Directing and writing credits:
"New and Improved Lorelai" is written and directed by Amy Sherman-Palladino, who is building a truly insane cast for the fourth season of "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel."

Okay, but who is this Pomeranian?!

Most batshit crazy outfit:
Rory's offensive bow cardigan is back to haunt me. If a male novelist were crafting a young, female librarian character whose only sexual thrill comes from reading a book, she would be dressed like this.

"As she sat at the front desk, thumbing through a copy of Jane Austen's "Emma," Christof noticed that she dressed herself poorly on purpose. Over the years, this beautiful girl found ways to shirk her suitors in favor of more alone time spent reading. With her stunning looks, embracing ugly was the easiest way for her to divert attention from her physical attributes. Why else would she show up to work with her shiny chestnut hair swept into a rumpled low ponytail. Who could explain the light pink oxford buttoned all the way to the top under a bow cardigan that somehow managed to be both childish and matronly at the same time? The death knell of her youthful sexuality came in the form of a heavy gray godet skirt that left everything to the imagination. He wondered if a trip to Prada could lure her away from this straitlaced aesthetic."

In this excerpt, Christof is of course a sexy older male professor who frequently pops into the library and takes an interest in our fake protagonist's virginal vulnerability. Using "50 Shades of Grey" and "Pretty Woman" as his roadmap, he teaches her how to fuck and dress. Anyway, the tl;dr is that I detest this outfit.

"It's coming off a little more Mennonite than I had hoped.

Most irritating Rory or Lorelai moment:
If you want proof that Lorelai is the queen of Stars Hollow, just observe the way she brazenly tells a group of bikers to "shoo" so that she and Luke can use the gazebo. Part of me respects this power move, the other part wants to punch her in the trachea for acting like an entitled twat.

I also hate when Rory wakes up to coffee, fabric samples, and a dope breakfast spread and asks Emily, "When did you have time to do all this?" Emily cheerily responds back, "Oh! It's amazing what you can get done before eight thirty in the morning," as if she didn't just spend five minutes barking instructions at her servants* and calling it a damn day.

* Remember that according to Logan, it's totally chill to refer to the help as servants because technically, they're hired and paid to serve.

Number of times Rory or Lorelai treat their bff like shit:
Lane isn't in this episode, but Paris shows up at the pool house to borrow an outfit from Rory. She isn't exactly treated like shit, but Rory neglects to tell her what actually precipitated this sudden decision to take time off. Rory's evasiveness is a shame because I think Paris would have given her a delightful tough love pep talk.

I love when she storms out scowling and just says "YOU" when she spots Logan.

Sookie is MIA. I was going to make yet another joke about a lovemaking vegetable dildo accident causing her absence, but I imagine that Martha Janice Lori Ethan Rupert Glenda Carson Daisy Danny Belleville is keeping her and Jackson busy. My husband notes that Jackson is probably hard at work crafting a zucchini-based poultice for Sookie's v to b tear.

Best literary or pop culture references:
There are eight (!!!) references to Zima, which makes me wonder if this was product placement. I have to assume that Zima wouldn't have paid to reinforce the marketing failure of trying to sell "chick beer" to the masses, but the number of mentions make me think that this was maybe around the time when they started to actually focus specifically on the young female demographic. The Zima people could easily select the clip of Lorelai squealing, "He's got Zima in the back! He's got Zima in the back!" and call it a damn day. Or better yet, "We should drink Zima and have sex every night."

That post-Zima sex haze 🙏🏻

With a tagline like "zomething different," Zima deserved to die a swift death along with other disgusting malt beverages like Four Loko, my college drink of choice during a period of bad decision making.

Stars Hollow weirdness:
Taylor, annoyed by the changing timeline of the bike race, starts passing out trophies at random. When he finds out about Luke and Lorelai's engagement, he makes the generous offer of waiving the Zima tax as a gift.

Not my favorite Stars Hollow event, tbh.

Deeply ingrained gender norms cause Babette and Patty to silently freak out over Lorelai's proposal to Luke. They are vocally supportive, but the body language and tone of voice reveal their true feelings. This is how many people responded when I told them that my partner and I decided to get married. There was no proposal; we mutually agreed on it with zero fanfare.

Patty: Come on Luke, tell us how'd you do it?
Luke: Well actually I didn't. Lorelai proposed to me.
Babette & Patty: Oh!?
Patty: You went modern.
Babette: Well that's still okay sugar. The important thing is you're getting married!
Patty: We're very happy for you Luke.
Babette: Yes we are.

"Well thank God he's got a good ass."

