LORELAI: Okay, look, nobody wants to say this any less than me, but I – maybe you don’t have a medical condition or a mental problem. Maybe, honey, you are falling for Jess.
In an echo of the end of “Back in the Saddle” when Dean bitterly admits that Rory likes Jess (more than him), Lorelai ends this episode having to be honest with herself and admitting that Rory must be falling for Jess.
There is no such awareness or honesty from Rory, though. She denies it, and says she loves Dean, and he will be her boyfriend forever. Jess is gone, and now all their problems are over. She refuses to talk about it any more, and only talks about her trip to New York as a “horrible, horrible day”. It’s very dishonest, especially to herself, when her day in New York with Jess was an absolutely magical experience until the bus debacle.
It will take just a little while longer for Rory to also realise that she is falling for Jess.
RORY: I am sick, I’m ill, I’m cracked. This is not who I am. If I were to write this down in my diary and I would read it, I would be like, Who is this freak? This isn’t me. This isn’t my diary. I wouldn’t do this. I wouldn’t skip school when I have finals coming up to go see a guy that isn’t even my guy and end up missing my mother’s graduation, which I wanted to be at so badly. That’s someone else. That’s someone flighty and stupid and dumb and girly. And, I mean, I missed your graduation, which is the worst thing I could have possibly done. I mean, I hurt you and I had to spend hours on a stinky bus next to a guy that was spitting into a can, just thinking about all of the minutes that were going by that I wasn’t at your graduation and they were hurting you, and they should have been hurting you because it was so selfish of this person who wasn’t me to do what she did.
Rory’s snap decision to go to New York is something she can’t explain logically, so that she says she must have a physical or mental illness. Not only has she let her mother down badly one one of the most important days of her life, but she skipped a day of school in the lead up to final exams, and it was to see a boy who isn’t even her boyfriend (and her boyfriend wouldn’t be thrilled to hear about this, which he won’t, because Rory has got into the habit of not being truthful with Dean).
Rory’s tearful, extravagant apology and her description of how bad she feels and how much she has already suffered for her actions has the effect of negating any of Lorelai’s feelings, or allowing her to tell Rory how she feels – because however unhappy Lorelai feels about Rory not turning up, Rory feels a million times worse.
It would be quite manipulative if done on purpose, but I think it is done in all innocence and sincerity. However, it’s very unfair on Lorelai, who now has to put aside not only her own feelings, but all the positive feelings she has about graduating, and focus on Rory’s problems.
Rory’s behaviour must seem horribly familiar to Lorelai. A teenage girl acting reckless and boy crazy, making foolish, selfish choices, and behaving in an irresponsible manner? She’s starting to sound an awful lot like Lorelai when she was a smart private schoolgirl.
Note that Rory speaks here about writing in her diary as if she actually has one – she doesn’t say, “If I had a diary”, or “If I wrote this down in a diary”, she says, “If I were to write this down in my diary”. There’s a strong suggestion here that Rory has a diary which she writes in regularly, which seems completely in character for her. I’m guessing the entry for this day would be very painful to write.
Bury the lede is an American phrase meaning “to hide the most important or most relevant part of a story within distracting information”.
The phrase comes from journalism, where the lede is the introductory part of a story which is meant to entice the reader to continue with the full story. It’s said that it is spelt “lede” rather than “lead” because the second spelling could be confused with the word “lead”, as in the lead metal in old-fashioned printing presses. Others think it was just to sound old-timey and romantic, and believe it to be an affectation. These people usually spell it “bury the lead”.
The phrase seems to date to the 1970s, but wasn’t included in dictionaries until 2008.
Grounded for 7 months (which is until the Christmas holidays)
No reading of books or magazines
Has to do all the housework, including laundry and dishes
Gets a beating
No oxygen, no breathing
Lorelai gets complete control of the TV remote and the stereo as long as she wants
Lorelai gets to choose every single meal
Lorelai gets a special present every month
Has to replace the Go-Go’s album she left on the bus
Sent to bed without any supper
A bad night’s sleep
Rory has spent her time on the bus writing up a list of strict punishments for herself for going to New York and missing Lorelai’s graduation. When she gets home and sees Lorelai, she adds even more punishments, until they become so ridiculous that in the end, Rory appears to escape having any punishment at all – except one extremely horrible bus trip, and the knowledge that she has badly hurt and disappointed her mother (not to mention betraying her boyfriend Dean, not that she seems too concerned about that at present). I can perfectly believe that Rory had a very bad sleep that night.
Rory must have taken a bus straight back to Stars Hollow when she arrived in Hartford, rather than going to the college and risking missing Lorelai. It’s probably around 9.30 pm when Lorelai gets home, and who knows how long Rory has been waiting?
Lorelai goes from “worried mom” mode into “hurt mom” mode as soon as she makes sure that Rory is safe and that nothing terrible has happened to anyone else. She listens in shock as she hears Rory tell her that on a day that was very important to Lorelai, Rory decided on a whim to cut school and go to New York.
