TV Rewind: Gilmore Girls, Season 1, Episodes 16-21

21 Apr

Gilmore Girls, Episodes 1.16-1.21
“Star-Crossed Lovers and Other Things,” “The Breakup: Part 2”, “The Third Lorelai,” “Emily in Wonderland,” “P.S. I Love You,” & “Love, Daisies, and Troubadours”
Original Air Dates: Mar. 8, 15, 22; April 26; May 3 & 10, 2001
Gilmore Girls 1.17 Lorelai and roryEmma: We have a lot to cover as we’re going to be discussing the last six episodes of the first season of Gilmore Girls and a lot happens. So I figure it is best to kick off with the love story that I am least interested in or rather the love interest I am least interested in and that is Dean. In the first of our six episodes “Star Crossed Lovers and Other Strangers” Rory and Dean have hit the big three month anniversary. 3 months is a big deal when you’re a teen (and even as an adult) and especially if it is your first relationship – pretty much all my teen relationships fizzled at this point – and it is especially telling that Rory does not even realize they’ve hit this point. Dean goes ALL in with a fancy dinner and then a grand gesture.

First he shows her a car that he has bought for her and that he will be restoring. This is a very thoughtful gift, but also too, too much at this early stage. He leap frogs the too much when he tells Rory he loves her. Rory was not expecting this because it is too soon and then he is a complete brat when she doesn’t say it in return. This is the point where I realized that Dean really isn’t the dude for Rory because while it must suck to lay your heart out and not get the same in response don’t be a total dick in return. My notes for this point in the episode simply says “Dean is an asshole” and I am sticking with that as he goes after Rory’s relationship with her mother as a reason for why she doesn’t say “I love you” back. No Dean, it is because you are the worst. Yes I know Lorelai worries later on that she has maybe stunted Rory’s capacity to love a guy, but nope, nope, nope.

I didn’t realize how angry I still am about Dean’s petulance in this moment until I was rereading my notes. Nice turtleneck, bro.

So Dean and Rory break up and Rory goes through an expected whirlwind of emotions where she tries to not be the mopey girl even though some moping is incredibly healthy and all it takes is for Tristan to lay one on her for the tears to hit because who wouldn’t cry after that? Okay probably Paris. Other stages include a very grumpy Rory and one that sees her argue with her mom and flee to her grandparents’ house much to Lorelai’s dismay.

What the latter does is bring up all the Lorelai and Emily tensions which continue to simmer and provide Gilmore Girls with a deep, deep well of material that is one of my favorite parts of this show. But before we get to that, what say you about Dean?Gilmore Girls 1.16 Deam and RoryJulie: So, pulling off the bandage of lameness first, huh?

Oh, Dean. Dean is terrible, and I give the GG powers-that-be a lot of credit for making him kind of objectively terrible. On paper, he seems like the perfect boyfriend, the perfect gentleman. He’s kind of quiet and sweet and simple, and maybe he might be good for some other girl, but not for Our Rory. I think Dean has his own expectations of what their relationship is supposed to be. He’s all in. He’s a Real Romantic, which is supposed to come off as swoon-worthy, but really comes off as kind of try-hard and too much. Rory, to her credit, is feeling out the relationship, navigating the initial months with her first boyfriend, not putting too much pressure on the thing, but for Dean it’s true love or nothing.

I wonder if Dean was expecting more from the car than just a little making out, which, ew.

I do think Dean’s right that Rory’s relationship with her mother has influenced her outlook on boys. Her mom fell in love at age sixteen and wound up with a baby. That’s not lost on Rory. She’s a smart girl. It’s going to take a lot for her to open up (ew, no pun intended) to someone.

I always love everything with Lorelai and her mother, and the ways her mom uses these Friday dinners to her advantage are always great. There’s so much formality and procedure involved with each dinner. They always start with drinks in the living room, then advance to dinner in the dining room, and a post-dinner aperitif in the living room. The writers (and Emily Gilmore) always find ways to play with this form. (And I definitely wonder about the drunk-driving coming out of these nights. I hope everyone eats A LOT of food at dinner.)

