Jess Leaves Town

BABETTE: Last night, not long after the accident happened, Luke walked him straight to the bus station, stuck the kid on a bus, sent him home to his mom.

MISS PATTY: I can’t believe Luke would send him off like that.

BABETTE: Well, I heard the kid wanted to go. I don’t know. All I know is that Jess is gone.

While watching the film with Lane and her parents, Rory overhears Babette and Miss Patty gossiping, and in this way learns that Jess left town the previous night, after the accident he had driving Rory’s car. Luke walked him straight to the bus station and sent him home to Liz.

We never got to see the conversation between Luke and Jess, so we have no idea why Luke did that, or in what mood he did it. Babette heard that Jess actually asked to leave, rather than Luke throwing him out. Did Luke take Lorelai’s advice and get rid of Jess, or did he regretfully give way to Jess’ request that he go home? We don’t know for sure, but town gossip hints the latter is more likely than the former.

In real life, the last bus to New York City leaves Hartford at 10.30 pm, so Jess would have left Stars Hollow around 11.10 pm, and got to Manhattan some time after 1 am. That might suggest the accident took place somewhere between 8.30 pm and 9.30 pm.

After all the town’s complaints about Jess, Babette and Miss Patty seem rather regretful that Jess has gone, saying that they don’t know what they will do for entertainment now (and Jess stole from Babette and pestered Miss Patty’s dance students, so they have personal reasons to wish him gone). It suggests that the town’s exaggerated hatred of Jess was mostly motivated by a desire to cause drama so they’d have something to focus on. Like old Louie Danes, Jess was a convenient sinkhole where they could throw all their negativity.

Lorelai keeps her face rigidly glued to the screen, trying not to betray anything by her expression, but she knows this can’t be good news for her friendship with Luke. Rory looks hurt and unhappy, and turns away from her mother, as if needing privacy for her grief (or possibly as if she is beginning to blame Lorelai for Jess’ departure). It feels as if Jess being gone will cause just as many issues for the Gilmore girls as Jess being there …

White Lines

This is the song Kirk dances to in his film – Miss Patty did the choreography.

White Lines (Don’t Don’t Do It) is a 1983 song by hip hop artist Mel Melle, written by Melle and Sylvia Robinson, and released as a single. On original release, it was credited to Grandmaster Flash and Melle Mel, but by that stage Flash and Melle had stopped touring together and were in a legal disagreement.

Originally it was an ironic celebration of the cocaine-fulled party lifestyle, but for commercial reasons was abridged with the “don’t do it” message to warn against the dangers of cocaine. It has an unofficial music video directed by Spike Lee and starring Laurence Fishburne. The song went to #9 on the US Hot Dance Club Play charts, but did best in the UK, where it made #7 on the charts.

Lorelai says that Kirk raps in the film (presumably to the song), but we never hear that happen. Kirk also tells Lorelai he needs to keep the word “damn” in his film to maintain his street cred, but we never hear him say that, either.

A Film By Kirk

Kirk’s short film is reminiscent of a section of the 1977 surrealist horror film Eraserhead, written, directed and produced by David Lynch, previously discussed as Amy Sherman-Palladino’s favourite director. Shot in black and white, it was Lynch’s first feature-length film. Starring Jack Nance in the lead role, it tells the story of a man left to care for his grossly deformed child in a desolate industrial landscape.

Upon release, Eraserhead received negative reviews, being described as “pretentious”, in “sickening bad taste” and “unwatchable”, and opened to small audiences, with little interest shown in it. It gradually gained a cult following as a midnight movie, and today is critically lauded as a film that is both beautiful and nightmarish. It was the favourite film of Stanley Kubrick, and an influence on The Shining.

Note that the poster advertises the film as “A film by David Lynch” – Kirk seems to have used the tagline as the inspiration for his film’s end title.

The other actors in Kirk’s film are Mary Lynn Rajskub and Jon Polito as the girlfriend and the father respectively. Rajskub had been in the sitcom Veronica’s Closet and has since gone on to numerous other shows, such as 24 and Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Polito was a veteran actor who worked with the Coen Brothers several times, and appeared in the TV shows Crime and Homicide: Life on the Streets. Neither actor includes Gilmore Girls on their filmography!

