“Waving a Flag”

[Dean and Richard get in their cars and drive off.]
LORELAI: Don’t you feel like one of us should’ve been standing between them waving a flag or something?

A reference to the 1978 film Grease, previously mentioned. When Danny Zuko’s (John Travolta’s) gang the T-Birds have a drag race with rival rang the Scorpions, Cha-Cha (played by Annette Charles), one of the Scorpion’s girlfriends, starts the race by standing between the two cars waving a “flag” – actually a scarf or bandana.

Jag

RICHARD: And drive behind me. I don’t want that thing blowing up right in front of the Jag.
DEAN: No problem. Try to keep your electrical system working long enough to get there.

Jag is short for Jaguar, a luxury British vehicle company headquartered in Coventry, originally founded in 1922 as the Swallow Sidecar Company. The current name was chosen in 1945. It holds royal warrants from Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles, and has manufactured cars for the British Prime Minister.

There isn’t a good shot of Richard’s Jaguar, it’s behind Rory’s car. I have been informed by a trustworthy source that the car appears to be a Jaguar XJ6 sedan, possibly a 1974 model, based on its hood ornament, chrome bumper bar and paint colour. That’s a classic car known for its performance and superb handling.

Dean mocks it for being unreliable, probably because the 1970s XJ6 sold to the US market is notoriously difficult and expensive to restore and maintain, due to its complexity and numerous issues with the electrics. However, Richard is later shown to be very interested in old cars and has a lot of money (and a chauffeur … hey, whatever happened to Lance, anyway?), so he would be well positioned to take care of an old Jag properly.

You can see Richard is being slightly hypocritical about Rory’s car, since his own vehicle is old, and probably has more safety and reliability issues than the one that Dean has rebuilt.

Gypsy (Rose Abdoo)

DEAN: Mr. Gilmore, I understand you want Rory to be safe, but so do I. I would not give this car to her if I did not know for a fact that it was a hundred percent safe. I checked it, my father checked it, and Gypsy at Hewes Brothers checked it.

We are now introduced to a new character in Gilmore Girls – the local mechanic, Gypsy, who works at Hewes Brothers. This is slightly confusing, because in an early episode, Lorelai refers to the local garage as Musky’s, then in “Love, Daisies and Troubadours”, she says that Maven Hewes bought the garage from Jim Dunning.

Musky’s may be a completely different business, an auto body shop which does smash repairs rather than a garage. I suppose it is just possible that Maven and Musky are the two Hewes Brothers, or Musky is Maven’s nickname. In either case, we never see the Hewes Brothers, who seem to have left everything in the capable hands of their mechanic (or perhaps she bought the business from them, including the name).

Gypsy is left as an intentional cypher in the show. We never discover her surname, or find out if Gypsy is her real name or a nickname. We learn nothing of her backstory or why she came to town. We don’t find out her ethnic heritage, or her sexual orientation.

All we need to know is that she’s a sarcastic, straight-talking mechanic who is extremely good at her job and highly respected for it. Nobody ever questions her skills, and it is said that if Gypsy can’t fix a vehicle, then nobody can.

A Plane That Looks Like Shamu

LORELAI: Dean, now that you’re done with that, will you build me a plane? One that looks like Shamu?

Shamu is the name given to various killer whales (orcas) at Seaworld parks. The first Shamu was captured in 1965 and died in 1971. Her name means “friend of Namu” – Namu was a male orca captured in 1965, named after a fishing port in British Columbia, Canada, close to his site of capture. The whales named Shamu were always the “star” of the killer whale show.

In 1988, Southwest Airlines designed a plane called Shamu One, a Boeing 737 painted to look like a killer whale, to promote travel to Seaworld in Texas.

Southwest Airlines ended their relationship with Seaworld in 2014, after the release of the 2013 documentary Black Fish focused on the mistreatment of orcas in captivity. In 2016, Seaworld discontinued its orca breeding program.

Rory’s Car

DEAN: Your car.
RORY: No!
DEAN: Finished it yesterday.

The car that Dean rebuilds and gives to Rory is a pale blue 1961 Dodge Lancer sedan. A rebuilt Dodge Lancer would cost around $10 000 today, so it’s a significant gift, quite apart from all the work he’s put into it.

We now discover that even though they broke up on the night he told Rory he was giving her a car, Dean has continued to work on it. It seems that Rory and Lorelai have been kept informed about his progress, because they seem excited, but not surprised about it, and Lorelai seems to have already given permission for it to go ahead.

