'Gilmore Girls' Season 5, Episode 21: Blame Booze and Melville

'Gilmore Girls' Season 5, Episode 21: Blame Booze and Melville

Directing and writing credits:
"Blame Booze and Melville" is directed by Jamie Babbitt, written by Daniel Palladino. This is the second Babbitt-directed episode in a row, which is a rarity. The last time the same director worked on two back-to-back episodes was in Season 1 with Michael Katleman ("That Damn Donna Reed" and "Christopher Returns"). In Season 7, Lee Shallat-Chemel will become the primary director, but that's an unusual circumstance.

I don't have any Daniel Palladino news, but I did listen to the audiobook of Lauren Graham's memoir, "Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls, (and Everything in Between)," per Saul's recommendation. She doesn't have much to say about the early years of the show but provides detailed excerpts from her journal during "AYitL." Can you imagine if the Palladinos wrote memoirs? I would love to hear unfiltered stories about the WB/UPN merger that resulted in their grand exodus.

Most batshit crazy outfit:
I present to you, Kirk's button-down pelican shirt:

I assume his mother went on a trip to Cape Cod and brought it back as a gift.

Lorelai's tragic eagle (winged snake?) sweater looks like an Ed Hardy fiasco, but the internet says it's actually by Raw 7. I can't imagine what would compel someone to buy this. I once had a dream that I got a handgun tattooed on my thigh and I swear that the design looked exactly like this. I woke up crying!

She pairs it with her signature cross necklace and pink Marc Jacobs bag.

The eagle/snake thing looks like a discount Pokemon character.

Most irritating Rory or Lorelai moment:
Lorelai, queen of processed sugar, assumes that eating an apple is a sign of pregnancy. Instead of waiting it out and taking a pregnancy test, she accosts a random (Black!) doctor and asks him a bunch of inane questions that he indulges with more patience than any IRL human possesses.

*"Okay, see, I’m eating an apple. Now, normally, this would not be a sign of anything except hunger. Except I don’t eat much fruit. I know I should, but I don’t have a hankering for it. I can’t feel my feet from the diabetes but not an apple, not at any cost."
I'm also flummoxed that Rory and Lorelai have seemingly never discussed birth control options until this episode. Even in this brief conversation, they dance around the specifics. There are no mentions of condoms, IUDs, implants, shots, rings, etc. At least all of the other '90s/early 2000s shows were mentioning (cluelessly out of touch) shit like diaphragms and the sponge. Rory did make a Trojan Man joke after fucking Dean for the first time, so I guess we're to assume that she at least uses condoms.

He's clearly thinking about getting her a psych consult.

There are many Rory issues that we'll get into later.

Number of times Rory or Lorelai treat their bff like shit:
Here are some ridiculously nice things that Sookie has done for Lorelai and/or Rory (please add to this list in the comments):

How do they repay her kindness? By waiting until 1.5 weeks before her due date to throw her a bargain-basement baby shower.

Lorelai [grabbing the cups]: Chicks being hatched? That’s Easter.
Rory: No, I know, but I figured hatching is birth, so we’re right on topic there. Seventy percent off, too.

Sookie deserves better than cheap ass irrelevant decorations.

Best literary or pop culture references:
When Logan visits Rory at the Stanford Eagle Gazette, he jokes about her nondescript cubicle.

Logan: I’m loving the totally non-generic feel of your space, here.
Rory: I have customized it somewhat. [She points to a picture on the wall.]
Logan: Eccentric uncle?
Rory: Brian Eno.
Logan: I was close.

I can't find the exact photo that Rory chose, but here's the photo I would hang in my own sad cubicle:

"Brian Eno cats" is a worthwhile Google search.

Stars Hollow weirdness:
Kirk barters with Luke over a 10% raise on the price of toast (from $1 to $1.10) before putting in a competing offer on the Twickham House. He says, "I’ve been working for eleven years, Luke. I’ve had fifteen thousand jobs. I’ve saved every dollar I’ve ever made. That and the miracle of compound interest has created a bounty of a quarter of a million dollars. Again, just under. I don’t want to brag." I would have banned him from the diner for life after this statement.

Taylor, who originally agreed to sell the house to Luke, says the decision is now out of his hands. Luke meets with the town elders in a sauna to advocate for himself, and ends up finding an unlikely ally in the head honcho old dude (played by William Morgan Sheppard, a frequent "Star Trek" guest star). It's a weird scene that doesn't make much sense to me. If the town elders existed this entire time, why did it always seem like Taylor had so much unchecked power? It's kind of like the Stars Hollow Mayor who appears in Season 1 and is never again mentioned.

Sharpest insult or one-liner:
At Friday night dinner, Emily flips through photos of City Ballet dancers who are available for endowment. As a surprise to no one, they are judged on looks instead of talent. The most brutal blow comes from Lorelai.

