Directing and writing credits:
Directed by Kenny Ortega, written by Amy Sherman-Palladino. Depending on your interests, you might know Ortega as the dude who directed "Hocus Pocus" or the famous choreographer who has worked on everything from "Dirty Dancing" to "High School Musical." Since I know nothing about dance, I was totally unaware of his impressive background. He's worked with everyone from Michael Jackson to Bette Midler and it's no wonder that the Palladinos decided to utilize his talents in this dance-centric episode.

I rag on Sherman-Palladino quite a bit, but gf really does understand how to craft a solid episode of television. This one has it all! Dancing, love triangles, amazing wardrobe (for once), and drama. Whenever I'm having a shitty day, I throw this episode on and am cheered up almost instantly.

Most batshit crazy outfit:
Aside from Lorelai's tiny cross necklace at Friday night dinner (and her fugly pleather blazer), I have nothing negative to say about the outfits. Everyone looks amazing! It's not as fun to say nice things, but I must give credit where it's due.

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The Gilmores should dress like this all the time. The fabric cuts are flattering and their hair and makeup is flawless. Thankfully, the wardrobe department even decides to give Sookie a break! She wears a beautiful, long-sleeved floral number with slightly high shoulders and a tasteful v-neck. It might even be a wrap dress? I can't tell for certain.

Miss Patty wears the hat of my funeral dreams - a slightly undersized tophat with a black veil, which she places slightly askew. It's very drunk Ron Swanson in the best possible way.

Most irritating Rory or Lorelai moment:
I hate to side with Dean on anything, but Rory really does treat him like garbage at the dance marathon. I can't believe he didn't break up with her immediately after she used him as a prop to make Jess jealous during this initial confrontation:

Rory: You think you’re bugging me sitting in front of me staring like that?
Jess: You think you’re bugging me dancing in front of me staring like that?
Rory: I’m not staring at you.
Jess: Then how do you know I’m staring at you?
Rory: I am dancing. I cannot control where my glance goes. And the few moments that I can control it, my glance goes to Dean, not to you.
Jess: So you can’t control when you look at me, but you have to force yourself to look at him? Sorry, man. That’s cold.
Dean: My former comment still stands.

Shane walks over to Jess and he pulls her close to make Rory jealous; she then retaliates by doing the same thing with Dean. It's all so disgusting and obvious and I don't quite understand how it took Dean this long to reach his breaking point.

Number of times Rory or Lorelai treat their bff like shit:
I guess Rory and Lorelai are relatively decent friends until Season 4 or 5. Lorelai gives Sookie legitimately good advice about how she should deal with Jackson's insane procreation demands:

Lorelai: Do you want four in four?
Sookie: No. But, I mean, I want kids. You know I want kids.
Lorelai: I know you want kids.
Sookie: But I thought maybe one. Two if the first one is really quiet.
Lorelai: Well, honey, you have to tell Jackson that.
Sookie: I can’t.
Lorelai: Sookie, this is not like the fruit bowl his mother gave you. You can’t stick four kids in the attic and just pull them out at Christmas.
Sookie: I know, but Jackson and I have never had a real fight. We’re still newlyweds. We still sneak out of bed in the morning to brush our teeth, then get back in bed and pretend we just woke up smelling like that.
Lorelai: You don’t have much of a marriage if you can’t talk about the important things.

I can't imagine marrying someone without discussing something like this first (more details later). Leaving in the morning to brush your teeth before your husband wake up is some early Season 1 Midge Maisel shit. Who does that?

Rory is likewise supportive of Lane as she calls Dave incessantly, trying to assess whether he's home alone or with another girl.

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This elephant sweater is objectively ugly, but Lane makes it work.

Best literary or pop culture references:
I must give props to Dave for his "Blue Velvet" reference at the dance marathon:

"Uh, well, you mentioned this thing last time we talked and it sounded very "Blue Velvet" so I figured I would come by and check it out."

Lumberton and Stars Hollow are basically the same place.

Stars Hollow weirdness:
There is so much weirdness that I don't even know where to begin. At the previous dance marathon, Lorelai's partner was someone called Henry Ho-Ho McAfee the Third. What/why/how?

