Directing and writing credits:
"Let Me Hear Your Balalaikas Ringing Out" is directed by Kenny Ortega, written by Daniel Palladino. Ortega previously directed these episodes:

  • "They Shoot Gilmores, Don't They?" - My hatred for Jackson intensifies when he reveals his completely deranged "four in four" plan.
  • "A Deep-Fried Korean Thanksgiving" - I desperately want to know how much money Miller Genuine Draft gave to this show.
  • "Face-Off" - Zack and Brian have a lively debate about whether or not it's okay to call a hymn "gay" 😑
  • "A Family Matter" - Digger, Jamie, and Paris all wear turtlenecks/serve major fall fashion inspo.
  • "Written in the Stars" - Lorelai officially outs herself as a member of the Lambily. I only know about this because I just listened to the Mariah Carey episodes of "Even the Rich."
  • "You Jump, I Jump, Jack" - Future white-collar criminals shoot each other in the dick with paintball guns during an elaborate $$$ weekend party.
  • "Emily Says Hello" - Emily decides to go on a date with a man (not a weasel).
  • "Come Home" - Emily and Richard celebrate their reunion by fucking three times in a row.

I don't have any Daniel Palladino news, but it looks like the fourth season of "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" unfortunately won't premiere until 2022.

Most batshit crazy outfit:
No one has worse fashion sense than a rich, white young man in the early 2000s. Spend some of mommy and daddy's money on quality alterations, dammit. And while you're at it, hire a stylist who will create a funeral pyre for all of your cargo pants.

The proportions of Finn's outfit are just 🤮 Hem those fucking pants!

Logan rewears his hideous blazer with raw edge seams from the previous episode. Juliet wears jeans tucked into mid-calf Ugg boots. Rosemary (Elisabeth Abbott), who is barely a character because she rarely gets any lines, wears flipped out hair like a '90s Olsen twin, flared khakis, and a 100% polyester off-the-shoulder sweater. Cue Countess Luann's "Money Can't Buy You Class."

While I think that Emily has made a generally positive impact on Rory's wardrobe, she needs to cool it on the tweed.

Both of these blazers are rewears, which I appreciate.

Most irritating Rory or Lorelai moment:
Rory tells Logan, "It's not as easy when it's not handed to you" immediately after saying this about her own life:

I'm palling with my grandmother and being waited on by a maid. I come home, and my shoes are magically shined. My clothes are magically clean, ironed, and laid out. My bed is magically turned down. I'm in the DAR? I'm going to meetings and teas and cocktail parties? [...] And wasting my time partying and drinking, just hanging out doing nothing.

I mean, yeah ... Rory wasn't born into a newspaper business, but it's not as if she started from the bottom like someone without money and connections. If she thinks that living somewhere for free (with maid service!) isn't an intense advantage, then she has a problem that only a face punch will solve.

Lorelai's whole paint sample spiel is what makes her intolerable to me as an adult. If someone acted like this in real life, I would walk away from them. Not everything has to turn into a jokey "isn't my annoying behavior so cute?" type of bit. Just pick a nice living room paint sample and shut your trap.

"If I didn't need your opposable thumbs, I would maul you to death."

Number of times Rory or Lorelai treat their BFF like shit:
Sookie and Paris are MIA, so Lane is the only friend available for poor treatment. This is the first time we've really seen her and Rory interact since their awkward conversation in "Always a Godmother, Never a God." It's funny that Rory turns to Lane only when she needs a favor. It doesn't seem like she ever calls or stops by to see how Lane is doing. Friends like Rory are energy vampires. They require a ton of emotional labor but give nothing back in return. If Lane had other supportive people in her life, she probably would have broken up with Rory by now.

Best literary or pop culture references:
Pretty soon, Lorelai is going to need a "Mom Celebrity Translator" to interpret Luke's half-baked attempts at relevancy.

Lorelai: They could make a movie about this someday. You know ... The reluctant, handsome diner owner sponsoring a team that goes all the way to the national finals, and you know who would play you?
Luke: Who?
Lorelai: Tobey Maguire!
Luke: He's way younger than me.
Lorelai: But his career is hot. Go with Tobey.
Luke: What about that Vito Morgenstern?
Lorelai: Sure. Or Viggo Mortensen.
Luke: Oh.
Lorelai: Or Donald Sutherland.
Luke: Too old.
Lorelai: We'll dye his hair.
Luke: He's got jowls.
Lorelai: You're picky.

I'm surprised that Luke is even familiar with Tobey Maguire.

My vote is for Viggo Mortensen (or better yet, Jason Lee).

Stars Hollow weirdness:
Lorelai ropes Babette into her paint color dilemma and nearly triggers an indecision panic attack. "Put me in front of a bin of cantaloupe, it'll take me an hour to pick one. An hour! And this is harder than cantaloupe." Luke overhears the insanity and frees Babette from the arduous task of deciding between papaya whip and medium spring green.

