Best episode in a while. I don't want to say that Gossip Girl is heating up just yet, but Gossip Girl is heating up.

It's the first day of school at Constance Billiard/St. Jude's, and (surprise surprise) nobody wants to go! Kids hate school. Lily is back from Taiwan or Fiji or wherever, but Bart is still in Asia "on business" (banging that Japanese chick from last episode). Here's how much Serena doesn't want to face Dan: She would rather stay home and listen to Lily tell sex stories than go to school. Maybe if Lily were having sex with Chuck, I would want to hear those stories. Maybe. (Chuck mentions something about Serena reclaiming her title as Official Queen of UES Girls Aged 14-17 Years, but nobody pays attention because Eric distracts them with rumors of a champagne-filled limousine.)

In the ghetto, Rufus and Dan act like idiots, and Dan proves that he and Serena had at least one thing in common by asking Rufus for graphic details of his night with 30-year-old Vanessa. Rufus is like, "Not in front of your sister," and Dan is like, "But what will I write in my novel, if not my father's sexual escapades?!" Jenny wants to stay home from school because she is worried that Blair will turn her skin into lampshades and her fat into soap, and Rufus is like, "That has never happened to anyone in the history of Europe. Go to school."

At school, Blair sorts through files and interviews girls to be, per Jenny, either "projects" or "victims." Projects, like Jenny last year, are nurtured and humiliated by Blair's posse with the hope of eventually becoming one of them. Victims are sent to the Waldorf Dress Designing Factory to sew buttons onto blouses – BUTTONS MADE OF OTHER VICTIMS!!!

Serena sees Dan and has to run away to lean dramatically against a wall and breathe heavily; Chuck places a folder atop Blair's file pile.

Nate confronts Vanessa about why she's been acting all wacky lately. She's basically like, "I'm a gypsy and none of this ever happened." Meanwhile, Dan lurks around the girls' hall hoping to make Serena feel bad, and Jenny thinks that Blair's friends have simply forgotten all about her, or are punishing her by ignoring her. She's an idiot. Dan makes his exit, clumsily running into everyone in his path. The second person he runs into is (I thought at first, anyway) a total Lindsey named "Amanda," who "likes all the same stuff Dan likes." This should have been a warning sign for all of us; we should have realized that no one else is pretentious enough to like ALL the same stuff as Dan. This girl isn't even wearing a vest. Because Dan is talking to this girl, Serena feels that she has lost the "whoever dates first, wins" battle against him. This makes her sad.

Blair looks through Amanda's file. Her dad is a UN rep or something gay like that, she won a fiction prize at her old high school, she probably plays French horn, etc. She sucks. And her face is fat.

The Duchess brings Vanessa a check for $5K in hush money. At first Vanessa is like, "I'm rich, bitch!" But then she remembers that to be truly Poor, one must lack money. So she goes to return the check to The Duchess, and The Duchess' idiot butler doesn't realize that Vanessa is a superspy, so he leaves her unattended in the hallway for 30 seconds. During this time, Vanessa opens doors she is not authorized to open and takes pictures of The Duchess making out with The Lord. Not a surprise: Britons love incest. They move around a lot when they make out, perfect for a photo shoot. Good thing Vanessa is an artist!

Serena sees Dan in the hall at school and he waves to her because he is a dweeb. Then he actually talks to her, and she's all, "Oh it's so good to bump into you," and Dan's like, "TWSS… Amanda… when I bumped into her." And Serena is like, "Oh, you already have lunch plans with her?" And he's like, "Yeah. I'm going to eat lunch while my penis is inside her. Also I will be wearing a vest probably." Serena runs away to breathe heavily some more; Chuck Gossip Girls that shit.

Lily goes to see Rufus because she is alone and adulterous. Rufus is like, "I dunno if you heard, Lil, but the Humphrey men have new ladies now! We don't need you or your equally rich and hot and nice daughter!" Lily is like, "What if I offer to buy you things? Then will you hang out with me?" and Rufus is like, "Absolutely."

Blair "befriends" Amanda in order to preclude her dating Dan. Amanda seems to not really give a shit about their arbitrary rules, which is just sooo like Dan of her. They are made 4 each other. Meanwhile, Chuck tells Dan that Amanda won't be meeting him for lunch after all, which is just fine, because Vanessa ends up calling him anyway, showing him the picture of The Duchess sucking face with The Lord. Dan is all, "This does not surprise me; all rich people suck," and Vanessa is like, "What am I going to do? This is probably interesting to someone!" and Dan is like, "Tell Blair, obvi. She controls the entire world, I think."

When the fuck is someone going to throw a party?

