This week, we’re exploring two episodes with throwback themes — The Bangles and that damn Donna Reed.
1.13 “Concert Interruptus”
I have to admit that this episode is not one of my favorites. I know it’s kind of iconic in its own way — the concert in New York, the Chilton girls coming to Stars Hollow for the first time, Paris finally being vulnerable and human to Rory — but every time I rewatch it, I feel like it gets bogged down in the Bangles of it all. I don’t hate the Bangles, I even like some of their music, but along with other key WB/CW shows, it seems like they were contractually obligated to donate x amount of screentime to the featured band. It also never seemed plausible to me that Madeline and Louise, with all of their money and rich worldliness, would really be all that interested in a Bangles concert. For that year… Backstreet Boys, maybe? Britney?
It’s rooted in a very Stars Hollow-esque storyline of a rummage sale that Lorelai, in her very Lorelai-esque way, volunteered to organize. She’d soon come to regret it, as her house is filled with donations including two bags from Luke, who is finally participating in a dumb town thing. Presumably it’s because he saw an opportunity to get rid of some of his old stuff, but we also like to think it has something to do with the organizer. Rory herself even thinks Lorelai had a bit of influence, since Luke allowed her to hang a sign in his diner. Oh, Luke.
He goes nuts, of course, when packrat Lorelai turns up at the diner wearing an assortment of terrible donations, including a rhinestoned jacket that turns out to have belonged to Luke’s ex-girlfriend, Rachel. Lorelai is unnerved by Luke’s extreme reaction, and she’s even more shaken later when Miss Patty and Sookie recount the sad tale of the Luke and Rachel saga. Not only was Lorelai unaware of Luke’s past, but she seems to be the only one in town who didn’t know about her!
After ruminating on it all weekend, Lorelai finds Luke at the rummage sale and gives him the sweater back, saying she doesn’t think he’s ready to let it go. He gruffly thanks her, but makes sure she knows he’s not pining — he’s just remembering. There’s a difference. And he wants Lorelai to know that.
At school, Rory gets grouped with the three meanies on a group project, and because of circumstances, they have to work in Stars Hollow. Louise finds Lorelai “fascinating,” they all question Rory’s relationship with her and whether she regrets having a baby at sixteen. Lorelai recognizes that they’re doing some bonding, so she suggests giving her ninth-row Bangles tickets to the girls while she and Sookie buy nosebleed tickets.
Madeline and Louise find boys to flirt with (including — ugh — Brandon Routh, who I guess I shouldn’t hate on principal, but Ray Palmer) which sends Rory on a spiral when they leave the concert with the strange boys. Paris, on the other hand, is very zen about it all. When a school deadline isn’t being threatened, Paris can be remarkably laid back.
She and Rory end up bonding even further, talking about Tristan (with Rory dropping heavy hints that she thinks Paris can do better — so sweet) and Paris’ home life as Lorelai rampages around the city, knocking down doors until she finds those two idiots. She worries that she may have messed up Rory’s chances of making friends at school, but Rory reports that Paris let her split the debate time — which basically means they’re BFFs now.
Other notable quotes and moments:
– When we later meet Rachel, the ugly rhinestone jacket doesn’t make a lot of sense. Miss Patty and Sookie seemed to paint her as a bit of an eccentric with a wanderlust, but Actual Rachel seems to be more utilitarian with a wanderlust. She wears corduroy and turtleneck sweaters, she carries old worn leather camera bags, she’s beautiful but she’s not, as we believe here, Luke’s Original Lorelai.
– “So… she was Wonder Woman?” “She was to Luke.” Again, when we finally meet Rachel, we will see that things have changed… that he no longer looks at Rachel as Wonder Woman…
– Sookie and Lorelai are so fun to watch in the nosebleed section of the concert as they giggle at how bad their seats are.
– Lorelai finds herself thinking about Luke (and Rachel) during “Eternal Flame.”
– “I never pictured Luke with an Elle MacPherson-kind of pretty?” “No? Pictured him more with a Lorelai Gilmore-kind of pretty?” Sookie: the first Luke/Lorelai shipper.
– “I wonder if I went missing, if my mom would come looking for me like that?” “Paris, you know she would.” “Yeah. Or at least she’d send somebody.”
– Lorelai calling Brandon Routh “Skippy” gives me perverse joy.
– They got Lane a Bangles tour shirt! Aww!
1.14 That Damn Donna Reed
Dean Forester doesn’t know who Donna Reed is. That’s okay — not everyone could grow up with Lorelai Gilmore (or my dad and his love for old TV shows) — but he makes the mistake of saying that he thinks the Donna Reed premise of being a doting wife seems “nice.” He might make some good (albeit clumsy) points about how some women might like doing that sort of stuff, but he makes those points to Lorelai and Rory. You’d think he’d know better by now.