In this episode, Emily brings in a man for her daughter. Lorelai hasn’t had a serious boyfriend in a while, and Emily wants to help (in the form of a terrible, boring date). What do you think about Lorelai’s love woes? She’s pining after Max, which, did that seem out of left-field for you? It was for me. They’d spent the past few episodes playing up her past with Christopher and teasing stuff with Luke, and then all of a sudden…Max Medina is the one she’s dreaming of. Did that ring true?Gilmore Girls 1.17 fightEmma: Dean is definitely someone who would describe himself as being a nice guy.

I get what you/Dean/Lorelai are saying about Rory’s outlook on love and I do think it is more to do with what Lorelai was like when she was 16 rather than what Lorelai is like now. Repeating her mom’s ‘mistake’ is definitely not on the getting into Harvard plan. One thing I do find interesting is unlike her mother she runs to the house in Hartford when things go to shit as it represents warmth and safety to her, whereas for Lorelai it was everything that was stifling her.

The Max stuff does come out of left field and this is not a woman who has been pining. Yeah she’s just had a crappy set up date situation but I don’t buy this sudden Max shift. I think they just remembered that they need some romantic tension and Max makes sense as an opposition to Luke. I do love that her dad is totally with her on lame this other guy is and I’m glad things have been resolved since we last saw them.

Everything Luke and Lorelai makes so much sense to me, but they are keeping at this super slow pacing and it’s not just Lorelai that gets a love interest from the past acting as a Luke barrier because Rachel is back! And Luke is surprisingly chill about it considering how angry seeing Lorelai in her hoodie made him. Like they just slide back into coupledom without a hint of tension and that I don’t buy either.

Luke holds Rachel at a distance and in a way I think he is going through the motions as he expects her to get bored and leave again. Plus he is also fine with this because he is beyond into Lorelai even if he can’t admit it at first. Lorelai for her part befriends Rachel and is also reluctant to acknowledge any kind of feelings for Luke even if it is clear to everyone else. Including Rachel.

What did you make of the return of Luke’s ex so quickly after Lorelai’s first love has also been on the scene?Gilmore Girls 1.16 Lorelai and RachelJulie: Dean is totally an “I’m a nice guy” nice guy. Exactly. And then he’d mansplain all sorts of nonsense.

Yeah…this part of season one feels like a bunch of filler, a lot of getting from A to B. Sometimes shows really do benefit from shortened seasons. That said, I wish they would’ve mentioned Max at least once in the episode prior to this one. The moment was just, like, “I’m Lorelai, I’m completely hung up on someone.” And I thought, oh, it has to be Luke or Chris. But then it was Max. I really do like Max, but I think he was shoehorned in here.

Obviously I knew we’d see Rachel again (just like I knew we’d see Chris at some point), but I thought maybe she’d make a big entrance in the finale or something. But here she is, flitting back to Stars Hollow, out of nowhere, which can’t make Luke feel too comfortable.

I some ways, she’s just a vehicle to get Luke to recognize his feelings for Lorelai, which is great. They’re adult humans who should recognize how perfect they are for each other. It’s amazing that nothing has ever happened between them before, like even accidentally.

I will say, though, that even though we know Luke and Lorelai are OTP, the show does a pretty good job of making the relationships on the way to their probable pairing seem real and natural. Luke is a hermit bachelor who needs a training woman in his life so he can be ready for Lorelai. That’s all Rachel is. She’s that and she’s a way for him to deal with his past nonsense.

Going back to Rory for a second, since we’re on the breakup episode, how about Stars Hollow’s reaction to her and Dean splitting up and then Rory kiss with Tristan?Gilmore Girls 1.17 Tristan and RoryEmma: I did jump ahead with Lorelai and Luke and while we’re on the subject of Luke I love how protective he is of Rory even if it is a bit much that he gets into a vague scrapping match with Dean. As Lorelai points out he is a grown man and Dean is a teen boy. Living in a community like this would be a lot and especially when it is someone who is as beloved as Rory is. Patty gets it when Lorelai tells her to spread the word about mentioning Dean because who wants all those comments and prying on top of feeling like shit?! Even if Rory is trying not to feel like shit. Kirk doesn’t get it because of course he doesn’t.

