Directing and writing credits:
"Emily Says Hello" is directed by Kenny Ortega, written by Rebecca Kirshner. Oretga is a Stars Hollow pro and has directed many previous episodes:

"They Shoot Gilmores, Don't They?" - For once, the hideous early 2000s fashion of this show is put on hold.
"A Deep-Fried Korean Thanksgiving" - I can't believe there are people out there who argue that Dave Rygalski wasn't the best dude on this show.
"Face-Off" - "Yeah, I don’t think the pint of liquid cheese in my stomach is going to allow for much running."
"A Family Matter" - We finally get to meet Liz, Luke's sister and one of my most hated characters.
"Written in the Stars" - This episode features a touch of transphobia c/o Miss Patty and Mrs. Cassini.
"You Jump, I Jump, Jack" - Logan is a Dean upgrade, but only marginally.

This is Rebecca Kirshner's first credited episode as a writer. She's probably best known for her work on early 2000s staple "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." She was also the showrunner for seasons 2 and 3 of the "90210" reboot, which I did not watch. Fun fact: Kirshner attended Harvard University.

"Tabula Rasa" (S6E8) is my favorite episode written by Kirshner.

Most batshit crazy outfit:
The atrocities committed against Sookie during the run of this show are unforgivable. As far as I can tell, she is wearing a hot pink camisole topped with a green wrap sweater and a large gold circle necklace with matching earrings. Her dark wash boot cut jeans are fine, but I think someone has decided to layer 1 or 2 skirts in conflicting patterns on top of them. Or maybe the pink camisole is actually a dress? Either way, the effect is not great. A black window pane sweater and green suede purse cap the whole tragedy off, adding additional heft to an already over-layered ensemble. I will say that her pink Band-Aid is a nice touch, reminding us that she is still clumsy, even though the writers haven't shown her smacking someone in the face with a frying pan recently.

How dare they wrong our goddess Melissa McCarthy like this.

Most irritating Rory or Lorelai moment:
I don't know if I was just in a good mood while watching this (I'm on vacation), but the girls aren't that annoying. Rory's behavior at lunch with Lorelai and Christopher is immature, but I don't know that I really had the communication skills to handle that shit show at age 20 either. Her anger is totally justified when it comes to Christopher, and I understand the instinct to protect Lorelai from destroying herself yet again. I don't love how Lorelai hesitates to tell Luke about her lunch with Christopher, but at least she tells him.

Number of times Rory or Lorelai treat their bff like shit:
Lane is missing from this episode. I assume she's busy shielding Zack from the wrath of Mrs. Kim and/or introducing Kyon to the wonders of American junk food. Paris is fasting for Ramadan because she takes the Yale Daily News religion beat very seriously. She says,

Look, Rory, if you want to crib your articles from the AP wire, that's your business. I, on the other hand, actually give a rat's ass about journalistic integrity. When I write about Ramadan, I experience Ramadan.

As expected, Rory has zero respect for Paris' commitment and treats her like a deranged lunatic instead of a type A Virgo with a WAP for accuracy.

For the thousandth time, please read this essay.

Sookie is pregnant (AKA emotionally unstable according to the ASP universe), so she has Lorelai and Jackson running around, collecting items from her weird cravings list. These are her requests:

  • Grapefruit juice, Milk Duds, bloody mary mix, and extra-spicy turkey sausage, and chives (blended together and served as a shake?)
  • Milk chocolate and artichoke hearts
  • Milk chocolate (no, dark chocolate!) and bell peppers
  • Taffy and walnuts (jk, pistachios)
  • HEARTS OF PALM

Lorelai rolls with it like a champ, putting Jackson to shame. She even helps squelch Sookie's sadness over the end of Elizabeth Hurley and Hugh Grant's relationship, proving she doesn't suck all the time.

I'm kind of into the open shelving in Sookie's kitchen.

Best literary or pop culture references:
We get a peek at Marty's dorm room toward the end of the episode when Rory is over for a study session. In a single shot, we see a "Confederacy of Dunces" poster (background) AND a copy of the book sitting on top of his desk (foreground). To me, this suggests that Marty is the type of person to either a) buy a poster for a book he hasn't actually read or b) get so overzealous about enjoying a book that he goes out and immediately buys a poster. I think option a is more in-line with his inferiority complex.

