The best “Gossip Girl” episodes pack enough dramatic punch and over-the-top villainy to make your head explode. "Gossip Girl" veers dangerously close to self-parody at times, though it maintains enough wit to keep itself just this side of pure absurdity.

The Pilot has to be one of the best “Gossip Girl” episodes for no other reason than that it introduces us to the principle characters, themes, settings and general mood of depravity, duplicity and carnality that pervades the show. We come to learn about Gossip Girl herself, and are thrown into the thick of all the drama surrounding Serena Van Der Woodsen’s disappearance and reemergence.

“Much ‘I Do’ About Nothing,” the final episode of season one of "Gossip Girl," is a doozy. Dan Humphrey’s got his whole weird romance with Georgina, who Blair Waldorf and Chuck Bass are attempting to take down as a favor to their friend Serena. Meanwhile, Lily Van Der Woodsen is due to marry Bart Bass, but Lily’s feelings for old flame Rufus Humphrey lead to great consternation. As you can see, it’s all a bit confusing, but it makes sense in the end.

"O Brother, Where Bart Thou?" comes smack dab in the middle of “Gossip Girl” season two and drops bombs all over the place. The first, and biggest explosion of the episode is Bart Bass’ death. This is followed by Serena’s decision to leave for Argentina with Aaron, her art school beau, and Eleanor Waldorf’s surprise marriage to her new love interest, Cyrus. Inconceivable! And finally, Rufus discovers a dark secret Lily has kept hidden for quite some time. It's pure "Gossip Girl" lunacy from start to finish.

"The Debarted" covers the tempestuous events of the first anniversary of Bart’s death and is undoubtedly one of the best "Gossip Girl" episodes. Set in the middle of season three, this top-caliber “Gossip Girl” episode involves Kennedy-esque affairs and tragedies, car crashes, wolves, the deterioration of Lily and Rufus’ relationship, threats of high profile divorce proceedings, and punches thrown by boys in all directions. It’s drama, drama, drama in the best way possible.

"Last Tango, Then Paris" winds season three of "Gossip Girl" to a close, and oh boy, is it some serious shenanigans. Serena’s dad, William Van Der Woodsen, is finally exposed to be a major creep, while Rufus finally loses all sense of who Jenny is and sends her packing to a boarding school. Chuck takes Jenny’s virginity just before she leaves, which causes Dan to bring the hulk fist down on his face and Blair to leave him for good. As a result, Chuck flees to Prague, where he is shot and left to die in the streets.  

-William Gish