Dan yells at Serena for the fact that Blair got Amanda to go to lunch with the girls instead of with him. She's pretty much just like, "Gah, I am thisclose to not listening to you anymore when you yell at me!" and he's all, "I am going to keep walking this line all day, every day, for the rest of my life." Then Amanda asks him out on a date.

Vanessa shows the picture to Blair, who is naturally really upset. She tells Vanessa not to say a word to anyone, and then cries some more because The Duchess is having sex with all the cute boys in town.

Amanda and Dan go to a swanky bar and act all conspicuous. Penelope and the black girl see them and Gossip Girl it. Jenny finds out and yells at Dan for being a huge dickhole to Serena. Serena, meanwhile, is woken by Chuck, who shows her the GG blog post about it. Serena is like, "Mmm, breakfast."

Vanessa asks Jenny to find Blair, because it's been 2 hours since she showed her the picture and America hasn't declared war on England yet, so… clock's ticking. Jenny asks Penelope and the black one where Blair is, and they tell her, but also threaten to make her hate her life. Jenny is like, "Cool, thx guys."

Serena starts to yell at Dan about how much he sucks, but just before she really gets to it, she sensibly relents and decides that the best way for them to stay friends and still date other people is to go on dates together. Holy sitcom plot contrivances. Dan is all, "Uh oh, a threesome date!" and losens his tie. I hate Dan, but also this idea is retarded.

Vanessa spies on Blair and The Lord at brunch. Because Blair is holding The Lord's hand instead of setting him on fire, Vanessa assumes that she's never going to say anything to anyone and huffs off. I hope she gets trampled by a carraige. The very next second, Blair tells The Lord what she knows, and he's like, "Oh shit," and she's like, "I can't believe you've done this." Then The Duchess shows up and they tell her what Blair knows, and she agrees that Blair definitely has her by the balls.

Meanwhile, Vanessa goes to The Duke (played by David Duchovny, one assumes), because she is an idiot who wants to ruin everything.

Serena, Dan, and Amanda go on their stupid weird threesome date. No one is having a good time except Dan because everything that Dan likes to talk about sucks, so Penelope and the black one find Serena some hot lax players to hang out with. Serena makes 100,000 sexy faces into the camera, then she giggles at the lax guy while he tells a story about beating the hell out of some pussy from the other team. Serena runs away to get drinks, and Dan follows her and is like, "I think I should yell at you for being even remotely interested in someone who's he opposite of me," and Serena is like, "You know what? Fuck you. You are selfish and I hate you and you have no friends, so leave." And Dan is like, "Why should I leave?" and Serena's like, "Because you're POOR."

Then Chuck shows up in a purple suit. What.

Nate visits with Blair, who tells him that she got The Lord and The Duchess to leave the country, PLUS pay off all of The Captain's bail money or whatever.

Nate: Yay!
Blair: Oh wait, I'm getting a call from The Duchess. What do you want, whore? What? VANESSA TOLD THE DUKE?!?!
Nate: Seriously, we should have killed Vanessa like 8 episodes ago when she was filming us with that video camera.
Blair: Srsly.

Chuck squirts a bunch of Nair into a martini glass and tells Penelope to "serve Amanda a Nairtini." What.

Lily goes to Rufus' house because she is alone and desperate and horny. Rufus is like, "Seriously, I already told you I have a new gf." Then 30-year-old Vanessa shows up and Lily hands him a bottle of wine all melodramatically and says, "This used to be your favorite."

Blair yells at Vanessa. Vanessa realizes that maybe she sucks after all.

Meanwhile, Penelope throws the Nairtini on Amanda, who seems only a little bit incredulous that her hair is falling out. Dan thinks that Serena masterminded this, obviously, so he yells at her a lot and tells her that she's pretty much the worst person in the entire world, and Serena's like, "You know what? Fuck Dan Humphrey, and fuck the rest of the world. I'm in charge now." And Penelope and the black one are like, "I'm not really sure what this means, but it seems exciting."

Vanessa tries to apologize to Nate for ruining his prospects, and he yells at her and tells her to get out of his life forever. Vanessa is like, "Can we be friends?" and he's like, "No. Jesus. We're 17. Find someone else to hang out with."

Jenny gets harassed by Penelope and the black one in the morning at school, so instead she goes to the Waldorf Dress Designing Factory to work with the other victims.

Dan tries to call Amanda, but it turns out that Amanda was actually HIRED BY CHUCK to MAKE SERENA JEALOUS so that SERENA WOULD DETHRONE BLAIR AS QUEEN BEE. What. Dan is going to be so mad at Serena for this.

…Except maybe not, because the next morning he stands in the courtyard at school and realizes that everyone hates him, and the people who don't hate him take a cue from everyone who does and clear out anyway. Sucks to be poor, Humphrey.

Next week: Global Thermonuclear War.