Family Portrait

The episode ends with a close up of the painting that holds pride of place in the Gilmore mansion – a family portrait over the mantlepiece. It is a young Lorelai with her parents, aged perhaps twelve or so, and it is a picture of the Gilmores before Lorelai became a rebellious teenager, and before their family was torn apart in circumstances that have never quite healed. It is a very poignant moment.

Flashback 7

In the final flashback, we see Emily and Richard coming downstairs, ready to go out. Emily comments that for the first time in a year, she hasn’t tripped over Rory’s baby stroller, which Lorelai never puts away. Emily finds a note on the hall table and begins to cry – it is obviously the note that Lorelai wrote when she left home, taking Rory with her.

It’s interesting to speculate as to where this flashback comes from. It can’t be Lorelai’s memory, because she never saw this happen. Is it Emily’s memory? Or is it Lorelai’s imagining what must have happened, based on what she knows? Or is it somehow an objective picture from the past of that moment?

The seven flashbacks in this episode encapsulate the central conflict in Gilmore Girls – that Lorelai got pregnant as a teenager, and then left home with her baby, leaving only a note.

It seems clear during the episode that Lorelai, through Sherry’s birthing of Georgia, gets to relive and re-examine some of her past behaviour and choices. We get to see that Richard and Emily may not have been perfect parents, but they are by no means monsters who deserved to be abandoned and shunned by their daughter.

Emily was a staunch advocate for Lorelai when she discovered she was pregnant, and stood up for her against the cruel insults of Christopher’s parents. Richard and Emily never rejected Lorelai, or kicked her out. She still had a home with them, and they continued supporting her and baby Rory.

Obviously Lorelai was very unhappy, and wanted to make a life for herself, but in retrospect, some of her decisions seem cruel – I think even to herself. She left for the hospital to give birth by herself, not allowing her parents any role in that, and she left home the same way, leaving only a note.

We already know that Emily was so devastated by Lorelai’s leaving that she was confined to bed for a month, and much of the coldness and harshness that we see from Emily and Richard in the present stem from this rejection by their daughter, which they have never really got over.

I think Lorelai’s generous and thoughtful gift of the DVD player and nine musicals on DVD that are a combination of Emily’s favourites and hers is her way of trying to … not to erase the past, but to make a kind gesture to her mother and to try to connect with her by sharing something they both enjoy, in recognition that Emily’s life is far lonelier than Lorelai’s.

Flashback 6

In the hospital, Lorelai shows Christopher his daughter Rory, who is a newborn in the nursery – a clear parallel with Christopher showing her Georgia in 2003. Christopher says that Rory is “pretty”, which Lorelai firmly corrects to “perfect”, in parallel to Christopher saying Georgia is perfect in the present day scene, with Lorelai saying she is “beautiful”, but a “solid second” to Rory.

Although slightly insulting, Georgia literally is Christopher’s second daughter after Rory – it’s as if Lorelai is keen to remind Christopher that Rory comes first.

We already know that Christopher proposed marriage to Lorelai, and she turned it down – a point of conflict between she and her parents, and something Christopher continued to feel aggrieved about well int adulthood. In this flashback, we actually see the proposal. Christopher uncertainly says, “So, I guess we should get married”, and then the scene ends.

We never see Lorelai turn this half-hearted non-proposal down, but can understand why she does so. It’s hardly the stuff of romance, and it’s clear that Christopher doesn’t really want to, and isn’t committed to the idea. Richard’s plan of Lorelai and Christopher marrying and living with the elder Gilmores comes to nothing.

Apparently Christopher was only going to be given a job at Richard’s company once he was married, as that never happens either. Richard feels resentful about his “plan” not working out, and continues to blame Lorelai for that right up to the present day.

Flashback 5

We see a nurse wheeling Lorelai into the delivery room to give birth, when Emily and Richard arrive. Emily is furious that Lorelai simply left for the hospital (in a taxi?), leaving a note reading: “Dear Mom and Dad, I’m in labor. See you later, Lorelai”. Richard is only annoyed that he is wearing the “wrong shoes” for the occasion, which are apparently uncomfortable.

Emily begins scolding Lorelai, even as she is being wheeled into the delivery room, for not asking them for a lift to the hospital. Lorelai receives no comfort, no support, not even a kind word from her parents as she prepares to give birth.

The contrast with Sherry is clear – Sherry is a woman in her thirties, accompanied into the delivery room by Christopher, her fiancé and the father of her baby. She also has Lorelai and Rory to give support, waiting outside. Lorelai was a sixteen-year-old girl who got herself to hospital and gave birth alone, without Christopher, and with two angry and uncomfortable parents waiting for her.