Rory: Do you want a boy or a girl, Grandma?
Emily: I’m thinking a little girl. Cute and petite.
Rory: They’re all petite.
Lorelai: But not all cute. This one should fouetté over to the dermatologist.
Emily: Oh, yes, I’d rather not look at that.

Books mentioned/books Rory is reading:
Anne Sexton (writer of one of my all-time favorite poems, "Her Kind") is mentioned, but no books are seen or read. Noam Chomsky gets his millionth shout-out in the opening Friday night dinner fondue scene.

Emily: The government says you should have nine servings of fruit and vegetables per day.
Lorelai: Imperialist propaganda.
Rory: I think Noam Chomsky would agree.
Lorelai: I bet Noam doesn’t dip fruit.
Rory: Or laugh. Ever seen that punim on him?
Lorelai: Easter Island.

As someone who once sent Noam Chomsky fanmail and got a very kind response back, I feel confident saying that he is not a stone-faced statue. Is "punim" the first Yiddish word used in this show?

Best song of the episode:
The only song is "Oblivious" by Aztec Camera. Lorelai plays it on repeat as she and Luke drive around New York City in her American Travel limo.

I love that Lorelai finds Luke's "Manhattan is a cesspool" rant so charming.

We finally made it to the episode where everything starts to go downhill. Rory receives her first real piece of criticism from "someone important" and crumbles under the weight of perceived mediocrity. I have conflicted feelings about her reaction because I understand how much it sucks to be told that you aren't good enough, but I've never had the luxury to put my entire life on hold in order to emotionally recover. The way that Lorelai handles the situation is likewise suspect. It feels like someone at the WB told the Palladinos that they needed more drama, so they decided to manufacture a rift between Lorelai and Rory. I find all of it utterly unconvincing (and so does Lauren Graham, according to her memoir).

It's unclear how many weeks have passed between episodes, but Rory's newsroom attitude is now completely different. Instead of taking lame selfies by the water cooler and following Mitchum around like a little puppy dog, she is now confidently flitting around in a file-delivering frenzy. She flirts with some dudes who call her "beautiful," seems to know everyone's names, and dreams of being offered a summer position at the paper. In other words, girlfriend is thriving, riding on the high of a job well done.

Logan seems equal parts happy that Rory is enjoying the internship + skeptical that something bad is TK.

When Logan visits the newsroom, he asks Rory how Mitchum is treating her multiple times and seems to be bracing himself for the worst response. When Mitchum shows up and briefly talks to both of them, Logan is obviously far less hyped than Rory. He doesn't hold eye contact and generally seems done with the entire interaction before it's even begun. There's not a single scene in the series where Logan appears to have respect or admiration for his father. Based on his body language alone, this scene feels like foreshadowing for the overly critical performance review. Logan has been around his dad long enough to understand that nothing gold can stay.

Sure enough, Mitchum offers Rory less than stellar feedback after a staff meeting where she silently sits and observes. He starts the conversation off by jumping right into the negativity:

Mitchum: I’ve worked with a lot of young people over the years. Interns, new hires. I’ve got a pretty good gut sense for people’s strengths and weaknesses. Whether they have that certain something to make it in journalism. It’s a tough business. Lot of stress.
Rory: Definitely.
Mitchum: And I have to tell you. You don’t got it.

Her hopeful face before the bad news kills me.

I've been in management positions before where I had to give feedback to people who weren't great at their jobs, but I definitely didn't do it like this. "You don't got it" really isn't actionable criticism. The sole purpose of saying something like that is to make someone feel bad about themselves. It assumes that people don't have the ability to grow and change with the right attitude and hard work. It's a negative way of looking at the world, and I reject it entirely; however, Rory has immense privilege that should easily prevent this opinion from ruining her life. She goes to Yale, FFS. She can get another internship and find other successful people in the business to mentor her. She has endless options, which she should be able to see as time passes and the hurt dissipates.

It's not surprising to see her react like this considering her absolute meltdown in S4 after being told to drop a class, but the decision to steal a boat is perplexing. My college reaction would have been to drink heavily, rent "Legally Blonde," and watch it on repeat while crying. I'm not saying that it doesn't suck when a respected person in your future profession is actively discouraging, but part of being an adult is learning to give less fucks. As Samantha Jones once said, “If I worried what every bitch in New York was saying about me, I'd never leave the house.” Bouncing back from negative criticism, even when it's entirely mean spirited and shitty, is necessary for success.

This scene, and Rory's subsequent boat thievery, remind me of Tweets like this:

Perfection is elusive, mistakes are part of life, and not everyone is going to blow smoke up your ass 24/7 for the tiniest accomplishment. I don't blame Rory for feeling disappointed or even for doubting herself, but committing a crime that negatively impacts other people just because she doesn't understand how to cope with professional rejection? My sympathy only extends so far.

Logan should have known that something was off when Rory arrived at Honor's engagement party in a combative mood, but he seems to deal with his feelings in a similarly idiotic/impulsive fashion. He's used to doing whatever he wants without consequence, so he probably figured that nothing bad would come of their boat thievery (and for him, nothing does). This "Bonnie and Clyde" moment represents the end of tolerable Rory Gilmore. From here on out, it's all just rich people nonsense.

