Directing and writing credits:
Directed by Steven Robman, written by Amy Sherman-Palladino and Sheila R. Lawrence. You should remember Robman from two previous episodes:

Teach Me Tonight | Season 2, Episode 19 - "A Film by Kirk" debuts at the Stars Hollow Movie Festival, Jess wrecks Rory's car, Lorelai loses her shit, and Christopher appears just to annoy us.
One's Got Class and the Other One Dyes | Season 3, Episode 4 - In the most unrealistic scene of the entire series, Lane goes from jet black hair, to bleach blonde hair, to bright purple hair in the span of a few hours.

You should also remember Lawrence from two previous episodes:
Presenting Lorelai Gilmore | Season 2, Episode 6 - Richard is a dick to Emily, Christopher returns, and Rory agrees to participate in a debutante ball.
There's the Rub | Season 2, Episode 16 - Jess and Paris vibe HARD and I don't understand why these two never get to have another scene together.

Most batshit crazy outfit:
Lorelai wears an awful coat at the beginning of the episode that is reminiscent of a skinned poodle. It's gross, but not nearly as 'wtf' as her Yale ensemble:

Rory-and-Lorelai-Let-the-Games-Begin-Gilmore-Girls-2
Rory's outfit is boring but inoffensive.

How many bedazzled geisha shirts does one 34-year-old woman need? NONE. THE ANSWER IS NONE. Her nasty leather jacket/blazer is also a crime against humanity and Lorelai deserves to be jailed for wearing these pieces together.

Most irritating Rory or Lorelai moment:
Our girls are pretty annoying in this episode. Lorelai's meltdown at Yale is ridiculously petty (although I understand it) and Rory's refusal to fuck off and let Dean live his life is unacceptable. I hate Dean as much as the next person, but I think he deserves some time post-breakup to lick his wounds without Rory yammering on about how upset she is that his mom is eventually going to hate her.

Number of times Rory or Lorelai treat their bff like shit:
Sookie and Lane are missing. Lane is probably brooding in her closet, listening to Coltrane and dreaming about Dave Rygalski's penis. For the sake of everyone eating at the Independence Inn, I hope Sookie is MIA because she's taking a class on kitchen hygiene. As Sarvi pointed out on the WiR Facebook page, "Sookie's great crime is licking those spoons and sticking them back in the saucepot." 😂

Best literary or pop culture references:
Lorelai's retelling of the Taliesin estate murders is almost correct (with fake details sprinkled in to scare Emily into treating her maids better), and I have to give her props for the attempt.

Lorelai: Mrs. Wright apparently had this major problem with her help. She was very rough on them and they totally hated her. So this guy who had worked for her forever, he had finally had enough. I believe the incident was over walnuts, wasn’t it, honey?
Rory: The exact cause has not been proven.
Lorelai: Anyhow, Mrs. Wright invites this whole posse of people over for dinner and they’re all sitting around eating, and Mr. Disgruntled Servant Guy goes outside and locks all the doors and windows and douses the whole house in gasoline and sets the place on fire.
Emily: My goodness.
Lorelai: So the house is on fire, and people are freaking out, so they run to the doors but the doors are locked, so a few of them try to get out through the windows, but Mr. Angry-Puss is standing outside with an ax hacking them to death and so they all died.

Stars Hollow weirdness:
Someone steals Kirk's dance marathon trophy, which he creepily refers to with feminine pronouns.

Kirks-Trophy-Let-the-Games-Begin-Gilmore-Girls
"Everybody hates a winner."

Books mentioned/books Rory is reading:
Jess mentions "Romeo and Juliet," but no one reads anything this episode.

Best song of the episode:
I guess we have to go with "Then She Appeared" by XTC as it's the only song in the episode. I don't really care for its use in the Rory/Jess kiss scene, though.

Thoughts:
Jess has broken up with Shane, Rory is free of Dean, and now it's time for us to see if 1.5 seasons of crazy sexual tension result in something interesting. Remember that this is a WB show and set your expectations accordingly.

At the start of the episode, Rory and Lorelai are shredded from the dance marathon and take 30 minutes to limp over to Luke's. How long does it usually take them to walk to Luke's? I feel like I need a diagram of Stars Hollow because it makes zero fucking sense to me (much like the layout of Rory and Lorelai's house).

When they finally get to the diner, Kirk is there with his trophy/dildo and Rory realizes that she doesn't actually have time to order breakfast. While Luke is grabbing her some road doughnuts, Jess walks downstairs and he and Rory have an awkward "hi-hey-hi-hi-hi-bye-bye" exchange. I can't believe I forgot to note Jess's shirts under the "crazy outfit" section because they are gross:

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He's wearing a thermal camouflage long sleeve with a hideous, haphazardly screenprinted snap-down (examine it closely - they aren't buttons) shirt. What and why? No one on this show knows how to layer clothes properly and it's baffling. They all need lessons from Miss Celine.

After Jess and Rory leave, Luke reveals his cluelessness and Lorelai fills him in on Stars Hollow's newest budding romance.

Lorelai: Rory and Jess are together.
Luke: Are you serious? What about Dean?
Lorelai: Dean and Rory broke up at the dance.
Luke: They did? I was at the dance, how come I didn’t know about this?
Lorelai: Because you’re you.

