“A lady never kisses and tells”

DEAN: So, did you and Paris actually kiss or was that like a stage thing?
RORY: A lady never kisses and tells.

Very clever, because Rory is not telling Dean about her kiss with Tristan. (A slight callback to Kiss and Tell, the episode where Rory and Dean first kiss, and everyone knows about it).

It was quite obvious that Paris and Rory didn’t kiss, Paris didn’t even pretend to kiss Rory. I’m actually not convinced they could have got a good mark for the project. Two members of their group dropped out at the last minute, they didn’t offer a unique perspective on the play, Paris as Romeo sounds irritated more than anything else, and there’s no tragically romantic kiss. As it was fifty percent of their grade, that doesn’t sound good for their overall result.

The Shakespeare Project

PROFESSOR ANDERSON: Believe it or not, Shakespeare probably never intended his plays to be read by students sitting at desks more concerned with getting As than with the fate of Macbeth. His plays were meant to be experienced, lived. So with that in mind, together with my third period Shakespeare, you’ll be split up into five groups and each group will assume responsibility for one act of Romeo and Juliet, which will be performed a week from Sunday. You will nominate the director, you will cast the scene, rehearse the scene, and interpret the scene in your own individual manner.

This is the main plot of this episode, revolving around the group project that Rory’s class is doing for English Literature (?). Her new teacher is Professor Anderson, according to the credits, so she no longer has Mr Medina, like at the start of this year. I’m not sure if he’s just conveniently faded out of the picture (like Mr Remmy did), or if Professor Anderson is teaching English instead.

Professor Anderson references Macbeth, previously discussed, a callback to it last being mentioned when Rory had to do a project outside class with Paris, Madeline and Louise. The project is focused on Romeo and Juliet, previously mentioned, a play which has become a touchstone for Gilmore Girls.

The Ice-Cream Maker Wedding Gift

SOOKIE: A Musso Lussino 480!
LORELAI: Somebody sent me a Fascist ice cream maker?

The episode begins with Lorelai receiving a mysterious late wedding gift from someone who apparently doesn’t know her wedding with Max was cancelled. When Sookie and Rory persuade her to open it (in case there’s a card inside), it turns out to be a Lello Musso Lussino 480 ice cream maker.

This is a top-shelf ice cream maker, made in Italy, producing restaurant-quality ice cream in half an hour for the domestic market. It’s extremely expensive, costing almost $1000 today. Lorelai jokes that it’s a Fascist ice-cream maker, because its name sounds slightly like Mussolini, and of course Lorelai has to refer to it as Il Duce.

We never discover who sent Lorelai the ice cream maker. It seems reasonable to guess that it was Emily, trying to give Lorelai her gift anonymously. It’s certainly the kind of expensive gift she would pick out, and it’s thoughtful, because this ice cream maker is quick and easy to use – she knows Lorelai and Rory are not at home in the kitchen. It seems telling that just after she told Lorelai about the wedding gift she chose, refusing to say what it was, she asked them if they wanted ice cream.

Jess the Prankster

POLICEWOMAN: Everyone’s accounted for Taylor. It looks like this is just an elaborate prank.
TAYLOR: But it looks so real. Where’d they get the police tape?
POLICEWOMAN: Kids have their ways.

TAYLOR: Who’d be depraved enough to pull a stupid prank like this?
POLICEWOMAN: Hard to say.
[Rory sees Jess standing across the street smirking as he watches the crowd]

The police officer reassures Taylor that the chalk outline and police tape is just a prank. Somehow, she knows that a child or teenager is responsible. To be fair, Rory also knows – Jess isn’t exactly being subtle here. The police officer seems to be remarkably blasé about someone stealing police tape from the police station. The bizarre way the police behave makes me think that they were in on the prank with Jess, either overtly or tacitly. It’s actually the only way this scene makes any sense.

Once again, one of Jess’ pranks is connected with Rory – it takes place outside the grocery store where her boyfriend works, at a time when he’s doing a shift, so that there’s a good chance of her seeing it. It seems to be a calculated move to get her attention and show off to her, as well as encroaching on her boyfriend’s territory.

In line with the autumnal colours of this episode, Jess wears a dark red tee shirt – Dean is also wearing a red sweater in a bright tone, as if Dean and Jess are the light and dark attractants for Rory (or the public and the private). Red is love and passion, but also aggression and danger, like a red rag to a bull. Both Jess and Dean wear grey sleeveless jackets over their red tops, as if in partial concealment of their feelings. There is nothing on their sleeves – yet.

Jess’s top is a vintage 1980s tee shirt with a Tasman Empire Airways Ltd logo on it – the former name of New Zealand’s flag carrier airline (since 1965, Air New Zealand Ltd). The show keeps connecting Jess with travel, journeys, and flight.

The fire truck going past is also bright red; in fact notice how many things in this scene bear the colour red. It’s a callback to when Rachel was telling Lorelai about her distress in discovering Luke’s romantic preference for Lorelai with the fire department in the background. It’s another painful love triangle situation marked with sinful scarlet, bloody red.

The poster in the background announces another Autumn Festival, nearing the anniversary of Rory and Dean’s first kiss. This suggests that the date is Tuesday 30th October, the day before Halloween. Yes, I know it looks bright and sunny, but that’s because we’re in TV Land, not the real Connecticut!