So the big party and I’m so glad they laid the seeds of this event in the previous episode. It is also just as ridiculous as I hoped it would be and I’m sad there was never the chance for a Gilmore Girls/Gossip Girl crossover (GG squared) as Paris versus Blair would be so much fun to watch. Madeleine (thanks to my notes I now know which one is which) has also invited Dean because he’s hot but of course the breakup has happened and so Rory takes Lane instead, which I am all for.Gilmore Girls 1.17 Lane and RoryLane happens to meet a Korean guy she actually likes and is mad at herself for being attractive to a guy her parents (she says parents but I assume she means just her mom) would approve of. She resists at first but the offer of dancing is too much to say no to. Oh and side note – while the fashion of this period is BAD, the music is much better. If Paris didn’t race out of the party at the earliest she could I have a feeling that the Rory/Tristan situation would have been very different but alas Paris hates parties and she is a very unlikely school queen bee. She’s got all that power but hates social events and I find this whole hierarchy to be fascinating.Gilmore Girls 1.17 partyBecause it has already been established that Rory always has a book with her it doesn’t come as a surprise that she find a quiet nook to read in to get away from the party. Tristan who has been having girl problems also does the same and this is where things get messy and my notes are all caps NOOOOOOOOOO for several lines. Rory cries and runs out; kissing a terrible dude reminds her of her breakup and the wallowing can commence.

In the next episode Rory apologizes for crying and suggests he take Paris out on a date. This is never going to end well and it doesn’t. I get what Rory is trying to do and I love their bonding over what Paris should wear so I guess we should be thankful Tristan led to this moment. But he’s also the reason they go back to being non-friends and I am far more upset about this than the Dean breakup.Gilmore Girls 1.21 ParisJulie: A GG/GG crossover would be amazing! There’s still time, especially since Netflix is reviving the Gilmores. Maybe Blair can stop by.

Minor spoiler (can you spoil a lack of information?) I’m on season seven now, and I still don’t know a thing about Lane’s dad. Okay, I know exactly one thing, but I don’t know what happened to him or where he is. I’m guessing we’ll never know. Unless this is something they decide to explore in the new series. Lane’s dad: Where the hell?

I love Lane’s cute Korean boyfriend, Henry, and I think it’s fitting that she would balk at dating him simply because her mother would approve. Rory may be Lorelai’s daughter, but Lane is her teenage soul sister. I think it’s pretty masterful how Lorelai and Lane are basically dealing with the same issues, but those issues manifest themselves in different ways. Their mothers both want/wanted them to fit into their particular societies — Lorelai rejected her mom’s social climbing and Lane is rejecting her mother’s cultural/religious demands. Lane is lucky to have Lorelai around, to talk to and to go to bat for her.Gilmore Girls 1.18 Rory and ParisTristan-wise, ew. He’s the worst, but good for Rory for kissing a horrible dude. She’s been too perfect up to now, so I love that she had a moment of complete stupidity. Tristan is a douche and he’s been spoken for by Paris and Rory has only been separated from Dean for a minute.

The setup between Tristan and Paris had “bad idea jeans” written all over it, but I like that we got some real Paris/Rory bonding out the situation. And, as obnoxious as Tristan was for telling Paris about him and Rory, it’s probably for the best that it came out now. Soon, both girls will hopefully be rid of Tristan.

Nestled among the whole Paris/Rory/Tristan nonsense, we met Richard’s mother. What did you think of Trix, and how much did you love her throwing Emily off her game?Gilmore Girls 1.18 Gilmore ladiesEmma: Rory was definitely trying to do good with that date set up and also relieve a bit of guilt for having smooched Tristan as she knows that Paris is way into him. The getting ready stuff was really cute and this episode also reminded me that water bras were a thing that existed at one time. What was with the early aughts?

This is a really big friendship step as they not only discuss Paris’ date/what she should wear, but also the whole Dean stuff. I am looking forward to when they get over this big Tristan hiccup.

Random observation but the fact they are studying the feudal system gave me so many flashbacks to school. Not that we had to do a project like this or come in on a Saturday (thankfully).

Ah yes the third Lorelai (who goes by the name of Trix) and I love how much it causes Emily to spiral. Her mother in law is no fan of Emily and Richard seems blissfully unaware of how shitty his mom is to his wife. Everything Emily does is not good enough and even though I adore Emily like her daughter I am enjoying seeing her being put under the same level of scrutiny as she puts everyone else under.gilmore girls 1.20 breakfastThis includes making sure she has all the gifts she has stashed away for years on display including a very ugly coat stand she regifted to Lorelai.

