'Gilmore Girls' Season 7, Episode 10: Merry Fisticuffs

'Gilmore Girls' Season 7, Episode 10: Merry Fisticuffs

Directing and writing credits:
“Merry Fisticuffs” is directed by Jackson Douglas and written by David S. Rosenthal. Douglas previously directed "To Live and Let Diorama," the episode with the creepy "I love Jesus" mannequin, and "Welcome to the Dollhouse," the one with a Birkin bag! A Birkin bag for Rory. To give you insight into how my mind works, I first Googled for Jackson Douglas news and found nothing. I did, however, find this People article detailing his divorce from Alex Borstein in 2017. I then landed on an article from one of those celebrity gossip mom blogs about Borstein's parenting philosophy blah blah. At one point, the article referred to her as "'The Lizzie McGuire Movie' actress," which somehow made me realize that holy shit, she was Miss Ungermeyer.

Borstein was approximately my age here, which is 🤯

Aside from the upcoming "Sober Companion," I have zero Rosenthal updates.

Most batshit crazy outfit:
There's nothing wrong with this Barbie pink sweater and Brady Bunch-esque collared shirt, but it doesn't feel like Lorelai. Maybe I'm just not used to seeing her in neon colors. The top might have worked had she paired it with jeans, but something about the boring black black trousers induce my gag reflex. Her pale pink baguette and white winter coat are likewise strange choices.

It's confirmed: Lorelai upgraded her Baby Phat phone to this white Blackberry Pearl.

It reminds me of something Polly would wear on "Claws," only she would pair it with another bold print or something wild but interesting. Side note: if you haven't watched "Claws" yet, what is wrong with you? It's like a trashier, Florida-set "Sopranos" mixed with the drama of "Flavor of Love." I'll never shut up about how underrated it is.

The outfits are deranged in the best way.

Now that Chris is loaded, why hasn't he taken Lorelai somewhere fancy, like La Perla or Agent Provocateur, for lingerie? There's no reason why she should keep wearing this ill-fitted, grandma's doily, Victoria's Secret bargain bin negligee.

Nothing screams "sexy" like the visceral memory of a crystal dish filled to the brim with Brach’s Party Mix.

Most irritating Rory or Lorelai moment:
There are major issues with both women per usual, so I'm focusing on minor (but still extremely annoying) offenses here.

It's cute that Rory thinks Dennis (Tyson Chambers), the student card swiper in the dining hall, gives a shit whether she's using her family pass legitimately. She had that job freshman year. Doesn't she remember the time she talked on her cell phone and had people swipe themselves in? Had she exerted minimal effort, she could have saved $9.75 and put it towards the cost of a therapist. Girlfriend needs professional help to sort out why she let the Marty situation unravel in such chaotic fashion.

Lorelai is a total cunt to Randall Farber (Edward Hibbert), Emily's party planner. She either needs to set a firm boundary with everyone and call off the party before this poor man has a ruptured aneurysm. He just wants to collect his paycheck and escape these tragic heteros before their tackiness wears off on him. (I'm not sure if he's queer-coded or just British, but Hibbert is gay IRL.)

Did you recognize Hibbert from this role or am I the only one who has seen "The First Wives Club" (1996) five hundred times?

Number of times Rory or Lorelai treat their BFF like shit:
Everyone is MIA. Although probably not BFF tier, Lucy experiences the negative ramifications of friendship with a self-absorbed asshole. I don't understand how Rory attends the double date at Panchali's without either fessing up to the Marty lie or making Logan promise not to blow her cover. I would have been preemptively freaking the fuck out over looking like a sociopath if/when the truth inevitably emerged, but I guess Rory is immune to that brand of anxiety.

Best literary or pop culture references:
Lucy says her art history professor "sounds like Garrison Keillor on quaaludes," which — not to be a downer — hits much differently after his sexual misconduct allegations. It makes me think of this comment on a Reddit thread discussing Keillor's ill-advised comeback campaign:

Stars Hollow weirdness:
Kirk mercilessly competes with kids who are selling wrapping paper to raise money for a new gymnasium at their school. When asked about his motivation for being such a dick, he says, "I'm not a school, Luke. No one's raising money for me." Part of me respects this and thinks he's teaching the next generation a valuable lesson (file this under "reasons why I'm not a parent.")

I wonder if Taylor's incompetent niece, Bonnie (Samantha Droke), is Timmy's sister. I like the idea of his niblings banding together to ruin his life, one incorrectly scanned vegetable and two ping-pong balls to the head at a time.

The dramatic eye roll is very Lindsay circa 2005 (and also now).

