Directing and writing credits:
“Santa's Secret Stuff” is directed by Lee Shallat Chemel and written by Rebecca Kirshner. Chemel directs a total of eleven episodes in S7, which is an unusual amount for anyone who isn't Amy or Dan. In their infamous interview with Michael Ausiello, the Palladinos talked about how difficult it was for them to work without a director on staff for six seasons. I know they ended up hiring more writers for S7, but I wonder if they ever got a staff director or if David S. Rosenthal acted in that capacity. I think he probably did, but made it more manageable for himself by writing/directing less episodes.
I bring this up to point out the insane amount of work the Palladinos did in order to keep the tone, characters, and world of the show (mostly) consistent for one-hundred-thirty-one episodes. S7 may have still been a trash fire under their tutelage, but at least it would have been tightly-controlled trash fire.
Kirshner has also been around since S5 but received more writing credits in S7 than in the previous two seasons combined. I can't find a good interview with her, but I highly recommend Will Harris' two-part Substack series with Chemel. Sadly, she doesn't talk about "Gilmore Girls," but it's still worth a read for anyone interested in TV directing.
Most batshit crazy outfit:
Gil, breast pump aficionado, wears a graphic tee that says, "I am the lead singer of my band." Is this a D12/Eminem reference or just a very on-the-nose declaration of his position in Hep Alien? Either way, it's fucking ugly.
And once again, I must ask: What is the utility of wearing a scarf like this? It doesn't look warm or festive and the color is giving dirty sock vibes.
Most irritating Rory or Lorelai moment:
Rory isn't annoying because she doesn't have much to do. She probably should have asked Lorelai if she remembered to take her meds after the whole coconut bra anti-snow dance story, but gf isn't far enough removed from this woman to really see who for who she is yet.
Lorelai, on the other hand, is nothing but annoying. Her whole "monkey, monkey, underpants" monologue is absolutely unhinged, and not in a delightful way ... more in a "Let's schedule an Alzheimer's evaluation for Grandma" way. It's also baffling that no one challenged her decision to postpone Christmas until Rory returned from London. I'm picturing Lorelai calling G.G.'s preschool teacher and explaining that no merriment is allowed until her biological child returns from the other side of the pond. Even with a boatload of therapy, this kid is going to struggle as an adult. People don't bounce back when one parent abandons them, the other is an imbecile, and the stepmother is straight out of Grimms' fairy tales.
Number of times Rory or Lorelai treat their BFF like shit:
A very pregnant Lane finally makes an appearance, but she and Rory don't interact. Everything about her storyline makes me depressed, especially the moment when she breaks down and says,
It was such a small window — a peephole, really. For years, I was this repressed kid, and then there was the briefest of windows. And then — slam. All of a sudden, I'm this overburdened mother. I barely got to do it, Zach. I barely got the chance to be a person.
I'll discuss this more later, but all I have to say for now is "Woof."
Lately, Sookie only pops up when Lorelai needs a makeshift therapist to validate her "struggles" and/or bad decision-making. As Lorelai prattles on about how hard it is to write a character reference for Luke, Sookie chimes in with a few generic platitudes. I miss the days when she and Lorelai actually did things together outside of the Dragonfly. Their relationship no longer has the spark it once did.
Best literary or pop culture references:
In a lame attempt at reassuring Lane her life won't end post-twins, Zack cites Mick Jagger as an example of someone who "has like 15 kids" but "still goes out and rocks." It's easy to be a parent when all it involves is ejaculating once, writing a monthly check (after getting sued, of course), and letting women do all the work. Pro-tip: don't reproduce with someone who thinks Mick Jagger is a good dad.
Stars Hollow weirdness:
The townies are absent, but I must give it up for Sue (Lauren Tuerk), the grouchy Weston's waitress who doesn't give a shit about Lorelai's Queen of Stars Hollow status. Sue makes candy cane coffee exceptions for no one.
Sharpest insult or one-liner:
Everything Michel says to Luke is wonderfully devastating, from "Oh. You. I thought we were done with you" to "I've often wondered, does someone in your family own a flannel company?" When it becomes obvious Luke isn't going to engage in this bitchery, Michel says, "You know what? I cannot do this. Let us just stand here and let the awkwardness wash over us." Of all the witty, deranged lines of "GG" dialogue, this one speaks most directly to my soul.
Books mentioned/books Rory is reading:
I didn't clock a single book or literary reference; this show is a shell of its former self. As an English major, I don't understand why Rory is never seen reading novels for class. It would be so easy to show her carrying a book or reading silently somewhere. Give the people what they want!
Best song of the episode:
It certainly isn't Chris' rendition of "Angels We Have Heard on High," so I guess we're left with Bing Crosby's "I'll Be Home for Christmas," which plays as Lorelai finishes up her Luke letter and carts it off to the mailbox. (Much like Jagger, Crosby is another man who 100% belongs in the bad place.)
Six days after Christmas, Rory arrives in Stars Hollow to find a lovely spring day in full swing. All the deciduous trees have their leaves, the sun is shining, and everyone is dressed in open jackets. The wardrobe and production design teams have apparently given up on trying to make southern California look like New England in the winter. Someone must have cut the soap snow budget this year.
Rory was visiting Logan in London during Christmas so Lorelai, poster child for enmeshment, made her promise to halt all celebrations until they could be together. I hope G.G. starts journaling young because she's going to want to reference this event at Narcotics Anonymous when she speaks about the origin of her heroin addiction.
