'Gilmore Girls' Season 7, Episode 5: The Great Stink

'Gilmore Girls' Season 7, Episode 5: The Great Stink

Directing and writing credits:
“The Great Stink” is directed by Michael Schultz and written by Gina Fattore. Again, both are new to the "GG" universe and, especially in the case of the writing, it shows. Shultz has been working in the TV industry for a long time and has a lengthy list of credits (starting in the '70s) to prove it. Some highlights include episodes of "Felicity," "Ally McBeal," and "Black-ish." He also directed Sheila E.'s music video for "A Love Bizarre" and an Earth, Wind, & Fire TV special concert.

Fattore worked on shows like "Dawson's Creek," "Parenthood" (with Lauren Graham), and most recently, "Dare Me," something I've been meaning to watch but haven't yet. I don't know how much to blame her specifically for the weird-ass dialogue in "The Great Stink," but it actually reminds me of the bonkers exchange at the beginning of the first "AYitL" episode where Rory says, "I do blood clot prevention foot pumps wearing my Yonah Schimmel Knishery baseball cap while toothpaste dries up a zit on my chin." So maybe in that way, she was ahead of the time and somehow tapped into the strange nonsense of ASP's modern day Stars Hollow before it even came to fruition.

Most batshit crazy outfit:
I've defended Bill's wacky sweater vest outfits before, but the proportions on this one are especially bad. It might have worked if the sleeves on the button-down were a little less baggy and the vest were a different color. I suspect Bill thinks he's giving Sidney Reilly when the vibe is more accurately Rick Santorum.

Rory's blouse is hideous in a boring way that is barely worth noting.

I hate this dumb little silk blazer Rory throws over her marginally better silk dress for a night out with Logan and his corporate shills. It's like something you'd buy — and immediately regret — from L Train Vintage after getting day drunk at the Sunburnt Cow. Do any NYC people remember this place? They had bottomless brunch and would start bringing out trays of tequila shots at the end in an attempt to get you to leave quicker. I only went once because vomiting in a street trash can is an event that does not bear repeating.

I love when a gust of steam wafts up for authenticity.

Most irritating Rory or Lorelai moment:
Rory has every right to be annoyed when what she thinks is a romantic dinner turns out to be a business bro snoozefest. I would have made up an emergency at the Yale Daily News and hightailed it out of that place as soon as Philip (Adetokumboh M'Cormack) uttered the phrase, "The number cruncher must be fed." While I personally find visible boredom 100% excusable, I hate the obvious aggression she displays toward Bobbi (Vanessa Branch). The cringiest part is when Bobbi mentions how funny Logan is and Rory is immediately like, "He's actually a lot more serious than you might think. It probably takes a long time to get to know that side of him, the serious side." The subtext (which is basically text because it's so blatant) is "Back the fuck off, you cunt. How dare you look so attractive and have a chummy relationship with my boyfriend?"

I find her annoying, too, but less threatening and more "please stop saying 'champers.'"

The scene where Lorelai and Christopher drive to Friday night dinner is one of the most unhinged things I've seen on this show. I was stoned when I watched this episode and struggled to follow the logic of their conversation, which ping-pongs from a discussion of slang words (including fo' shizzle) to Dollywood to reindeer meat in the span of five seconds. I don't know why Lorelai decides to dive into a potentially contentious "you're being a lackadaisical parent" conversation before Friday night dinner with her parents, but ... I guess this is what happens when you spend years bottling up most emotions.

Number of times Rory or Lorelai treat their BFF like shit:
For the second episode in a row, Lane is blissfully absent. I used to love it when she would pop up with a storyline in the high school years, but her life is too sad for me these days. Paris wants to run the paper while Rory is at dinner in NYC, but Bill points out that the managing editor should be in charge during the editor-in-chief's absence. This is a boring problem that I don't care about, but Rory should have designated a chain of command instead of forcing two angry know-it-alls to make a decision for her.

Sookie continues to act as a voice of reason, giving legitimately good advice when Lorelai tells her about the Sherry letter. Through processing the situation with Sookie, Lorelai realizes that withholding her emotions from Chris is a Luke-related impulse and doesn't necessarily indicate a lack of trust in the relationship. Sookie is in the awkward position of understanding that her friend is going through a crisis and making a bunch of shitty decisions but isn't yet ready to face reality. Her feedback is honest but avoids going into the whole "You should fuck an illiterate twenty-five-year-old" speech from "'S Wonderful, 'S Marvelous."

I love how judgmental Sookie is regarding Lorelai's Lunchables consumption.

Best literary or pop culture references:
Sherry's thick-ass letter reminds Lorelai of "Dangerous Liaisons" (1988), a horny movie set in the 1700s where written correspondence is integral to the plot. This Letterboxd reviewer describes the movie's tone perfectly:

Stars Hollow weirdness:
The pickle subplot feels like something written by an AI that watched the first six seasons of "GG" and started short-circuiting. It's not far off from other Stars Hollow idiocy, like the town selectman drama that was a huge deal for one episode and then completely fizzled out, but it's completely devoid of humor. The only funny detail is that the pickles came from Ohio. If Taylor was smart (and not someone who definitely voted for Trump twice), he'd find a way to pin the spill on Ken Blackwell.

