NATALIE: There she is, the Cobra … This woman gets her way or she squeezes ’til you comply.
Emily’s friend is Natalie Swope, played by Judy Geeson. You may remember her as one of the ladies from Emily’s tea party on the patio in “Presenting Lorelai Gilmore”. Emily introduces Natalie and Lorelai as if they are strangers, even though Natalie asked after Lorelai and seemed to remember her quite well in the previous season, despite not seeing Lorelai since she was a teenager (although, as Lorelai and Rory attended Emily’s Christmas party each year, this doesn’t seem plausible).
Natalie refers to Emily as “the Cobra”, because she squeezes people (puts pressure on them) until she gets what she wants from them. There are various snakes called cobra, but only those in the genus Naja from Asia are true cobras. They are notable for being able to rear up off the ground and flatten their necks to appear larger. They don’t attack prey by squeezing them, however – that’s pythons and boa constrictors. Cobras have highly venomous fangs instead, and all species are capable of delivering a fatal bite to a human.
Lorelai sometimes seems selfish and unreasonable in the way that she instinctively refuses her mother’s requests, but Emily’s reputation as domineering and manipulative, determined to get her own way at no matter what cost to the other party (the auctioneer is actually ill in this episode, but Emily has forced him to turn up and work) provides a good reason for that. She has no wish to be one of the Cobra’s many victims, and what seems like a reasonable request may well turn out to be something more sinister.