Directing and writing credits:
"Here Comes the Son" is written and directed by Amy Sherman-Palladino. I want to say mean things about this backdoor pilot, but who am I kidding, I totally would have watched "Windward Circle" if it didn't immediately die. For starters, I love Sherilyn Fenn and will give any of her projects a chance, even ones where she's forced to play a pseudo-bohemian named Sasha in a bleach blonde wig. I'm not a huge fan of Rob Estes, the actor they chose to play Jimmy, but he's relatively inoffensive. I remember him mainly as Oliver, the new freelance photographer, from the last (and worst) season of "Suddenly Susan."

I'm curious (but have no clue) where this show would have gone if a network bought it. They probably would have introduced a bunch of ancillary California stereotypes who challenge Jess with their sunny dispositions. I guess there would be a bunch of scenes where Jess tries to repair his relationship with Jimmy? I wonder if Sasha's ten dogs - Angus, Chowder, Rufus, Legolas, Caligula, Mudball, General Lee, Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis, and Spot - would have gotten any air time.

Most batshit crazy outfit:
There aren't many outfit changes, so I must go with Lorelai's leopard print slip dress (with ruffled hem), paired with a busy, floral cardigan, and white kitten heels. Yuck. How did Miss Celine refrain from insulting this unforgivable monstrosity upon first glance? Natalie Wood, my ass.

I wanted to capture the full hideousness for you, but is the best I could do.

Most irritating Rory or Lorelai moment:
Lorelai's call with the Yale financial aid office is cringeworthy. Here's a snippet:

"Look, um, I owed my parents that money because they helped me put Rory through Chilton, and I wanted her to go to Chilton so that she could get into ... well, Harvard, but then Harvard became Yale - long story - and now that she's gotten into Yale, I paid them back for Chilton. Just kind of a funny, wacky circle we could all laugh about someday."

Oh yeah, we're all laughing hysterically over your neverending chain of privilege and financial handouts. Let Rory take out student loans like any other kid. Interest rates were actually reasonable in 2003, so she would have been fine. Maybe those loans would have forced her to actually grow up post-college instead of flitting around Europe without a steady job for ten years. I'm never not thinking of things that people could have done to prevent "A Year in the Life" Rory.

Number of times Rory or Lorelai treat their bff like shit:
Lane tries hard to stay positive about Adventist college but Rory and Lorelai are both horrified to hear that the parks are segregated by sex. I don't blame them - it would be hard to fake positivity after hearing that detail - but they do an especially poor job. Rory is just like, "Hmmm" and Lorelai responds with open disbelief and horror.

Sookie is MIA.

Best literary or pop culture references:
Miss Celine drops so many celebrity names that it's hard to keep track of them all. Mrs. Walter Cronkite is clearly a popular person to reference.

Emily: Oh, Celine, I love this one.
Miss Celine: Yes, I had that exact suit made in mint for Mrs. Walter Cronkite just last week. A darling woman. We've been friends since the Big Bang.

Later, when Lorelai walks in and sees Miss Celine, she immediately asks,

Well, how are you? How's Mrs. Walter Cronkite?

Alex Borstein also plays Drella, the harpist, in S1. She is a treasure and an icon.

Stars Hollow weirdness:
The SH townies are completely absent. Instead, we're introduced to some people who I assume would have become the Venice Beach townies had "Windward Circle" continued. Other than the kid at the hotdog stand ("Dante's Inferno") and the man with the missing keys ("Thank you, baby doll"), they're largely forgettable.

Sharpest insult or one-liner:
This exchange is one of my favorites:

Rory: Louise, what's your grandmother wearing to graduation?
Louise: Hopefully the pearls I get when she kicks.

Don't ever change, Louise. Please stay awful forever.

Books mentioned/books Rory is reading:
Rory reads "The Canterbury Tales" at the start of the episode, presumably for school. Emily claims to have read "The Lovely Bones" for book club. Her review? "It's not my taste but I respect the attempt." Jess looks at a copy of "Naked Lunch" at Small World Books, a legitimate bookstore in Venice. Lily reads "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" while inside of ... a wardrobe.

Best song of the episode:
As Jess steps off the bus in Venice, we hear "Pipeline" by The Chantays, softly playing in the background. As he reaches the beach, it morphs into "Catch a Wave" by the Beach Boys. I probably don't mention it enough, but the music in this show is truly excellent. Neither of these songs are super original choices for a backdoor pilot about an East Coast kid who goes to CA for the first time, but they serve their purpose well.