Luke is jazzed because he thinks Rory will be a good influence on Jess. Lorelai isn't thrilled, but she knew this moment was coming so she's had time to mentally prepare.

At Friday night dinner, while Emily is on walnut patrol, Richard cons Rory into visiting Yale. Over coke and chocolates in the kitchen, he tells her that he's going back there next week for a Whiffenpoofs reunion and would love to take her on a tour of the school. Rory agrees, even though she knows this will result in one of Lorelai's paranoid temper tantrums.

Right on cue, Lorelai flips out and turns off the car as soon as she hears mention of Yale in the elder Gilmores' driveway. She wants Rory to understand that Richard is manipulating her and blah, blah, blah. It's all very immature and I truly don't understand how Rory puts up with this bullshit. Lorelai has a real knack for turning any minor situation into an assault on her independence and authority.

A few days later, after a string of awkward exchanges, Rory and Jess almost kiss, but Luke walks in on them. He gives Jess a big speech about the ground rules of dating Rory and reminds me why I often find him so irritating. I wish Luke would let Jess live his life. I hate how everyone in this town thinks that just because Lorelai got pregnant at sixteen, the same thing is going to happent to her daughter. Instead of talking about the dangers of drugs, alcohol, and sitting too close to each other on the couch, Luke should buy Jess a box of condoms and make sure he knows how to use them. A brief lecture on consent would also be useful. Luke is new to the whole parenting thing, but I can't even give him an A for effort here.

During the visit to Yale, we find out that Richard was quite a player back in the day. He used to take ladies to the art gallery, impress them with his knowledge of Titian, and then fuck them (that last part is implied, not stated). Everyone is having a solid day, Lorelai included. There's even a cute scene where Emily and Richard walk past the spot where they got engaged (what used to be a bench is now a trash can).

Emily-Richard-Kiss-Let-the-Games-Begin-Gilmore-Girls
"Well, that’s very romantic ... especially if you need to spit your gum out."

Unfortunately, everything falls apart when they walk into the main administration building and Richard reveals that he's coordinated an interview for Rory with the Dean of Admissions. Lorelai has every right to be angry, but losing her shit and taking an expensive ass cab back to Stars Hollow isn't the healthiest response. I hate to defend Richard, but Lorelai doesn't know anything about how the college admissions process works and refuses to listen to anyone who might actually be able to help her. Had he approached her calmly and explained that it makes sense for Rory to apply to Yale as a back-up, she probably still wouldn't have allowed it.

When they get back to SH, the ladies head over to Luke's for tacos (from Hector's - rude) and coffee. Jess says he needs to get a part for his car and Rory declares she must go home to study. Of course, they're using the "kid code" to meet up in secret, away from the prying eyes of Backwards Baseball Cap and Emotional Hurricane.

What happens next is fucking incredible. We first see Jess, leaning against a gas pump with an unlit cigarette in his mouth. As Rory walks up, he takes it out of his mouth and fondles it. She asks, "Are you going to smoke that or mind meld with it?" He says, "It depends." As they move closer, XTC grows louder, and the sexual energy is electric.

Jess: Here we are.
Rory: Yeah, here we are. So, tell me, what’s your decision about smoking that depending on?
Jess: On what’s gonna happen.
Rory: When?
Jess: Now.

Gas-Pump-Cigarette-Let-the-Games-Begin-Gilmore-Girls
You know I'm cool because I laugh in the face of danger.

We know Rory's in love/lust because not once does she say, "Hey, Jess ... you might not want to smoke that cigarette here because we're standing next to a fucking gas pump. Do you know what happens when fire and gasoline combine, you spiky-haired idiot?" Instead, they kiss and aside from the fact that Jess is still holding his cigarette and sort of caressing Rory's hair with it, the whole thing is kind of magic. At least, it would be if Rory didn't immediately leave to whine to Dean about how sorry she is.

She climbs up a tree, shimmies onto the roof, taps on Dean's window, and apologizes. It's very annoying and for once, I must defend Dean against her entitled behavior. In uncharacteristic fashion, he actually does call Rory out on her bs and explains that she's just going to have to deal with the fact that someone doesn't like her for once. Good on you, Dean! (Although we all know this modicum of self-respect will not last long).

At the end of the episode, we see shots of Rory and Lorelai in their respective beds, both looking at Yale pamphlets. Richard might be a manipulative dick, but it's hard to deny that the dude has skill.

Random observations:

  • There's a live episode of "Bonnie & Maude," a podcast that no longer exists but I used to love dearly, where Dana Rossi dissects Rory and Jess's kiss. It's great and you should listen to it.
  • The scenes at "Yale" were filmed at Pomona College. The Dean of Admissions Office is actually Bridges Auditorium. I wonder how many kids were disappointed to find that real Yale is nothing like any "GG" version of it.
  • This episode contains the first mention of Pennilyn "Linny" Lott, Richard's college sweetheart and the only woman capable of sending Emily into a rage spiral at the mere mention of her name.
  • Apparently, Doritos 3D are available for purchase at Luke's Diner. Why did they ever discontinue these? They were delicious.
  • I want to know which book Rory recommends to the Dean of Admissions. All we know is that it contains Oprah's seal of approval.
  • Liliana is the name of the maid who doesn't understand how to prepare a salad without walnuts.
  • I would like to see the blue dress that convinced Richard to leave Linny for Emily.