Directing and writing credits:
"Ted Koppel's Big Night Out" was directed by Jamie Babbit, written by Amy Sherman-Palladino. Babbit is no stranger to the "GG" universe and has directed the previous episodes:

"The Road Trip to Harvard" - We find out that Lorelai's dysfunction goes way deeper than previously imagined when she skips town right before her wedding.
"Dead Uncles and Vegetables" - Is Luke a mensch or a pushover? His Uncle Louie was a dick, but Luke bends over backwards to arrange his funeral.
"Lorelai's Graduation Day" - Rory makes an impulsive decision and misses Lorelai's college graduation.
"Take the Deviled Eggs..." - Sherry's baby shower is horrible, but at least there's alcohol and potato salad.
"That'll Do, Pig" - Gran reveals that Korn used to rent her house and tell us "they were fine tenants." I'm still on Team Emily, but this fact definitely makes Gran more endearing.
"Lorelai Out of Water" - Lorelai catches a fish and names it Jayne Mansfield.
"The Big One" - Paris breaks my fucking heart and Rory is a good friend for once in her life.
"Say Goodnight, Gracie" - Fran Weston dies and Lorelai and Sookie waste no time negotiating a deal to buy the Dragonfly Inn.
"Those Are Strings, Pinocchio" - Rory graduates from Chilton, Lorelai and Sookie buy the Dragonfly Inn, and Emily Gilmore rocks daytime sequins like a queen.

This is one of my favorite episodes written by ASP. It has drama, comedy, and some nice character development ... basically everything I could hope for from "GG."

Most batshit crazy outfit:
Someone really needs to teach Lorelai three things: how to 1) tie a scarf, 2) properly layer clothes, and 3) do her laundry without shrinking everything she owns. There is no way Lorelai could lift her arms in that shirt or zip-up sweater without exposing most of her stomach. I don't understand why none of her shirts ever go past the top of her low-rise jeans. Maybe Lorelai wouldn't need two jackets if she just bought one that properly fit her.

The (Black!) background extra's face says it all.

I can't see the entire graphic tee, but I think it says "Bella." I'm not sure what would inspire a 30+ year old woman to buy it, but I do not approve. For me, the font is even worse than the message. It looks like Olde English and I audibly gagged when I saw it. Burn it, Rory! Take it when she's not looking and burn it with fire!

Richard and Emily obviously have the best game day ensembles. Just look at their carefully coordinated sweatshirts and accessories 💙

Edward Herrmann's smile on the right kills me. RIP.

Most irritating Rory or Lorelai moment:
Emily's initial reaction to Pennilyn Lott (Linda Gehringer) is slightly ridiculous, but I don't blame her for getting mad at Lorelai after this exchange:

Lorelai: Oh, wait, are you Pennilyn Lott, my dad's college sweetheart?
Pennilyn: Yes.
Lorelai: You're my almost-mommy.
Pennilyn: Well, I suppose you could put it that way.
Lorelai: I'm so glad to finally meet you. Let me ask you something - would you have let me get a pony?

Is this supposed to be funny? The fact that Lorelai sees nothing wrong with this behavior is mind-boggling.

Number of times Rory or Lorelai treat their bff like shit:
Sookie is missing and Lane only makes a brief appearance to yell at Brennon (Greg Cipes), Luke's new waiter, over her inability to distinguish doughnuts from bagels.

Best literary or pop culture references:
I love the conversation about Jessica Simpson during the opening scene:

Lorelai: "23 is old. It's almost 25, which is, like, almost mid-20s."
Rory: She did not say that.
Lorelai: She did say that.
Rory: It seems a little wrong that Jessica Simpson is alive and well and Roy got eaten by his tiger.

#NeverForget 💔

Stars Hollow weirdness:
The entire town bands together and boycotts Luke's in an attempt to get Brennon, aka Froggy, fired. Even Reverend Skinner is in line at Weston's! Kirk has relatively low standards, but even he isn't chill with getting the wrong order repeatedly and being forced to use "butt napkins."

Sharpest insult or one-liner:
I love the way Paris casually eviscerates Charlie Rose:

Paris: I saw you on Charlie Rose. You were good.
Asher: Thank you.
Paris: Not too self-important, you made your point, and managed to look remotely interested when Charlie babbled on pretentiously about nothing.
Asher: Well, Charlie Rose is a good friend of mine.
Paris: Whatever.

Suck it, Mr. Rose.

Books mentioned/books Rory is reading:
This is the second episode in a row without any books, which I find upsetting.

Best song of the episode:
Brennon's rendition of Limp Bizkit's "Nookie" finally convinces Luke to give him the ax. He was somehow able to put up with general idiocy and grossness but draws the line when it comes to an affinity for Fred Durst.

More happens in this episode than the past four combined. Emily finds out about Richard's clandestine Pennilyn Lott lunches, Lorelai finally goes on a date with Jason, and Paris kickstarts her romance (ick) with Asher Fleming (Michael York). I always love episodes where the Gilmores are all together outside of Friday night dinner. Although the Harvard-Yale game doesn't sound like the most exciting place for them to gather, trust me: it is a cornucopia of dysfunction.

Richard eats lunch with Paris and Rory at Yale one day and asks them what they have planned for "the game." Rory has no idea what he's talking about but, Paris is totally in the loop and hyped af. She's obsessed with collecting "college memories" and purchased her ticket a month ago. Optimistic freshman Paris is adorable (albeit fleeting). When Richard introduces her and Rory to Professor Fleming, an old college classmate, Paris casually insults Charlie Rose and presses him for a Yale Daily News interview.

