Directing and writing credits:
"A Messenger, Nothing More" is written and directed by Daniel Palladino. In standard DP fashion, this episode is chock full of townie hijinks. Stars Hollow's jour de fΓͺte is the Cider Mill Parade, complete with children dressed like apples and a creepy ass clown.

Most batshit crazy outfit:
Dean (finally) got a haircut, but he clearly forgot to bring an iron to his parents' house. I was so distracted by the wrinkles in his ill-fitting hoodie that I didn't even notice Rory's dumpy little ensemble. I don't understand her obsession with wearing multiple earth tones combined with something patterned that doesn't even remotely match.

These two are perfect for each other because they clearly both dress in the dark.

Most irritating Rory or Lorelai moment:
I hope we all can agree that Lorelai is the worst micromanager on the planet and comes off as a strung-out speed freak who hasn't sleep in weeks. Her staff is definitely colluding on ways to poison her coffee. She buses tables, yells at the maids, orders around the gardener, and chatters aimlessly about nothing in a manner that makes you want to kill yourself just to get the fuck away from her.

Rory, as you might have guessed, is steadily horrible thanks to all of the affair drama. Although Dean eventually gets the heave-ho, her shitty attitude lingers for the rest of the series.

Number of times Rory or Lorelai treat their bff like shit:
The Gilmores are pretty decent on this front. Rory listens to one of Lane's quandaries for a change, earning her good friend status. Lorelai and Sookie successfully help each other realize that time away from the inn is necessary for good mental health. Lorelai does lose points for reorganizing Sookie's fridge without her permission.

Best literary or pop culture references:
Lorelai owns the deluxe edition of "Showgirls," which came with "shot glasses and a drinking game." I'm surprised a) that this exists and b) that I don't own it.

Stars Hollow weirdness:
Miss Patty's dancers dress up in apple costumes for the cider mill parade. Her instructions in rehearsal are, "Keep it going, kids. You're red, you're delicious. You're about to have the juice sucked out of you." I would feel totally comfortable leaving my (hypothetical) children in Miss Patty's care.

Weird, right? I do like Miss Patty's cardigan, though.

Lane, bless her little heart, has a crush on Zack. I don't understand why because he is basically just a large pile of hair. I tried to think of 1 nice thing about him but couldn't do it. WHAT HAPPENED TO DAVE RYGALSKI?

Sharpest insult or one-liner:
Luke describes the Renaissance fair as "his Vietnam without all the fun shooting." I use this one all the time for various activities that displease me.

At least one good thing comes out of it.

Books mentioned/books Rory is reading:
Brian regales Zack, who later regales some rando girls, with the plot of Dan Brown's "The Da Vinci Code." How that piece of shit ever became a cultural phenomenon is beyond me.

Best song of the episode:
The only song we actually hear is Linda Perhacs' "Chimacum Rain" at the very end. It always felt like a weird choice to me, as did the shot of the red balloons floating away. The first two episodes of S5 feel incredibly odd, like the Palladinos are clunkily trying to add a layer of faux sophistication to an otherwise visually formulaic show. S6 gets even weirder, thanks to E13: "Friday Night's Alright for Fighting." It's a great episode, but the whip pans would hospitalize Lucille Austero.

I like to think of the balloons as a metaphor for Rory's potential.

The structure of this episode reminds me of S3's "Those Lazy-Hazy-Crazy Days." In both episodes, Rory and Lorelai spend most of their time apart, but come together at the end for a culminating event (the End of Summer Madness Festival v. the Apple Cider Parade).

While I'm on the comparison train, I should also note that Emily's attitude in Rome is very similar to Rose Weissman's (of "The Marvelous Mrs Maisel") in Paris. Both women are fed up their husbands' bullshit and escape to Europe to live their best lives. Rose easily morphs into a creative sophisticate; Emily flirts with every young man within spitting distance. If these 2 ever met, they would totally become bffs without any of the typical DAR cattiness.

I'd like to see Into the Gloss feature them both on Top Shelf.