Sharpest insult or one-liner:
Lorelai tells Chris, "I'm actually looking forward to Friday night dinner. Because, as you well know, the Gilmore house, like very expensive vodka, is completely odorless." This perfect way of describing the elder Gilmores' house almost negates some of the episode's more egregious writing.

Books mentioned/books Rory is reading:
When Logan calls to tell her about the "meteor shower," Rory is carrying a stack of books, including J.A. Cuddon's "The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory," James Hurt's "Literature of the Western World, Volume II: Neoclassicism Through the Modern Period," and William Zinsser's "On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction." Unless Rory is more boring than I even imagined, these are books for a class, not pleasure reading.

A rich person would not have this grungy wallpaper and wainscoting in their hallway.

Best song of the episode:
When I lived in Park Slope, I would occasionally make the trek to Williamsburg to hang out at Maracuja, a bar with one of my favorite jukeboxes in the borough. I don't know for a fact that it contains Jay and the Americans' "Come a Little Bit Closer," but I'd bet $20 on it. This song plays at the end of the episode as Rory and Lorelai dictate tunes while Christopher drives. It's all very faux-idyllic nuclear family moment until the stank of pickles makes everyone gag. It would have been better if the scene had ended with Christopher driving the car off a bridge. Picture it ... As the volume of the song intensifies, the Volvo careens into the neverending blackness of night. Rory and Lorelai make it out alive, but Christopher dies instantly. At his funeral, Emily hires a string quartet to play this song.

Lorelai goes from wanting to take things slow with Christopher to letting Paul Anka spend the night at his house and inviting him to Friday night dinner. When he shows her a letter from Sherry, detailing how sorry she is for leaving G.G. and asking for involvement in her life again, Lorelai is touched. Despite the permanent blank look in Chris' eye, honesty is now her primary aphrodisiac. Without even having to ask for it, Chris immediately gives her the openness she wanted — but was consistently denied — in her relationship with Luke. It's sad to watch her entangle herself with this pigeon masquerading as a human simply because he's able to share details about his life unprompted.

The circumstances remind me of Max Medina and his thousand yellow daisies. Lorelai knew she didn't love him and hesitated to accept the proposal, but ultimately succumbed to his nice gestures because she wanted to feel something. Unfortunately, romance doesn't work like that. Lorelai needs to address her own fucked up behaviors instead of diving head first into another doomed partnership, meant to curtail any quiet introspection. She never takes time to figure out what went wrong with Luke and consider what she could have done differently. She puts all the blame on him and uses the renewed relationship with Chris as a salve for her sadness. Even though she's not in the right headspace to start a new relationship, it's like Chris' casual letter-sharing is being interpreted as a sign.

Chris' apartment is decorated exactly as expected. This man would own a ton of fake plants and a stone obelisk.

Later, when they're at the park, Chris tells Lorelai that he spoke with Sherry and has decided to send G.G. to stay with her in Paris "for a couple of months." Wanting your kid to have a relationship with her mom is fine, but sending a four-year-old to another country with a nanny and a mother who recently pulled a "Lost Daughter" is suspect decision-making. Lorelai should be asking him questions like "Have you gotten the lead levels in your water measured lately?" because only someone with a mental impairment would make such a casually horrible plan for their child. Aside from pulling several judgmental faces, Lorelai keeps her opinions to herself and offers up generic, deadpan reactions like "Wow" and "Good for her."

While parsing her true feelings with Sookie at the inn, Lorelai realizes that there's no reason for her to lie to Christopher. If he's confiding in her and wants her advice, she should give it to him, unfiltered. Unfortunately, she chooses to do it in the least sophisticated way possible with less than ideal pre-Friday night dinner timing. Chris gets defensive, Lorelai feels like she's being attacked for her opinions, and no one is communicating clearly. Richard and Emily are oblivious to the tension and happy to blather on about Sarajevo and Bunny Ferguson's uncouth tennis grunts without snarky comments from their guests.

Emily is just happy that she and Richard have found a new couple for doubles tennis.

The best part is when Emily and Richard start discussing a brain injury right in front of Chris. This makes me think the writers are in on the elaborately mean TBI joke I've concocted. This progression of events is almost too perfect:

Emily: Ah, here's the lamb. You do like lamb Christopher? I'm afraid I never let you answer.
Christopher: I do, the funny thing is, I never did when I was a kid, but I do now. I guess I've changed. People do that sometimes.

At this point, my husband was like, "After a traumatic brain injury, you can often get a lot back but you’re never the same. Chris used to love the smell of thunderstorms and now he hates them. He used to be able to count and now ..." I couldn't stop laughing when this dialogue immediately followed:

Emily: That's so true. What a clever observation. It's like you and radishes.
Richard: Exactly.
Emily: Your father used to hate radishes, thought they were disgusting.
Richard: Well, they are roots. It's a little unappealing.
Emily: And then one summer in Aspen, he fell off a horse, and suddenly he loved radishes. That whole summer, he was radish-crazy.
Richard: It's true. I do like radishes to this day.

