Directing and writing credits:
"The Big One" is directed by Jamie Babbit, written by Amy-Sherman Palladino. Babbit has directed a bunch of previous episodes:

"The Road Trip to Harvard" - LaDawn, aka Jonah Ryan's mom, makes an appearance and we find out how much the Gilmore girls hate B&Bs.
"Dead Uncles and Vegetables" - Lorelai wears a racist shirt, Jess watches "I Dream of Jeannie," and Luke makes me feel like an asshole for skipping my grandfather's funeral.
"Lorelai's Graduation Day" - Rory is scared of the subway and Lorelai's parents are proud of her, maybe for the first time ever.
"Take the Deviled Eggs..." - Rory and Lorelai waste a perfectly good batch of deviled eggs on unnecessary vandalism. I think she even gets to say a few lines. Woohoo, diversity!
"That'll Do, Pig" - Clara drives me to drink and Emily trolls Gran.
"Lorelai Out of Water" - Lorelai wears her worst outfit to date and goes fishing with the dad from "Twilight."

My only ASP news is that she fucking finally won some Emmys for "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" (writing & directing for comedy) 👏🏻! I'm not actually watching the show, but my friend just texted me and told me the news (along with how uncomfortable it is that all the winners so far have been White).

Most batshit crazy outfit:
The dress Rory wears for her speech at Chilton looks like something you'd see in the toddler section at Wal*Mart around the holidays. Why does it have an attached ribbon belt and applique boob ribbon? Who decided that all of those (highly flammable) materials went together? I am perplexed. I think it probably would have been stylish in a dELiA*s sort of way at the time, though.

Fitting the full shiteousness into one picture is difficult, but trust me ... it's bad.

Other notable horrors include Lorelai's t-shirt featuring a French Bulldog wearing a birthday hat and a hideous striped blouse layered over a ribbed tank top. Paris's C-SPAN meltdown outfit is likewise suspect but I think we need to give her a pass.

Most irritating Rory or Lorelai moment:
I will discuss this in greater detail later, but the most irritating moment is OBVIOUSLY when Lorelai slut-shames Paris ("I've got the good kid"). Even Lauren Graham thinks this is a bullshit line. In an interview with Chris Hewitt from Pioneer Press, this is what Graham says:

"And I didn't like that judgment about girls and the decisions they make. But they wanted me to say that, so I did, and the episode aired, and lots of people have come up to me and said, 'I loved it when you said that.' So, who knows? Obviously, that line reflected the way some people felt."

"Some people" like who? I want names and addresses or it never happened.

Number of times Rory or Lorelai treat their bff like shit:
I'm happy to report that Rory is a great friend to Paris, who is slowly moving into best friend territory. She's non-judgmental, empathetic, and doesn't even yell at her for revealing that Rory is a virgin on national television. I give Rory a lot of shit for being a clueless brat, but she demonstrates some admirable qualities in this episode.

Lorelai deserves some props, too. Instead of screaming "OMG, get an abortion immediately because your husband is a fucking moron and that bloodline should end," she remains patient and listens to Sookie's relationship woes.

Best literary or pop culture references:
During Kirk's first snafu during his new job (details below), Lorelai and Rory have this exchange:

Rory: Guess I’ve got time to tie my shoes.
Lorelai: Yes, well, cobble yourself a new pair Daniel Day Lewis.

Now that Day-Lewis is retired from acting, I wonder if he'll take up another random hobby. Maybe he'll go to Parsons, study fashion design, and eventually show head-to-toe creations at NYFW.

Stars Hollow weirdness:
As previously alluded to, Kirk is the new mailman (he actually says "mail carrier" which is much more gender neutral - props) and to be frank, he sucks dick at his job. He refuses to sort the mail before delivering it and ends up throwing a tantrum at Doose's when the townies revolt against his irritating work ethic.

"You will not touch this. This is the property of the United States Government!"

Sharpest insult or one-liner:
I live for Brad Langford's shade:

Rory: Hey Brad, good to have you back. How was Broadway?
Brad: It was great, but Nathan Lane is a very bitter man.

Adam Wylie, aka Brad, really was absent from the show due to a successful Broadway run of "Into the Woods."

