2.05 “Nick & Nora / Sid & Nancy”
School is back in session for Rory, and she’s weirdly excited about it! I guess her zest for knowledge and books and cafeteria food transcends the Paris and Max of it all. She tries to speed Lorelai through breakfast at the diner in order to get to school early, but they’re interrupted by Taylor, a troop of Cub Scouts, and a phone call from Luke’s sister.
That’s right. Jess Mariano is coming to town.
Lorelai’s heart is in the right place when she advises a clearly-unsuspecting Luke on how to deal with a 17-year-old malcontent, but Luke’s pride combined with his history of handling things on his own doesn’t exactly make him amenable. She asks how Jess feels about the whole situation, and she’s a little alarmed by the fact that he hasn’t given it any thought, but Luke reassures her that he’s got it handled. In the end, she thinks it’s very sweet and respectable that Luke is doing this because “you take care of family.”
Jess hates Stars Hollow. It’s pretty much his worst nightmare. And as charmed as I am by Stars Hollow, I have to say, I think I’d be similarly horrified if I was coming from an urban upbringing. He treats Lorelai coldly, which means she will hate him for the rest of her life, but that doesn’t stop her from inviting Luke and Jess to her house for dinner the following night… which is when everything changes.
He immediately takes a liking to Rory, pretty much on first sight. His expression is of bemusement and slight scorn as he surveys Lorelai’s house and encounters Jackson and Sookie, but it softens when he first sees Rory. He’s even more interested when he spots her bookshelf, which tangibly establishes the intellectual connection they will go on to share for the rest of the series: they’re both readers. Of course, then he tries to jailbreak, which Rory deems ridiculous since Stars Hollow basically shuts down after 7 on weeknights. Rory, for her part, interacts with Jess a lot more naturally than she ever interacted with Dean.
“Trust me.” “I don’t even know you.” “Well don’t I look trustworthy?” “Maybe.”
Jess really steps in it when he tries to sneak a beer and then mouths off when Lorelai catches him. He spouts the typical teenage angst about being unwanted and misunderstood, and then Lorelai misguidedly tries to relate her life to his, and when she tries to talk up Luke, Jess accuses her of sleeping with him. Lorelai ends up confronting Luke about it, who is indignant that Lorelai even tried to get involved, and then he gets downright charming when he says maybe Lorelai just got lucky with Rory. “You did get pregnant at sixteen, that doesn’t show the best decision-making skills now does it?”
Lorelai ends up boycotting Luke’s, sorta, by sending Rory in there on danish day. Luke gets a phone call from Taylor who claims that Jess stole money from a donation cup, and while he takes up for Jess, he still interrogates him as they walk from the high school to… well, not sure where, but they end up on the bridge. Luke gets so frustrated that he pushes Jess off the bridge, which is one of the most iconic scenes from the series.
At least it ends up smoothing over the rift between Luke and Lorelai, since he shows up at her house ranting about jam hands and gnomes and Liz, and Lorelai brings him back down to earth and reassures him that he can do this. It also breaks Luke’s stilted awkwardness around Jess, as he comes home with all sorts of methods to quit smoking, rules, and a promise that he’s going to make sure Jess graduates high school.
Jess storms out but runs into Rory in town, where he returns a book he stole from her… a book he vandalized under the guise of “adding some notes in the margins.” Rory, book lover, is not outraged by this! Instead she calls him “Dodger” and they share quiet smiles before walking in opposite directions.
At Chilton, Paris tries to strongarm Rory off The Franklin, you know, the newspaper. She tells Rory the wrong start time for their first meeting, then assigns her a really boring story about the repaving of the parking lot. Rory knocks it out of the park, though, and Paris ends up getting shamed by the faculty advisor for not giving Rory a meatier piece. Paris’ solution? Giving Rory the most coveted assignment: an editorial on the teacher of the year, who just so happens to be Max Medina, her almost-stepfather. Oh Paris.
Other notable quotes and moments:
– “We were here first!” / “On the planet?” / “Huh?” / “You lose.”
– “The kid needs a bed. If you wanna get him something inflatable, make it a blonde.”
– Godfather reference: When Lorelai is questioning Luke about how much he knows about his nephew, she wonders, “What if he turns out to be Fredo?”
– Luke describes Rory as “a lot like Lorelai, but she’s got a slightly tighter grip on reality.”
– “Jackson grows fruit, and then scares people with it!”
– Rory’s interview with Max is very sweet. She ends up pausing her recorder and telling him, “I just want you to know, I really wanted you to be my stepfather.” Max replies, “I just want you to know, I really wanted to be your stepfather.”
