Directing and writing credits:
"The Hobbit, the Sofa, and Digger Stiles" is directed by Matthew Diamond, written by Amy Sherman-Palladino. This is Diamond's first episode of "Gilmore Girls," but he'll go on to direct five more up through S5. Here are some of his career highlights, according to my quick Internet perusal:

  • He got his start choreographing for many popular dance companies and was kind of a big deal in that world. He got into directing via dance and won a Primetime Emmy Award for outstanding classical music-dance program for "Great Performances: Dance in America."
  • His feature documentary, "Dancemaker," was nominated for a best documentary feature Academy award in 1999.
  • He's directed everything from live TV musical performances, to episodes of "Jane the Virgin" and "The Golden Girls." The dude has done it all.

I have no ASP news for you, but I just finished S2 of "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" last night and oh, do I have thoughts. I don't have time to write about each episode, but I'll do a season overview like I did with S1.

Most batshit crazy outfit:
Sookie wears a shit stain brown bodycon dress with a keyhole neckline. Why does the "GG" costume department hate Melissa McCarthy? What did that queen ever do to cross them?

Lorelai's 1960s couch print tank top is almost just as bad.

Most irritating Rory or Lorelai moment:
I hate Lorelai's exchange with the little girl who is distressed about what girl hobbits can and can't do.

Girl: Riley said only boy hobbits can travel to Mount Doom. Is that true?
Lorelai: In the movie, only boy hobbits travel to Mount Doom, but that's only because the girls went to do something even more dangerous.
Girl: What?
Lorelai: Have you ever heard of a Brazilian bikini wax?

What a weird, tone-deaf response. This is a missed learning opportunity and had I been in Lorelai's position, I would have given this little girl a misogyny 101 lesson and let her know that girls can do whatever the fuck they want.

Number of times Rory or Lorelai treat their bff like shit:
Lane is in Adventist college hell and Rory is nowhere to be seen. She reveals,

"I wore a bracelet to school today. My parents were called. There was a special service in chapel, and I've been ordered to a soul-searching seminar next week. I'll be sitting between the nail-polish-wearing girl and the spicy condiment user."

Rory is too busy whining about her fancy furniture and probably doesn't have time to listen to tales of Lane's never-ending hellscape nightmare.

Lorelai is a legitimately good friend to Sookie. She talks her down during her "OMG I'm not ready to have children" meltdown and refrains from slapping her when all she prepares for a roomful of children is gravlax and weird mac n' cheese.

Best literary or pop culture references:
It's like Emily Gilmore wants Rory to set her expensive new couch on fire when she falls asleep holding a joint.

"That's a plasma TV with a VCR and a DVD player. There's also a five-CD changer and a turntable, and the whole thing is wired in 5.1 surround sound. Now I have no idea what that means, but the man who installed it said to get Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon. It's supposed to be amazing."

"Never underestimate the value of the upper hand, Rory."

Stars Hollow weirdness:
The townies are absent, but Lorelai does casually mention that Luke sent muffins to Yale for Rory. That man is so thoughtful until the April reveal.

Sharpest insult or one-liner:
I fucking love the idea of Sookie heckling some tiny child singing "Butterfly" at a family gathering.

"You know at family gatherings when everyone goes into the living room, gathers around, watches the kids? I read. Jackson's sister has a little girl, six years old. She likes to get up in front of the family after dinner and sing Mariah Carey songs. I heckle. I have no desire to play with them. Easter egg hunts bore me. I have never borrowed the neighbor's kid to look after for the afternoon."

πŸ˜‚ (Don't worry: I am never having children.)

Books mentioned/books Rory is reading:
Rory half-assedly reads Ian McEwan's "Atonement" when she shows up to her first class hella early.

Best song of the episode:
I don't love any of the music featured in this episode, but I guess I'll go with "I Do the Rock" by Tim Curry. It plays when Rory sees Marty at the first party of the year.

A bunch of minor but interesting developments take place in this episode. Lorelai and Sookie become caterers, Rory meets Marty, aka naked guy (Wayne Wilcox), and Richard goes into business with Jason Stiles (Chris Eigeman).

At this point in the series, Lorelai has been out of work for at least 3 solid months. I don't understand how she has money to eat, let alone buy Rory tons of crap from her stack of "youth-oriented catalogs." Some kind of trust fund that has never been mentioned is the only plausible explanation for her reckless spending.

For someone unemployed, Lorelai is not super hyped on the idea of catering a child's birthday party. I don't blame her because honestly, how much can that gig possibly pay? If she and Sookie were each given $100 for their troubles, even that would feel too steep. While she and Sookie hammer out the party details, Jackson works on "trying to hook up the house's central sound system to the baby monitor." What does this even mean? Sookie still uses a walkie-talkie to communicate with him, so what exactly has he accomplished? Jackson is a blathering moron and I feel my rage bubble over every time he makes an appearance. Sookie should have left him for that cute chef in Season 2.

When the day of the party rolls around, it becomes quickly apparent that Sookie hasn't actually followed any of Lorelai's instructions. It's a "Lord of the Rings" themed party and Lorelai was expecting "festive kiddie food," not a feast fit for "the Romanov kids." Here's what Sookie prepared for her 10-year-old client and his pals:

  • Brie with lavender honey and bourbon-sugared pecans
  • Blanched cruditΓ©s platter with a lemon-garlic aioli dipping sauce
  • Gravlax
  • Assorted charcuteries
  • Macaroni and cheese with a jalapeno-chipotle cream sauce
  • Chocolate cake with a rum-raisin, tropical-fruit ganache
Sookie has been hanging out with Jackson too long; the stupid is rubbing off on her.