Thoughts:
I guess Jess was such a beloved character, even after creepily forcing himself on Rory in E20, that the Palladinos thought he needed his own show. Thankfully, no networks agreed and we were spared the boredom/irritation of watching Jess and Jimmy flounder around Venice Beach, trying to mend their fucked up relationship over hot dogs and books.

When Jess steps off the bus, we realize that he's in CA, pursuing a dude who couldn't even say a handful of sentences to him after showing up randomly in CT and making a scene. I'm not sure how, but Jess manages to find Jimmy's house after rudely shrugging off a nice old hippie who tries to offer him directions.

Hippie: Do you need some help, friend?
Jess: Nope.
Hippie: Lived here 25 years. I can certainly point you in a direction, make your journey easier. [Jess walks away] Enjoy this beautiful day.
Jess: [to himself] I'll have the alfalfa sprouts and a plate of mashed yeast.

Wow, Jess ... strong insult. After finding Jimmy's house and encountering Sasha (+dog pack), it quickly becomes clear that she knows nothing about Jess. Apparently, keeping feelings and important information hidden is a trait that the Mariano men share. She's nice enough, especially considering she just found out that her long-term romantic partner lied to her. She offers to take Jess to see Jimmy at work, so they leave the house (and her cupboard-dwelling daughter, Lily) and head to the beach. Before they go, there's a scene set to Grant Lee Buffalo's "Mockingbirds" where Jess looks around and sees all of Jimmy's books and records. They both enjoy books and records! Like father, like son, am I right? 😑

Sherilyn Fenn is wonderful, but this is a weird role for her.

When they find him at work, aka Dante's Inferno, Jimmy sputters around and makes awkward small talk with Jess. Instead of asking why he came to CA or apologizing for his behavior in Stars Hollow, Jimmy says a bunch of shit like, "I would marry the beach if man and property were allowed to mate." What's even worse is that after approximately three minutes of hanging out, he's ready to go back to work. If a son I abandoned and hadn't seen for seventeen years suddenly showed up at my job, I would take the fucking day off to find out what he wants. It's insane that Jimmy doesn't even think he owes Jess this small courtesy.

After Jimmy is done with work, he and Jess head back to his house. Sasha, understandably, is pissed at Jimmy for all of the expected reasons. Why didn't he tell her he had a son? Why did he lie about his trip to CT? Does he even love her or are they just roommates? What's worse is that after a few hours of knowing him, Sasha seems to care more about Jess than Jimmy does. She assumes he's at least staying the night, whereas Jimmy hadn't even thought about this possibility. Thankfully, Jess isn't around during this exchange with Sasha. After figuring out that they needed some time to talk, Jess told Jimmy he would go check out the bookstore on the boardwalk.

After his conversation with Sasha ends, Jimmy shows up to that bookstore and yells at Jess in a faux act of parenting. He says, "I have been wandering around for over an hour. I've been to three different bookstores. I have been worried sick about you, you hear me?" Bro, you've been totally absent for this kid's entire life and weren't even going to offer to let him stay with you. Why do you all of a sudden feel the need to fake concern? After this display of emotion, he tells Jess that he can't stay at his house. Jess begs and even though he's on my shit list, I feel bad for him. He tells Jimmy,

"You have nothing? I have nothing! I have no place to go. I can't stay at Luke's, I can't stay in Stars Hollow. My mother is a wackjob. I mean, you're saying you're this loser and what, you don't wanna take me off this terrific path I'm headed down right now? I'm not graduating high school. I don't know what I'm gonna do with the rest of my life, but something's telling me I better find out soon or I'm gonna be that guy out there on the boardwalk selling the hemp hats."

Finally, after this honest outburst, Jimmy says Jess can maybe stay if Sasha gives him the okay. I am disgusted. This dude is a monster and even if he improves over time, I don't want to watch it happen. Even with a kooky cast of CA stereotypes, I'm not sure how this spin-off could have been anything other than depressing af. Thank the god I don't believe in that it didn't happen.

This must be an outtake because Jess never rides a skateboard in this episode.