"Well, I feel like knocking people’s hats off."

While Rory makes bad decisions, Lorelai deals with the ramifications of her insult-laden American Travel cover story. Per the last episode, the magazine decided to run it even after Lorelai requested its cancellation. The article must be rather lengthy, because it manages to compare Emily to Pol Pot, Joseph Stalin, and "walking anthrax." It also includes details about Emily's tiff with Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter. "I did not get into a, quote, bitch-fight with him. He’s an ex-president! It was with that insufferable Rosalynn." The tense vibes lift after Lorelai apologizes to Emily and Mikhail, "whose entire family and their village was killed by Stalin," at Friday night dinner ... until Rory calls and ominously says, "You need to come and get me."

Lorelai's major storyline this episode is a pregnancy scare after a fancy, drunken night out with Luke. American Travel held a party in New York City to celebrate her cover story (which I guess was a thing that happened when magazines had money) and Luke and Lorelai had condomless sex upon their arrival back in Stars Hollow. Lorelai later tells Rory, "I mean, I was always beyond careful. The last time I had my roadblocks down was, I don’t know, count how old you are to the day and add nine months." If we're giving her the benefit of the doubt, maybe she forgot to take a birth control pill and neglected to use a condom? I've been there before. Thankfully, the morning after pill was available OTC when I started having sex in 2007, although it wouldn't have been during the time this episode aired.

You know it's bad when you wake up with your head at the foot of the bed.

Mistakes happen to even the most responsible people, so I don't want to be too judgmental of this drunken, unprotected tryst butttttt ... Lorelai could have either gotten a Plan B prescription from her doctor or waited it out and taken a pregnancy test. Instead, she starts making dumbass assumptions (that she shares with her daughter!) based on a vending machine apple craving. If she thought she wanted a kid, she could have talked to Luke about it to gauge his reaction. The way she and Rory discuss the situation after it's deemed a false alarm is likewise obnoxious.

Rory: Hey, um, did you ever mention this pregnancy scare to Luke?
Lorelai: My God, no. Can you imagine? "Uh, Luke, you’re going to be a daddy." Suddenly there’s nothing left but a puff of smoke and a baseball cap spinning on the floor.
Rory: Yeah. He never seemed much like a family guy. This is for the best.

Why is abortion never an option on this show? Why isn't the hypothetical conversation with Luke framed like a discussion instead of a series of hypotheticals? Pregnancy does not automatically result in a baby. There are other options! I'm not sure if these were WB mandates or if the Palladinos were just weirdly uninformed about reproductive rights/options.

"They sent the big nurse."

I hate to advocate for Jackson, but Sookie's attempt to coax him into a vasectomy on the day of his daughter's birth is some fucked up shit. There's no way the hospital would let her schedule that procedure for him/without his explicit consent, either. I can't imagine being in this type of relationship.

Sookie: Jackson, we have one of each. We’ve kept the species going.
Jackson: But I wanted four!
Sookie: And I wanted three. This is a good compromise.
Jackson: I’m sorry. Two is not a compromise between three and four.

I'm with Jackson. It's fine for Sookie to change her mind about the number of kids she wants to have, but she should share those feelings with her husband before deciding for him that it's time for the old snip snip. If she truly respected him and valued his feelings, she wouldn't try to hastily force him into a big decision like this. I wonder if this was seen as some sort of "girl power" moment when this episode initially aired. Of all the female characters, Emily weirdly comes off as the most ethical, reasonable one. I'm not sure that I would immediately forgive someone for comparing me to multiple dictators.

Random observations:

  • The tracking shot of Rory zooming through the newsroom feels weird for this show. I guess they were trying to create a "His Girl Friday" moment.
  • Kirk drinks coffee while reading Marmaduke in Luke's Diner. I thought coffee made his lungs hurt?!
  • This Kirk comment sounds like something Paris would say: "That’s the power of deep pockets, Luke. Put a sawbuck in the right hands and they babble like parrots." As my Luke says, "All the characters sound identical," so I guess it's not that great of an observation.
  • Sookie and Jackson burden their baby with this crazy ass paperwork nightmare: "First name Martha, middle name Janice-Lori-Ethan-Rupert-Glenda-Carson-Daisy-Danny."
  • Emily Gilmore's rich friend, Mitsie Hertferdshire, stole her first choice ballerina, Sashenka. In my mind, Mitsie owns a standard poodle, has a closetful of Chanel suits, and is married to a stockbroker named Tad.
  • Another spinster reference, this time to Miss Driscoll, the Stars Hollow High gym teacher who would apparently never need birth control. I bet Miss Driscoll is fucking nonstop.
  • "Great dacha, this dacha" is something I often think to myself apropos of nothing.
  • If you're going to commit a crime in the name of someone as lame as Herman Melville, you deserve to be caught and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
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