LORELAI: She had nothing to do with Jess coming over. Believe me, she did not want him there.
DEAN: That’s what she told me. And Rory wouldn’t lie, right?
As Lorelai and Dean assure each other that good, honest, pure Rory (the sweetest kid in the world) would never lie about wanting Jess, they watch through the window as Rory giggles and flirts with him while paying for breakfast.
Rory was certainly being truthful about not inviting Jess to the house, or even inviting him to dinner – he invited himself, and manipulated the situation so he could stay. But as for not wanting him there, actively wishing he hadn’t come? Well … if that wasn’t a lie to Dean, then she is definitely lying to herself.
And it’s going around, because Dean and Lorelai are desperately lying to themselves as well.
RORY: I don’t think Luke knew anything about the food last night … Which means you lied about why you came over.
Rory is positively delighted to discover that Jess came over with the food just because he wanted to. In her mind, she is only enjoying catching him out in a lie and watching him squirm, but on some level she must also be happy to know that Jess actively sought out her company for an evening.
LORELAI: Wow, he must’ve been crazy mad last night.
RORY: I’d say that was a fair assessment.
Apparently knowing that her daughter’s boyfriend was in an insane rage the night before isn’t something Lorelai feels she needs to worry about! And now Dean has taken Rory hostage for the entire day, and she has to have dinner with his family as well. Doesn’t she look thrilled about it?
LORELAI: I know, life with my mother, one step forward, five thousand steps back. It’s kinda like the spastic polka.
Spastic is an outdated term to describe people with cerebral palsy, a disorder often characterised by poor co-ordination, weak or stiff muscles, and tremors.
In America, using the words “spastic” or “spaz” to humorously describe awkwardness, clumsiness, hyperactivity, or nerdiness is not considered as shockingly offensive as it in other parts of the world. Lorelai’s comment here would be unacceptable in Britain, for example.
Polka [pictured] is a Czech folk dance which was all the rage in the mid-19th century – so much so that the phenomenon was called “polkamania”. Polka made a comeback after World War II, when many Polish refugees moved to the US. Lorelai and Rory own at least one CD of polka music.
RORY: You actually got Grandma to steal a bathrobe?
LORELAI: Although I did catch her trying to return it while I was getting the car.
What car? They went to the spa in a hired limo. Perhaps Lorelai means while she was phoning for a car to collect them, or meeting the car? Or she meant to say while she was getting in the car?
Emily panicked and tried not to go through with stealing the bathrobe, but Lorelai seems to have stopped her. That seems to be enough to satisfy Lorelai, who actually appears pretty pleased with how her time at the spa with her mother turned out (probably because they came home early).
This episode is another one where we see Lorelai and Rory in parallel situations. In “There’s the Rub”, both Lorelai and Rory have their personal boundaries disrespected.
Lorelai thinks she is being offered free vouchers to a luxury spa, only to discover what she’s really getting is a weekend away with her mother – who books every single activity for them at the same time, even a couples massage!
Meanwhile, Rory thinks she’s getting the house to herself for an evening. Paris tries to guilt trip Rory into letting her come over to study by reminding her how lonely and neglected she is. When Rory sensibly but kindly resists, Paris just turns up anyway. Then Jess arrives with food, unbidden, and invites himself to dinner, so that Rory has to ask Paris to stay the night as a chaperone. Then Dean decides to stick his nose in, despite being explicitly told to stay away. (Dean is the only character who doesn’t manipulate his way in, because he already feels entitled to Rory’s company).
If everyone had respected Lorelai and Rory’s boundaries, Lorelai would have received two vouchers for a spa weekend, and taken Sookie, and Rory would have been free to do laundry, eat Indian food, and fall asleep in front of the TV in her pyjamas. Which would be nice for them, but not exactly compelling television.
Luckily, both Gilmore girls end up gaining something by allowing others to force their way into their lives – if only the knowledge that people really do want to be closer to them.
(Note that the boundary-pushing continues even in the penultimate scene, when Kirk tries to take their table from them in the diner before they are ready to leave. After everything they’ve been through, the Gilmore girls are hogging that table, no matter what!).