I refuse to believe that Sookie, a professional chef, would so clearly miss the mark. Didn't she and Lorelai have a conversation about budget? All of her ingredients must have cost a fortune. I like the idea of her "OMG I'm not ready for children" anxiety-attack, but have a hard time suspending my disbelief over its impetus and execution. Sookie isn't a moron; she knows kids aren't going to like the fancy bullshit she prepared. Thankfully, Lorelai jumps into problem-solving mode, talks Sookie down, and manages to salvage the menu with the help of Rawley and Cheech (who are totally real people).

The LOTR party is believable for a ten-year-old kid, but I wonder if it was a paid placement. There's one scene where the kids are watching "The Two Towers" and the clip of the film is suspiciously long. I guess it's more likely that Amy and Dan are just big fans of the franchise, but I'm always skeptical.

While Lorelai deals with the party prep and subsequent fiasco, Rory tries to settle in at school. Since she's a textbook overachiever, she shows up to her first class super early and sits in awkward silence with Marty, another freshman nerd. After returning to her dorm room post-class, she realizes that Emily has broken in and completely redecorated the common room. I hate when people invade my privacy and touch my things without permission, but I'd get over it as soon as I laid eyes on the plasma TV and stereo system. Emily Gilmore is a controlling bitch, but she's also a generous, fancy bitch. Rory, of course, talks a big game about establishing boundaries with her grandma but immediately chickens out when faced with the possibility of confrontation.

Check out this common room! There's even art on the walls.

It's the first party of the year at Yale and Paris is hell-bent on leaving the door to their suite open so that they can be part of the action. Paris sees college as a fresh start, a new opportunity to convince people that she isn't a raging psychopath teetering on the edge of sanity. She says,

"No one knows me here, Rory. Do you understand what that means? It means I can start all over. I can wipe out the last eighteen years and introduce people to the new Paris Geller, the fun Paris Geller. I just want everything to be different this year, that's all."

Thankfully, Rory throws her a bone and agrees to participate in the party. She does not, however, agree to a room identity (make-out room, dance room, keg room, meaningful conversation room). I love that Paris tries so hard to break out of her grumpy, judgmental shell. Her attempt is a total failure - she gets annoyed and kicks everyone out shortly after the party begins - but I give her props for the attempt. Terrence's efforts are not in vain!

"What's with the Gabor sisters?"

I appreciate that "Gilmore Girls" shows a different side of college life, antithetical to what's typically portrayed on TV. Rory is an introvert and Paris is a misanthrope. Pretending to care about what some dumbasses glugging MGD (seriously, there has to be a sponsorship, right?) have to say is not enjoyable for either of them. Rory would clearly rather be reading and Paris has world domination to plot. (I have no idea what Paris does for fun.) Season 4 is fun because both ladies try to expand their horizons but quickly recognize and embrace their limitations. Paris and Rory are not party people, dammit, and there's nothing wrong with that.

After everything wraps up and all is quiet, Rory puts on her robe and peeks her head out the door, into the hall. Since the bathroom is connected to her suite, I'm not sure what prompts her to do this. Maybe she wanted to see if people were still raging outside? Either way, this is when she discovers Marty, passed out ass-naked in the middle of the girls' floor. Rory wakes him up, gives him her robe, and wow, I wish I sounded as coherent as Marty when I am inebriated. I can't wait until we get deeper into the Marty stuff, because oh boy, do I have thoughts on him.

Some stuff with Richard Gilmore happens that I didn't mention because it's pretty ho-hum. All you need to know is that he's going into business with Jason Stiles, his old boss' son. Jason hates his dad and wants to screw him over, so he has approached Richard with a business proposition. Emily is horrified that anyone could ever be so vindictive, but I admire his moxie. Jason is my favorite of Lorelai's love interests and if we're being honest, probably a better match for her than Luke. Someone (maybe my mom) mentioned this to me a while ago and I was like, "Blasphemy! How could you say such a thing?" I was wrong; I understand it now.

Random observations:

  • Jackson is still wearing his stupid "I do not want to know the sex of my baby" pin. Points for continuity!
  • Rory subscribes to the Stars Hollow Gazette. If only she knew that 10+ years later, she would be living at her mom's house and running that paper ... well, she'd probably kill herself.
  • Alexis Bledel is horrible at pretending empty coffee cups are full.
  • I love when Lorelai wears glasses. They're never particularly stylish, but it's a good look for her.
The pinkie ring is also a nice touch.
  • One of the tiny hobbits in this episode is Victoria Justice. I have no idea who she is, but the Internet tells me she was a Disney Channel star πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™€οΈ
  • Another one of the hobbits uses "retard" as an insult. I guess this was probably standard child talk at the time, but yikes.
  • Janet (Katie Walder), Rory's third roommate, makes an appearance in this episode. She has a partial athletic scholarship and is on the track team, so of course Lorelai and Rory have no choice but to make fun of her commitment to health and wellness.
  • Is Glenn a conservative? During the party, he's shocked that the girl he's talking to thinks the guy that pumps her gas should have the right to vote. Fuck you, Glenn. I never noticed this before and I now feel 0% sympathy for all of the jokes that everyone later makes at his expense.
  • Kick and Mickey are absolutely terrifying. Instead of making up a fake excuse and disappearing, Rory sits between them on the couch, listening to them blather on about potential nicknames for her.