Directing and writing credits:
“Lorelai? Lorelai?” is directed by Bethany Rooney and written by David S. Rosenthal. We last saw Rooney on "That's What You Get, Folks, for Makin' Whoopee," the one where we learn that Lorelai's coping mechanism is not just rampant consumerism, but cultural insensitivity. Rosenthal most recently gave us Luke and Christopher's sad old man fight in "Merry Fisticuffs."
This is only the fourth episode written by Rosenthal. By the end of the season, he'll have five total writing credits to his name. For comparison, Amy and Dan wrote fifteen episodes — six for Amy, seven for Dan, two joint — and directed seven — four for Amy, three for Dan — when they were showrunners on S6. I still can't believe the CW refused to give them a two-year contract and fulfill their very reasonable request for more writers and a staff director. When the Palladinos left, they ended up hiring those positions anyway and as I understand it, an eighth season would have happened had Alexis Bledel and Lauren Graham been onboard.
Even with the twenty percent drop in Nielsen ratings, S7 was one of the highest ranked scripted shows for the network (tied with "Smallville"). In the wake of an already messy merger, why wouldn't the CW do everything within their power to keep the well-oiled "GG" machine chooching? I would love to read a deep-dive on how this all went down from someone privy to the network's decision-making process. This interview with Kelly Bishop makes it sound more personal than I had previously imagined.
Most batshit crazy outfit:
I don't hate Rory's silk Marc Jacobs dress, although it looked much better when she wore it without a frumpy cardigan in "Partings." When she slouches, which is often, the material droops, giving her the bust line of an eighty-year-old.
I'm a firm believer in people wearing whatever makes them comfortable at any age; however, the styling of this DVF wrap dress is giving "Florida teacher has student's baby" vibes.
Paris's pink argyle sweater, Babette and Miss Patty's karaoke kimonos, and Rory's jean skirt are all likewise egregious. S7 ran during my senior year of high school and every bad fashion choice hits way too close to home. For reference, here's an outfit I thought was super cool circa sophomore year.
Most irritating Rory or Lorelai moment:
My empathy for Rory dissipates when she exits the "Irony from Milton to Byron" final without turning in one of her blue books. One minor setback and this bitch is totally defeated, lying under the covers in her outside clothes. Throwing a pity party for yourself is often necessary, but at least wait until finals are over to avoid tarnishing what I assume is a pristine GPA. Paris will "go Bonaduce on [her] ass" if she learns about this disregard for Operation Finish Line.
As for Lorelai, I can't imagine being almost forty and playing the same stupid dating games as a teenager. A mature adult shouldn't need a subtle gesture to obliquely send a message. Instead of stressing over finding her own metaphorical hat, Lorelai should just talk to Luke. Has she forgotten how well-adjusted he seemed in "Hay Bale Maze"? She has nothing to lose by putting her feelings out there to see if they're reciprocated.
Number of times Rory or Lorelai treat their BFF like shit:
Rory and Lane's stilted karaoke small talk shows how far apart they've grown. The conversation goes a little something like this:
Lane: So, have you graduated from the fancy Ivy League school that basically guarantees you a good job no matter how many misdemeanors you commit?
Rory: Not yet, I have some finals left. I'm actually in the middle of a meltdown because one minor aspect of my life isn't going exactly according to plan. Speaking of, how’s your brain damaged husband and those two albatrosses that popped out of your vagina? How’s your waitressing job at Luke’s in our provincial home town?
If the show wants us to believe these two are friends, write dialogue that hints at off-screen interactions.
If Loreali insists on forcing Sookie to participate in her dumb Luke drama, the least she can do is taste a fucking meatball. I like that she views tacos as an acceptable breakfast food whereas 9 a.m. meatballs are a bridge too far.
Best literary or pop culture references:
Dream Paris refers to Padma Lakshmi as Salman Rushdie's "boring" wife, which is wild. Put some respect on Padma's name! The woman speaks five languages and has traveled all over the world. At the time, she was probably best known as a model and the host of "Top Chef," so I guess I understand why, combined with internalized misogyny, Dream Paris is not impressed. I bet she would have eventually come to respect her after "Taste the Nation" and her years of philanthropic work.
Stars Hollow weirdness:
Babette and Patty refuse to talk above a whisper so they can keep their voices fresh for a pre-karaoke cabaret show at K.C.'s including classics like "Friendship" and "Fever." Babette even eats a bowl of dry Shredded Wheat to give her voice "a husky sound sort of like Debbie Harry meets Ethel Merman." I don't know if this is necessary after smoking hundreds of thousands of cigarettes over the years, but I applaud her commitment.
