'Gossip Girl' Reboot Creator on Midseason Finale's Julien Voicemail Clue, Ending Season 1 With a 'Very Big' Question
Joshua Safran also tells TheWrap how Obie and Julien’s decision could affect Zoya — if she ever finds out
(Warning: This post contains spoilers for the Season 1, Part 1 finale of HBO Max’s “Gossip Girl.”)
The first half of Season 1 of HBO Max’s “Gossip Girl” reboot came to a close Thursday with a midseason finale featuring already-messy loose ends coming even more undone, as Julien (Jordan Alexander) and Obie (Eli Brown) hooked up at a protest just after Zoya (Whitney Peak) stormed off once she accused her sister of being in love with her (and Julien’s former) boyfriend; Aki (Evan Mock), Audrey (Emily Alyn Lynd) and Max (Thomas Doherty) began their long-awaited threesome; Kate (Tavi Gevinson) and the other teachers saw a now-deleted video sent to Gossip Girl that revealed Max and Rafa having sex; and Aki’s father left a cryptic voicemail telling him to steer clear of Julien — and gave no reason why.
“That voicemail is the clue to everything that happens the rest of the season,” reboot creator Joshua Safran told TheWrap. “It is not at all because Julien was there. You will know more at the end of the next episode, and then you’ll know even more in the episode after that. And then you will know the most moving forward.”
Safran says peak drama is coming in the second half of the season, which will debut in November, as he will end the first season of the “Gossip Girl” reboot — which has not yet been renewed for Season 2 — with the biggest question fans have faced yet.
“I will say that it ends on a version of a cliffhanger. It’s not really a cliffhanger. It ends on a question. Because who knows if there’s a Season 2, right? But I wanted to pose a very big question that, should there be a Season 2, would be answered. But also I think that this season, storylines have been, I don’t want to say slow burns, because the show moves quickly — but all the stories sort of come to a head. And whether or not they resolve, because they don’t all resolve, they definitely spin off into new territory. There’s also a huge event and it’s a really fun part.”
See TheWrap’s full Q&A with Safran about the Season 1 Part 1 finale below.
TheWrap: When can we expect the second half of the season to premiere in November and what can you tease about how you plan to end the season overall?
I’m not sure when we’ll be back yet [beyond November]. We’re shooting Episode 11 of 12 right now. And I just turned in the script for the finale last night. It’s been written for so long on my desk. It just took me like six months to finally polish it and turn it in last night. It’s so funny. I feel like the trajectory might be similar to Season 1 of the original, in that, we had 12 episodes before the the writers’ strike and then we came back with only five, and we should have come back with nine or 10. But we came back with five because of the strike. But I feel like I very subtly backed the original, having been there, and sort of followed some of that. I don’t know, I get to be cryptic. I will say that it ends on a version of a cliffhanger. It’s not really a cliffhanger. It ends on a question. Because who knows if there’s a Season 2, right? But I wanted to pose a very big question that, should there be a Season 2, would be answered. But also I think that this season, storylines have been, I don’t want to say slow burns, because the show moves quickly — but all the stories sort of come to a head. And whether or not they resolve, because they don’t all resolve, they definitely spin off into new territory. There’s also a huge event and it’s a really fun part.
The transition from Zoya and Obie’s relationship slowly breaking down in the finale and Obie and Julien and reuniting passionately at the end felt very organic and earned. How did you plan that out to break the new pairing up and bring the original couple back together at the end of Part 1?
Well, [Zoya and Obie] aren’t necessarily broken up. So I would just start with that. I don’t know if they are, I can’t say. But we knew from the beginning, from breaking the season, that that wasn’t the end of Julien and Obie’s connection. There’s been little moments throughout, like at Zoya’s birthday party, when Julien was drunk and said to Obie, basically, “You should have thought of that before breaking up with me.” Obie comes to Julien in Episode 5 to find out about Simon Rivera. And there’s been all these moments where, at the end of Episode 3, outside of Indochine, where he’s apologizing for how he behaved toward her and she apologized for how she behaved toward him. Like you said, it feels organic. They were together forever. You don’t just break up, it’s not easy. It’s not over so quickly. You still have, especially when you’re around each other all the time like they are, you still have this connection. And so we always wanted to explore that. And also, the audience never got to see them together, see their chemistry, see what drew them to each other in the first place. So I knew this was going to happen before I even wrote the pilot, is what I would say.
So with Zoya unaware of what’s happened, where does this leave the sisters?
She does not know, as of this moment. And maybe she’ll never find out. And I don’t know where it leaves the sisters. And it sucks because they just got to a place of respect and understanding and connection. And you’ll have to watch the second half to see. I will say that within six seconds, you will know what has happened.
Audrey, Aki and Max finally began their threeway — but does this make them an official thruple now or is it just a one-time occurence?
I cannot answer that. But I will say that they are in a thruple, meaning they are just, at this moment, exploring a connection together. What the storyline is, I can’t say. But when you have somebody like Max, nothing’s going to be easy. And they’re all going through a lot. Max has been going through his parents’ divorce, Audrey has been going through her mother’s depression and hospitalization, and Aki’s been going through the realization that his relationship with his father isn’t the one that he thought he had his whole life. So all three of those things we continue looking at, while also looking at the dynamic between the three of them.
What can you tell us about that voicemail that Aki’s father left him at the end of the episode, telling him to stay away from Julien for now? Was it because she was at the protest related to his company?
That voicemail is the clue to everything that happens the rest of the season. It is not at all because Julien was there. You will know more at the end of the next episode, and then you’ll know even more in the episode after that. And then you will know the most moving forward.
What about the teachers, who now have seen the video Max sent to Gossip Girl of him having sex with Rafa — but that has now been deleted, presumably by Rafa?
That is the fun story in the next episode. The teachers go through a lot. The first half of the season, they were figuring this out and making this work and seeing if they could make it work. And in the second half of the season, they’re going to suddenly encounter a lot of problems that they never could have foreseen. And their control is going to be tested.
“Gossip Girl” Season 1 will return in November on HBO Max.
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