In this episode, we meet Mia Halloway, the never-before-seen-or-heard-about owner of the Independence Inn, and therefore Lorelai, Sookie, and Michel’s boss. Her unannounced appearance leads to a certain amount of flustered rushing about, but Mia hasn’t come to inspect them – this is more of a social visit.
Mia is cast in the role of fairy godmother and kindly innkeeper, the woman who rescued Lorelai and Rory when they ran away from Richard and Emily’s house. It is clear that the Gilmore girls love her, and see her as a substitute mother/grandmother. They seem much closer to her than they are to Emily, their actual mother/grandmother, and feel freer in the way they express themselves and joke around. Mia conveniently faded out of the picture before Lorelai and Rory became a regular part of Emily’s life again … there would probably have been some friction otherwise.
We’re meant to see Mia as a sort of fantasy mother figure (Mama Mia!), with all the loving fun stuff, and none of the difficult painful stuff attached. The trouble is, I can’t help thinking that this is the woman who put teenaged Lorelai and her baby to live in the potting shed, when we now know they arrived in the depths of autumn, already very cold in Connecticut!
I think the issue is that the scriptwriters (including Amy Sherman-Palladino) wrote the potting shed as some quaint, adorable little wooden cottage with rosebud wallpaper and curtains at the window, and the scenery people produced … well, a pretty standard corrugated metal garden shed, not possible to put wallpaper on, and obviously utterly freezing in winter, particularly at night (and very hot in summer).
It seems more like something the wicked stepmother would have come up with for Cinderella, not the fairy godmother. Another issue is that Gilmore Girls appears to be set in a fantasy TV Connecticut where it never gets any colder than southern California.
We only learn that Mia’s surname is Halloway from the credits. Given the time of year Lorelai and Rory first arrived in Stars Hollow, the connection with Halloween is made very clear, as if Mia herself is the embodiment of supernatural forces bringing them to their correct destination.
A fun connection is that actress Elizabeth Franz was born in Akron, Ohio, the same place Richard Gilmore is sent to for work in this episode.