Insanity Plea

RORY: When did you see me with Dean?

JESS: At that stupid summer insanity plea the town put on.

An insanity plea, otherwise known as a mental disorder defence, is an argument put forward during a criminal trial that the defendant is not guilty for their crimes due to a psychiatric disease at the time the crime was committed. Using this as a defence goes back in law to the very beginnings of recorded history, and although it’s popular in fiction, it’s rare in the US – used in about 1% of cases, and then, only successful about a quarter of the time. The person who succeeds in winning their case this way will usually have to undergo psychiatric treatment in an institution instead of a prison sentence, or as part of their prison sentence.

“Break into a barn and put on a show”

JESS: Seemed to me like you’re still pretty together. I half expected you to break into a barn and put on a show.

Jess is referring to the 1950 musical film Summer Stock, directed by Charles Walters, starring Judy Garland, and previously mentioned. In the film, Judy Garland’s character, Jane, owns a farm, and one day her actress sister Abigail (played by Gloria DeHaven) breaks into her barn to rehearse with her fiancé, theatre director Joe (played by Gene Kelly), along with their theatre troupe.

Jane reluctantly allows them to go ahead, and inevitably gets sucked into the action by taking part in their show, including their big song and dance numbers. By the end, Jane has dumped her boring farmboy fiance Orville (played by Eddie Bracken), and winds up with Joe, while Abigail has, slightly implausibly, been smitten with Orville. The film was a box office success, and is iconic in popular culture, often referenced in songs and music videos.

Note that Jess likens Rory and Dean to a couple who break up to find different partners – this is essentially what ends up happening.

Andy Hardy

JESS: Plus, the two of you walking around the other day like some damn Andy Hardy movie.

Andy Hardy, previously discussed. This is the second time that Rory and Dean have been compared to an Andy Hardy movie – the first time it was by Lorelai, showing how spookily in tune Lorelai and Jess’ opinions are.

Jess gives away here that he was watching Rory with Dean just as hard as she was watching him with Shane. He’s angry with Rory, and hurt at how she has treated him, but by no means indifferent to her or over her.

Rory and Jess Meet at the Market

JESS: I’m sorry, did I hear from you at all this summer? Did I just happen to miss the thousands of phone calls you made to me, or did the postman happen to lose all those letters you wrote to me? You kiss me, you tell me not to say anything . . . very flattering, by the way. You go off to Washington . . . then nothing. Then you come back here all put out because I didn’t just sit around and wait for you like Dean would’ve done? And yeah, what about Dean? Are you still with him? ‘Cause last time I checked, you were, and I haven’t heard anything to the contrary.

While popping into Doose’s Market to buy food for a second dinner after Friday Night Dinner (because the meal Emily provided was either insubstantial, or they were too upset to eat very much), Rory runs into Jess while shopping (he’s apparently buying one can of something). She lets him know she’s surprised and not exactly thrilled he found a girlfriend over the summer vacation, and Jess absolutely lets her have it.

Jess makes it clear he’s not going to put up with being badly treated, the way Dean often seems to allow. Rory kissed him, told him to keep quiet about it – as he says, not exactly flattering – then goes to Washington, not calling or writing to him in the interim (again, there seems to be some sort of fiction that Rory went straight to Washington from the wedding, which definitely didn’t happen, and couldn’t have happened). Then she comes back to Stars Hollow, clearly still with her boyfriend, Dean.

Jess doesn’t know that Rory tried to write to him while she was away, but didn’t know what to say, and that she tried to come to the festival in town without Dean, all dressed up, hoping to see him. But even if he did, I’m not sure it would radically alter his position. Rory still didn’t contact him, and she didn’t break up with her boyfriend – I think Jess is making it clear that he doesn’t want to keep flirting with Rory until she ditches Dean. Which is pretty honourable, considering how much cheating goes on in this show, with very little angst over committing it.

Note that Rory and Jess in this scene mirror Christopher and Lorelai earlier in the episode, with Rory taking the same position as her father – she wishes things could be different, but isn’t willing to do the work necessary to get there. Like Lorelai, Jess says that until things change, he’s not interested. Unfortunately, Rory resembles her father emotionally far too much at times.

