TV / Gilmore Girls

'Gilmore Girls' Season 4, Episode 16: The Reigning Lorelai

. 7 min read . Written by Lindsay Pugh
'Gilmore Girls' Season 4, Episode 16: The Reigning Lorelai

Directing and writing credits:
"The Reigning Lorelai" is directed by Marita Grabiak, written by Jane Espenson. This is Grabiak's first (and only) episode of "GG," and she does a commendable job. I imagine it would be relatively boring to direct this kind of TV show because there's not much room for creativity. I could be completely wrong, but I can't see the Palladinos allowing a one-time director to step in and alter the show's DNA; they're not making (alleged) faux "Big Little Lies" promises to anyone. Grabiak is a seasoned professional who has worked on other similar shows ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "Alias," "Dawson's Creek"), so I'm sure she's used to it.

This is the second time Espenson has popped up with a writing credit ("Chicken or Beef?" was the first), although she's been involved as an executive producer since the start of the season. I'm a big fan of her work on "Buffy" and always happy to see her name appear.

Most batshit crazy outfit:
I don't understand why we're forced to endure Lorelai's black and red argyle sweater vest for a second time. Someone should have made her return it to the Fashion Bug clearance rack a long time ago. This time, it's styled in an early 2000s business casual kind of way (complete with trouser chain - wtf).

Yes way, bitch. I can't believe you wore this gross sweater vest again.

Most irritating Rory or Lorelai moment:
In a brutal flash of narcissism, Rory makes the news of Gran's death all about herself, and Lorelai supports the delusion.

Rory: Shouldn't I be crying? I feel like I should be crying.
Lorelai: Well, you didn't know her that well.
Rory: Still, she was my great-grandmother. I mean, I should feel more. Oh, God, what if I don't cry at the funeral? Then everyone will see that I'm not crying, and Grandpa will be upset.
Lorelai: Well, honey, if you can't cry, at least you know you can work yourself up into a very respectable panic attack.
Rory: It might have to do.
Lorelai: You're an amazing kid. She was so lucky to have you as a great-granddaughter. Hey, do you want me to come by tonight, pick you up, take you to Tijuana, get you drunk and laid?
Rory: That's okay. I've got too much work to do.

Imagine if your biggest problem was being unable to cry at a distant relative's funeral.

Number of times Rory or Lorelai treat their bff like shit:
Zero. Lane only has one small diner scene and Sookie is busy whipping up mock turtle soup and other funeral food. Lorelai definitely takes Sookie's kindness for granted, but she isn't overtly rude.

Best literary or pop culture references:
Michel is pissed that his cable provider shows "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle" multiple times per day but doesn't cover the Westminster dog show. This is a valid complaint that I can't knock, but who doesn't love that bar scene set to the "Pink Panther" theme song?

I guess I can understand why this doesn't appeal to Michel.

Stars Hollow weirdness:
Lane doesn't initially believe him, but Kirk's eggs have been cooked in the fish pan again. Later (during a Luke/Nicole fight), we find out that he can "read lips."

Kirk: Oh, I can tell you what they're saying.
Lorelai: How?
Kirk: I read lips. My girlfriend taught me. It's so we can have quiet time and keep the conversation going at the same time. Okay, she just said, "Hardwood sponge is the authority of the hostile biographer." And then he responded, "Just phone cords to original samovars."

Once again, I must remind you that Kirk is the best character on this show.

Sharpest insult or one-liner:
Emily's fake story about Melinda "Sweetie" Nelson kills me every time. No one knows how to put Lorelai in her place quite like Madame Gilmore.

Books mentioned/books Rory is reading:
Rory doesn't read. Rumor has it, Yale is turning her brain to mush. Emily, on the other hand, has torn through Michel Faber's "The Crimson Petal and the White" for her book club (which is sadly only mentioned once).

"Today I learned how to make mojitos!"

Best song of the episode:
There are no songs, just morose la-las and silence.

Thoughts:
It is an absolute travesty that Kelly Bishop never won any Emmys for her time on "Gilmore Girls." From the opening scene, her work on "The Reigning Lorelai" is an absolute master class.

The tension between Emily and Richard has been building for a few episodes and comes to a fever pitch after Gran's death. First, Richard blows off her best friend's funeral for a casual work obligation. I don't know what would ever make him think this behavior is okay. Anyone with a modicum of emotional intelligence would immediately sense Emily's sadness and understand her desire for support. Richard is apparently too busy thinking about business golf to intuit his wife's needs.

After Gran dies, he mopes around in a haze of grief and completely relies on Emily to organize funeral arrangements. Richard is so distraught that he can't even tie his own bowtie (Rory does it for him using Internet instructions). All he's capable of is telling stories about his childhood, refusing to eat, and throwing tantrums about lackluster obituaries.

"That is what she told me...on my 10th birthday. I never forgot that."

Emily seems stressed, but happy to help, until she stumbles across a nasty letter that Gran wrote to Richard the day before their wedding. Gran practically begs him to leave Emily at the altar and reconsider his old paramour, Pennilyn Lott. As you might imagine, this is Emily's tipping point.

Lorelai: Mom, we have to plan this funeral.
Emily: Find a box, throw her in, we're done!
Lorelai: Mom.
Emily: Better yet, throw the old harpy's carcass in a ditch! Let a wolverine eat her.

Emily is an incredibly supportive, involved spouse, but there's no way in hell she's slaving over some spiteful old bag's last wishes. Instead of sifting through mountains of possessions in a dusty basement and contacting long-dead florists, she dons a silk robe, sparks up a cigarette, and dedicates the next 24+ hours to alcohol. Her tolerance for bullshit is much higher than mine. I probably would have lost it after finding out about Richard's clandestine Pennilyn lunches and receiving nothing more than a half-assed apology in return.

Emily pulls it together for the actual funeral/wake, but it's clear that she and Richard are on thin ice.

Jason and his patchy facial hair "can't do funerals." 

After Emily bows out of funeral prep, Lorelai takes on the remaining responsibilities without complaint. She might consistently bitch about her parents and treat them like shit 70% of the time, but Lorelai is always around when they need her most. She's probably a better daughter than I am, tbh. Even Rory makes herself useful by re-writing the obituary that nearly gave Richard a coronary.

With only one emotional breakdown in the lingerie department, Lorelai pulls off the entire event without a hitch. Even though Gran was a real bitch, it's nice to see everyone (including Lorelais 2 and 3) reminisce about her at the end of the episode. I hope all of my cats come together and do the same thing for me when I'm dead.

Random observations:

  • What brand of cigarettes do we think Emily smokes? After a quick Google, my money is on Dunhills. I assume sad Richard is drinking Glenfiddich, but can't confirm.
  • I worked at Macy's in college and if someone came into the lingerie department ranting about their grandmother's death, I would hide in the dressing room and refuse to come out until the end of my shift.
Shannon deserves a raise for dealing with this nonsense.
  • Gran was a demanding old bitch, and I love the idea of her being buried in small, strawberry-print underwear and a Hello Kitty bracelet.
  • I don't understand why "GG" refuses to give Luke a legitimate love interest that isn't Lorelai. Nicole was never a viable threat, so any storyline involving her is boring.
  • If you want to be disgusted, Google the recipe for mock turtle soup. It contains calf brains and organ meat 🤮
  • I should start creating carbon copy of all my letters so people have something good to read after I die.
  • Amy and Dan love double-casting and go completely insane with it in the revival. Both Gran and cousin Marilyn are played by Marion Ross.