By Sandra Gonzalez
Updated April 18, 2011 at 09:29 PM EDT

The return of Dr. William van der Woodsen (Billy Baldwin) can mean only a few things: 1) He wants something, 2) He’s back to hit on Lily some more, or 3) He’s there to put out a fire. In tonight’s episode, it’s likely all three.

“He’s returned to help put out some of the family fires regarding Lily and Serena and the entangled webs they’ve woven,” Baldwin teases to EW. “It’s causing some tension because Rufus would like to step up and be a man of the house. [But] when it comes to van der Woodsen dysfunction and crisis, I think the family generally recognizes it’s best placed in William’s hands — at least, that’s William’s take on it.”

And as usual, Rufus prefers all family matters be as far out of William’s hands as possible. But when Lily — not to mention Lily’s socialite mom — continue putting the power in William’s hands, “I think that ruffles Rufus’ feathers,” says Baldwin.

“It makes Rufus feel sort of fairly emasculated. Of course, no one knows where the bodies are buried within the van der Woodsen family better than William himself. He’s buried half of them himself,” he says.

In real life, Baldwin says the art of crisis management is something he’s learned from his mother-in-law, Michelle Phillips of ’60s vocal group The Mamas & the Papas. “I’ll be at a dinner party where [my wife] Chynna’s mother, Michelle, [has] her boyfriend there, and there will be one of her ex-husbands and two of her ex-boyfriends there. And Michelle is just like Lily. She’s very, very good and adept at handling that. She handles it well and, I think, on a subconscious level, enjoys it too,” he laughs. “You never know what’s going to crop up at one of those dinners after someone has a drink or two.”

Gossip Girl returns tonight 9 p.m. ET on The CW.

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