EMILY: You do know, in the course of one night, you have turned me into an adulterer and a thief.
LORELAI: I’ll have you working at the Chicken Ranch by the end of the month.
The Chicken Ranch is a legal, licensed brothel about 60 miles west of Las Vegas, near the town of Pahrump, Nevada. Approximately 60 women call the Chicken Ranch “home”, with 12-15 women living there at any one time. The women usually stay there for two weeks at a time. The Chicken Ranch opened in 1976.
LORELAI: No, Rory would never steal. She’s far too moral for that.
This is a complete, utter, and quite deliberate lie. Rory and Lorelai stole glasses from a Holiday Inn together, she boasted to Lorelai about stealing a towel from the country club she went to with Richard, and in this very episode, she tells Lorelai to steal soap from the spa before she comes home. Apart from trying to make Emily feel special and as if they could have a bond that Lorelai and Rory don’t, Lorelai doesn’t want to tarnish the image Emily has of the perfect angel granddaughter.
EMILY: I wasn’t taught to be best friends with my daughter … I was taught to be a role model for my daughter … I did what I thought was right. I did what I thought I had to do to protect you, and because of this we have no relationship.
And “there’s the rub” – Emily wants to have a good relationship with Lorelai, the kind of friendship she thinks Lorelai has with Rory. And yet she was taught that mothers and daughters aren’t friends, and that she has to set an example for Lorelai, not relax and have fun with her. And even though Lorelai is in her thirties and a mother herself, Emily doesn’t know how to stop being a mother, and start being a friend to her daughter. Lorelai being stuck as a perpetual teenager means that Emily can’t grow and develop either.
It’s frustrating, because clearly they are capable of having a good time together. Chad said they were the two people having the most fun at the bar. However, Lorelai has a plan for them to do a bonding activity together – steal the bathrobes from the spa. That’s her idea of a mother-daughter bonding baby step. Hm, speaking of being a role model for your daughter …
EMILY: You knew this whole evening made me uncomfortable and yet you kept pushing.
LORELAI: I was trying to do everything right. You manipulated me into taking this trip and still I came. You told me I was acting like a teenager, so I tried to be nicer. You said you needed to eat, so I made that happen.
EMILY: Yes, by sitting me at a bar where you practically forced me to engage in inappropriate behaviour.
Emily and Lorelai, who have been in an almost constant state of friction since they left for the spa, finally let loose on each other. You can see that each of them have valid points of aggrievement.
Lorelai feels that she was manipulated into going on a spa weekend with her mother – Emily never gave her a chance to decide for herself by asking, “Lorelai, would you care to go to a spa with me this weekend?”. When there was nothing appetising for dinner, she helped her mother get the courage to go out for steak, and when there was no table available, she suggested they eat at the bar instead, where they had a good time together. When a man asked her mother to dance, she made it seem like no big deal to accept if she chose, and now everything is Lorelai’s fault. Again.
Emily feels that Lorelai has been incredibly ungrateful and immature, sulking and sniping like the spoiled teenager she still is inside while being treated to a luxury spa weekend, and being driven there in a limousine. All things that Emily has organised for Lorelai as a fun treat so they can spend some time bonding – she even cancelled Friday Night Dinner for Lorelai’s benefit, so that she won’t feel that “Ugh, I have to have dinner with my mother and go to a spa with her all weekend!”. Emily agreed to going out for steak, even though she didn’t feel comfortable about it, and sitting at the bar wasn’t respectable.
When Chad asked her to dance, she didn’t really want to as it seemed disloyal to Richard, but felt pressured into it by Lorelai. Although it was okay at first, when Chad got a little too intimate, she was expecting Lorelai to act like a good friend and save her. She didn’t. Lorelai figured her mother was an adult and could handle a man coming on too strongly, the way she would have. She left Emily to sink or swim.
Rory had Paris to protect her from Jess coming onto her, and from Dean’s temper. Emily could have used a friend like that, and unfortunately, Lorelai wasn’t that friend for her.