Reese’s Cup

CY: Louie finally throws the door open, looks at him and says, ‘Did you get a Reese’s Cup tonight?’. And the kid looks in his bag and he says, ‘Yes sir, I did.’ So Louie grabs it, says ‘Thank you very much!,’ then slams the door in his face.

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, chocolate cups filled with peanut butter, marketed by The Hershey Company. They were first called Penny Cups, and created in Pennsylvania in 1928 by H.B. Reese, a former dairy farmer who worked as a shipping foreman for candy manufacturer Milton S. Hershey. Reese left his job with Hershey to start his own company, The H.B. Reese Candy Company. In 1963, Reese’s sons merged the company with Hershey, and the Peanut Butter Cups quickly became Hershey’s top selling candy. They remain extremely popular today.

Halloween and Trick-or-Treating

CY: So, like I say, it’s Halloween, right, and we’re lucky Louie doesn’t have razor wire around his yard, you know how he is. So finally one of the neighborhood kids, he gets all courageous and he goes sauntering up to the door and he goes ‘trick or treat!’.

Halloween is a contraction of All Hallows Evening, the night before All Hallows Day, which is November 1 (so Halloween is October 31). Alluded to several times already in the show as an important date on the calendar, it is a day for remembering the dead with a Christian name but with probable pagan roots.

Halloween customs were brought to North America in the 19th century by Scottish and Irish immigrants. In return, the American influence on Halloween has spread around the world in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Trick-or-treating is a Halloween tradition where children dress in costumes and travel from house to house, asking for treats, with the phrase, “Trick or treat?”. The “trick” is a threat, usually idle, to commit some small act of mischief on the homeowner should no treat be provided.

The custom goes back to at least the 16th century in Scotland and Ireland, where it was called guising. In America, trick-or-treating has been a tradition since the 1920s; the earliest known example is from Canada in 1911.

It is apt that one of the last things that happen in this episode is a memory shared of Louie’s behaviour on Halloween, since it is day for the remembrance and honour given to the dead.

Arbor Day

RORY: See you for some tree planting over at the Arbor Day Festival, buddy.

Arbor Day is an international secular day of observance in which groups and individuals are encouraged to plant trees. It is usually held in the spring. In the US, Arbor Day was founded in 1872 by J. Sterling Morton in Nebraska City. By the 1920s, every state in the US had laws stipulating that Arbor Day had to be observed.

In the US, National Arbor Day is celebrated on the last Friday in April, so it is two weeks away from this episode, and Rory is anticipating another event she might be able to get Jess to attend. We never see an Arbor Day celebration in Stars Hollow, but of course they hold one every year. By the time Arbor Day arrives, Jess has left town.

“You’re officially a part of this town now”

RORY: You facilitated it, you made it happen, so I guess that means that you’re officially a part of our town now.

JESS: Hey, wait a minute.

Having pestered, nagged, and occasionally dragged Jess into helping Luke by working at the diner, just as she gave him a scolding and inspired him to fix Luke’s toaster, Rory now tells him that he is a part of the town. As well as helping Luke, it feels as if Rory was also trying to rehabilitate Jess, or improve his reputation. Jess seems slightly alarmed by this, and rejects the idea that he’s part of Stars Hollow – he’s always seen himself as “on the road”, a freewheeling drifter who’s just on his way through.

Luke worries that he and his uncle Louie were parallel to each other, but in fact it is Jess who is most like his great-uncle, Louie Danes. Both are unpopular in town, and considered to be rude, antisocial pains in the backside, given the cold shoulder by the good folk of Stars Hollow. Maybe like Louie, the town would soon turn forgiving should Jess actually die – a plot line Milo Ventimiglia urged upon the writers of Gilmore Girls, to no avail.

Of course, by roping Jess into helping out, Rory has ensured that she and Jess have spent most of the week (was it a week?) together, and working together respectably in public as well, so that everyone can see they are friends. Notice has exaggeratedly Rory addresses Jess as “friend” and “buddy” while she teases him, letting everyone know that she and Jess are just good friends.

What Dean thought about this volunteer work, we don’t know – he isn’t seen or mentioned in this episode. Since the Bid-on-a-Basket Festival, Dean only shows up in order to play the jealous boyfriend, never to just spend time with Rory or to help her out.

“Why did you put me through all that?”

TAYLOR: Why did you put me through all that hoohah at the town meeting if your vegetable business was just temporary?

TROUBADOUR #2: Actually, you put yourself through it, Taylor. You put yourself through it.

