In the final flashback, we see Emily and Richard coming downstairs, ready to go out. Emily comments that for the first time in a year, she hasn’t tripped over Rory’s baby stroller, which Lorelai never puts away. Emily finds a note on the hall table and begins to cry – it is obviously the note that Lorelai wrote when she left home, taking Rory with her.
It’s interesting to speculate as to where this flashback comes from. It can’t be Lorelai’s memory, because she never saw this happen. Is it Emily’s memory? Or is it Lorelai’s imagining what must have happened, based on what she knows? Or is it somehow an objective picture from the past of that moment?
The seven flashbacks in this episode encapsulate the central conflict in Gilmore Girls – that Lorelai got pregnant as a teenager, and then left home with her baby, leaving only a note.
It seems clear during the episode that Lorelai, through Sherry’s birthing of Georgia, gets to relive and re-examine some of her past behaviour and choices. We get to see that Richard and Emily may not have been perfect parents, but they are by no means monsters who deserved to be abandoned and shunned by their daughter.
Emily was a staunch advocate for Lorelai when she discovered she was pregnant, and stood up for her against the cruel insults of Christopher’s parents. Richard and Emily never rejected Lorelai, or kicked her out. She still had a home with them, and they continued supporting her and baby Rory.
Obviously Lorelai was very unhappy, and wanted to make a life for herself, but in retrospect, some of her decisions seem cruel – I think even to herself. She left for the hospital to give birth by herself, not allowing her parents any role in that, and she left home the same way, leaving only a note.
We already know that Emily was so devastated by Lorelai’s leaving that she was confined to bed for a month, and much of the coldness and harshness that we see from Emily and Richard in the present stem from this rejection by their daughter, which they have never really got over.
I think Lorelai’s generous and thoughtful gift of the DVD player and nine musicals on DVD that are a combination of Emily’s favourites and hers is her way of trying to … not to erase the past, but to make a kind gesture to her mother and to try to connect with her by sharing something they both enjoy, in recognition that Emily’s life is far lonelier than Lorelai’s.