While Jess deals with his daddy issues in Venice Beach, Rory prepares for finals and graduation. I was a nerd in high school, but even I can't understand why she's so stressed. I didn't go to a fancy private school, but I don't remember studying for a single final during my last semester of senior year. With the way things were weighted, I could have failed some of them and still gotten an A in the class, so what was the point? Unlike classic overachievers, I always did the bare minimum necessary for the highest grade possible. I guess that's why I wasn't valedictorian like Rory. I was never willing to go head-to-head with the kid who studied all weekend and completed every extra credit assignment.

Rory doesn't seem excited or proud to be valedictorian. She doesn't even tell her mom! Lorelai finds out when she flips through Rory's yearbook and sees all of the congratulations.

Lorelai: Hey, you know what's weird? A lot of the kids in here are calling you a valedictorian. Is that anything like a dirty skank, 'cause if it is I'll kick their plaid butts up and down the sidewalk. Were you named valedictorian?
Rory: Yes, and you know what that means? One more stupid speech that I have to write, that I have no time to write, but nevertheless, I have to write.

Stop studying for pointless bullshit and you'll have all the time in the world, Rory.

Everything else that happens in this episode is pretty small potatoes. Lorelai helps with Senior Palooza (whatever the fuck that is) and Paris tries to get her to show some cleavage in order to sell tickets for Grad Night. This is inappropriate, but I appreciate Paris' commitment to the cause. Emily needs help picking out an outfit for graduation, so Rory goes over to her house and helps. This is where we meet the delightful Miss Celine, my absolute favorite auxiliary character on this show. She is a true delight and I could listen to her stories about old dead people for hours and never grow bored. One line that I always think to myself is, "Never underestimate the power of a good shirt." I have justified many expensive purchases using this very logic.

"Lupe, please do not argue with me. It's not ready. Now go in there and make the salad."

When Lorelai shows up to retrieve Rory, it's clearly dinnertime at the Gilmore house, but Emily doesn't want to extend the invitation. She first tries to pretend dinner isn't ready, then lies to Lorelai and tells her that she can't stay because she and Richard have plans later (book club). Lorelai calls her out on her shit and her cover is blown when Richard shows up, exlaiming that it's past their dinnertime. Real mature, Emily. Just think of how much better her relationship with Lorelai would be if she just admitted that she was still hurt and angry over the recurring Friday night dinner cancellations. Everyone in this show is so emotionally stunted and repressed. They make me feel evolved and mature in comparison.

The only other point of interest is that no one knows how to tell Rory that Jess is gone, probably for good. When Luke realizes that Jess and his enormous duffle have vamoosed, he shows up at the Gilmore house to tell Lorelai. He offers to break the news to Rory, but Lorelai tells him that she'll handle it.

When they're driving back from the grandparents, Rory notices that Luke sees them and runs the other way. After she points this out, Lorelai confesses. Rory says she's okay, but it's obvious that she's hurt. Thankfully, she's busy enough that she has no time to stop and wallow. There are no tears or pints of ice cream. Rory is sad, but dammit, she has things to accomplish. Good for her.

Random observations:

  • Lorelai sports a peace (sign) shirt for the second episode in a row. Why does she have so many of these? I think she wears another one in the finale.
  • How many buses does Jess have to take to get to Venice Beah? I can't even imagine how miserable it would be to travel from CT to CA by bus.
  • As Jess looks around Jimmy and Sasha's house, he says, "Clowns, cats, dogs. I wonder where his tap shoes are." What does this even mean? Is it some sort of gay joke or a jab at Jimmy's masculinity? I'm not really sure (maybe it's a reference I don't understand), but I can definitively say that Jess is an asshole.
  • Souplantation is a real place, which I never realized before. I guess it's like a healthier, better Ponderosa. Can anyone confirm?
  • Miss Celine tells Rory she'll need a "whole new wardrobe" for Yale. Duh. What about Lorelai? No comments on her situation?
  • I love that Lorelai and Rory have a picture of Sookie and Jackson next to their couch. I mean ... I wish it was just a picture of Sookie, but I'll take what I can get.
  • Did I mention that I hate Jess' dad? He is the fucking worst.
  • Lorelai and Rory have begun to plan for their European excursion. I am still resentful that we don't get to see any of it.
  • Lupe is the Gilmore's maid who is on top of her shit, but still berated by Emily. These maids just can't catch a break.