If they are supposed to be other people from Stars Hollow helping Kirk out, we never see them again. Perhaps Kirk actually hired professional actors for his film. It doesn’t seem out of character.

Persimmons

LORELAI: Hey, why isn’t Jackson here?

SOOKIE: Oh, he’s singing to his persimmons tonight. They’ve been a little sour lately.

Persimmons are the edible fruit of a number of species of tree in the genus Diopyros. Technically the fruit is a berry, although not often thought of that way. The most commonly cultivated is the Oriental persimmon (Diospyros kaki) – one of the most commonly human-grown fruit trees on Earth, and first cultivated in China more than 2000 years ago, then spread to Japan and Korea in the Middle Ages. It was introduced to southern Europe and California in the 1800s.

Jackson may be growing American persimmons (Diospyros virginiana) [pictured], native to the eastern states of the US, and very hardy in cold weather. They’re harvested in the fall, and eaten fresh or used in baked goods and steamed puddings. Jackson’s persimmons are months away from harvest, so no wonder they are sour! The fruit is very astringent or even bitter unless it is fully ripened.

The previous year, Jackson danced to his watermelons and threw his back out.

“Angry girl for an angry arm”

LANE: Okay. Here – angry girl for an angry arm.

RORY: Oh, cool! Thank you.

LANE: You’re welcome. [Lane puts a sticker on Rory’s cast]

The sticker Lane puts on Rory’s cast is one of Emily the Strange, a fictional character from graphic novels, comic books, and merchandise. She is a Gothic little girl with long black hair, a short black dress, and white Mary Jane shoes.

Often accompanied by four black cats, Emily is frequently depicted with crossed arms or her hands on her hips, and has cynical sayings such as “Get lost”, or “Glad you’re not here”. The sticker Lane gives Rory says, “I want you to leave me alone” – possibly the message Lane wants Rory to send to Jess.

Emily the Strange was created in 1991 by Rob Reger for his company Cosmic Debris Etc Inc, in San Francisco, and designed by Nathan Carrico for Santa Cruz Skateboards. The first Emily the Strange graphic novella was released in 2001, the year previous to this episode.

Emily the Strange bears a marked resemblance to a character named Rosamund from the 1978 children’s book Nate the Great Goes Undercover by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat, but after several years of protracted legal wrangling, both sides resolved their differences.

Christopher Arrives

Lorelai wakes up to find that after their phone call, Christopher drove to Stars Hollow from Boston and let himself in, falling asleep in a chair next to her. Lorelai wonders if driving interstate in the middle of the night is okay with Sherry, but Christopher deflects this by saying that “Rory comes first”. (Lorelai has no hesitation in throwing herself into the arms of another’s woman’s boyfriend).

Hm, maybe Lorelai should have asked a few more questions! She doesn’t, because she’s so relieved to have someone there to share the parenting with in an emergency, for a change. She even calls Christopher a “superhero”, just for showing up. Lorelai’s excitement over this small effort is a sad indictment of how rock bottom her expectations of Christopher are (and with justification).

In their shared relief that Rory is okay, and mutual hatred of Jess, Lorelai and Christopher easily make up their fight from “It Should’ve Been Lorelai”. Lorelai is very forgiving of Christopher – probably too forgiving.

Marianne Faithfull

RORY: The stuff they gave me at the hospital made me a little dopey.

LORELAI: My little Marianne Faithful.

Marianne Faithfull (born 1946), English singer, songwriter, and actress. She became popular with the release of her 1964 single, “As Tears Go By”, and was one of the lead female artists in the British Invasion music scene in the US. Her albums were a commercial success, she had a highly-publicised relationship with Mick Jagger, and she appeared in several films. However, this was overshadowed by personal problems in the 1970s, when she was anorexic, homeless, and a heroin addict.

She made a comeback in 1979 with her critically acclaimed album Broken English, and is regarded as one of the greatest women in rock and roll. She received the World Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2009 Women’s World Awards and was made a Commandeur of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the government of France.

The Contessa and the House Wench with the Talking Mice

LORELAI: And over here you have a tiny but annoying bell in case there’s something here that you need but you don’t have and you want to summon the common but lovely house wench who will promptly leave her talking mice and come to fetch the Contessa whatever she may require.