Richard’s unease with Dean giving Rory the car is probably not only the safety issue (and no car from 1961 is going to be as safe as a modern one), but because it is inappropriate as a gift from a teenage boyfriend that Rory has only been seeing for about a year (and was broken up with for three months). He may have handled it badly, but Richard has a point.

The day with Richard now becomes an unmitigated disaster, and it’s all thanks to Dean. He just shows up with the car, rather than call ahead and make sure that it’s alright. He also ignores the fact that when he arrives, Richard’s car is out the front, so he knows that they have a guest, and can probably guess who it is. Does Dean actually deliver the car that night on purpose, as a way to show Richard that he isn’t a useless waste of space, and to rub it in how special he is to Rory and Lorelai?

It’s a real slap in the face to Richard and Emily, who wanted to buy Rory a new car, but were not given permission to do so by Lorelai. It must hurt Richard that she instead gave permission for an unsafe old car, built by a teenage boy, and this no doubt informs a lot of his behaviour.

Reese Witherspoon

RICHARD: Who’s going to help her get into Harvard?
LORELAI: Reese Witherspoon.

Laura Jeanne Reese Witherspoon (born 1976), multi-award winning actress and producer. She has an Academy Award, two Golden Globes, a BAFTA, a Screen Actors Guild Award, and an Emmy. One of the highest-paid actresses in the world, she has been named one of the most powerful women in the world, and one of the most influential.

Lorelai refers to Witherspoon’s 2001 comedy, Legally Blonde, directed by Robert Luketic, and based on the 2001 novel of the same name by Amanda Brown. Witherspoon plays Elle Woods, a sorority girl who attempts to win back her ex-boyfriend by becoming a Doctor of Law at Harvard University. In the process, she overcomes stereotypes about pretty blondes, and triumphs as a successful lawyer through unflappable self-confidence and fashion/beauty know-how.

Legally Blonde was a box-office hit which led to a sequel, a direct to DVD spin-off, and a stage musical. It received generally favourable reviews, and Reese Witherspoon received the 2002 MTV Award for Best Female Performance. Another film in the series is scheduled for 2022.

Harvard vs Yale

LORELAI: Dad, she wants to go to Harvard.
RICHARD: Well yes, because she thinks you want her to go to Harvard.

Richard hits it right on the head – where did Rory’s obsession with going to Harvard come from, except from Lorelai? Lorelai bought Rory a Harvard sweater when she was only four: not the usual clothing a toddler asks for on their own.

Richard is also correct that she’s too young to have set her heart on one specific college to attend. There are other good options available, and as Gilmores traditionally go to Yale, he would be able to help Rory get in as a legacy student. He does know more about the Ivy League system than Lorelai, who, despite being determined to have her daughter fulfil her dream of going to Harvard, has seemingly done little to educate herself about the process of being accepted there.

Harvard and Yale are traditional rivals, and it can’t have escaped Richard’s attention that Lorelai has rebelled against him by choosing his own alma mater’s main competition as her preferred university. He is tactful enough not to say that to her, though.

Richard is actually giving Lorelai good advice here. He probably shouldn’t have brought it up while he’s a guest, but at least he makes sure he doesn’t do it in front of Rory.

“We order way too much”

RICHARD: Lorelai, you cannot order all of that food. You’re teaching your daughter wastefulness and gluttony.
LORELAI: Um Dad, we do this all the time. We order way too much and then we eat like a third of it and live off the leftovers for a week and a half. It’s a finely honed system.

More evidence that Lorelai and Rory don’t really eat that much. They order a huge amount of food, but then only eat 30% of it. The leftovers take them another ten days to get through, suggesting they’re only picking at them. That doesn’t sound like people with big appetites.

They’re also not worried about food poisoning – you’re meant to eat leftovers within two days (four at the absolute most), not ten! How they never get sick is a miracle. Unless constant vomiting and diarrhoea is their secret to staying slim.

Obsession Board

RORY: We started the obsession board a few years ago. And then when we took that trip to Harvard, the student store was having a two for one flag sale, so that kind of sent us into the final stage of the psychosis. Hospitals were called, medications were prescribed, there is no cure.

Richard takes note of the cork board Rory has in her room, completely covered in Harvard memorabilia. Note that she says, “We started the obsession board a few years ago”. It was Lorelai who began the board, perhaps when Rory was about fourteen, and on the verge of starting high school.

Richard is taken aback that Rory is already so set on going to Harvard, when his alma mater is Yale University. He already knew it was Rory’s preference, now he discovers it is her absolute obsession and the only university she is interested in. That Rory says, “There is no cure”, probably suggests to Richard that she can’t see herself changing her mind.