Rory fixates on the fact that Dean thinks the Donna Reed lifestyle is appealing. He’s more into the idea of a wife cooking for her husband, but Rory takes it a little more literally. Dean’s realizing it’s a TV show, an aggrandized version of that kind of life, but that the concept seems nice, while Rory is talking about the real women that the show represented. He accuses her of having strong views only because her of her mother, and her response is pretty genius: If she has no opinions of her own, she must be the ideal woman to Dean.
Babette asks Rory to housesit for her since she and Morey got a brand new kitten, and Rory takes the opportunity to dress up like Donna Reed and cook dinner for Dean. She’d done a bunch of research on the real Donna Reed, who (and I knew this before I ever saw this episode — again, thanks Dad!) was actually pretty kickass and feminist. She dons pearls and a Donna Reed dress and cooks for Dean, who is amazed and happy but very clear that he never wanted Rory to be Donna Reed. This might be Dean’s best moment of the series.
Lorelai gets it into her head that the diner needs painting. A “spruce,” if you will. She’s aided and abetted by Taylor, which shouldn’t help her case, but such is the influence of Lorelai Gilmore that Luke somehow still agrees to it. She runs through a bunch of color schemes and ideas before settling on an actual spruce — the same existing colors, but a little richer. This pleases Luke. He ends up talking to Lorelai about his dad and how he was the last one to paint the place, which impresses upon Lorelai the importance of this decision. He even shows her a section of wall where his dad took a phone order when he ran out of paper, and Lorelai suggests that they leave that section unpainted.
They have a very charged moment, grinning and glowing at each other, but they’re interrupted by the town council knocking at the door. They hide behind the counter, and they have another moment where Luke thanks her in very close proximity, and she scurries out of the diner. But she gets home and realizes that Rory’s homework — a tiny chick that Lorelai’s named “Stella” — has escaped from her cage. She calls Luke in a panic to come help her, but when Luke gets there and hears the chirping, he says, “Wow, you really do have a chick loose in here.” He breaks a lamp and runs around the house after the chick, finally capturing it, but Lorelai is bothered by that statement, and Luke doesn’t do a very good job of stammering his way out of it.
Luke and Dean run into each other as they take out the trash, which brings out Lorelai and Donna Reed-Rory, which earns some guffaws from her mother. “Oh my God. I just saw the pearls.”
When she recounts the night’s events to Sookie the next day, Lorelai gets agitated, like really angry, when Sookie makes the point that Luke probably thought it was… a booty call. Later, when Rory is telling Emily and Richard about the chick and lets it slip that Luke found her, Emily fixates on the same thing: that Lorelai had called Luke in the first place. She pushes in her very Emily way to get Lorelai to finally admit that she might have feelings for Luke. For one breathless moment, Emily looks happy to finally have the truth… Then her expression hardens and she says, “Now we can discuss what on earth you could possibly be thinking!”
The episode ends with Lorelai helping Luke unload the paint supplies in preparation for painting on Friday night after her Friday night dinner. She and Rory go shopping at the market, but they pause when a loud motorcycle speeds through the square. They humor Taylor’s rant about it until the biker stops and calls to Lorelai, “Nice shirt. Take it off.” He takes off his helmet with a grin and she mutters, “Christopher.” Rory’s happy to see her dad, Lorelai’s not as thrilled, especially as she watches her daughter speed off with the stunt man standing in for Christopher on the motorcycle. Thus we finally meet the polarizing character of Christopher Hayden.
Other notable quotes and moments:
– “You come bearing pizza?” “I’m not an idiot.”
- “Grab your brush and grab your rollers, all you kids and all you… bowlers! We’re going painting today!” I still sing this when I paint, and I hate that about myself.
– “Mmm. Kickass wine.” “How poetic.” “It’s got a nice smell. Earthy. Vibrant. You can taste the Italian’s feet.”
– The grandparents always go to the Vineyard in the spring, but they didn’t secure their rental, so they’re stuck in their boring mansion. I feel so bad for them, those poor rich people. (It’s okay — they secure a rental from a dead guy at the end of the episode. Those crazy kids.)
– “You know Mom, when I go off to college, I’m gonna be gone every night. What will you do then?” “Well. I’ll go with you. I will sleep on the floor in your dorm, next to your bed.” Remember this for the beginning of season 4.
– I still get a kick out of seeing giant Dean in Babette’s house.
– Sookie refuses to make Michel an egg white omelet, citing her culinary artistry, but after he’s gone, Lorelai says Sookie makes a good egg white omelet. Sookie: “I know.”
Next week: the Christopher of it all, plus Rory and Dean’s relationship hits the skids. Spoiler alert?