Books mentioned/books Rory is reading:
Lorelai reads "I'm with the Band: Confessions of a Groupie," by Pamela Des Barres while Rory reads "The Brontës" by Juliet Barker at the beginning of the episode. Lorelai's book choice is especially apt since Rory jokingly refers to her as Pamela Des Barres a few episodes back.

Best song of the episode:
The only song is Paris's rendition of the prologue from "Into the Woods." As Brad notes, "Boy, she is really up on her theater references."

Thoughts:
The episode opens with a pan from Lorelai's painted red toenails, splayed out on the couch, to her face, intently concentrating on a book with Rory doing the same on a chair in the background. As soon as they hear the arrival of the mail, they rush outside. Is it Rory's Harvard acceptance letter? It couldn't possibly be a rejection because remember, Rory is special. Unfortunately, there are no letters of any kind for anyone (except Rita Flora, who is dead). Kirk, the world's slowest mail carrier, is on the job and slow as molasses.

At Luke's, we hear that the Monte Cristo sandwich is off the menu. Everyone is upset and gives him shit about it, even though they've never ordered it. Luke calls it "disgustingly ridiculous," which is perplexing. A fried ham and cheese sandwich sounds delicious to me, but whatever. Nicole wanted more salads on the menu, so much to Lorelai's chagrin, Luke added them. Get over it, Lorelai. If you want more control over the menu, maybe you should date Luke.

Luke really should have hired a graphic designer to work on his menus.

Sadly, it's going to be a long ass time before Lorelai comes to her senses and takes Luke to bone town. For whatever reason, she still seems to have the hots for Max Medina. What happened to Charlie Swan? All memories of him fly out the window after Lorelai runs into Max at a drugstore in Hartford. He's polite to her, so she takes this as a sign that she didn't actually treat him as shittily as she thought she did. Thankfully, Sookie is there to give her a reality check.

Lorelai: I mean, what happened with us was so long ago. Do you think what I did to him was really horrible?
Sookie: You mean dumping him in the gutter? Sure.

By the end of the episode, Lorelai and Max kiss and he reveals that he's "still not over it." I understand why Max is still hung up on her, but why is Lorelai all of a sudden interested in him again? I guess it's because none of her other romantic prospects have panned out and he's the last person who truly showed uncomplicated interest in her. After she abandoned him at the beginning of Season 2, Lorelai rekindled her relationship with Christopher only to have those prospects shattered by Sherry's pregnancy. Jon Hamm is a pretentious wine snob and Billy Burke is boring (plus, kind of ugly ... I think it's the hair ... and the turtlenecks). Max is her only recent love interest with real potential, so she's drawn to him out of desperation. And I guess she's maybe also charmed by his shared homophobia and gender stereotypes? Before they kiss, they have this riveting conversation:

Max: I must say, I’ve been a teacher for ten years now, and it wasn’t until today I realized, it must be really hard to be a girl.
Lorelai: And with the invention of Sephora, really expensive, too.
Max: I’m very sorry.
Lorelai: Oh, don’t be. At least we get to wear skirts without being Scottish or riding a float in the gay pride parade.
Max: Well, that’ll change someday my friend, and when it does, I still won’t wear a skirt. But I’ll applaud those that do, and then cross the street so nobody sees I’m with them.

At one point during this episode (it might have been after some Jackson nonsense), my husband turned to me and said, "This show is so fucking antiquated. I feel like I'm watching "Tootsie" or something." It pains me to admit how right he is.

The thing that killed him, even more than the Lorelai/Max nonsense, was Sookie's pregnancy reveal and Jackson's reaction. "This motherfucker wants four kids in four years and is just now doing the math? Kids are expensive, dipshit." Instead of reacting with glee after Sookie finds out she's pregnant, Jackson spends days ignoring her, crunching numbers, and making insane demands. He wants Sookie to switch out all of her knives for plastic and throws away all the prescription drugs in the house. Can we all agree he's the dumbest person in Stars Hollow?