Sharpest insult or one-liner:
I agree with Lorelai: "Everyone leaves by 8:30" is an excellent party theme. She should hire me to plan this for her. I've been flawlessly executing on this concept since 2015. "Everyone brings a book and reads together silently" is another fun/acceptable theme.

Books mentioned/books Rory is reading:
Lucy mentions playing Portia in Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice" and Lorelai references John Gray's "Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus" (1992), but those are the only two crumbs thrown at us. Remember when Rory used to read Sylvia Plath? Those were the days. All of the bitches from her high school graduation speech have gotten nary a reference during the college years. I wonder how Patti Smith feels about getting dropped like a hot potato.

Since Rory doesn't read, here's a photo of Patti enjoying Francis Carco's "Depravity" (1957).

Best song of the episode:
Sad Christopher sits in a bar, drinking beer and listening to Steve Miller Band's "The Joker." As Hunter Harris would say, "New most divorced man bout to drop."

I should note that I used to enjoy this song until the horrific Jason Mraz version in "Happy Feet" ruined it for me forever. This is yet another reason why I can't have children. If I were forced to listen to garbage like this 24/7, even the cushiest pillow would fail to stifle my rage screams.

Instead of acknowledging and expressing their feelings, Lorelai and Rory shove them down and get bit in the ass as a result. At the beginning of the episode, Lorelai and Chris torture their realtor while looking at a house they'll never buy because it's not in Stars Hollow. Three bookstores be damned! Lorelai must remain in the town where she's worshipped like a sassy, Pop-Tart munching deity. The whole scene is reminiscent of "Lost and Found," the S2 episode where she accompanies Luke to view prospective apartments for him and Jess. Frankly, agents Margaret (Ingrid Sanai Buron) and Mary (Brett Paesel) don't get paid enough to pretend they find Lorelai's mental illness charming.

Ah, yes ... feigning excitement at work when you feel dead inside. We've all been there!

Randall, the party planner, is another person who probably has an escalation clause in his contract that allows him to increase his rates each time Lorelai's insolence prevents him from doing his job properly. Even though it probably would have gone over poorly, Lorelai should have declined the wedding party offer in lieu of agreeing to it and then acting like a bitch. For someone who basically went no-contact with her parents for sixteen years, she is often horrible at setting boundaries. If Lorelai were a healthier person, she would have examined her behavior more closely and tried to suss out why celebrating a supposedly happy occasion is so triggering, but it turns out that one therapy session was not enough to get her there.

The cringiest moment is when Rory calls and Lorelai tries to use her as an excuse for escaping "party-planning hell." The older I get, the more perplexing it is to me that I once thought this stunted adult woman was such a cool mom role model. Lorelai's love of sugary cereals and wild graphic tees is a little immature, but mostly harmless; her refusal to identify and remedy her own limitations is pathetic. It's no wonder Rory can't tell Lucy what's happening with Marty. She was raised by a woman who thinks driving someone to the brink of insanity with petty mind games is more sensical than direct communication.

Release Rory's unabridged journals! I would love to know what she really thinks about Lorelai's choices post-Luke breakup.

At Doose's Market, Lorelai bitches to Chris about the tedium of party calligraphy choices while he tries to prevent her from developing type 2 diabetes. In a show of solidarity, he offers to attend the rest of the meetings with her so they can make fun of dumb rich people shit together. She thanks him for this kindness by slipping outside during checkout with the maligned (probably a stoner) Bonnie and immediately runs into Luke and Doula on the sidewalk. The two exes have a civil, albeit massively dishonest, conversation about how Liz and TJ are going to make good parents. It's only a matter of time before those two are sent to jail: TJ for second-degree murder after killing a horde of people with his faulty shelf installations and Liz for selling tainted essential oils.

When Chris walks outside with the groceries, he sees Lorelai holding Doula and plays it tensely cool before swinging his dick around later that night. His tiny, damaged brain concludes that coaxing Lorelai into having another kid is a great way to cement the relationship. He can't admit that seeing her with Luke and Doula triggered his insecurities, probably because he doesn't want her to think about the messy origin of their romance redux. Deep down, he knows they rushed into things and that he pushed for something more when she wasn't emotionally available. In this way, Chris and Lorelai are in the same boat ... they're in denial but teetering on the edge of recognition. The relationship always had a shelf life, it was merely a question of who would reach their breaking point first.

A pickpocketing pianist or Nutriboom representative? Only time will tell.