Trix is very particular and she also drops a huge money bombshell which causes Emily to spiral even further. The money is for Rory and it is a HUGE sum ($250,000) covering college tuition and much more. It would be surprising that Rory hasn’t met her grandmother prior to this but she lives in London and up until recently Rory and her mom have spent very little time with any extended family. Trix wants to make up for lost time and missed birthdays with this generous offer and I didn’t think Lorelai would accept such a huge fund from a relative as she has pretty much done everything by herself up until Chilton.

But she is very grateful for Trix’s offer and it makes sense to secure Rory’s academic future through this trust and if Lorelai had a point to prove to her mother with how she has brought Rory up then she has certainly done this. Emily is upset that Lorelai is more than happy to take this offer and this is linked to what this money might mean for the future of the Friday dinners. Money is how Emily got her daughter and granddaughter back in her life and if Lorelai no longer needs her for this then she fears they will stop coming by. Money means freedom; freedom to choose what to do but also freedom from spending time with them.

If Emily told Lorelai about why she is so against the trust I think Lorelai would a) understand and b) reassure her mother that they will still see them. This is where the lack of communication between the pair comes into play and it is something we see strongly in the episode that follows. Instead Lorelai calls her mother ‘petty, controlling and mean’ and my heart breaks with how at odds they can be when if they simply said how they felt then they could work through things. But then they wouldn’t be showing their ultimate WASP behavior. In the end Trix withdraws her offer and everything is back to where it was.

“Emily in Wonderland” really gets to the root of the Emily/Lorelai relationship strife and the ‘Emily won’t listen and Lorelai won’t talk’ description is super accurate. Rory’s Stars Hollow tour starts off well with Emily borrowing some sneakers as her heels won’t do for all that walking, but it turns sour when Emily sees where Lorelai lived with Rory when she was a baby opening old wounds in a fresh way. What did you make of Emily’s reaction and can they ever get over this painful moment from their past?Gilmore Girls 1.19Julie: The mother/daughter relationships, in all their permutations, are my favorite part of this show. (Also waiting for Luke and Lorelai to just kiss already.)

The Trix and Emily situation is such a fraught mother-in-law relationship. In some ways, yeah, it’s kind of great to see Emily spin her wheels with Trix, but at the same time it’s hard to watch this character, who we have a much deeper relationship with than Trix, not be able to get the upper hand at all. Trix is just as manipulative and conniving as Emily, but she has the advantage of Richard’s unrequited love. Emily, whose entire life revolves around Richard, can’t say anything for fear of upsetting him, so she just takes beating after beating.

The Rory trust fund thing is an obvious power grab, and I completely get Emily’s reaction. Trix is beating her at her own game, and it truly seems like she’s giving the money to Rory for the express purpose of annoying Emily.

Emily’s insecurity does feed right into “Emily in Wonderland,” where Emily gets a taste of life in Stars Hollow. I love her interaction with Mrs. Kim, because the two of them are fairly evenly matched, and they also play the twin roles of “overbearing mother” on this show. They are one in the same, Emily and Mrs. Kim.

Rory taking Emily to see where she grew up is heartbreaking. There’s so much there there. You can see the wheels turning for Emily. Because she wasn’t a more supportive mother to Lorelai, her granddaughter was raised in a shed. Because her relationship with her daughter was so strained, Emily missed this entire phase of her granddaughter’s life. She had no idea this was how they were living. She missed it. There’s a lot of regret and sadness there, even if Emily plays it off as appallingly disgusted.

In this episode, we also get the return of “Roon,” whose name I always thought was spelled “Rune,” probably because of Harry Potter. “Roon,” makes more sense because it’s probably short for “Rooney.” He’s notable for being the only man who can resist the charms of Lorelai Gilmore. He’s now working at the inn and living in the Lorelai’s old shed.