Considering Kirk's history with animals, it is no surprise that Paul Anka falls ill after spending time at his doggy daycare. Please see exhibits one and two. Maybe PA's mailbox phobia was triggered by Kirk's Condoleeza Rice rendition?

Sharpest insult or one-liner:
This is a favorite exchange, both for Luke's surliness and Lorelai's swift reply evoking a monosyllabic Mister Rogers who teaches kids how to use power tools:

Lorelai: How is this not your thing?
Luke: I don't want to coach a soccer team.
Lorelai: They don't need a coach. How closely were you listening?
Luke: Well, not that closely. Kids usually talk, but they don't say anything. You know, they just kind of yammer, so if you don't find them cute, they're just boring.
Lorelai: God, you should really have your own children's show, you know, as an alternative to the nice ones.

Tillie and Megan would kick Luke right in the junk if he called them boring to their faces.

Books mentioned/books Rory is reading:
Jess' short novel, "The Subsect," is the only book mentioned. I'm guessing that it's a loosely autobiographical coming-of-age story about a young man who tries to connect with his absent father in Venice Beach amongst a sea of local weirdos. He definitely uses some kind of writerly gimmick, but I'm not sure what. Maybe the novel is written as one big run-on sentence a la James Joyce or sans quotation marks in Sally Rooney fashion. S6 Jess sounds like someone who probably started seeing a therapist, so hopefully his book is more self-aware than he was in high school.

Best song of the episode:
It would be sacrilege to go with anything other than "Russian Rhapsody," the song in the final scene with the loud ass balalaikas.

Jess returns to Stars Hollow with a newfound sense of calm and maturity that makes Rory look even more clueless by comparison. I don't love the idea of a man kick-starting her upcoming positive trajectory, but it's better than watching another eight episodes of DAR shenanigans.

Now that Rory is trapped in the main house with the elder Gilmores, life has become even more unbearable. Emily is up Rory's asshole 24/7, giving her early personal wake up calls and making invasive comments related to physical appearance. Rory complains to Logan about how annoying her situation has become, but he really doesn't seem to care since he's busy drinking himself to death in light of an upcoming work trip to Nebraska. During a night out at Rich Man's Shoe, he and the boys (AKA Colin and Finn) get so drunk that Rory has to wrangle them into her car like toddlers. I can think of few things worse than being the designated driver for three wasted trust fund dipshits who spent the night harassing a folk singer because they don't like her music.

Nothing says "fun night out" like dragging your boyfriend's drunk ass through the street.

When Rory finally arrives back at the Gilmore residence, Jess is there waiting for her outside the gate ... at 3AM, natch. I understand that the writers are going for a mic drop moment before the commercial break, but can think of no plausible explanation for him to be casually lurking. Was he planning to wait there indefinitely until Rory made an appearance?

After some awkward small talk, Rory invites him inside. The last time they saw each other was one and a half years ago after Liz and TJ's wedding. Inspired by Luke's self help book, Jess asked Rory to come to New York with him and she repeatedly said no. None of this is acknowledged, of course. Instead, they talk around Rory's weird situation.

As the conversation veers into awkward territory c/o Rory's analysis of a photo in the New York Times, Jess confesses his real reason for showing up unannounced: he wrote a book and is here to tell Rory that he couldn't have done it without her. I can't decide how I feel about this. His intentions seem genuine, but there is something gross about reengaging with an ex just to make them aware of an accomplishment. It's kind of like when my ex reached out to me via Instagram DM to make sure that I knew he and his wife were having another baby. Like, ummmm ... ok, cool? I haven't talked to or thought about you in years but thanks for the update!

What possessed Emily to purchase a pair of egret fireplace tchotchkes?

Rory's reaction to this news is more evolved than mine would be. If I was in the middle of an identity crisis regarding my professional future, I would spiral after finding out that a friend (who used to be a fuck up) accomplished something major. It would take me a while to sort out my own shit and feel any kind of happiness for them. Rory is immediately and sincerely congratulatory. She does seem embarrassed by her current situation and wants to make sure that Jess knows that she knows how depressing it all looks, but those feelings don't impact the way she responds to his good news.

When Jess and Rory meet up the following night in the elder Gilmores' driveway, Logan shows up unexpectedly with what can only be described as micropeen energy. Even in 2005, I have a hard time believing that he would just pop over to say hello without calling first, especially considering that he was supposed to be in Omaha. Upon seeing Jess, Logan is immediately territorial. Rory begins babbling about old friends and trying to smooth over the tension with forced laughter. If I were Jess, I would have taken a page out of Jackson's playbook and faked a heart attack to escape this horrific social nightmare. Instead, he agrees to third wheel it at Rich Man's Shoe with Don and Betty Draper.

How Jess make it through this disaster without punching Logan is 🤯

Logan almost immediately starts acting aggressive towards Jess by insulting his interests, flaunting his wealth, and flexing his literary knowledge. I also detest when he calls the waitress over by saying "Yo, yo." Logan is the type of person who thinks that it's okay to treat service people like shit as long as he leaves a fat tip. Much like his father, he stealthily belittles people that he feels are beneath him. It absolutely makes sense to me that he would eventually move to Silicon Valley and pursue a career in tech.