Zack is disappointed by Kirk's cover of Culture Club's "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me," noting, "If you're gonna do Boy George, at least commit to the high heels and the makeup." While we don't get to hear it, Zack later commends Gypsy's "mean Pat Benatar." This episode is a good example of townie antics done right. I love the idea of Lorelai's drunk rendition of "I Will Always Love You" turning into an accidental Luke serenade, thereby fueling town gossip for weeks to come.
Sharpest insult or one-liner:
Paris invites the other Harvard Medical School acceptees over to the apartment for a celebration, AKA a covert chance to size up the competition. Paris conspiratorially tells Rory, "Alise's hand was shaking a little when she was cutting into the cake, so I've got her pegged for an early exit into podiatry." Paris is going to be responsible for many nervous breakdowns in med school.
Books mentioned/books Rory is reading:
In an attempt to make Rory feel better about her failure, Lorelai cites accomplished people — Alanis Morissette and Jackson Pollock — who had rough periods before making it big. Rory chimes in with Mark Twain, who wouldn't have written "Huckleberry Finn" if not for his time as a steamboat pilot. She also mentions celebrating her twelfth birthday at the Mark Twain Museum in Hartford.
Dream Paris chastises Doyle for chatting about cookbooks with Padma when Salman Rushdie, author of "The Satanic Verses" (1988), is right there. This book so incensed Iran-supporting extremists that thirty-four years later, Rushdie was attacked at a lecture because of it.
Rory says she could have spent hours writing about John Milton's "Paradise Lost" (1667) if not for her existential crisis. This epic poem is an English major staple and I, too, remember writing about it during my Early British Literature final along with Edmund Spenser's "The Faerie Queene" (1590). College was the best and if I could have stayed there forever, I would have.
Best song of the episode:
Steve and Kwan have a mobile that plays The Cure's "Boys Don't Cry." If this item were available for purchase, it would become my default baby shower gift. I imagine it's cost-prohibitive to purchase the song rights, but a girl can dream.
Rory's anxiety nightmare is one of the shining moments of this season. It references her fears past and present: not belonging, staying the same while everyone else changes, rejection, failure, and being defined by past mistakes. It's nice to see Headmaster Charleston (Dakin Matthews) and Mrs. O'Malley (Beth Kennedy) reappear, along with the S6 community service trash picker. The set is put to good use when the Chilton classroom door leads directly into Lorelai's foyer, cleverly breaking any illusion of reality.
At Friday night dinner, Rory begrudgingly breaks the fellowship news, telling everyone "It's not a big deal" even though the look on her face suggests otherwise. With a free apartment to live in c/o the elder Gilmores, why doesn't Rory try for a job at one of the other New York papers, like The Wall Street Journal? They don't have the circulation or sterling reputation of The Times, but sound like a viable option to me. If she weren't set on working at a daily, there would be even more opportunities at any of the Condé Nast or New York Media (now Vox) publications. Maybe even a weekly like The Village Voice? (Saul, what do you think?) The opportunities are endless if making rent isn't a concern; unfortunately, Rory is too deep into her shame spiral to see any viable alternatives.
Back at the apartment, Paris is hosting a little party for prospective Harvard med school students. While Rory opens yet another rejection, this one from The Chicago Sun-Times, future doctors pop champagne and chatter excitedly about their promising futures. When a sympathetic Paris lends her support, Rory once again assures her "It's not a big deal." This desire to minimize/ignore emotions is something I find relatable as it was one of the maladaptive behaviors I spent the last five years rectifying. Why seek out help via friend or mentor when you can make secret panic calls to Kate Hessel that blatantly showcase your desperation? Even if the job hadn't been filled, what manager in their right mind would offer it to someone who already turned it down?
The next time we see Rory, she's cocooned in her childhood bed and clutching her leftover blue book. All she needs for a proper wallow is a giant tub of ice cream and some shitty Lifetime movies. In an uncharacteristically good parenting approach, Lorelai strikes the delicate balance of offering unconditional love and support while acknowledging how much the situation sucks. She intuits and fulfills Rory's emotional needs but gently reminds her that setbacks are a necessary part of life. Why can't she always be like this?
What I don't buy is Logan's naively optimistic belief that Rory might willingly narrow her job opportunities by marrying him and moving to Palo Alto at age twenty-two. When he calls from San Francisco and says, "I have a feeling, in the next couple days, you will have moved on and forgotten all about this," it sounds like he's referencing the upcoming proposal ... as if Rory's career woes will dissipate once she has a ring on her finger. I know it's all plot device to set up a more climactic ending, but it feels out of character. The woman who lives for a pro/con list is not someone who says yes to a spontaneous proposal, especially in the midst of uncertainty.