We also get more Luke and Rachel and what is possibly the most overt acknowledgement of Luke and Lorelai’s attraction for each other so far. What did you think of Lorelai’s advice to Luke. Were you screaming for her to just kiss him already?Gilmore Girls 1.16 Luke and LorelaiEmma: It’s crushing when Emily sees their first home as she takes this not only as a reminder of how much she missed, but it also as the physically embodiment of how terrible her relationship was with her daughter when she needed her most. All of Lorelai and Rory’s memories of this place are good; to them it isn’t a shed but their first home and a loving one at that. No matter how unhappy Lorelai was with her family, in this place she was happy. I’m sure there were terrible, fraught moments but this far away from that time the only memories that remain are the good ones. The opposite of how Emily feels when she sees it.

Emily is pretty reactionary so her answer to seeing this is giving Rory her own room at her house which is why she wants to know whether Rory likes the Backside Boys. Emily is of course clueless regarding this kinda stuff and Rory is much more into indie music over pop, but it is very sweet and she even fills the room with flowers. Lorelai thinks there must be an ulterior motive, but I actually think this one comes from a very genuine place. And it does happen to come in handy in the next episode.Gilmore Girls 1.19 new roomIt leads to another argument and this exploration of this very deep rift is one of my favorite things about this show. They aren’t just going to suddenly be fine because that is not who these characters are.

In her trip around Stars Hollows I also very much enjoyed how much Emily got on with Michel because that also made perfect sense.

It’s kinda weird that Rachel wants Lorelai to talk to Luke for her because by this point she must have already sensed something is up, but either she has and she’s ignoring it or she hasn’t and girl needs to put her camera down. And yes there was plenty of yelling at them to kiss. Just do it already. In fact I just looked at my notes and I’ve written “goddamnit you guys” at this scene.

I believe that Lorelai believes she is giving good advice because at this point she is in heavy denial about what they are to each other. I like that in general there is no animosity between Rachel and Lorelai as that would have been the easy route, but I never really considered Rachel to be someone who would stick around as she has guest arc written all over her. She’s fine, but I don’t have any other feelings about her other than that. Did she provoke a greater reaction in you?Gilmore Girls 1.19 Emily and MichelJulie: Another GG mystery for me (along with the whereabouts of Mr. Kim) is Michel’s personal life and sexuality. I think he mentions dating a woman once, but that’s it. It’s left pretty ambiguous after that, and I like the idea of Michel having this whole life beyond Stars Hollow that no one really knows about. And he and Emily are perfect for each other.

As far as Rachel goes, she barely existed for me. She was simply a vehicle for Luke and Lorelai to start considering their feelings for each other. She was obviously never going to stick around, and there was really not much all that dynamic about her, for all of Luke’s pining in the past.

Sticking with the rest of Lorelai’s romantic story, it’s Luke vs. Max for the rest of the season (Where for art thou, Christopher?). Rachel thinks Luke should open up to Lorelai about his feelings, which he doesn’t even know he has yet. Max is feeling insecure because Lorelai hasn’t told anyone about him. He wants to get married because…he wants more of a commitment from her? I guess that’s it. The whole thing moves a little fast. She doesn’t want a half-assed proposal. She wants the real deal, so Max gives her a ton of daisies in the Independence Inn.

Also happy and in love are (barf) Rory and Dean, which, really, since her other option was Tristan, is the lesser of two evils? Ugh. Rory needs some better love interests.Gilmore Girls 1.20 Paul Frank[Ed note. the above Paul Frank pajama top is the most quintessential bedwear of the early aughts and I am very jealous of this] 

Emma: Rachel is very much there to get the plot moving, which is a shame as I thought the actress did a good job with the material she had. Luke knows she isn’t going to stick around and so do we so there is no attachment there. Because Luke doesn’t seem to have strong feelings either passionate romance or passionate anger because of the way they broke up it was pretty much a non-starter.

My issue with the Max stuff is tided into what we have already discussed and that is the sudden nature of his return. They are dating again and as has been the pattern with them in the past it is complicated due to Rory, his job and timing. This all comes up while Rory is off at her grandparents’ house and Lorelai is distracted for good reasons. In the following episode they somehow go from actual dating for real this time to this semi-proposal and woah this is far too fast to be a good idea.Gilmore Girls 1.21 flowersPart of Max’s reasons come after an encounter with Luke in which he senses the vibe that everyone other than Luke and Lorelai can sense. He thinks they are exes or at least something has gone on between them, but Lorelai reassures him that they are just friends and Luke just likes to fix up her house out of the goodness of his heart. It is by this point that Luke has been forced by Rachel to admit that something is there and I was expecting a big gesture of some sort from him to put a spanner in the Max daisy works, but alas he did nothing (yet). This finale felt like it was missing the cliffhanger aspect; the classic who will Lorelai pick and even though the final scene between Lorelai and Rory was cute, it also lacked that something extra to hold you over until the next season starts three months later. Or in our case when we can stick in the next DVD.