Jackson wants to have four kids in four years; Andrew flips out because his partner once went out with Liam Neeson; Taylor dreams of being a magician; everyone eats eggless egg salad. It's all very perplexing, but somehow endearing? If I met these people IRL I would break out in hives, but they're delightful from afar.

Oh, and how could I forget this gem: Stars Hollow has a Tennessee Williams lookalike contest! What in the ever-loving fuck?

Sharpest insult or one-liner:
Jess's retort is spot-on:

Dean: Rory, get your stuff and let’s go.
Jess: Ooh, that was good. Now say ‘then get in there and make me my supper.’

Dean is totally this kind of guy, which will become more evident once we get to the Lindsay episodes.

Books mentioned/books Rory is reading:
Jess reads "The Magic Mountain" by Thomas Mann at the dance marathon. This book has been on my list for a long time but I haven't been able to motivate myself to pull it off the shelf. I'm not 100% sure, but I think Selin reads this book in Elif Batuman's "The Idiot."

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Can you imagine sitting on those bleachers for 24 hours?

Best song of the episode:
The only songs we hear are big band tunes at the dance marathon. I don't have strong feelings about any of them, so I guess I'll go with the theme from "Rocky," which plays during Kirk's victory lap.

Thoughts:
This is one of the most memorable "Gilmore Girls" episodes, included on many "best of" lists. It incorporates all of the best aspects of the show: great one-on-one scenes, townie madness, flirtations, autumnal decorations, and mother/daughter closeness. And best of all, Rory and Dean finally end their boring ass relationship. Good riddance, Dean! I'll miss your sexy smile, but it's time for you and your puka shell necklaces to give it a rest. I wish this was his final episode, but he continues to pop up benignly until Season 4 when shit gets weird.

The beginning of the episode is unusual. The camera pans the town square, full of dance marathon signage, while we hear Luke and Lorelai's non-diegetic voices discussing options for something. When the camera reaches the sign for Luke's diner, there is a cut, and we're suddenly inside, where we see the grouchy diner owner and lovable single mom (hah), looking out the window. They're discussing potential partners for Lorelai because the dance marathon is coming up and this is the year she's finally going to best Kirk, the reigning champion.

At Friday night dinner, Lorelai is pumped because she's finally found someone to dance with: Stanley Appleman. Emily is annoyed by her chipper attitude, which I understand. Thankfully, it's short-lived. Lorelai receives a call from Stanley who informs her that he can no longer dance with her because

"Apparently, Miss Patty showed his wife a picture of me, and she thinks I look like Elizabeth Taylor, which makes her Debbie Reynolds, and Stanley Eddie Fisher."

Stanley's wife sounds insecure, which is a shame. She's probably the type who would side-eye another woman for showing some cleavage lest it tempt her man into cheating.

At Chilton, Paris is obsessing over the 75th anniversary issue of The Franklin until she walks outside and sees Jamie casually leaning against a window. He looks much older/nerdier than I remember him and I don't understand his outfit. Every single piece of clothing is too big for him and his collared shirt is folded into his sweater.

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Those pants are baggier than my XL pajama bottoms. Look at the crotch!

Paris is so enamored that she turns up late to biology class the next day! Maybe Jamie's crotch is so loose because it needs to accommodate for his enormous schlong? I can think of no other reason why Paris would allow some dude to interfere with her schoolwork.

Per Lorelai's request, Rory asks Paris if it's possible to move their Saturday newspaper meeting to the following week. Since Appleman bailed, Lorelai needs a new dance partner and has successfully conned Rory into filling the position. Paris, deep in the "OMG I have a crush" delirium, agrees and Rory is all-clear to dance the night away (although in Rory's case, 'dance' actually means 'awkwardly flail limbs').

Sandwiched between the Chilton scenes is a neurotic Lane, frantically calling and hanging up on Dave Rygalski at the Gilmore house. Dean is also there because remember, he's on this show, too! If any young girls are reading this, here's a tip: don't drive yourself crazy waiting for some dude to call you. It's okay to call him first. I promise that you'll know pretty quickly whether or not he's into you and will save yourself a lot of wasted/anxious time wondering.