I want Marty's "Attack of the 50 Foot Woman" (1958) poster.

I should also mention that after 15 years of watching this show, I've finally realized that the huge poster in Rory's dorm room is of Charlotte Brontë!

Great Planned Parenthood poster, too 💯

Stars Hollow weirdness:
Like many politicians, Jackson decides to just stop doing his town selectman job because he no longer finds it fun. Someone leaves a giant pair of scissors on his porch after he refuses to attend ribbon cutting ceremonies, so he loses his shit and doubles down by taking the same stance on town meetings. After everyone gets wind of this, the townies band together and trick Jackson into showing up despite his declaration that "only hell waits for me at town meetings." Don't quote me on this, but I believe this boring town selectman bullshit is dropped without explanation after this episode.

Sharpest insult or one-liner:
Emily and Lorelai have a fantastic exchange during the drinks portion of their solo Friday night dinner:

Emily: I want to go on a date.
Lorelai: With ... a man?
Emily: No, a weasel. Of course with a man!

Apparently, Emily has forgotten how dating works and begs Lorelai for tips. After watching this scene, my husband, mimicking Emily, said, "Lorelai, remind me what dusthole the penis goes in." I choke-laughed for 10 minutes.

I agree with Lorelai: Emily should channel "Butterfield 8" (1960) and go on her date in this robe.

Books mentioned/books Rory is reading:
Despite her love of literary posters, we don't see Rory read anything but the newspaper this episode. When she talks to Lorelai on the phone, I spy copies of Beverly Cleary's "A Girl from Yamhill" and Laura Esquivel's "Like Water for Chocolate" on her bookshelf.

Best song of the episode:
Ash's "Starcrossed" wins by default as it's the only featured song. It plays as Rory (conveniently) falls asleep in Marty's room just as he works up the courage to ask about her love life.

Shhh, Rory is "sleeping."

Thoughts:
I would typically skip this episode during a rewatch because it's not very exciting. There are a few good scenes -- notably anything involving Emily's date with Simon McLane (Larry Pine) -- but it's relatively uneventful as a whole. In retrospect, it's obvious to me that some of the weird plot decisions were made to serve the culminating drama in the 100th anniversary episode, "Wedding Bell Blues." I won't go into it too much here since I know that some people are reading these recaps while watching the show for the first time, but just know that the sudden Christopher involvement is building to something bigger, albeit sloppily.

Up until E6 of this season, Christopher had been noticeably absent. The last time his pathetic ass got a featured storyline was when Sherry gave birth in S3 alongside the flashback of Lorelai's own teen pregnancy journey. It makes sense that his decision to stand by Sherry and abandon Lorelai would create some necessary distance between them.

Christopher's house is decorated like a dentist’s waiting room or a mid-range Hyatt.

One issue that I've always had with this show is the refusal to clearly explain Christopher's lack of involvement in Rory's life. As a teenager, we see his desire to "do the right thing," AKA get a job at Richard's firm, marry Lorelai, and work to support his burgeoning family. Lorelai is obviously not into this plan. If this show were better, we would get some kind of explanation as to why Christopher disappears for 16 years. Does Lorelai shatter his ego by refusing to marry him, thus driving him away? Or does Lorelai decide that she doesn't want him to be involved in Rory's life? The show hints that the Gilmores have some resentment over his long absence, but the vibe is never as contentious as I would expect it to be if Christopher straight-up abandoned them without paying child support.

Now that Sherry is gone and Christopher is left to his own devices with Gigi, he turns to Lorelai with greater frequency. Lorelai, who definitely gets off on being needed, is happy to have Christopher back in her life and seems invested in rebuilding their platonic relationship. Since no one in this show is capable of openly sharing their feelings, Lorelai has no idea how upset Rory is over Christopher's sudden involvement in her life. Everything comes to a head when Lorelai, unbeknownst to Rory, invites Christopher and Gigi to lunch at the Dragonfly. Rory, who told Christopher to stay away from Lorelai a few episodes ago, is furious to see him and assumes that he somehow weaseled his way into an invitation. After an awkward father-confrontation and a Michel incident involving pink underwear, Christopher bails with a half-assed excuse.

That is an insane amount of bread for 3 people.

Finally, after intense undiscussed tension, Rory tells Lorelai that she's worried about Christopher sabotaging her relationship with Luke.