The next day at the party-planning meeting, Chris is still fixated on Lorelai's refusal to impulsively procreate with him the previous night. Seeing Lorelai with Luke hit him with a dose of reality, making it difficult to view her attitude towards the wedding celebration as anything other than an admission of apprehension. As Chris notes, "You planned a huge wedding with that diner guy." It's not that Lorelai is against the idea of saying vows in front of loved ones, she just doesn't want to do it with Christopher.

Emily, who witnesses this tiff, shows up at Lorelai's house that night and gives a big speech about how marriage is mostly misery and toil, but hey ... at least it means you won't choke to death on Chinese takeout because someone will be there to administer the Heimlich maneuver. Chris isn't home during this ambush; he's busy drinking depression beers before brawling with Luke amongst the twinkle lights. This is one of the saddest displays of toxic masculinity I've ever seen. Luke's custody lawyer is right: anger-management classes might not be a bad idea considering his history of milquetoast violent behavior. They should have at least hired stunt men because Scott Patterson and David Sutcliffe fight like two men who can't risk injury because they're about to lose SAG health insurance when the show ends. (According to IMDb, they did 😬 hire stunt men.) The whole thing is giving "The One With Rachel's Other Sister."

Over at Yale, the ticking Marty time bomb finally explodes and Lucy is rightfully upset. I understand Logan's frustration with Rory's secret-keeping and his desire not to lie, but inserting himself into this fucked up situation was not the right move. He should have let Rory handle it herself instead of publicly humiliating those involved and ruining multiple relationships. The writers play up the idea that Logan's actions were motivated by jealousy, but that feels out of character. He didn't give a single shit when Rory and Marty were friends during the early stages of their relationship. Marty was always the dude who makes a kick-ass margarita, not a romantic threat worthy of sabotage. Maybe life as a corporate shill has Logan bored and stirring up shit with Marty is a way for him to feel alive again.

It is satisfying to watch terror creep into Marty's eyes.

As much as this storyline tires me, the fight that transpires between Rory and Logan feels more realistic than those in past seasons. He does a petty, mean-spirited thing under the guise of some nonexistent moral compass and she is rightfully disgusted by his attitude (and probably with herself for letting the lie fester). When she calls Lorelai to bitch, they have this exchange:

Rory: Boys suck.
Lorelai: Oh, hon.
Rory: They totally suck.
Lorelai: Sometimes they do.
Rory: Tell me it gets better when they get older.
Lorelai: It gets better when they get older.
Rory: It does?
Lorelai: Well, it gets more confusing, more complicated, and more complex. Does any of that sound better?
Rory: No.

It won't ever get better for Rory and Lorelai because no matter how much time passes, they're still the same two assholes who are resistant to self-improvement. I've had it up to my tits with their nonsense and can't wait until this recap project is over and I never have to think about them again.

Rory rewears her dress from the episode where she first meets Lucy and Olivia.

Random observations:

  • The guy who recognizes Logan in the Yale dining hall is played by Michael Hobert AKA Lonnie, JD's intern/nemesis, from "Scrubs."
  • In "Knit, People, Knit!" Jackson and Chris drink at a bar called KC's, which I always assumed was in Woodbridge because of Rory's comments from "Richard in Stars Hollow," Lane's bachelorette debacle, and the Secret Bar nonsense in "AYitL." At the end of this episode, we see Chris walk directly from a bar over to the town square. Since when, motherfuckers? Taylor would have definitely worked his ass off to ensure Stars Hollow is a dry community.
  • More than anything else, what makes me like Lucy is the way she greets Logan upon meeting him for the first time: "Congratulations on buying the internet or something." It's funny, but also succinctly conveys how little she cares about (and/or is impressed by) his dumb job.
Marty's expression suggests he just discovered a silent fart was actually diarrhea. 
  • Liz is dumb enough to reproduce with TJ but smart enough to suggest Luke hire a lawyer for his custody disagreement. Make it make sense.
  • Chris says he and Lorelai can "have a thousand kids, feed them, send them to Harvard undergrad, law school." Was his brain settlement for $1B?
  • Imagine being at a WASP wedding where the bride publicly promises the groom she'll cook lasagna for him twice per month. I agree with Emily: that shit is tacky.
  • Why did this show have to take the one working class student at Yale and turn him into a surly, creepy douchebag? I want to support the guy who sarcastically mutters, "I'm just waiting for that trust fund to kick in" when the heir to a newspaper fortune comments on his many jobs.
  • Along with Meryl Streep and Jodie Foster, here are some other famous people who benefited from Yale's "fantastic theater program." I had no idea that Tony Shalhoub and John Turturro (AKA Adrian and Ambrose Monk) both went there for MFAs.
They're in the Coen Brothers' "Barton Fink (1991) together, too.
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