The next morning at the dance marathon, Sookie reveals the 'four in four' nonsense to Lorelai. My vagina is horrified and exhausted. I asked my husband about this breeder craziness. He's rarely able to answer any of my lady questions, which is tremendously disappointing. He's an anesthesiologist but I find it unacceptable that he doesn't know everything about everything.

Lindsay: Is four kids in four years even possible? What would the vagina look like after that hellscape nightmare?
Luke: You know that plastic bag in "American Beauty"?
Lindsay: OMG yes.
Luke: Hah, no ... it wouldn't legitimately look like that. The vagina is pretty resilient.
Lindsay: So it would bounce back?
Luke: ... mostly.

If Sookie also wanted to have four kids in four years, this would still be mindblowing to me, but her business. The fact that she's not into it and feels uncomfortable telling Jackson is weird. Why does it have to be four kids specifically in four years? Shouldn't that decision rest on the person who is actually pushing those kids out of her body? I FUCKING HATE JACKSON. He's the worst person in Stars Hollow and this piece of information confirms it.

Coffee-They-Shoot-Gilmores-Dont-They-Gilmore-Girls-1
"Nothing says coffee like six in the morning."

After Rory and Lorelai caff up c/o Luke, they hit the dance floor for the big opening number to "Sing, Sing, Sing" which I played in 9th grade jazz band. There are some good dancers, but all I can focus on is Alexis Bledel. She's about as coordinated as me and even though this carefully edited scene attempts to mask it, my eyes are instantly drawn to her whenever she's on screen. Babette and Morey leave before the first number is even over and I commend them for this.

At 12 PM, things are still going strong. Kirk and Lorelai exchange barbs, Dean arrives, Andrew and his date fight about Liam Neeson, and Jess and his date plow through the mass of dancers to get to the bleachers. This is especially rude behavior, even for Jess.

At 8 PM, things have noticeably slowed. Jackson dances over to Lorelai and flips out over her reaction to his four in four plan. After the "run around," a horrible lap race that eliminates the last 5 couples to cross the finish line, everyone breaks for some eggless egg salad sandwiches.

Jess, Rory, Shane, and Dean exchange insults around the food table. I love it when Mrs. Kim asks who Jess is and he reluctantly adds "ma'am" to his response. Back in the gym, Lorelai unwittingly involves Luke in the Sookie/Jackson child debate. His comments are ones I relate to HARD.

Luke: One kid in four years is crazy.
Jackson: Hey.
Luke: Sorry, go ahead, drop another sucker in this mess.

#imwithhim ✊🏼

It's now 5 AM and people are dropping like flies. Taylor is talking about levitating rottweilers and then suddenly, the heel on Lorelai's vintage shoe has broken. She uses her yellow card and steps off the dance floor for an emergency break. Luckily, Dean is waiting in the wings to take her place as Rory's makeshift pillow.

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"Look, I’ll be back in ten minutes. Do not let her stop or lay down, do you understand me?"

Back at the food table, Dave Rygalski casually approaches Lane and tells her he misses her. I'm not sure why Dave is awake and in Stars Hollow at 5 AM. When Mrs. Kim asks what his deal is, he quickly tells her that he doesn't know Lane and is only there because he heard people on the street raving about the sandwiches. He needs extras to bring to his parents, who just happen to be in private Bible study. At this point, my husband turned to me and said, "His ease with the lies is almost a little scary, no?" I agree ... it's slightly troublesome, but Dave is cute enough that I just find it endearing 🤷🏼‍♀️.

Back in the gym, Luke fixes Lorelai's shoe (because of course he does). They make flirty eyes at each other and he says that he didn't mean to be so harsh in his response to children.

Lorelai: You don’t have to want kids, Luke. Or like kids. It’s not for everybody.
Luke: I know, but ... although I’m quite happy going an entire day without having to deal with somebody else’s bodily functions, if I ever happen to meet the right person ... well, it would be a discussion.

I understand (fictional) Luke. I don't really want kids, but I'd be open to them if they were important to my husband (who is also named Luke). Thankfully, I know they aren't because we discussed this subject before we got married like reasonable human adults.