I've mentioned this before, but I've always found the lack of holiday episodes strange for this show. Stars Hollow loves pageantry! How is this only the second Christmas episode? Rory and Lorelai's holiday traditions would feel more impactful if we had seen them play out in previous seasons. The writers make it a point to contrast their rituals with Christopher's, but it all feels pretty low stakes. They side-eye his ugly new stockings and caroling suggestion, but he doesn't seem hurt and willingly defaults to their preferences.
All the tension from "Merry Fisticuffs" has melted away with zero explanation. Even if the fight between Luke and Chris was some kind of shared hallucination, I would still expect there to be weird energy left over from the engagement party kerfuffle. Instead, neither conflict is addressed. Chris is probably afraid to do or say anything that could push his rapidly crumbling marriage into divorce.
When Luke comes to the inn and asks Lorelai to write a character reference for his court date, Chris' feelings don't even cross her mind. Lorelai immediately accepts the request and stresses over what to say. At several different points, Chris, who she leaves completely in the dark, almost catches her working on the letter but she uses Christmas as an excuse for her secrecy. At Weston's Bakery, Rory straight-up asks Lorelai why she's lying to Chris, but the question is dismissed as inconsequential.
This season has been a goddamn mess, especially in terms of plot, but I appreciate what the writers have tried to do with Rory. As she creeps toward adulthood, I like the idea of her slowly realizing her mom is an asshole who doesn't always make the best decisions and often treats other people poorly. It's nice to see Rory call Lorelai out on her shit, even if she's instantly fed lies about how things with Christopher are "better than great" (which, one second later, is downgraded to "better than fine"). Had I written "AYitL," Rory's arc would have involved her discovering r/emotionalneglect and uncovering Lorelai's narcissism and parentification. As adults, their relationship would move from creepily close to eerily distant and Lorelai would start to take on more of an Emily role in her life. But I digress!
While shopping for Christmas presents at the mall, Rory and Lorelai run into Luke and April. During a mostly awkward conversation, the topic of Luke's gift giving "skills" comes up and Rory reminisces about all of the monogrammed and/or unicorn-themed items she's received from him over the years. Everything mentioned sounds infinitely better than the cat potholders he wanted to buy Rachel and the cat toiletry kit he thought April would want for her birthday. Character continuity aside, this exchange makes Lorelai realize how good Luke has always been to Rory. In Chris' absence, he was a consistent, positive male presence in her life who never wavered, even when he and Lorelai had problems. This is something I've always respected about Luke and I'm glad to see Lorelai finally recognizing it.
In light of the upcoming custody trial, April and Luke aren't supposed to spend time together, but she shows up at the diner unannounced and convinces him to make an exception. After listening to her brag about limestone and practice a few mourning dove calls, my husband was like, "She needs a case of polio and an iron lung. That way, she can't follow when you leave the room." This comment is less funny in light of polio's fucked up resurgence (vaccinate your kids, idiots), but I still laughed because I belong in the bad place with Mick Jagger and Bing Crosby. Please don't cancel me.
The only other topic left to discuss is woefully mistreated Lane Kim. I know she's a small woman who is expecting twins, but the fake baby bump and pregnant woman walk make her look like she's smuggling beach balls after a day in the saddle. Like all pregnant women on this show, her emotions creep out in highly irrational bursts because hormones eradicate all logic 🙄 There's one nice, albeit unbelievable, scene where Gil destigmatizes both breast and formula-feeding, but everything else just feels like the writers taking a massive dump on this character. Not only is she reduced to an incubator by everyone around her, she has to listen to Zack justify their pregnancy "decision" with lies about how easy/manageable parenthood will be, despite the fact that they both probably make minimum wage and don't actually want to be parents.
This feels like a good time for me to remind everyone that I still have Justice for Lane Kim hats for sale. I'll be donating the full proceeds to the National Network of Abortion Funds at the end of the year and retiring them forever, so if you want one, now is your chance! Last month, I had the highest amount of traffic I've ever seen in my six years of blogging. As a thank you to everyone for reading, I'm giving away one hat (US readers only, sorry). To enter the giveaway, all you have to do is comment on this post and answer the following question: If TJ and Zack were facing sudden death and you could only save one of them, which would you choose and why? The comment that makes me laugh hardest wins 🎉
- Lorelai eats strawberries while trying to write Luke's letter at the inn. By this show's dumb logic, she must be pregnant.
- April's elephant gestation joke is recycled from "The Festival of Living Art." Pregnant women in Stars Hollow never catch a fucking break.
- Lorelai's Sharon Stone caftan comment is a reference to Albert Brooks' "The Muse" (1999). I haven't seen it and the internet says it's middling, but Stone's performance is supposedly good. I added it to my (neverending) list.
- In the blink of an eye, Zack went from dipping chips into vanilla-almond body lotion to jizzing over turnip greens. I don't buy it. The man who broke up Hep Alien with a toddler-level hissy fit is not reading about compression pantyhose. There's no fidelity to these characters.
- I appreciate Rory's tinsel pen and "peppermint" whisper. For once, Alexis Bledel has fun with a line reading.
- Parents of the comments section: If your child made you this mask, how would you balance not hurting their feelings with the risk of inviting demonic spirits into your home? Based on the layout of Luke's apartment, this thing is going to be watching him fall asleep at night. How is he OK with that?
- Real stores spotted at the mall: Williams-Sonoma, Old Navy, 1 Hour Photo, and Bed Bath & Beyond. I'm not sure if Wonder Quest, the telescope store, is legit, but Stitch and Steven Helton Books appear to be fake.
- When Lorelai asks Rory how things went with Logan after the dinner debacle at Yale, she says, "I was pretty angry for a while, especially after he blurted out all that stuff the way he did, but he apologized a lot and even admitted that he was a little jealous, so I forgave him." Why build all of that weird drama just to dismiss it in a single, offhand sentence?