It isn’t Rory’s fault that there was an accident on the interstate, and the mistake with the bus schedule is fairly understandable. Any other Thursday, Rory could have got home hours late and pleaded some school activity keeping her, and Lorelai would have accepted it. But she had to pick the one Thursday to go to New York when her mother needed her to be there to help celebrate Lorelai’s achievement. It’s an act of monumental thoughtlessness and selfishness.
In an extra-cruel twist to Rory’s (self-inflicted) misfortunes, she is so tired and eager to get off the bus that she accidentally leaves the Go-Go’s album behind that she bought as a graduation present for Lorelai. There cannot be even one positive thing to come out of her trip to New York!
LORELAI: Thanks for coming, Sook, Marcus Schenkenberg.
Marcus Schenkenberg (born Marcus van Mierop in 1968), Swedish model, actor, singer, writer, and television personality. He is best known for his 1991 Calvin Klein advertisements, and had appeared on the Pamela Anderson sitcom VIP, previously discussed.
The moment arrives, and it is Lorelai’s turn to graduate, after three years of studying business at community college. As her name is read out, we discover for the first time that her middle name is Victoria (oddly enough, the last time we saw the name in the show, it was on a gay bar – The Queen Victoria!).
A popular fan theory is that because Richard named Lorelai after his beloved mother, her middle name of Victoria was chosen by Emily, and was perhaps the name she wishes that Lorelai had. It does seem like Emily to choose a name from royalty.
Richard and Emily look at Lorelai graduating with such pride, and I think feeling glad that they have been included in this important event. They could have been snobbish about her graduating from a community college, or even embarrassed that she doesn’t graduate until her thirties. They could have done the bare minimum; shown up, sat at the back, and given a quick congratulations before going home.
Instead they hire a professional filmmaker to record the ceremony, order dozens of corsages so Lorelai can choose whichever one she likes best, and watch Lorelai graduate with expressions of love and pride. They know how hard she has worked, and the struggles she has been through to graduate, so being there for her big moment is very important.
The writer (Daniel Palladino) has left poor Rory stuck on a bus and unable to get there, but it was so that Lorelai could share this touching moment with Richard and Emily – she gets to graduate as a daughter, not a mother, the way she would have if she’d been sent to Vassar when she was a teenager.
It’s slightly unbelievable Richard and Emily are not more concerned about Rory’s absence from the ceremony, but perhaps they don’t want do anything to ruin Lorelai’s special evening.
EMILY: I hope Raul’s getting enough shots of Lorelai. I don’t want the whole damn ceremony and none of her.
RICHARD: Oh, no, I disagree. I hope he gets every inspired word articulated by the East Coast Marketing Director of Pup ‘N’ Taco.
Pup ‘N’ Taco, a chain of fast-food restaurants in Southern California, originally headquartered in Long Beach, L.A. It was founded in 1956 by Russell Wendell as a drive-in restaurant selling tacos, hot dogs, and pastrami sandwiches. The first officially named Pup ‘N’ Taco opened in Pasadena in 1965. The business was bought out by Taco Bell in 1984, effectively ending the chain.
Not only did Pup ‘N’ Taco never have an East Coast Marketing Director (they were Californian), but they didn’t even exist in 2002! I presume Richard has no idea who he’s been listening to, and only knows the name Pup ‘N’ Taco because Johnny Carson used to make a lot of jokes about it on The Tonight Show in the 1970s and ’80s.
Rory has a nightmarish bus journey back to Hartford, which begins with the bus unable to even leave the terminus, as an accident has temporarily closed the interstate. We don’t get much of an idea as to how long that took, but in such cases, the interstate is usually closed for at least an hour or two (sometimes more than a day).
Rory sends Lorelai a pager message to say that she’s been held up, and will try to get to the ceremony by seven, but might be later than that. This sounds as if the bus was delayed from starting for more than an hour. It’s annoying, but Rory can still make the graduation ceremony at this point, even if she misses the first part of it.
The problem is that she soon discovers to her dismay that the bus is making many stops on the way back to Hartford – she caught an express bus in the morning that went directly to New York, but this is a local bus service which picks up passengers and lets them off along the entire route, meaning travel time is much longer.
In real life, buses are often delayed or take longer routes, something Rory may not have known but probably should, since she catches an intercity bus every day to school. Reviews for the New York to Hartford bus service complain of lengthy delays, often taking four hours to arrive, so this is a believable situation. If Rory was delayed from starting by two hours, and the trip took four hours, she might not be getting into Hartford until somewhere between 8 and 9 pm.
Note that Rory’s backpack on the seat beside her looks remarkably flat and empty – did she throw all her school textbooks away while she was in New York???
ZACH: Enjoy your champagne and caviar at The Ritz, Your Highness.
Zach refers to the Ritz-Carlton chain of luxury hotels, first begun by Swiss hotelier César Ritz, and perhaps most famously, the founder of the celebrated Hôtel Ritz in Paris, opened in 1898. The name was bought and franchised by Albert Keller in the US, with the first Ritz-Carlton hotel opening in New York in 1911.
Zach may be specifically thinking of the Ritz Hotel in Manhattan at 50 Central Park South. Originally the Hotel St. Moritz, it was bought in 1999 and had just opened the previous month to this episode, in April 2002.