One of the topics covered pre-proposal is the matter of if they slept with anyone while they were apart. They both did and while that has got to hurt a little on both sides, I don’t think either of them can be mad at the other for not wallowing alone. Lorelai’s hook up has a lot more weight as there is history there and Lorelai makes sure she points out this fact. This is a very weird time to propose, but Max goes for it leap frogging so many other dating steps.

With Rory her Dean feelings turn into anger; anger at her small town, at her mom, at everything and she flees to her brand new bedroom much to Emily’s delight. I like Rory and her grandparents scenes and the breakfast discussion with Rory in half pajamas/half school uniform is a lot of fun. Her argument with her mom wasn’t on the full on screaming at each other scale, but it is easy to see how Stars Hollow could feel suffocating.

Winning Dean back is very much on the agenda for some reason and this includes going to his house and inadvertently making his sister cry and stalking his place of work. Dean is definitely better than Tristan (who doesn’t even know that PJ Harvey is a woman), but yeah he is still nowhere near a Ben/Noel/Pacey or even Jordan Catalano on the lusting/dream boyfriend scale. But apparently they are also in love. Hmm.Gilmore Girls 1.21 Max, Lorelai and LukeJulie: The writers definitely gave short shrift to both Rachel and Max, the latter of whom I really do like. I think the actor is quite charming and Max has/had the potential to be an asset to Lorelai’s life. But he’s marking time, obviously. He’s not OTP, so every scene with him feels a little wasteful. Like all of Ross’s wives and girlfriends on Friends 🙂

The proposal is certainly way too soon, and comes from a place of insecurity about Luke, so that’s never a good thing. Jumping into marriage to mark one’s territory is probably not the best reason to do it.

The lack of cliffhanger thing is one of the great parts of Netflix, one season flows seamlessly into the next, which is a good thing, Gilmore-wise. The show, as you’ll discover, doesn’t follow the usual pattern of “season ends in May, next season picks up in the fall.” Oftentimes, the next season picks up right where the last one ended, and we get a few “summer” episodes before we see Rory going back to school, or whatever.

One thing I really love about Rory is that she’s the product of her mother, but she’s also willing to let herself be influenced by her grandparents as well. She doesn’t have the same history with them as Lorelai, so she’s much more open to experiencing the Hartford Gilmores’ lifestyle. She doesn’t automatically reject everything they give her. She doesn’t see them as trying to butt their way in. She just likes being with her grandparents. And I completely love her relationship with Richard. She softens him up so much.

But, yeah, Dean. He’s back. Again. And it sucks, because Dean sucks.

What did we miss?Gilmore Girls 1.18Emma: I don’t have much to add other than some general season 1 feelings and those feelings are positive. When starting a show that is this beloved it can be letdown, but Gilmore Girls lived up to those sentiments and this is a really good first season. Occasional certain storylines are dropped and then picked up out of nowhere, but that is as much down to the 20+ episode structure as anything else. The important stuff like the Gilmore ladies dynamic is super strong throughout and I’m really excited to see how this progresses. Same with Luke and kissing.

While Rory’s love interest situation is on the eh side, her lady relationships from her mom and grandmother to her friends are my fave and I hope Rory gets back in with Paris soon. The dramatic display on the steps by Paris and her minions was rather wonderful and so very high school.

I’m also excited to hear they don’t do the usual lack of summer set episodes. I’m always bummed out when pretty much every teen show/and show skips those few months of story.

I am also excited to venture further into the early aughts and see what other terrible fashion we have in store. There will be many.

Julie Hammerle is, according to Klout, an expert in the areas of both Morgan Freeman and glasses. Her writing can be found at chicagonow.com/hammervision and you can holler at her on Twitter as well.

 

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