Nice sweater, imbecile. Now go grow some beets and leave us the fuck alone.c

I personally dislike the way this show makes pregnancy seem like it goes hand-in-hand with emotional instability. No one ever finds out they're pregnant by peeing on a stick or seeing a doctor, there's always some kind of radical behavioral change and dramatic reveal (Sookie's Norman Mailer outburst and Lorelai's apple-induced scare in Season 5).

While all of the adults make bad decisions, Rory focuses on her speech for the bicentennial, which for some reason is airing on C-SPAN. After a heated competition where Paris attempts to sabotage everyone, Headmaster Charleston decides that both ladies will give the speech together. Paris is still feuding with Rory over the Jamie/Francie debacle, but when she shows up at the Gilmore residence to work on the speech, her anger has been replaced with frenzied confusion. Paris had sex with Jamie and she wants Rory's advice on whether or not it was a mistake.

While Rory's physical reaction suggests she's shocked (rushing to the kitchen for a bottle of water), her words are calm and reasonable. She asked if they were safe and if Jamie was nice to Paris. She admits that she hasn't had sex yet, but tells Paris that this is not an indicator that her decision was the wrong one.

Paris: Why is it not the time? I mean, if it’s not the time for you, then maybe it’s not the time for me either.
Rory: Paris, you can’t judge what’s right for you against what’s right for me. I mean, we are different, and Jamie and Jess are different.
Paris: Well, yeah.
Rory: Maybe it was the time for the two of you.

I love that right before they had sex, Paris and Jamie were discussing modern day Marxism.

After secretly hearing most of their conversation, Lorelai announces herself and tells the ladies she has pizza. At the end of the scene, she mutters smugly, "I've got the good kid." So let me get this straight ... Rory is the good kid because she hasn't had sex yet? Why is this show so anti-sex? Rory is a high school senior with a steady boyfriend. If she wants to have sex, what's the big deal? The same goes for Paris and for girls without boyfriends who just want to fuck someone because it feels good. Use birth control, be responsible, and stop doing it if it interferes with your mental health. Otherwise, get that d or v!

I agree with Lauren Graham that this comment feels out of character for Lorelai. It makes sense for her to feel happy and relieved that Rory hasn't had sex yet, but adding a moral qualifier to it? It does not compute.

When Paris shows up late to the bicentennial and reveals live on C-SPAN that she had sex but got rejected from Harvard, I really feel for her. She's shocked and hurt, her biggest dream to date completely destroyed, and also worried about what Jamie will think of her when he finds out about her failure. Again, Rory does a fantastic job of talking Paris down off the ledge and trying to slap together some good advice even though she really doesn't know what she's talking about, either. Rory tells her, "Paris, I don’t know why you didn’t get into Harvard, but you are so smart and so special and you’ll see, everything’s gonna be fine."

Through Rory, the show acknowledges that the rejection from Harvard and the loss of virginity are not linked but when Rory opens her mailbox at the end of the episode to find three huge envelopes, it's difficult not to read the episode like a morality play.

Is there anything more depressing than crying Paris? I can't take it.

Random observations:

  • Rory's Kit Kat obsession has been well-documented, so of course Lorelai carries an emergency stash in her purse. In Season 2, Rory tells Dean, "The only way you could be more important to me is if you had a Kit Kat bar growing out of your head." Do I smell a Kit Kat sponsorship? It's a Jane Magazine and Kit Kat monopoly over here.
  • Sookie wears a pair of Ugg boots when she's chilling in her house, talking to Lorelai on the phone. Rory also has a pair. Remember when these were a thing? I'm pretty sure I secretly wanted them even though I knew they were basic.
  • I hate being one of those people who is like, "my husband is so funny" but ... after Jackson's money rampage, he snickered and said, "Oh no, what will happen to his skullcap funds?" Later, he referred to Max as "a goddamn pile of Play-Doh" and "human bread pudding."
  • Lorelai wears another stupidly tied, knee-length scarf to Friday night dinner. Someone should cut it in half.
  • Apparently, Richard and Emily's most "masculine" maid was Liesl. This episode is chock-full of gender stereotypes.
  • Headmaster Charleston clearly thinks he's Dumbledore, right?
  • How bad is Rory and Paris's speech? It starts out with three quotes. This was the best Chilton could come up with?