Directing and writing credits:
"A Vineyard Valentine" is written and directed by Daniel Palladino. Over the course of six seasons, he penned standout episodes, like "The Bracebridge Dinner," "A Deep Fried Korean Thanksgiving," "You Jump, I Jump Jack," and "We've Got Magic to Do," among many others. While I typically enjoy his work, it quickly becomes intolerable when he overindulges his worst impulses, like excessive townie weirdness or character inconsistencies. "That Damn Donna Reed," co-written with Amy, is a good example of what I find most offensive.
This is one of those episodes where everything feels off and the jokes rarely land. The only way I can enjoy it is by getting stoned and tearing it to shreds.
Most batshit crazy outfit:
These people are supposed to be in Martha's Vineyard in February and they're wearing shit like this while eating outside, which no one on the East Coast did past October until the pandemic hit.
To add insult to injury, there are seven mentions of how cold it is and yet ... they decided to shoot the fucking dinner scene outside. Aside from this major grievance, none of the outfits are as ugly as I want them to be. I hate the distressed jeans that Lorelai wears on the drive to the Vineyard. They look like something I would have cried for in ninth grade at the Monroeville Mall Buckle store until my mom, driven to madness, relented.
I don't hate it, but the opening scene at the inn makes me wonder if Rory got Lorelai a crimping iron for Christmas or something.
Most irritating Rory or Lorelai moment:
Rory and Logan's mind meld couple personality at the Vineyard creeps me out. I guess they've reached the point in their relationship where they become different people depending on where they're at geographically. Maybe it's like a less overtly sexual role play. The best prune pastries on the island, you say? Titillating!
Lorelai is like a middle schooler in the late '90s who just learned what "gay" means and can't stop laughing about it. She rambles to Luke, "I wonder if there's a connection between the shape of lighthouses, ferries, spermaceti, and Gay Head." Even Lauran Graham isn't interested in selling this nonsense. All she can muster is a lame fake laugh while thinking about renegotiating her salary if the writing quality continues to nosedive.
Number of times Rory or Lorelai treat their BFF like shit:
Lane and Paris aren't in this episode, but let's imagine what they're both doing for Valentine's Day. Lane and Mrs. Kim are probably in the kitchen with the curtains drawn, drinking soju. Mrs. Kim gets just tipsy enough to tell Lane about the first (and only) time she saw Mr. Kim's pickle.
Paris and Doyle use the crafts corner to make each other creative sex toys (lots of fish hooks and horse glue are involved) and then celebrate the fruits of their labor with krav maga porn. Still upset about the editorship betrayal, Paris flies into a post-coital rage and stays up until 4AM, making a Rory Gilmore voodoo doll with the leftover sex toy supplies.
Sookie makes a brief appearance to whine about her stale Valentine's Day menu of oysters. Lorelai asks her what she's doing for the big day and she gives a story about eating a romantic meal with Jackson and their children. If it's anything like this meal, I call shenanigans.
Best literary or pop culture references:
Rory and Lorelai have this exchange after their gym laundry guy massages:
Lorelai: I was, like, in a zen trance. I was totally somewhere else.
Rory: Me too. I was in Greece. Where were you?
Lorelai: Bergdorf Goodman.
Lorelai probably became obsessed with Bergdorf Goodman after seeing it featured in "My Name is Barbra," Streisand's 1965 TV special where she arrives by carriage at Bergdorf Goodman while singing "Second Hand Rose."
Stars Hollow weirdness:
We've traded SH antics for the sad, strange world of fake Martha's Vineyard. I can't verify its accuracy, but this blog that hunts down filming locations says the Huntzberger beach house is at 27460 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu. According to Berg Properties, a real estate agency, this home was once owned by Courteney Cox and David Arquette. They must have remodeled it extensively because it looks like an outdated piece of shit in this episode. I'm sorry, but this is not a rich person kitchen, even in 2006. It's like what poor people think rich people think poor people think rich people’s houses look like.
