friend — and definitely not because he’s looking for an excuse to explore his sexuality — he initiates a kiss with Max while Rafa watches from the safe distance of the nearest sauna (aka Hand Stuff HQ).

Unfortunately, Professor Peeper is not amused by this trickery. “Did you follow me here?” he asks nakedly. “Are you trying to get me fired? You should be at school.” He then walks away in a naked huff, leaving Max and Aki to stand around in awkward, naked silence… until Aki sheepishly asks, “Should we follow him and do it again?”

That’s when things go fully off the rail, if they were ever on there to begin with. Following her mother’s public meltdown at a school fundraiser (more on that later), Audrey ditches Aki… and has sex with Max! This lust triangle has officially been upgraded to a lust square, and if any more people decide to join the madness, we’re going to need to build a murder board just to keep track of who everybody is boning and/or would like to bone.

Also worth discussing from Episode 2…

* Let’s start with Audrey’s mother’s aforementioned meltdown. On one hand, I feel like we’re spending too much time with too many parents this early in the show. Like, there are still several kids I don’t care about yet — can we focus on them first? On the other hand, I retract that complaint when the parents in question are played by the likes of Laura Benanti. Absolute perfection. I mean, I’m sorry for everything Audrey’s father has put her mom through, but we all got one hell of a performance out of it.

* Though she spends most of the episode plotting to expose Zoya for the (charitable, school supply donating) monster that she is, Julien eventually decides to end the short-lived war she’s been waging against her sister, even giving her permission to pursue a relationship with Obie. Heck, she even gets Gossip Girl verified on Instagram (the ultimate gift!) in exchange for GG not publishing a damaging video of Zoya from her old school. Is she… nice? I’m confused.

* For those of you who also watch HBO Max’s Generation, am I alone in feeling like I’m seeing Chester and Sam’s story play out all over again with Max and Rafa? (Full disclosure: I only watched the first half of Generation, so… no spoilers!)

* And what the heck did Rafa whisper in Max’s ear about their post-graduation chances?! These are the unanswered questions that keep me up at night.

Your thoughts on this week’s Gossip Girl? How should this Max-Audrey-Aki situation resolve itself? Drop a comment with your review of Episode 2 below.

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