The vegetable stall sub-plot comes breezily to a close with Second Troubadour telling Taylor that he was only doing it on a very temporary basis, selling off all the excess produce from his garden in a few days to make a bit of extra money. How he managed to grow such a large amount of vegetables and fruit all at once is something of a headscratcher, although its superior quality is plausible, since home grown produce is nearly always better than that sold in supermarkets.

It seems that apart from making money, his motivation was to get revenge on Taylor for not allowing him to become a Town Troubadour in Stars Hollow. By setting up a rival fruit and vegetable business across the street from Doose’s Market, he took business away from Taylor and made him panic. And as he says, Taylor “put himself through it”, he knew enough of Taylor to understand how to push his buttons. Why he originally wanted to be a Troubadour in Stars Hollow remains a mystery.

The sub-plot of the bountiful spring harvest is to underscore the death of Louie Danes, who is “harvested” by the Reaper, and buried in the soil, part of the natural cycles of time and the earth.

Israel

TROUBADOUR #2: Sold it all, made enough money to do some traveling. Have you ever been to Israel? Turbulent, I know, but I thought I’d go down and try to plant some peace down there, know what I mean? See if it grows and see if it spreads.

Israel, earlier alluded to as a place of discord. This is the second person to travel between Israel and Connecticut in the show, the other being Rachel. The Second Troubadour must have made a lot of money from his vegetables if it was enough for him to visit Israel.

“One if by Land”

TROUBADOUR #2: Hey Taylor, cool threads. Very “One if by Land.”

A phrase from the poem Paul Revere’s Ride, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, previously mentioned. It was a reference to the secret signal orchestrated by Revere during his historic ride from Boston to Concord on the verge of American Revolutionary War.

The signal was meant to alert patriots about the route the British troops chose to advance to Concord, with one lantern on a church steeple to signify they were coming the longer way, over land, while two lanterns meant they were coming the shorter way, by sea.

Despite its importance in the cultural landscape, the lantern signals were only a back-up plan if the messenger was not able to get through, but Paul Revere did manage to leave Boston safely to make his historic ride. The popular myth was that the lanterns, now redundant, were intended for Revere, waiting for the signal across the river.

Louie’s Wake

LUKE: What’s going on?

RORY: It’s kind of like a wake.

When Luke and Lorelei get back from the funeral, they find a wake for Louie in full swing at the diner. No matter how they felt about Louie while he was alive, we see how Stars Hollow comes together to honour the death of one of their own. He may have retired to Florida (and the town threw a party in celebration), but now the town reclaims him as a citizen.

In life Louie was a disgusting rude old man, in death he becomes a “colourful character” that his former victims can now view with humour and affection. More than anything, you can’t help think that people in Stars Hollow just can’t permit an opportunity for a party to slide by. These are the people who threw a wake for a cat, after all!

Notice how many fresh vegetables and salads there are at the wake – the temporary market stall in the park has been a major contributor to the celebration of Louie’s life.

The Stars Hollow Re-Enactors Come to Louie’s Funeral

LORELAI: It’s what your dad wanted.

LUKE: Yeah. Oh, I know Louie would’ve hated this.

LORELAI: That’s just a fringe benefit.

Despite their dislike of Louie Danes, the re-enactors do end up coming to his funeral. It’s not only a tribute to their former fellow member, William Danes, but what Louie is due as a returned war veteran. No matter his many flaws as a human being, he did serve his country, and has earned at least this modicum of respect.

“You are not your uncle”

LUKE: What Taylor said about me being like Louie, a loner, never being married and stuff. I mean, I am getting crankier as I get older, he’s not so far off.

LORELAI: You are not your uncle. I mean, would Louie ever build someone a chuppah, or help fix things around someone’s house without being asked, or make a special coffee cake with balloons for a girl’s sixteenth birthday?

The point of the episode is for Luke to begin questioning whether he is on the same path as Louie – a bit of a cranky loner, unmarried and childless, with only a lonely death ahead of him that will come as a welcome relief to those around him.

Lorelai, who has always been one of the first to criticise him for his loner tendencies, reassures Luke that he is not Louie. Unlike Louie, Luke has a kind heart, and has done many things to help Lorelai and Rory, as well as taking in Jess without asking for anything in return. I think it’s fair to say that Louie would never have bothered so much over an uncle’s funeral as Luke dutifully does for him, either.

Lorelai and Luke have this conversation in front of a wreath of spring flowers, Lorelai wearing a jacket with a pattern of deep red roses, symbolising love, and a pink tee-shirt under it. There’s something slightly romantic or even wedding-like about the look of the scene. It’s certainly not funereal.