In the final scene, Lorelai receives her engagement ring from Max while sitting on the front porch. It is too big, a possible sign that marriage is too big a commitment for her. The episode ends with her saying, “I’m getting married”, rather than “We’re getting married” – once again, it’s all about Lorelai. She looks happier, but her final gaze is at her new diamond ring rather than her fiance.
SOOKIE (on phone to Emily): Listen, I’m sorry to call so late, but I need to ask you a question. I’m planning a surprise wedding shower for Lorelai and Max, and it’s gonna be more like a big party actually. But I’ve cleared the date with everybody around here, so we’re all set to go, but I wanted to make sure you guys were gonna be around before I finalised everything. It’s going to be Saturday the 21st.
The surprise wedding shower for Lorelai and Max is planned for June 21; this is the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year, and traditionally the high point of summer. It is a symbolic day to celebrate an engagement, when the sun is at its zenith, and there is more light available than any other day. Traditionally, the time around the summer solstice is associated with love and fertility.
In real life, June 21 was a Thursday, not a Saturday, in 2001.
Because of Sookie’s phone call, where she discovered that Lorelai had got engaged without telling her parents, a distressed Emily orders Richard to apologise to Rory. She is afraid that if they push Rory away as they did with Lorelai, that they will lose her as well, and the thought is unbearable to her.
This will set up a pattern where Richard and Emily try to treat Rory as differently from Lorelai as possible. They were strict and even harsh with Lorelai, but Rory the angel child will receive little else but praise and indulgence, for fear that if she doesn’t get her way in all things, she will become another Lorelai and escape. Whether this plan is a good one for Rory’s character and independence is never questioned.
LORELAI: If you cut him [Richard] a little slack, I’ll wear my Porn Star tee-shirt to dinner next week.
Presumably a tee-shirt which has “Porn Star” written on the front. Such tee-shirts are still common, and it is hard to say what Lorelai’s might look like. We never see it, and it seems unlikely she would wear it to dinner with her parents.
LORELAI: They’re gonna get to watch you walk down the aisle wearing your cap and gown and get your diploma and go to Harvard and be a Phi Beta Bimbo and graduate with honors and just set the world on fire.
Lorelai is referring to college fraternities and sororities, also known as Greek letter societies, as they always have names consisting of Greek letters. Several begin with Phi Beta, and Lorelai adds a “Bimbo” to show what she thinks of the female students who would join such an elitist sorority.
LORELAI: You are the great white hope of the Gilmore clan. You are their angel sent from up above. You are the daughter they didn’t have.
The Great White Hope is a 1970 biographical drama film, directed by Martin Ritt and based on the 1967 stage play by Howard Sackler, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the Tony Award for Best Play.
Set between 1910 and 1915, the story is about a boxer named Jack Jefferson (James Earl Jones), based on the real life boxer Jack Johnson. Because of his string of victories in the ring, the press announces the search for “the great white hope” – a white boxer who can defeat him. To complicate matters, Jack falls in love with a beautiful white woman named Eleanor (Jane Alexander), and their relationship, illegal at the time, leads to disaster.
The Great White Hope was well received by both audiences and critics at the time, who praised the lead actors, but its reputation has declined over the years.
Lorelai believes her parents, as she does, sees Rory as a new, improved Lorelai, and as the “great white hope” who will do better than Lorelai has done. She actually tries to see her father’s point of view, by telling Rory that Richard’s appalling behaviour at dinner was brought on by his memories of Lorelai as a teenager, and terrible fear that Rory will also get pregnant and throw her life away.
Rory has tended to think of her grandmother as the more difficult and exacting grandparent, while her grandfather can be counted on to dote on her. Moreover, her grandmother had a meltdown after Rory and Dean stayed out late together.
However, at the special dinner it is Emily who makes an effort to be civil with Dean (we already know from Rory’s Birthday Parties that she thinks social occasions are not suitable times to get into arguments), while Richard basically attacks Dean.
Richard is furious that his precious beautiful granddaughter, so smart and ambitious, bound for an Ivy League university and a glittering career, should have a boyfriend like Dean – an average student who doesn’t know where he’s going to college, and hasn’t thought about what job he might do later.
Richard comes down hard on Rory for choosing Dean as her boyfriend, telling her that as a Gilmore, she has a responsibility to uphold the family name. We know from his fight with Lorelai in Christopher Returns that the Gilmore name is very important to Richard, and that he has immense family pride. He warns Rory that Dean can only hold her back in life.
Richard is incredibly rude and snobbish in this episode, revealing how elitist he is. There must surely be some jealousy as well, knowing that he is not the most important male in Rory’s life.
Rory is justifiably angry with him, and defends Dean as well as she can – as she can’t exactly counter Richard’s arguments, all she can say is that Dean is incredible and special to her, and that he shouldn’t be treated that way as a guest before storming out.
Rory will later find herself in the same position as Dean when a future boyfriend’s parents don’t believe she is good enough for their son.
RICHARD: I wanted to walk the ruins of Pompeii.
Pompeii was an ancient Roman town near modern Naples, mostly destroyed and buried under tons of volcanic ash and pumice in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. The ruins of Pompeii have been a tourist destination for over 250 years, and today is one of Italy’s most popular tourist sites.
RICHARD: I wanted to see La Traviata at the La Scala opera house.
La Traviata (“the fallen woman”) is an opera by Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi. It is based on the 1852 play La Dame aux Camélias (“the lady with the camellias”) by French author Alexandre Dumas, fils, adapted from his own 1848 novel of the same name. The first performance of the opera was a failure, but today it is extremely popular and an operatic standard.
The Teatro alla Scala, nearly always abbreviated to La Scala, is an opera house in Milan, Italy which opened in 1778. Many of the world’s great opera singers have appeared at La Scala, and it is regarded as one of the world’s leading opera houses.
RICHARD: You know, when I was ten years old, I knew exactly where I wanted to work.
LORELAI: That’s because you were always picked last for Dodgeball.
Dodgeball is a game where two teams throw balls at each other while trying to avoid being hit themselves. The main objective is to remove the opposing team entirely by either hitting them, catching the balls they throw, or forcing them to move from the court to avoid being hit.
For many years, it was a popular choice for Physical Education classes in the US, but recently has come under scrutiny because of its potential for bullying and injury, and some schools have modified, phased it out, or banned it.
In Dodgeball the smallest, least confident, least agile, and least athletic participants are generally eliminated first, so they are usually the last to be picked for a team. Lorelai is saying her father at ten years old would have been the kind of wimpy nerd who is bullied in Physical Education class.
LORELAI: You know what else is good though Mom, is a Ho Ho. Because if you can’t find a Twinkie, you know, treat yourself to a nice Ho Ho.
Ho Hos are cream-filled chocolate snack cakes that look like small Swiss rolls, made by Hostess Brands. They were first created in 1920.