Rory: Every time he comes back, he ends up messing up your life.
Lorelai: Not true.
Rory: It's completely true. He wants you back, and then he disappears or Sherry gets pregnant or he loses his job or he just takes off -- whatever. No good reason necessary. And it's been like this forever, and you just let him do it.

Rory isn't wrong. As Lorelai later discusses this incident with Sookie, she realizes that she didn't tell Luke about the lunch with Christopher and wonders if there was some reason deep down that she kept it to herself. When she eventually tells him at the diner, Luke plays it totally cool and says nothing more than "okay," but later discusses it with TJ as they cut pipe together toward the end of the episode.

I'll spare you a rehashing of TJ's "new civilization" speech.

It's clear to me that if the relationship between Luke and Lorelai is going to work out, they desperately need individual AND couples therapy. They are both so damaged that it's impossible for them to discuss minor incidents without fear of retaliation or disappointment; the components for a healthy relationship are certainly lacking. When Christopher calls Lorelai at the end of the episode and she doesn't answer, I think we're supposed to see this as character growth. Lorelai now realizes that Christopher often has a negative impact on her personal life and should be held at arm's length.

Although most of Rory's scenes deal with the aforementioned Christopher and Lorelai drama, we see her continue to forge a friendship with Marty that he obviously hopes will turn romantic. He brings leftover hors d'oeuvres to her dorm room (which pisses off Paris, who is fasting) and she comfortably naps on his bed. Instead of telling her how he feels, he continues to fish for information about her past relationships while Rory cluelessly believes that they are "just friends." I had plenty of these relationship in my teens and early 20s, so I can't criticize her too harshly. While Rory should definitely be more observant, it's Marty's responsibility to tell her how he feels if he expects anything sexy to ever happen between them.

Paris breaks her fast with pizza AND Chinese food ... a girl after my own heart.

Instead of the lame manufactured drama between Christopher and Lorelai, this episode should have focused solely on Emily and Richard, who are reaching an impasse in their separation. In an attempt to talk some sense into them, Lorelai and Rory agree to split up and convince the elder Gilmores that the separation is stupid. Rory, who meets with Richard, comes away from the interaction feeling like there's hope for reconciliation. Lorelai, who meets with Emily, has a different takeaway. Apparently, Richard neglected to butter Emily's roll at a function, causing her to conclude that it's time to starting dating other men.

After using Lorelai's advice and saying "hello" to someone at the club who has previously expressed interest in her, Emily has a date on the calendar with Simon McLane. After an evening of wardrobe panic that could have easily been avoided with a single call to Miss Celine, Emily has a seemingly nice/flirty time at dinner. After talk of Mahler and probably too much alcohol (3 glasses of wine and a limoncello), she walks into her big empty house and starts sobbing. After nearly 50 years of comfortable predictability, it's difficult to embrace change and independence. Part of me wishes that the writers had fleshed this out a bit more and explored the "single grandparents" concept for a few more episodes. It could have been a good opportunity for real character growth instead of the same old bullshit.

Alcohol makes me weepy, too, so this resonates.

Random observations:

  • There are a bunch of movie references in this episode. Along with "Butterfield 8," there are nods to "St. Elmo's Fire" (1985), "The Way We Were" (1973), "The Godfather" (1972), "Less Than Zero" (1987), "Roman Holiday" (1953), and "Peyton Place" (1957).
  • You probably recognize Larry Pine from at least one role. He's had quite the television and film career.
  • As they assess Marty's hors d'oeuvres selection, Rory makes a hilariously out of touch "rich people" comment as if she isn't used to lavish functions with weird canapés.
  • TJ owns a windsuit and soap on a rope. He's also been to jail twice, which is honestly surprisingly low considering everything we know about him.
  • My husband on TJ: "He’s the herpes of people. He's the human equivalent of a wet fart in white pants." I have to agree.
  • I refuse to believe that Richard, under any circumstances, would own Nutella or a frozen pizza with cheese in the crust.
  • I have to assume that Scott Patterson took an object work class in rag handling right before the filming of this episode. It is hilariously over exaggerated starting at the 30-minute mark.
  • What is up with Emily's hair during Friday night dinner? She must have sprayed the shit out of it with Aquanet because it looks like it wouldn't move for anything.
"I need a paper towel and a valium, please."