Of all his egregious exchanges with Jess, this one is my favorite:

Logan: Oh, you penned the great American novel, Jess?
Jess: Wasn't quite that ambitious.
Logan: So, what are we talking here? Short novel? Kafka length or longer? Dos Passos, Tolstoy? Or longer? Robert Musil? Proust? I'm not throwing you with these names, am I?
Jess: You seem very obsessed with length.

Is anyone shocked that Logan only drops male author names? God forbid he throw in Clarice Lispecter, Sandra Cisneros, or Zora Neale Hurston. When Jess finally reaches his abuse limit, he walks out of the restaurant followed closely by Rory. I have complicated feelings about what transpires.

This little patio area is clearly the place to be. Idk why they chose to eat inside.

Everything that Jess says about Rory during their brief outdoor conversation is accurate. He has correctly assessed that she's going through some shit and not dealing with any of it particularly well. It takes courage to call someone out like this. A close friend may hesitate to do it for fear of wrecking the relationship, so it's actually kind of perfect coming from Jess, someone who used to know Rory well but hasn't interacted with her regularly in years. HOWEVER, I hate when he says, "I know you better than anyone. This isn't you." If a dude I used to date came back into my life for a hot second and dropped some bullshit like this, I would have an immediate rage stroke, even if the latter half of the statement was true.

As a writing technique, I'm not a fan of having a male character push a female character toward self-actualization. It would have been better for Rory to figure out a path forward on her own, without some guy she knew in high school acting as the catalyst. A big problem I have with "GG" is the writers' inability (likely influenced by the network) to let female characters exist without male involvement. If I'm to believe that Rory is incredibly smart and independent, why does she always need to be in a relationship? Why can't she ever problem solve on her own? I want her to make decisions unprompted by male commentary.

After Jess leaves and Rory goes back inside, she and Logan have an idiotic conversation about whose life is more difficult because of their immense privilege. It ends with the two of them parting ways after Logan tosses money at the problem. By the end of the episode, Rory has finally made some changes. Over the sound of frenetic balalaika music at the Russian tea, she passive aggressively tells Emily that her tenancy at the senior Gilmore residence has come to an end. I'm glad that this painful mother-daughter separation storyline is finally wrapping up, but wish it could have happened on terms that give Rory more agency.

It's a tweed blazer showdown.

Aside from the paint sample inanity, Lorelai's preoccupations are with Luke's girls' soccer team sponsorship and Paul Anka's mysterious illness. After buying his team, The Bobcats, fancy new shirts and hats, Luke seems properly hyped on the whole endeavor ... until he and Lorelai actually attend a game and can't deal with the violence.

Lorelai: It was ... it was ...
Luke: Violent.
Lorelai: "Scarface" on a soccer field.
Luke: Those little girls. Megan, Tilly.
Lorelai: Animals! Animals!

During the post-game meal at the diner, Luke confronts the players who promptly check his misogyny like little pros. I hope their parents are proud.

Tillie: We play the way the boys play.
Unnamed player: Watch them. You'll see.
Luke: But boys are boys, and girls are girls.
Megan: I cannot believe I'm hearing this.
Tillie: So we're just supposed to play like cute little girls like we're at some tea party?
Luke: I'm not saying that.
Tillie: We want to win. Which means we gotta kick some butt!
The whole team: Yeah!

These ladies have Hillary Clinton-level ambition. We love to see it!

As Paul Anka convalesces, Lorelai's behavior is reminiscent of the S2 episode where Rory brakes her arm. As she sits in Rory's room with him all night, she slips into an "I'm a bad mother" depression that is really more about her human child than PA. It's a scene that is a little too on the nose for me, but not unrealistic. Lorelai and Rory have both reached a tipping point in this episode, which means that a reunion is finally on the horizon.

Random observations:

  • "He's very anal when he misbehaves" is a great tagline for Paul Anka.
  • Tell me you're in your 30s without telling me you're in your 30s: "I showed Sookie that blanched almond. She flipped." This reminds me of the extensive conversations I've had with my friend Sydney about Farrow & Ball's "Dead Salmon."
  • Do we really think Rory has watched "Battlestar Galactica"? Maybe Luke, Star Hollow's resident sci-fi fan, got her into it.
  • What is Emily trying to say about Shandinka the maid and her used SUV? Is she so proud of owning it that she's willing to do menial errands for her employer's granddaughter?
  • It wouldn't be a Juliet episode without a line like, "Have I gained weight?"
  • Rory's framed Lance Bass poster is a nice callback to this S1 episode.
  • Why are there so many jokes about how "bad" folk music is? Haven't any of these idiots listened to Joan Baez?
  • I am very attracted to Luke only when he's wearing sweatpants.
Not a great pic, but check out that tricep.