Sharpest insult or one-liner:
After instructing Joni (Rona Benson) to instate a strict deadline for the misogynistic guys at the photo lab, Rory says, "Girl power, baby. Betty Friedan's dead, and we've all got to fill the vacuum." I would like to take this opportunity to remind everyone who hasn't already done so to watch "Mrs. America" on Hulu. I promise that Tracey Ullmann as Betty Friedan is everything you never knew you wanted.
Books mentioned/books Rory is reading:
🚨 Rory is finally seen reading a book 🚨 The first night in Martha's Vineyard, she cozies up on a disgusting tan floral couch with a copy of Joan Didion's "The Year of Magical Thinking." "GG" introduced me to so many great female writers, like Colette, Eudora Welty, Patti Smith, and Didion. On this rewatch, it's made me increasingly sad to see how little books factor into Rory's college life. I feel like I mention it in every recap, but it really is a huge mega bummer (as Zack would say).
Lorelai reads a quote from "Moby-Dick" in an attempt to get Luke excited about Martha's Vineyard. At this point, her relationship is so depressing that I can't focus on anything else. Luke is such a wet blanket that Lorelai essentially has to beg him to take this free trip with her.
Best song of the episode:
Berlin's "Take My Breath Away" plays while Lorelai and Rory receive their creepy gym rub downs. This song reminds me of Liza and Charles on "Younger." That show went a little off the rails around S5, but it's a good one to watch if you want something light and quippy but with more substance than reality TV.
The character assassination of Luke Danes continues in "A Vineyard Valentine." Not only is he in full "angry Bop-It with Dean" mode, but he has apparently never eaten lobster before. If Luke is capable of whipping out a last minute roast duck dinner, it's impossible for me to believe that he is a lobster neophyte. Is Luke surprisingly sophisticated or woefully inept? The writers should stop toggling between character traits that best suit the plot.
Before he and Lorelai got together, I always felt like Luke was a fairly limited person but with a good heart. He took Jess in when his mother rejected him and tried to provide the unconditional love that was lacking. He understood when Lorelai (AKA Mimi) was really hurting and needed a friend, even though they were in the middle of a fight. He maintained a good relationship with Rory and never held her accountable for her mother's actions. Luke isn't emotionally intelligent when expressing his feelings, but has generally succeeded at intuiting the needs of those around him. Once April enters the picture, it's like he's suffered a head injury.
I realize the writers need to create conflict that will break up Luke and Lorelai yet again, but they're making Luke so unlikable that it's hard to root for him in the future. For much of the episode, Lorelai struggles with her disappointment over Luke's neglect. He hasn't planned anything for Valentine's Day, is grouchy about the trip to Martha's Vineyard, and spends almost the entire time there whining about various things that annoy him (Stan, Logan, the weather). Would the man who saved a horoscope in his wallet for eight years really drop the ball like this?
One of my most hated media tropes is when dads (or dad figures) are overprotective of their daughters in a way that feels like a desperate assertion of traditional masculinity. Luke exhibited this behavior during both Dean relationships and now he's back at it again with Logan. I understand why he dislikes these guys and thinks they're not good enough for Rory, but his weird aggression does nothing to help the situation. For once, I wish the men on this show would address their underlying emotions instead of making everything into a penis measuring contest.
If I were Luke, I would be most pissed about the gift situation. Logan could have waited to give Rory her presents in private after learning that Luke hadn't purchased anything for Lorelai. Instead, he creates an awkward situation where he gets to come across as super generous and Luke now feels indebted to him. After dinner, Logan probably told Luke that he owed him $25k for the necklace and held it over his head for the rest of his life. Also, who the fuck buys their girlfriend a matching tennis bracelet and necklace? Is this the 1930s? Is Rory his moll? He does call her Ace ...
After being visibly irritated with him during several moments at the Vineyard, Lorelai finally airs her grievances in an honest way. After canceling the remaining June 3rd reservations (including Buzu Barnes and the Cajun Stompers, which is another bad Daniel Palladino impulse), she's been feeling like the wedding is never going to happen. Luke reassures her that everything is only postponed, that he's been preoccupied and knows he's been neglecting her. It's an acceptable apology but I would have wanted him to admit that he ruined the trip by complaining 24/7 and acting like a dick.