When Rory comes out of the supermarket, Lorelai asks if she’s done (shopping), and Rory says angrily, “Oh, I’m done”. Needless to say, she is very far from being done with Jess!


JESS: Her name’s Shane.

RORY: As in ‘come back’?

Shane, 1954 Western film, directed by George Stevens and based on the 1949 novel of the same name by Jack Shaefer. It stars Alan Ladd as Shane, a mysterious drifter who rides into an isolated Wyoming valley. After protecting the homesteaders with his skilful gun-fighting, Shane rides off again, as mysteriously as he came, with the young boy he befriended desperately crying, “Shane, come back!”.

Shane was the #3 film of 1953, and received rave reviews for its stunning cinematography – it received the Academy Award in this category. It is regarded as not only a classic of its genre, but a masterpiece of cinema itself.

I’m not really sure, but it’s possible that the character of Jess’ girlfriend Shane was named after the pornographic actress and director (born Shannon Hewitt in 1969), who had attained some notoriety in the 1990s. Her Shane’s World video series revolved around taking porn stars to exotic or interesting locations and filming them in a documentary style, likened to “gonzo pornography”. This is just close enough to Jess’ interest in gonzo journalism to be provocative, at least. Note that Shane has a unisex name, like Rory, and like Jess himself.

National Guard

JESS: Two weeks ago there was a run on snow cones. Machine broke, people went crazy, Taylor tried to call in the National Guard, but –

The National Guard is a state-based military force that is part of the reserve component of the US Army and Air Force when activated for federal missions – what would be called the Army Reserve in other countries. The idea of a local militia in the US goes back to the earliest English colonisation of the Americas, the first one formed in 1636. The title National Guard has been used nationally since 1903, and there are currently more than 400 000 people serving in the National Guard.

The National Guard may be activated in times of emergency, such as hurricanes, wildfires, riots, or terrorist attacks. Jess jokingly likens the snow cone machine breaking down to such disasters. This comment from Jess sounds as if he is beginning to fit in with the town better – the crack about Taylor and the snow cones sounds like something Luke would say, or even Lorelai. His summer in Stars Hollow, and perhaps dating a girl from the town, is helping him to feel more at home there.

Snow Cones

JESS: It was hot. Two weeks ago there was a run on snow cones.

A snow cone is a dessert made of shaved or ground up ice, topped with a flavoured syrup, usually served in a paper cone or foam cup. Ice desserts began being made in the US in the mid-19th century, when ice became commercially available. By the late 19th century, theatres were selling them in the summer to keep patrons cool, and they were seen as an upper-class commodity. They became popular in the Great Depression and during World War II, as they had become so cheap almost anyone could afford one as a treat.

Luke’s Diner apparently has a machine that makes snow cones, at least during the summer months and for the tourist trade.

Christopher’s Motorcycle

When Lorelai talks to Christopher outside the Gilmore mansion, he’s sitting on his motorcycle. He implied that he got rid of it to buy his Volvo, but apparently he didn’t.

I thought I had finally caught Christopher out in a direct lie, but when I went back and read through the script again, he never actually says that he sold his motorcycle – it’s all jokes and evasion to make Lorelai think that he has, that he has changed. But ta da! It’s the same old crummy, irresponsible Christopher as before. He’s such a weasel with his words that you can’t pin him down.

“You need a mask and a horse”

EMILY: Leave now, please. [Christopher leaves]

LORELAI: You know, you need a mask and a horse when you do that.

Lorelai refers to masked heroes who ride a horse, such as The Lone Ranger, previously discussed, who rides a white horse named Silver.

Emily redeems herself in this episode when she orders Christopher to leave her house. She may have been pushing Lorelai to get back with Christopher by any means, but when she sees that Lorelai and Rory really don’t want Christopher there, she does her best to protect them from him (she’s good at setting boundaries when she wants to, the way she wishes Lorelai had done for her when she needed rescuing from a man).

Lorelai doesn’t often call Emily her hero, but this is a rare example when she does.

Third Dimension

CHRISTOPHER: [Rory] did not get there by herself.

LORELAI: Hey, have you ever met your daughter? She could get anywhere by herself! She could get to the third dimension by herself!

A joke – the third dimension is the one we all live in. We can all get there by ourselves. More seriously, it implies that Rory is capable of seeing reality for herself.