Flashback 4

Lorelai is eating a sandwich and watching TV when her labour pains begin. We know it’s a pepper sandwich (I think this means a bell pepper or capsicum sandwich, which sounds weird?), because it was mentioned in an earlier episode. There is a cut, and then we see her at the hospital registry, filling out forms on her own.

She has come to the hospital by herself (presumably in a taxi) and there’s nobody to help her with the paperwork or offer support, not even Christopher. To add poignancy to this, there is a young man standing behind Lorelai with a bunch of flowers for someone, but there is nothing for Lorelai.

Flashback 3

In this flashback, Lorelai’s pregnancy has become known to her parents, and Emily and Richard meet with Christopher’s parents, Straub and Francine to discuss it. Straub and Francine are both angry and upset – Francine cries and says she feels sick, while Straub says that everything has been ruined.

The Haydens can only see Lorelai and the baby as a problem to be got rid of. Straub suggests an abortion, and Francine that Lorelai be “sent away” – meaning to a home for unwed mothers, where her baby will taken away and adopted out. Francine’s ideas for handling teen pregnancy are very much outdated, as her plan sounds like something from the 1960s. By the early 1980s, such homes had been closed down and replaced with teen parenthood centres, for young parents to get help.

Richard then tells them his plan – Lorelai and Christopher will get married, they will live with he and Emily, and Christopher will be given a job at the same insurance company Richard works for.

Lorelai and Christopher are listening to the discussion from the stairs, like children – they aren’t invited to be part of it or make any contributions. Lorelai is angry at being left out of the decision-making process, but Christopher passively accepts Richard’s plan, saying that it doesn’t sound too bad, and they will need their parents’ help. Neither of them acknowledge the fact that Richard is essentially forcing them to get married.

While Lorelai still feels independent and rebellious, even though she is now pregnant with an unplanned baby, Christopher is ready to cave in to Richard. Lorelai demands to know what happened to their plan of backpacking around Europe after graduation, and she must already know that Christopher’s adventurous talk was just that – all talk. If Lorelai wants to forge an independent life for herself and her baby, she will have to do it alone.

A quick note that Christine Rose, who appears in this scene as Francine Hayden, went on to play Milo Ventigmiglia’s character’s mother in the TV show, Heroes.

Flashback 2

The second flashback shows teenaged Lorelai preparing for her debutante ball. She is about three or four months pregnant, so it is perhaps April or May, and can no longer do up the zip on her debutante dress, which she was fitted for three months previously.

Lorelai hasn’t told her parents about her condition, and earlier told Rory that she still hadn’t told them on her sixteenth birthday, which is around April. This seems to be the moment leading up to Emily finding out about the pregnancy, although at first she blames the dressmaker for sending Lorelai a dress that is too small.

We know that Lorelai never got to go to debutante ball because she got pregnant, and this scene shows how it happened. Rory got to fulfil her mother’s role by making her debut, even wearing the same dress to her ball. The dresses don’t look the same – Lorelai’s has butterfly sleeves and Rory’s is sleeveless – but perhaps the dress was altered for Rory.

If Rory was born in October, she was most likely conceived in mid-to-late January, even though Lorelai and Christopher are shown kissing in December. It can perhaps be assumed that they continued having sex for a few weeks before conceiving Rory.

Flashback 1

This episode, one of the more complex in structure, has a series of flashbacks within it. In the first flashback, we see a teenaged Lorelai and Christopher coming to the Gilmore home after school. They are wearing the same uniform, although I don’t think the show ever mentions them attending the same school. We know it is December, because they have finished their midterm exams, and are discussing the upcoming Christmas vacation.

With no adult supervision (Richard and Emily are out, and the maid has been fired, of course), Christopher – naturally – heads straight to the liquor cabinet and pours them drinks. Getting Lorelai drunk seems to be part of his technique.

Christopher reveals that his plan (more of a dream, actually), is to take a year off after graduation and go backpacking around Europe. He asks Lorelai to come with him, and she agrees – just as she and Rory are planning to go backpacking around Europe as soon as Rory graduates. During the conversation, it is clear that Christopher and Lorelai are close friends, not boyfriend and girlfriend, and that Christopher would like something more. By the end of the scene, they are kissing, although it is unclear whether this is the first time or not.

The young Lorelai and Christopher are played by Chelsea Brummet and Phillip Van Dyke. Brummet would later become a regular on kid’s sketch comedy show, All That, and Van Dyke had previously been on several TV shows, including Hey Arnold, and The Amanda Show. His acting career finished in 2003.