This is the face of a brain injury-induced radish fiend.

Through veiled conversation and one joint bathroom excursion, Chris and Lorelai somehow reach a truce in their Sherry/Paris fight. Chris is initially triggered by Lorelai's psychoanalysis but quickly comes around and admits that she was right: criticism of Sherry's actions feels like a personal blow since he also was an absentee parent for many years. It's weird to me how often the family talks around this history. We never get a succinct summary of what happened when Rory was a baby and Lorelai turned down Chris' marriage proposal. Did he move to California in a huff without any desire for involvement? Was there ever a period where he tried for joint custody or was he chill with sporadic phone conversations? Did he ever pay child support? In other words, how big of a piece of shit was he? The writers of the show keep it vague enough to suit a variety of storylines.

The dinner ends with Chris inviting Lorelai to Paris, all previously accepted double date offers being rescinded, and everyone crowding around to look at Emily's photogenic mug shot.

It's like Richard is having a stroke and seizure simultaneously.

Rory spends most of the episode obsessing over how to maximize her time with Logan, who is in town for a meeting to hopefully acquire invitation-only Myspace, AKA Facebook. (Do we think Logan works for a private equity firm? His job makes zero sense to me.) He lures Rory up to the roof via telephone with the fake promise of a meteor shower and surprises her with a $500 order from Harry's House of Twinkle Lights (JK, it's closed) and a sizable spread from a downtown tapas restaurant. The best part is when Logan asks, "Doesn't take much to make you happy, does it?" after arranging an elaborate surprise from a different continent.

It's obvious this is a CW show because Rory and Logan lie outside on the uncomfortable roof deck, looking at the stars and discussing business when they could be fucking. We at least get a veiled reference to sex when Logan tries to leave for his meeting the next morning and Rory tells him, "I have ways of making you stay, you know." But alas, Logan is now a "work dork" and obsessed with debt versus equity and targeted advertising potential. I wonder if he, too, will wake up one morning in his thirties, horrified by how much of his life he's wasted on this hokum.

At the celebratory post-pitch meeting, Rory is dismayed to find all of Logan's work colleagues including (gasp!) an attractive woman with a traditionally male name. As an introvert, I empathize with the disappointment of unwittingly walking into an exhausting social situation when you were expecting something more intimate. Logan should have informed Rory of the group setting so that she had time to mentally prepare. I like the concept of her dying of boredom at this dinner and worrying she has nothing to contribute to the conversation. This is how I feel when I'm forced to hang out with my husband's lame doctor friends. I usually stop listening to the conversation completely and offer up a fake laugh when it feels appropriate. I have no issue being seen as a fiction-reading bimbo, but Rory doesn't take kindly to this perception.

This conflict is interesting! I wish they would have played up Rory's insecurities, not in relation to Bobby, but to Logan moving on from the college life they shared together. When she talks to him after the dinner, it seems like this is what's going on and that Bobby is used as a scapegoat for the shittiness of their new relationship reality. Because she dumps all of her complaints onto Bobby, Logan is confused about what's going on and chalks it up to jealousy and the difficulties of a long distance relationship. It's all embarrassingly pedestrian for Rory but probably realistic. It's easier to blame another woman for your problems than to acknowledge them bluntly and vulnerably explain them to a boyfriend.

This is the moment when you whip out your secret purse book and go to town.

Random observations:

  • Rory imagines fake Facebook as "an online version of the Algonquin group, like throwing a party in your head where everyone you've ever wanted to talk to is there — Ira Glass, Sofia Coppola, Flaubert, Danger Mouse." Should someone tell her that actually, it's the place where your acquaintance from high school goes to hawk Younique and post long rants about not vaccinating her kids?
  • When Michel, Sookie, and Lorelai leave the inn to investigate the horrible smell, who's holding the fort down, plate guy or tongs guy?
  • Chris went to Homegoods and bought this framed motorcycle poster and weird dog statue (despite not having a dog). If I inherited a buttload of money from my grandfather, my house would not look like this:
Note the casual teddy bear placement to remind us that G.G. exists.
  • According to TiVo, Chris' "nanny" allegedly watches "The View," "Girlfriends," and "Sábado Gigante." Lorelai jokes, "Who controls this thing, you or Pedro Almodóvar?" but like ... why would Pedro Almodóvar be watching "The View"? Is this joke only in relation to Sábado Gigante?
  • It always disappointed me that "GG" didn't lean into the holidays more. There is never a proper Halloween episode, but at least we get to see Miss Patty's dance studio decked out in Jack-o'-Lanterns at the town meeting.
You know Miss Patty choreographed a spooky ballet to "Night on Bald Mountain."
  • Would Yale really let Rory take a class with her grandfather? It feels unethical.
  • Logan's little spiel about banner ads and pixel tagging is the reason why I deeply distrust every overly confident sales bro. Please, tell me more about this technology you've never once used.
  • Is Lorelai holding a Starbucks cup at the park?
The text on the side looks like one of those "The Way I See It" quotes.
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