Kirk's weird schtick du jour is selling engagement rings that he gets by befriending "really old women" and worming his way into their wills. No one better try this tactic with me because I'm leaving everything I own to a cat sanctuary

Sharpest insult or one-liner:
I love when Luke tries to explain his "what about the kids" freak out from "A House is Not a Home" and almost immediately downgrades his desires.

"So, [when] I said "What about the kids?" I didn't mean "What about our kids?" I mean, yes, obviously "What about OUR kids?" But I didn't mean we had to have any kids, 'cause we don't ... but we can, I just didn't want you to think that I was laying down some kind of a mandate. I mean kids, it's plural so it sounds like a lot, but we can just have one kid. One's fine, or more if you want more, or we don't have to have any kids. We could just get a plant."

Personally, I think Luke would make a great plant daddy. If dude can run a diner solo, he can definitely keep a snake plant alive.

Books mentioned/books Rory is reading:
Despite the scene of her unpacking in the previous episode, Rory is probably too riddled with anxiety to so much as mention or look at a book.

Please note the denim skirt with back pocket flaps.

Best song of the episode:
I wish my local college pub played Adam and the Ants (in this case, "Antmusic - Remastered") instead of censored radio rap. No shade to Flo Rida, but no one needs to hear "Low" every single weekend.

Thoughts:
After Luke immediately accepts her proposal, Lorelai makes a shockingly self-aware statement:

"I mean we're getting married, Luke. Married. You and me ... Luke-table-for-one-Danes and Lorelai-I'm-sorry-can-I-get-an-industrial-forklift-for-my-emotional-baggage-Gilmore are getting ... married."

It's not exactly that she's been in denial about her issues, only that she's neglected to refer to them in such a matter-of-fact way. This feels like progress! But then of course, she follows this up by immediately commandeering the gazebo, so ... as Olivia Rodrigo says, "one step forward, three steps back." I do find the entire opening sequence charming, from the Zima adventure to Luke and Lorelai's celebratory toast under the soft glow of twinkle lights. I stand by the statement that these two are completely wrong for each other, but they seem so happy in this moment that it's hard not to root for them.

Cue the cheerful la-las.

After their Zima-fueled sex romp, they discuss the possibility of children and happily realize that they're both on the same page. Luke nervously rambles for a bit, receives a minor reprimand from Lorelai for buying a house without consulting her, and then gives a twinkly-eyed grin when she tells him "kids would be good." The next morning at the diner, he's calling everyone by name and passing out complimentary blueberries with reckless abandonment. Until Patty and Babette give him grief for failing to propose, Luke is riding on a pretty uncharacteristic wave of cheerfulness. Fuck those two (and Kirk) for trying to emasculate him via lame ass gender norms and consumerism. You can get married without rings and a giant formal affair that costs thousands of dollars and months of labor.

When Richard calls Lorelai to inform her of Rory's court date, she glibly makes her detachment clear. I'm not sure who she's more interested in punishing: the elder Gilmores for double-crossing her, or Rory for making a decision that goes against her wishes. If I cut someone out of my life every time they did something I disagreed with, I would have no one left. Regardless, Lorelai hits her family with the triple freeze by refusing to engage. She sends Michel to watch over her house ("Like I'm a puppy fetching slippers and giving my paw for a liver treat") when Emily stops by for Rory's things and is entirely absent at her court appearance. It's a depressing way to deal with conflict, but at least it gives us one glorious scene between Michel and Emily.

Emily: Are you just going to sit there?
Michel: I was instructed to stay until you leave.
Emily: Like a need to be watched. Like I'm a meth head stealing a television set to support my habit. Well this is completely unacceptable. RORY NEEDS SOMETHING TO WEAR TO COURT!
Michel: I'm sorry, if you're talking to me you have to do it in woofs.
Emily: You've been working with my daughter way to long.
Michel: Don't I know it!

Product placement: W Magazine.

Because she is a passive aggressive Grandmaster, Emily leaves a shit ton of Post-it notes around the house to shame Lorelai for her snub. And because she knew that Lorelai would return home and rip them down without reading, she also leaves answering machine messages relaying their content. Lorelai pays her back by showing up unannounced in the middle of the night and dumping a laundry basket (which she'll want back) of Rory's things on Emily and Richard's bedroom floor. It's all very healthy behavior! These are people who have gone to therapy and really done the work.