FUCKING FINALLY we get to the scene where Dean breaks up with Rory. She's staring at Jess while hanging on Dean, and he's staring at her while pawing Shane. Rory then says some shitty and unacceptable things about Shane. I know this recap is already too long, but I can't let these comments slide.

Rory: There they go again! God, I swear, why can’t they just get a room? Or forget a room – get a park bench, or a doorway, or even a strategically placed telephone pole would probably suffice. I mean, girls like Shane – what is it with them? Don’t they see what they look like? I know they have mirrors.
Jess: Hey, you talking about me?
Rory: No.
Jess: I heard you mention Shane.
Rory: Shane isn’t you.
Jess: Shane concerns me.
Rory: Shane concerns me, too – and all women, for that matter.

Sorry, what does Shane look like? To me, she looks like someone who is having fun fooling around with a hot dude. What's wrong with that? Rory should say shitty things about Jess, not his lady who obviously wants no part in this drama.

Finally, after being made to look like an idiot for 2.5 seasons, Dean snaps. He breaks up with Rory in grand fashion, right in the middle of the dance floor.

Dean: Oh, please! You’ve been into him since he got to town, and I have spent weeks – months, actually – trying to convince myself that it wasn’t true, that everything was fine between us. But now I know that I was an idiot. You’re into him and he’s into you, and Shane, who by the way, should be listening to this ‘cause it’s so damn obvious.
Rory: What’s obvious? What did I do?
Dean: Everyone can see, Rory! Everyone. And I’m tired, but I’m over it, so go ahead, go. Be together. There’s nothing standing in your way now, ‘cause I’m out.

Everything he says is correct, but I'm sad this realization took so long.

Rory runs off the dance floor and Jess finds her sitting on the dock of the lake. They reluctantly confess their feelings for each other and Jess leaves, presumably to break up with Shane.

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Back in the gym, Lorelai returns and is crestfallen to find that Kirk has won the dance marathon. Rory returns, crying, and Lorelai comforts her as Kirk does his victory lap. It's an iconic, lovely scene and we can all take a collective sigh of relief, for this idiotic love triangle has finally come to a close.

Random observations:

  • I love that Paris has a revenge notebook. She doesn't start to truly shine as a character until Season 4, but the writers start laying the ground work now.
  • There are two Lynch references in this episode: "Blue Velvet" (David) and "Boxing Helena" (Jennifer). I think I'm one of the few people that loved the latter film. Jennifer Lynch has been working on a new project, "A Fall from Grace," for the past 5-6 years and I think it's finally supposed to premiere in 2018.
  • There's no way 156 couples have entered the dance marathon. Although ... that number isn't unreasonable compared to the total population of the town (9,973). It seems plausible to me that 3% are interested in fucking up their sleep schedules/sanity for charity.
  • My husband referred to Dean as "that oatmeal motherfucker," which I think is delightfully accurate.
  • This is clearly a Sherman-Palladino episode because there are so many references. Martha Graham (famous dancer and choreographer), Spicoli (Sean Penn's character in "Fast Times at Ridgemont High"), Tony Manero (John Travolta's character in "Saturday Night Fever"), and countless others are peppered throughout.
  • I guess I should mention that the episode title comes from "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?" by Sydney Pollack. If you haven't seen this movie, you definitely should. Jane Fonda absolutely kills it, but the direction is kind of whatever, TBH.
  • I want to know what is in eggless egg salad. I guess it's probably tofu. Is it eggless because eggs go bad and it needs to sit out for the entirety of the dance marathon? If so, I assume it's also sans mayonnaise, so then what makes it creamy? I am confounded. Additionally, I would like to know if the Kims are vegans or vegetarians. They consume a ton of soy products (later episodes feature Tofurky, soy scones, and spaghetti and wheatballs).
  • I agree with Shane: Rory is totally Bobby Brady.
  • Spotted: black woman at the dance marathon wearing a leopard ensemble, complete with hat.
  • Also spotted: man playing the clarinet with more gusto than I've ever showcased in my entire life.
  • The back of Kirk's vest is emblazoned with a Doose's Market logo. Did Taylor sponsor him?
  • Mrs. Kim stirs the eggless egg salad like it's a witch's cauldron at 37:08; I find it delightful.