Aside from Emily's rampant flirtations, the scenes in "Italy" are kind of forgettable. It always makes me sad when "GG" tries to make sets into something more ambitious than Stars Hollow (Europe, NYC, Philadelphia). They don't even attempt a half-assed green screen when Emily complains about the changed balcony view. I'm pretty good at suspending my disbelief, but this episode required more mental gymnastics than I could handle.

After treating Lorelai like shit by straight-up ignoring her or giving one-word responses to questions, Rory finally apologizes:

Rory: I'm sorry.
Lorelai: It's okay.
Rory: I screwed up. I screwed up so bad. I handled everything wrong.
Lorelai: Oh, honey.
Rory: I keep reliving everything over and over. It's such a mess. I just want to fix it. I have to fix it.

Unfortunately, she follows up with an instant request for a nonsensical favor. Rory tells Lorelai that she wrote Dean a letter and needs her to deliver it. How much longer is she supposed to be in Europe? She's sent Lane at least 16 postcards, so she's presumably been there for a while already. The Internet says it can take up to 10 business days for a letter from Rome to reach Connecticut. Wouldn't it make more sense for her to send Dean an email? Lorelai, who has no life outside of work until Luke returns, immediately agrees.

Lorelai patiently waits as Dean has an inane, one-sided convo about eggs πŸ₯š

Of course, Lindsay later finds the letter in Dean's jacket pocket. As Sookie and Lorelai take a walk around town, they hear Lindsay screaming at Dean and throwing all of his shit out onto the sidewalk. Shortly after, Rory returns and gets a Cliffs Notes version of the events via Sookie. On their way to Luke's, Rory and Lorelai are accosted by Lindsay's mom, Theresa. She calls Rory a "little monster" and accuses her of breaking up a marriage. Lindsay is with her, but completely silent and downtrodden.

Why isn't this bitch somewhere screaming at Dean? There's no question that Rory fucked things up, but she wasn't the one wearing a ring. I'd be pissed as hell if my mom tried to involve herself in my life like this. Lindsay should tell Theresa to stay in her fucking lane. If she taught her daughter how to make a proper roast beef, none of this would have happened.

When they talk at the end of the episode, Dean tells Rory that he feels like an idiot. He notes that he was married and "threw it all away for someone who dumped me once and then just bailed on me." He's not wrong.

Rory's love life might be a dumpster fire, but Lorelai's is finally coming together. Luke returns from the Renaissance fair at the end of the episode and he and Lorelai sneak away from the diner. It's reminiscent of S3's "Let the Games Begin" when Rory and Jess have their first official kiss and nearly catch Stars Hollow on fire. Luke gives Lorelai a necklace to match the earrings he gave her in S4's "Nag Hammadi Is Where They Found the Gnostic Gospels." Before they can actually kiss, the annoying Apple Cider parade comes barging in and wrecks the moment.

Michel is there with the annoying Krumholtz kids. I hope he's getting paid extra for this shit.

The episode ends with Rory and Lorelai on the couch, watching "home movies" from Rory's trip, aka "A Room with a View" (1985). I wish I had rich grandparents to simultaneously benefit from and burn with lame movie jokes.

Random observations:

  • Lorelai refers to herself as "the uber-Trump-Murdoch-Maximus." Remember when we just thought of Trump as a generic wealthy business-douche? Sigh.
  • I appreciate Zack's burger order -- "nothing healthy on it, extra cheese" -- but resent the way he later treats his female companions. I don't know why he thinks ordering for them is cute.
  • Luke's fries are like the fat, gross steak fries at Red Robin. No wonder Lane keeps giving them to people for free.
  • I hate Liz and TJ so much. I wish they had died in that car crash. I don't understand why they need Luke's help, either. They're manning a jewelry booth, not digging ditches.
  • What do we think Emily's nap attire is like? I can't picture her changing into pajamas in the middle of the day. Maybe she naps in her slip?
  • These are some of Hep Alien's best covers according Zack and Brian: "Fell in Love with a Girl," "Suffragette City," and "Lithium."
  • Movie snacks at the end of the episode include the following: potato chips, Chinese food, and pizza (with steak sauce).