While Paris and Luke have similarly shitty approaches to Rory's decision, their reactions are slightly more relatable. Paris freaks the fuck out about having no one to actually challenge her in Rory's absence; Luke wants to hold her hostage until she listens to reason. I do appreciate that Luke begins to lightly challenge Lorelai's tough love approach in this episode. He reminds Lorelai that young people make stupid mistakes and need guidance. Her response is that,

"I wouldn't have listened to anyone in that situation, even if there was someone to listen to. I had to go through that. And Rory has to go through this. Now she's smart and she's strong and hopefully she'll figure it out but I'm not going to force my way in. She wants to be on her own? Fine, she's on her own."

Is Luke ... wearing extensions?

I think back on all of the dumb decisions I made at twenty-one (like taking out $60k in student loans for a useless master's degree) and better understand Lorelai's position. I very much thought of myself as an adult at that age and had zero interest in following unsolicited advice from my parents. It was nice to know that I could turn to them if shit really spun out of control, though. Having a lifeline is important even if it's never used.

As Rory settles into her new life of exorbitant breakfast spreads and fabric samples, her mother's absence becomes harder to ignore. She suspects that Lorelai is pissed but doesn't initially understand that it's a silent, hands-off style rage. When she wakes up on Saturday morning and asks Emily how Lorelai took the Friday night dinner news, she's told,

"Well you know your mother, Rory. Everything is the end of the world. So dramatic. Ladies and Gentlemen Lorelai Barrymore. But don't you worry. She'll calm down, just give it some time."

I really hope that people who are rich enough to afford a maid are not drinking drip coffee.

But Lorelai doesn't calm down. When she skips out on Rory's court appearance, the icy dynamic between them solidifies. The only remaining adult figures in Rory's life are two old rich people who think that they have the power to sue a lawyer for failing to deliver a desired outcome. There is no one in her life to remind her that 300 hours of community service isn't that harsh of a punishment considering she stole someone's fucking boat. The badass judge (Mary Joy) tries to ground her in reality, but it's hard to maintain that mindset while surrounded by exorbitant wealth and ego.

It is strange to me that Logan throws Rory a "congratulations on being a felon" party but never discusses the terms of his own situation with her. He doesn't seem to feel bad that Rory is suffering the consequences of their crime while he's seemingly gotten off scot-free. Did Mitchum bribe the DA to evade charges or ...? Rich people always find some convoluted way to bury their fuck ups. I asked my bff/legal counsel who said, "Probably he didn’t avoid them and we just didn’t see [it]. I suspect a similar diversionary program deal was arranged for him as for Rory and he was just experienced enough to not fuck it up. But bribery [is] also possible. I just think the Gilmores would have done that too."

Imagine what Jess Mariano would say about this party.

The nicest thing I can say about Logan is that he at least reminds Rory how much she loves school. He doesn't see her as a college drop-out who wanders around aimlessly sans ambition. He probably really does believe that she'll be back to school after a brief period of existential crisis. He's not exactly a true partner in this scenario, but he lends support without overbearing judgment or an attempt to control Rory, which is what I think she needs at this moment.

Random observations:

  • The only champagne Taylor has at the market is $5.99. Do we think it's Andre?
  • I refuse to believe that Babette ever drank Zima. Everyone knows that she is loyal to the signature blend of Svedka and Salem cigarettes.
  • We never see East Side Tilley, but I always picture her as Shelley Duvall.
  • Rachel Anderson plays the real estate agent who annoyingly notes that the Twickham House is great for kids (sigh). You might recognize her as Mateo's teacher in "Jane the Virgin."
  • Rory mentions "Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice" (minus Bob) when invited to share an apartment with Paris and Doyle. I now can't stop picturing the three of them in bed together 🙈
  • After watching this show approximately a bazillion times, I somehow just realized that the bar Logan's crew frequents is called "Rich Man's Shoe."
  • Like "Pretty Baby," "Blue Lagoon" is one of those early Brooke Shields movies that I plan to never watch because I know it will scar me.
  • Juliet's eating disorder rears its ugly head, this time in the form of five peanuts - three normal ones and two little ones. I do find it disturbing that the show makes it seem like a precocious ploy for attention.
  • At the end of the episode, Luke says, "Full moon! Moment's here! Let's go!" which always makes me feel like I'm missing something. What moment is he talking about? Is he going to propose to Lorelai with the ring procured from Kirk's friend who "thought she was Frida Kahlo toward the end" or ...?
  • Lucy Butler is back as Maggie, a very minor recurring character who shows up in four episodes over the course of the series. We last saw her in "Tippecanoe and Taylor, Too," where she comments on the "nice cukes" at Doose's Market.
  • We all agree that Finn is the Brett Kavanaugh of this group, right? He tells Rory, "Slow jams are for the subtle Rory. One too many has a delightful immediacy."