Anyhoo, my three shows are with the five episodes listed in chronological order ...
Ice - Despite being an early entry, this is still one of the best. Crackling with tension, both plot-wise and sexual (between Mulder and Scully), this one is rife with the paranoia, intelligence and faith that made XF a classic.
Duane Barry/Ascension - I've included the two-parter as one because I'm looking at the whole arc. What doesn't this episode have? Mulderangst!, UST galore, strong support from a recently introduced Ratboy, excellent performances all-around, tight writing and an incredible sense of awe.
Jose Chung's From Outer Space - While I adore just about everything Darin Morgan wrote, this one, by far, remains my favorite. It has humor galore (hello, Mulder's girly scream! Classic!), interesting guest starts (Alex Trebek!), weirdness pervading, and a closer that kicks you in the pants with a pathos that reveals a depth to the episode that the smoking alien into the intro never hinted at. Brilliant.
Paper Hearts - I will always adore this episode. Of all of the superb Mulder-centric eps, this remains my favorite. It was so strong, so heart-breaking, so unhappy, yet so well-written, so well-acted and Vince Gilligan officially became my co-tv writer God (Darin previously held the title alone).
How The Ghosts Stole Christmas - Just lovely, albeit in a grisly, twisted way, but hey this is The X-Files. I loved Scully, I loved Mulder, I loved Lily Tomlin and Ed Asner, loved the house, the dialogue, the direction, the ending. Just a sweet (if sick) episode.
The Pack - I'm in the minority in that my fave character was Xander and my ship of choice was Buffy/Xander and this episode exemplifed why. Nicholas Brendon is awesome, bad-ass and sexy as hell and he and SMG have amazing chemistry. This was the episode that made me realize just how good BtVS could be.
Prophecy Girl - And this one cinched it. I adore Buffy's speech when she cries that she just wants to be a girl and yet, when push comes to shove, the Chosen does what she has to do and it was an awesome moment indeed.
Surprise/Innocence - I may not have been a B/A fan, but I appreciated the epic beauty of their story (the first two seasons anyway -- "Becoming I/II" just missed the list). It was this two-parter that got my sister hooked on the show after I forced her to watch it. The pathos of the story was so beautifully fucked up and delivered so wonderfully. It showed that BtVS just wasn't about "the vampire slayer" but also about the sixteen year old girl and it broke my heart.
Passion - No, this isn't on the list just because Buffy and Xander are dancing in the beginning, but it helps! Excellent use of voiceover, excellent death of a secondary, but loved character, excellent follow-up offering proof of Angelus' evil. Giles following those roses is still one of the most devastating moments. Gah!
Hush - How an episode with practically no dialogue can be so awesome, one can only thank the wonderful performances and direction. Creepy, unsettling, with a small dose of humor, this episode was just so damn good.
Pilot - Not only one of the best VM episodes, this remains one of the best episodes of television ever and one of the best Pilots ever produced. It showcases a complex storyline that includes several characters, a multitude of flashbacks and delivers all of the above in a steady pace that never flags and never fails to hold interest. The episode is filled with strong performances and snappy dialogue that can bite as easily as it can break a heart, wring tears as easily as bring on the laughs.
An Echolls Family Christmas - Arguably, the best episode that VM has ever produced. Witty, charming and heartbreaking, one can find all of the hallmarks of what makes VM such a stellar show. Effortlessly interweaving comedy and drama, it's a wonderful hour of television (and more than any other episode before, it showcased the chemistry of Kristen Bell and Jason Dohring and the potential of Logan and Veronica as a pairing).
Ruskie Business - Even with one of the worst guest starring performances (I'm looking at you, Willow!), this episode is so magnificent in every other aspect that the one negative is so neglible it just does not effect my opinion. There is simply just a lovely symmetry to every moment. So many puzzles pieces that intersect and fit beautifully lead to a knock-out of an ending. This one is as close to perfection as the show gets and is the episode that made VM die-hard, must-see, obsess-much? TV for me.
Plan B - Arguably the best episode of season two, this ep features the overall brilliance of the cast, the entwining of stories with threads pulled from the season opener on into a brilliant tapestry. We have some witty, wonderful dialogue, incredible, evocative direction by John Kretchmer and some character actions and insights that literally blow viewers away. Dark secrets are hinted at, character motivation is questioned and explored and oh, then there's that dance.
I Am God - I loved the direction of the dream sequences, the twists and turns of that dialogue effecting Veronica outside of dreams and vice versa, the pairing of Logan and Wallace was awesome! Pieces fit nicely together and we got to see Meg again! I was just left with a WOW! feeling at the end, which didn't happen all that often in season two. It did here.
So anyone wanna play along?