Be careful what you wish for

By the end of the episode, Lorelai has received what she said she wanted – she and Max have taken a break from their relationship. Moreover, she doesn’t need to feel guilty as it was he who asked for some space to think things through. And she shouldn’t feel rejected either, as Max has indicated he really does like her, but that things have become too complicated for him.

Of course getting her wish does nothing to make her feel better, and leaves her heartbroken. To her credit, Rory comforts Lorelai in her misery, even though Lorelai has treated her really badly as well during this episode. Hopefully she apologised to Rory off-screen, as we never see her do so on the show.

NC-17

MAX: I’m the one that started the kiss.
LORELAI: And I’m the one that knocked it up to NC-17.

In the US, a rating of NC-17 means that a film is not suitable for children, and nobody aged 17 or under will be admitted to a movie theatre. It replaced the X-rating on films in the 1990s.

Lorelai is saying that their kiss is something the children shouldn’t have been allowed to see.

“Ask Skippy”

LORELAI: I freaked out. I’m so sorry. I never meant to treat you like that; I’m not very good at this, ask Skippy.

When she apologises to Max for the awful way she treated him, she mentions Skippy the hamster, that she abandoned rather than care for. Skippy was also treated appallingly, and Lorelai recognises that the hamster is symbolic of the way that she tends to dump people rather than deal with any problems in the relationship.

“Would you like to go out to dinner some time – with me?”

Sookie and Jackson have been shown doing nothing but bicker over the quality of his produce since the start of the show. In the conventions of romantic comedy, when two people keep arguing “like an old married couple”, the audience knows they are destined to be together some day.

Sookie is genre-savvy enough to know that the person she has been bickering with must be her romantic destiny: Jackson even acted like a jealous lover when Sookie checked out somebody else’s fruit. She takes immediate action, showing that she really is quite the relationship expert.

Her choice of Jackson is a practical one for another reason: she said she didn’t have time to meet people as she was so busy at the inn, so it makes sense for her to ask out someone she knows through work.

It is notable that while Sookie is always interested in Lorelai’s potential relationships, and gently pushes her toward Luke (her obvious romantic destiny in the show), Lorelai doesn’t reciprocate. She’s never said anything to Sookie except to grumpily tell her that as a long-term single, her opinion on relationships is worthless, and has never given her the tiniest nudge towards Jackson, who they both see nearly every day.

New Poems of Emily Dickinson

This is the book that Rory is reading in the school cafeteria just before she confront Paris about the the gossip she has been spreading about Lorelai and Max.

New Poems of Emily Dickinson, edited by William H. Shurr and others, presents 500 new poems that were found embedded in Emily Dickinson’s correspondence. The book was first published in 1993, and republished in 1999.

This isn’t the textbook that the English Literature class used to study Emily Dickinson, and that assignment is over anyway. It shows that Rory continues to follow up and expand on things she learns at school for her own interest and satisfaction – one sign of an excellent student.

“Call it Al”

EMILY: A mistake? A mistake? Is that what you call it – a mistake?
LORELAI: Well I tried to call it “Al” but it would only answer to “mistake”.

Lorelai is referencing the 1986 pop song You Can Call Me Al by Paul Simon. The song was the lead single from his hit album Graceland, which won the Grammy Award for Best Album the following year.

The song’s lines about the narrator calling the woman Betty while she can call him Al was inspired by a party he attended with his then-wife, Peggy Harper. A French guest misheard Paul’s name as “Al”, and his wife’s as “Betty”. However the song is about a midlife crisis which becomes a cultural crisis and spiritual redemption when he goes to Africa, as Paul Simon did for the Graceland album.

The song was Paul Simon’s biggest solo hit single around the world, but struggled at first in his home country, eventually reaching #23 in the US.

“The reason you’re even in this school”

RORY: You made up these stupid rules years ago about the way the Gilmore women would run their lives and now you’re sticking to them even though they’re crazy!
LORELAI: Oh hey, my crazy, stupid rules are the reason we’re doing so good in our lives. They’re the reason you grew up the way you did, the reason you’re even in this school, and the reason you’re going to go to Harvard, so don’t you dismiss my rules.

The reason Rory is at Chilton is because her grandparents are paying for it, not because of Lorelai. In fact Lorelai broke her usual rules by asking her parents for money, so it’s by not sticking to the “crazy, stupid rules” that Rory is at Chilton.

“We could hurt Rory”

LORELAI: Look it is what I’ve been trying to tell you all along. This is a family. Rory and I, you walked into a family, but you weren’t listening and now she’s getting attached and I’m afraid she’s gonna get hurt.
MAX: So you solution to all of this is not to return my calls
LORELAI: It just took me a while to figure things out and it all came clear when I realized how much we could hurt Rory.
MAX: Don’t you mean how much we could hurt Lorelai?

After deciding that Rory is old enough for Lorelai to openly date men with her full knowledge, Lorelai suddenly panics when she worries how a break up with Max might affect Rory. It’s a little bit unbelievable, as Rory has hardly “got attached” to Max – apart from seeing him at school, they had one very brief conversation together when he came to pick Lorelai up for a date.

Max immediately calls her out on it, seeing that what Lorelai really fears is getting hurt herself. It’s Lorelai who is “getting attached” to Max, and fears the consequences to herself if they ever broke up. Once again, she is using Rory as an excuse to avoid a long-term committed relationship.

Rory later says she can’t believe Lorelai is “blaming her” for her relationship difficulties with Max, showing that she doesn’t appreciate being used an excuse.

When Lorelai meets Max at the cafe, she admits that worrying about Rory very soon jumped to worrying about herself.