Lorelai is rightfully confused by Logan's impromptu visit. Not only does he interrupt her viewing of "House on Haunted Hill" (1959), he really lingers in ambiguity before revealing his objective. It initially seems like he might be there to tell her about his new job in lieu of their last awkward conversation until he asks for permission to marry Rory. It creeps me out when people do this because children do not belong to their parents, but I'm just glad he was smart enough not to ask Christopher. As much as I hate it, dropping this bomb early does make sense from a writing perspective because it infuses the next episode with anticipatory tension.
As the scene closes on Lorelai's blank face, we hear Logan ask, "Lorelai? Lorelai?" as the credits roll. It's an effective way to end an episode and would have worked even better if the character motivations didn't feel so forced. I like to rag on Lorelai's enmeshed relationship with Rory, but I do feel bad for her in this moment. Not only is Rory likely moving away, now there's also a good chance she's getting married. Her relationship with Lorelai is about to go through a giant upheaval and it's inevitable that their dynamic will change. On top of that, Lorelai is now forced to confront the distinct possibility that what she said at Lane's wedding might be true: marriage isn't in the cards for her.
"I mean, seriously, because Lane is married, and next thing, it'll be my daughter, and then my granddaughter, but not me."
Lorelai is so emotionally stunted that she can't even give Luke an honest status update and ends up inadvertently confessing her feelings to him via Whitney Houston/Dolly Parton. Meanwhile, Rory is about to receive a marriage proposal from her (mostly) steady boyfriend of two years. Looking at your kid and seeing all the ways they've moved past your own personal hang-ups has to suck. Even though it doesn't pan out like she fears it might, it must be a weird experience to see everything come together for Rory in the way she wishes it would for herself.
To make matters worse, Luke wasn't communicating fuckall by wearing the hat Lorelai gave him. His black hat was stuck behind the dishwasher and he probably only wore the blue one because he was desperate for something to cover his bald spot. The friendliness Lorelai thought he was signifying was all in her head. Luke does seem to recognize his loneliness in the wake of the canceled boat trip, though. The one time he decides to go out of his comfort zone and shake things up, it all falls apart. In good dad fashion, he doesn't make April feel guilty for bailing and supports her science camp dreams, but the whole ordeal amplifies what is lacking in his life. These are all minor revelations, but enough to motivate these characters to stop self-sabotaging and figure out how to pursue what makes them happy.
The only other thing left to discuss is Lane's sad fucking life with Zack, who the writers are now desperately trying to rehab. Mere episodes ago, this guy didn't know how to use a condom and now we're supposed to believe he has emotional intelligence? I can't suspend my disbelief, nor do I feel like celebrating with reduced fat Pringles. (Side note: was this when manufacturers were shoving olestra into every chip and giving diarrhea to the masses? Were these diarrhea Pringles?) It's unjust that this stale taquito gets to go on tour while martyr Lane stays behind to care for the boys.
An anonymous tipster needs to get Vapor Rub on the line and tell them about Zack's pissy little tantrum that lost Hep Alien a record deal. That was a year ago! There's no way parenthood is responsible for Zack's newfound maturity. This is just sloppy writing where his IQ swings plus or minus eighty points depending on the story requirements. And why won't he let Lane have alcohol at karaoke? If anyone deserves a glass of win (or ten), it's her. Ginger ale isn't strong enough to drown out the inner voice screaming, "What the fuck have you done with your life, you dumb bitch?"
- Rory and Lane both have "Fahrenheit 9/11" posters in their apartments. The chokehold Michael Moore had on us in the early 2000s is unparalleled.
- Confirmed: Zack and Lane shop at Trader Joe's. I could identify that box of Honey Nut O's, my grad school staple, from a mile away.
- Oh, to live in a world where a two-bedroom apartment on the Upper East Side is "nothing fancy" and a subway commute is out of the question.
- I just noticed the tire mark on the diner floor from Kirk's Thunderbird crash in the season opener. Points for continuity!
- It checks out that Babette would be a fan of Big Al while Miss Patty has no idea who he is. I wonder how they'd feel about Bo Burnham.
- Barnacle Billy's is a real place in Ogunquit, Maine. Google describes it as a "classic local seafood restaurant known for lobster, rum punch & celeb clientele." I don't know if the recommendation is worth a free doughnut, but Epicurious cites it as one of their seven favorite Maine lobster shacks, so ...
- This is such an unusual shot for the show. We've definitely never seen Rory's apartment bedroom from this angle before.
- In the brief window when Lane thinks she and the boys are going on tour, Brian remarks, "Zack says the bassist's girlfriend is coming along, so, hopefully, she'll be good with kids." Right, because I'm sure this woman is dying to drop everything so she can help care for a random stranger's babies.
- Congrats to Caesar for finally getting one of his dishes on the menu. Chilaquiles!
- What's with the photos of papayas and apples on the fridge at the Dragonfly?