– “I am in so far over my head that I can’t even see my own hat.” / “Try turning it around.”
– “I have no patience for jam hands!” Things I say around toddlers all the time.
2.06 “Presenting Lorelai Gilmore”
This episode is almost the polar opposite of the previous one. Minimal Jess and Luke, no Chilton, and almost all grandparents. Plus, the return of Christopher!
Things between the grandparents are deteriorating, as the girls encounter Emily and Richard in the middle of a fight when they show up for Friday night dinner. Emily is tired of Richard cancelling their social events, so naturally when her friends suggest Rory come out at the next debutante ball, Emily sees a way to get back into society without having to wait for Richard.
Rory wants to do it, because it’s important to Emily and not that important to her, so why not? And I actually really like that logic, even if Lorelai freaks out a little bit. That’s nothing compared to the small freak-out that Rory has when she realizes that she’s supposed to be presented by her father. Lorelai calls Chris on her behalf, and he’s actually game. He shows up with a Lexus and the Compact Oxford-English Dictionary that he couldn’t buy Rory last time, and Lorelai finds herself attracted to this new and responsible Christopher.
Dean’s kind of a pill about the whole thing. He’s severely anti-tux, which is a thing I guess, and I wish we knew where these weird opinions came from with him. If it were Jess throwing a fit about tuxes and tails, that would make sense, because we’ve only known him for one episode but he’s clearly of the Leather Jacket Misanthrope league. Dean, on the other hand, participates in jock stuff and dresses like a 2000’s-era Abercrombie kid, so tails aren’t a big leap. He also hates dancing and basically doing anything, but I guess we’re giving him a ton of points for just showing up? Which in my opinion, Rory deserves better than a man who does the bare minimum (and yet that’s all she ever dates, for the entire series — it’s like this big seven-year-long subliminal message that driven, smart women like Rory are too much work for kindly well-meaning men all over the socioeconomic spectrum).
Richard, who has been snarling and grumping his way through the leadup to Rory’s coming out, is in rare form at the ball. He ends up basically yelling that he’s getting phased out at work, and that he resents the pressure Emily puts on him to assimilate into the very society that is determined to render him obsolete. Both women are shocked by his words, and as they watch Rory come down the stairs on her father’s arm, Emily sadly says, “That should’ve been you up there. Nothing is turning out the way it was supposed to.”
Rory executes her fan-dance perfectly (I mean, not really if you watch the background of the confrontation scene, but the dialogue says she did a good job, so) and afterwards, Dean begs out of post-debutante burgers at Lukes, and while Rory grabs a table, Chris ends up admitting to Lorelai that he has a someone back in Boston. A someone named Sherry. “Poor girl is named after a Journey song, it’s gotta be rough.”
Lorelai, overcome with sympathy for the position Emily is in, visits her mother at the end of the episode to just “hang.” Emily’s touched, though she doesn’t know how to say so.
Other notable quotes and moments:
– Jess messes with Luke by dressing in “uniform” to work in the diner: a plaid shirt and a backwards baseball cap.
– Twelve pairs of pantyhose. Twelve pairs.
– Christopher made the mistake of asking Luke for a chai latte. I’m pretty sure that’s 85% of the reason Luke ends up punching him in season 7.
– Christopher tells Lorelai, “The fact that [Rory] can’t follow a lead is all you,” and truer words have never been spoken.
– “Ladies never get their own eggrolls! Ladies never get their own anything, they don’t even get their own ideas! They just sit helplessly and wait for some young strong man to come by and assist them! They don’t step in puddles, they don’t step over puddles, they can’t even look at puddles! They actually need to be blindfolded and thrown in a sack and carried over puddles!”
– “I don’t know about that girl, I don’t know how she’s ever gonna make it in society! At this rate, she’s gonna actually get a job and only marry once!”
– “There’s Nan. I’m going to have a little talk with her about the proper height for a taper.” That’s basically the WASP equivalent of a throwdown. Sometimes I wonder what would happen if Emily Gilmore and Lucille Bluth ended up at the same table at a fundraiser.
– The ball is held in the same room as the Chilton prom from last season.
– “I left behind a glass slipper and a business card in case the prince is really dumb.”
Next week, fashion show, fashion show, fashion show at lunch! Or at the Independence Inn, anyway, which puts both Michel and Luke in their elements (you’ll see) and takes Lorelai out of hers. Also, there’s a group called The Puffs at Chilton, and spoiler alert: we’re actually supposed to take them seriously. It’s way worse than it sounds. And that’s just the first episode! The second one is inn-centric and it’s secretly one of my favorite episodes. See you then!