Lorelai compares Rory to The Barefoot Contessa, a 1954 drama film written and directed by Joseph F. Mankiewicz about the life and loves of a Spanish sex symbol named Maria Vargas, who is known as “the Barefoot Contessa”. Ava Gardner plays the title role as the glamorous Contessa. The film received mixed reviews, but made a big impact on popular culture.

Presumably Lorelai means that Rory, being in bed, has bare feet, yet will be waited on hand and foot like a great lady. Interestingly, the film has a major plot around infidelity and a love triangle, like that between Rory, Dean, and Jess. Like so many of these references, it ends in violence.

Lorelai compares herself to Cinderella, previously discussed. In the 1950 film, Cinderella is friends with a number of talking mice. Lorelai is saying that she is Rory’s humble servant and will get her anything she needs, just as Cinderella slaved away in the kitchen.

Lorelai behaves absolutely absurdly towards Rory. She has the most minor of injuries, and yet Lorelai acts as if she has two broken legs, at the very least. She not only gives Rory a bell to call her with, as if Rory is crippled, but actually sleeps in Rory’s room.

Why? Is she worried Rory will die in the night without her there, or does she think Rory needs help to go to the toilet with a cast on her wrist? It’s a callback to the years mother and daughter spent sharing a bed, their boundaries completely merged.

It’s almost as if Lorelai thinks she can justify her over-the-top demonisation of Jess by acting as if he has done terrible injury to Rory. She is also trying to make up for her failure to “protect” Rory from Jess by overcompensating now, when it is too late.

Lorelai’s instinct is always to smother Rory when she feels their relationship is threatened; whether this is good for Rory or not is never questioned. Her fussing over a barely injured Rory seems like confirmation that Jess was right – Rory is not cut out for the tough life of a foreign correspondent.

(Note that Rory has a Powerpuff Girls glass next to the bed, a callback to when Lorelai said they were going to buy some. Although they didn’t buy them that day, it’s confirmed they did eventually make the purchase).

Rory’s CDs

Stan Frerberg

Stan Frerbeg (1926-2015), actor, comedian, musician, puppeteer, and radio personality. He was one of the talents recruited by Capitol Records in 1951 for their spoken word division, doing satirical recordings about popular culture. He also did musical parodies of popular songs.

Rory’s CD might be The Stan Frerberg Show: Direct from the Famous CBS Broadcasts, which was released as a four-disc box set on CD in 1997, published by Smithsonian Historical Performances. The other possibility is that it is The United States of America Volume 2, The Middle Years, comedy sketches based on figures from American history, released on CD by Rhino in 1996.

Ash

Ash, Northern Irish rock band formed in 1989 by vocalist and guitarist Tim Wheeler, bassist Mark Hamilton, and drummer Rick MacMurray. Their first full-length album was released in 1996, and titled 1977 [pictured]; it is regarded by NME as one of the greatest albums of all time.

Their song “Girl from Mars” from the album has already been used in Gilmore Girls, appearing at the end of the episode “Nick and Nora, Sid and Nancy” to illuminate Jess’ attraction to Rory. It’s a little sign that Jess and Rory might share a favourite band, or that Jess might have got Rory interested in the band. It’s also a callback to the moment that Rory and Jess first made a real connection with each other.

Sinéad O’Connor

Sinéad O’Connor, now named Shuhada Sadaqat (born 1966), Irish singer-songwriter. Her 1987 debut album, The Lion and the Cobra, charted internationally, while her 1990 second album, I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got, received glowing reviews and was her most successful album – the lead single, “Nothing Compares 2 U” (written by Prince) was the #1 song of 1990.

O’Connor has released ten studio albums, many of them going gold in the UK or US. Her most most recent album at this point was Faith and Courage, released in 2000. It received positive reviews and was a commercial success.

Jess and Luke on the Bridge

[Jess is sitting on the bridge as Luke walks up to him]

JESS: I made sure she was okay.

LUKE: I know you did.

The bridge becomes a place of refuge for Jess, who might be a “little punk” to Lorelai, but is also a frightened and worried boy. Luke once pushed Jess off the bridge in a fit of frustration, now he comes to bring Jess his own brand of silent comfort.

Note that Luke and Jess are once again dressed alike, both in khaki jackets, and their seating postures mirror each other, so that each sits with their face turned away from the other. Emotions are difficult for these two to handle, let alone discuss. We never get to hear their conversation, as if they need privacy even from the audience.