There is zero discernible sexual tension and tbh, Paris has more chemistry with Richard, who she refers to as "a honey-tongued devil." By the end of the game, she and Fleming are all over each other, making out in a dark corner by the coffee cart (where Rory of course spots them). As a teenager, I didn't find anything wrong with this but as an adult, the unequal power dynamic disturbs me. Although Fleming and Rose aren't exactly on the same level, their friendship seems fitting considering what we now know.

I don't understand what either of his hands are doing, especially the right one.

At Friday night dinner, Lorelai is sad to hear that she hasn't been invited to the game, so she finagles a ticket from one of the elder Gilmore's old friends (Donlon, not Cecil, the one who had his colon removed). The next morning, she's significantly less gung-ho, especially after Froggy refuses to write down her order and immediately forgets it. Luke urges her to give him another chance but Lorelai (and most of the other patrons) are 100% over his nonsense.

At Yale, Emily chastises Lorelai for wearing crimson, Harvard's color, and forces her into a navy jacket. She laughs at the girls' plastic bag of Fig Newtons and Richard almost immediately pulls out "the fun flask." Even for rich educated people, football is a solid excuse for day drinking. After a pit stop at Handsome Dan's glass-enclosed tomb, everyone heads over to the Gilmore's tailgate spot, which is equipped with a giant RV, tables draped in luxe linens, and $1,000 worth of food and alcohol. They also brought along a maid and chef because only peasants travel without staff.

Richard is having the time of his life, hobnobbing with old friends, meeting current students, and bonding with Marty over their shared love of nakedness. Even Emily seems in good spirits ... that is, until Pennilyn stops by their table to chat and Lorelai says a bunch of dumb shit that makes everyone uncomfortable. Later, in the bathroom line, Lorelai runs into Pennilyn again and she asks how things are going with the inn. Emily overhears their conversation and later confronts Richard. How exactly did Pennilyn know about the Dragonfly? It's a tense situation and becomes even more uncomfortable when Richard reveals that he and Pennilyn have been lunching together for the past 39 years.

I enjoy her preppy vibe. I bet she rides horses in her free time

I wouldn't care if my husband wanted to have yearly lunches with an ex-girlfriend, but I would care if he did it for the entirety of our marriage without telling me. I think Emily is completely justified in her anger, although I don't support her unwarranted hostility toward Pennilyn or Lorelai. After she flips out on Richard, she turns to Lorelai and snaps, "You weren't even supposed to come. It was supposed to be your father and me and Rory. You weren't supposed to come!" Instead of coming to terms with her husband's betrayal, she looks for a scapegoat. If Lorelai has been treated this way her entire life, it's no wonder she has such a strained relationship with her mother.

Thankfully, one good thing comes out of Emily's shitty behavior: it inspires Lorelai to call Jason and accept his dinner date invitation. He has reservations at a fancy place called The China Garden (fictional, I think) and asks Lorelai to wear "something completely evil." When they arrive, the hostess seats them in a private room and Lorelai is visibly confused and uncomfortable. After all, how are they going to become bffs with Ted Koppel if they're separated from him by a wall? Personally, I would love to dine in a private room, away from all the noise and people, but I'm certainly not the norm.

To Jason's credit, he suggests that they leave as soon as he realizes that he made the wrong call with the room. He seems disappointed with how the situation played out but listens to Lorelai and doesn't try to invalidate her feelings. He might be kind of smarmy sometimes, but he's not a jerk.

Lorelai's dress is kind of basic but pretty.

After the China Garden failure, Lorelai first lies about not being hungry, then shouts directions at him after declaring that she's starving. As they pull up to a drive-thru called Taco Barn, she tells Jason, "Oh, this place, hands down, the best tacos on the East Coast. You're gonna be very happy." Jason tells her he's not a fan of Mexican food, so she glumly cancels her order, stating that she doesn't want to eat alone. While their behavior is kind of annoying, I appreciate that they stay true to themselves and don't immediately bend to the other's whim.

Eventually, they end up grabbing a bunch of random food at a grocery store and having an impromptu dinner (complete with candle) outside, right next to the children's mechanical rides and trash can. It's honestly pretty romantic and I like that after lightly bickering and disagreeing on pretty much everything, they're able to pull it together and have a nice night.

Random observations:

  • Why would a "cyber geek" come to Luke's with his computer? There's no way 2003 Luke has Wi-Fi.
  • This is a good food episode (sorry, I'm really hungry rn):
    • Luke, invigorated by Froggy's presence, whips up pumpkin pancakes with homemade cinnamon butter for breakfast.
    • Before the big game, Rory orders rye toast and Lorelai demands (but never receives) a cheese omelet with extra cheddar, no Jack, sourdough toast, two bacons, and two sausages.
    • The Yale tailgate includes bloody marys, crudités, fruit, steak, salad, and Fig Newtons.
    • Lorelai's abandoned Taco Barn order was for two tacos, an order of taquitos, and a beef burrito with no onions.
    • At West Hills Market (shot on location for once), Jason buys Sno Balls and Lorelai picks up some mini cans of sour cream and onion chips (obviously Pringles, but no product placement). The spread they put together for dinner includes salad, mac 'n' cheese, and giant egg rolls with hot mustard.
  • How many times do we think they re-filled the fun flask? If it's less than 10, I don't understand how anything was left during Lorelai's grocery dinner.
  • Lorelai definitely got Lucy (or Jamal) fired, am I right? Randomly punching someone's time-card is never a good idea.
  • It's so random to see Michael York as Asher Fleming. The dude is a gd legend.