The next morning, as they're eating breakfast in bed, Luke suggests that instead of having a wedding, he and Lorelai should elope. I'm not sure how she managed to sit there calmly without screaming and/or smashing a plate over Luke's head. The entire fucking wedding was already planned. All he had to do was show up in his tuxedo! If the initial postponement was so that he could have more time to settle into fatherhood (which is also lame), how does eloping over the summer help? This reminds me of S4 of "Sex and the City" when Carrie accepts Aidan's marriage proposal but then balks over setting a date. No amount of sweatpants bulge shots will undo the damage the writers have done to Luke's romantic appeal.
At the end of the episode, Luke is back on his bullshit, scheduling time with Lorelai that doesn't overlap with April. When Lorelai arrives back at her house to find an answering machine full of well wishes c/o Emily's wedding announcement, it's a wonder she doesn't drive her Jeep into a brick wall. She understands the relationship is doomed unless things change, but hopes Luke will reintegrate her into his life once he becomes more comfortable with April. It's hard to believe that the man who once built her an ice rink because she was sad about snow is now too afraid to let her meet his daughter.
There's not much to say about Rory and Logan aside from the fact that they act like pod people. When Luke and Lorelai first arrive at the house, Rory gives them a tour that involves several grating details, like a guest bedroom named "the King and Queen's suite" and a superfluous mention that the dining room seats twenty. Is this bitch working on her real estate license?
She and Logan have been together for what, maybe eight months? Between community service, her job at the DAR, school, and the recent breakup, when would Rory have had time to memorize the hours at Joe's Cafe and spend time cooking in the Huntzberger's MV kitchen? I get that Rory and Logan are supposed to be the happy couple foil to Luke and Lorelai's gloom, but the writing makes me question their humanity. I don't think Luke has to worry about whether or not his room shares a wall with Rory and Logan's doppelgängers. When the sun sets, they slip into their cocoons and suck on some nutrient yeast; mitosis is silent.
When Mitchum arrives to scream at Logan for skipping a business meeting in London, we're reminded that while he's acting like an alien impersonating a middle aged man this weekend, he's still a kid who is beholden to his father's wishes (unless he wants to lose his massive trust fund). Rory, who had been planning a summer trip to Asia with Logan, is dismayed to learn that he's supposed to spend an entire year working in London after graduating. He hadn't told her about any of this because he's one of those people who believes bad news doesn't exist if you refuse to acknowledge it. Maybe he and Luke have more in common than I initially realized.
- Michel would be horrified to hear that Rory ate two bagels for breakfast. Every time I have one, I think about him saying, "Bagels are like glue in your intestines and ensure that everything that enters your body will remain there until you die." Is this show actively trying to give us eating disorders?
- Teen Liz once picked up a random person's cigarette butt at the beach and smoked it. This confirms everything I thought I knew about her.
- Logan has a stack of books on his bedside table, but I can't make out any of the titles. I'm likewise perplexed by the silver device on the far right corner. Does anyone know what it is? A videophone?
- "Mama needs some time off" is a phrase that gives me nightmares.
- My husband says that all of the mentions of how "cold" it is are akin to the "meow" taunt from "Super Troopers." He's not wrong.
- I wish we got to see Luke and Logan in the gym locker room together, struggling to avoid looking at each other's tallywackers.
- Ah, yes ... February on the East Coast, where trucks are totally salt free and grass is still green. Why not travel with suitcases in the open bed of a truck? Weather is an illusion!
- When Rory tells Lorelai that Luke and Logan "could be the ones," it's the kiss of death for both relationships. Enjoy the happiness while it lasts, ladies.
- I'm surprised Logan didn't buy Rory a Cartier Love bracelet, the quintessential rich person Valentine's Day/anniversary jewelry gift.