Does the big number 7 on the fire truck mean that Jess is blessed with luck in his endeavour? Or does it represent the seven days of the week, and the great wheel of time?. It might be a sign that Jess’ time has come. So much can change in just one year.

NOTE: Thank you to reader M for pointing out that the red vehicle is a fire truck or fire engine, not a bus as I incorrectly stated!

Lorelai Tells Luke Not to Date Ava

Worried about the interest Ava showed in Luke at the fashion show, Lorelai tells Luke the next day that she’d prefer he didn’t date Ava, because it would interfere with their friendship, and any possible relationship she might have with Ava via the Booster Club. It’s an almost exact swap for the time Luke advised Lorelai not to date Ian Jack, the Chilton dad she met on the first day she took Rory to school, both taking place over the diner counter. (Ava and Ian even have the same number of letters!).

Luke, quite rightly, tells Lorelai to butt out, because he can date whoever he likes. He then explains that he wasn’t arranging a date with Ava anyway, just giving her directions back to Hartford.

Although both wind up indignant at the other, they must also feel relieved. Lorelai that Luke wasn’t interested in Ava after all, and Luke having been given confirmation that Lorelai does have some feelings for him.

Lorelai and Emily Model Together

Even though Lorelai only asked her mother to join her as revenge for nagging her to get more involved at Chilton (and perhaps even as a callback to the imaginary mother-daughter talent show at Chilton Emily teased Lorelai with in Paris is Burning), Emily actually ends up having a good time (and dare I say it, so does Lorelai? Notice how she begins smiling and having fun once she sees Luke enjoying her performance).

Lorelai and Rory so seldom allow Emily to join them in social activities, but when they do, she often enjoys being part of the fun. There’s a playful side to Emily that is rarely given the chance to come out, and that Lorelai and Rory could have really helped with if they had bothered.

“My stepdaughter Kimberly …”

AUBREY: How about something more young and fun? You know, my stepdaughter Kimberly…
AVA: Sarah.
AUBREY: Right, Sarah.

Emily once had a cook named Sarah, who she kept calling Mira. Sarah and Mira at least sound somewhat alike – the connection between Sarah and Kimberly is less comprehensible. Sarah seems to be a name nobody can remember in Gilmore Girls.

Aubrey is a conventionally attractive blonde, so in the Gilmore world, that means she is too dim and self-centered to remember her own step-daughter’s name! She also goes on to make a ridiculous suggestion that they hold the fall fundraiser in a hip club for kidults which is in a sandpit.

Chateau Mimsy

MENA: I still say we approach Chateau Mimsy.
AVA: That space is too small, Mena.

A fictional venue, presumably in or around Hartford.

“Mimsy” is a word made up by English writer Lewis Carroll, previously discussed, from his 1871 novel Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, the sequel to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, previously discussed.

The word appears in a nonsense poem called Jabberwocky, which Alice reads in a book in the dreamscape of the looking-glass world. It seems unintelligible until she holds it up to a mirror, and can then read it. Even then, the poem is only vaguely understandable, filled with invented words. Jabberwocky is considered to be one of the greatest nonsense poems in the English language – playful and whimsical, with many of its words entering the lexicon.

The first stanza reads:

‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

Later in the novel, the character of Humpty Dumpty gives Alice an explanation of some of the poem’s vocabulary. His definition of “mimsy” is that it is a cross between “flimsy” and “miserable” – a strong suggestion that Chateau Mimsy is not only too small, but also dingy and cheerless!

There has already been a bed and breakfast named after a Lewis Carroll character – The Cheshire Cat in Portsmouth, where Lorelai and Rory stayed on their road trip. Apparently venues with names from Lewis Carroll are a feature of the Gilmore Girls universe.

Lorelai Reaches Out to Emily

LORELAI: You know, I’m really lucky.
RORY: Yeah, why?
LORELAI: I have someone to complain to when life sucks or work sucks or just everything sucks. I have someone I can talk to.

Lorelai realises that she is lucky that she can confide in Rory, but that Emily does not have a daughter she can talk to when life goes wrong for her. She has a moment of insight of how lonely Emily must be without that daughterly support that she takes for granted, and for once doesn’t immediately blame Emily for not fostering their relationship, the way she has with Rory. She’s willing to acknowledge how much Emily has missed out on.

At the end of the episode, she goes to her parents’ house before her business class, and finds Emily gardening on the patio. She lets Emily know that if she ever needs someone to talk to, Lorelai will be there for her. Although Emily does not avail herself of this offer, Lorelai remains to keep her mother company. Ironically, she has ignored her own advice to never go out on the patio!

Note the bright yellow lilies in this shot, as a hint of what happiness would be possible, and a slight callback to Lorelai’s thousand yellow daisies. Do Emily and Lorelai share a love of yellow flowers?

Neptune and Ancient Greece

LORELAI: Um, guys, hi, there’s a lady up there with a rock the size of Neptune around her neck talking about the debutantes of ancient Greece. It’s a lot easier to fall asleep if you’re sitting down, trust me.

The planet Neptune, the eighth planet from the Sun, was officially discovered in 1846, although it had been previously sighted and thought to be a star. It has a mass of 1.0243×1026 kg, making it 17 times more massive than the Earth. It is named after the Roman god of the sea, who interestingly, carries a trident, which Rory referenced earlier.

Symbolically, Neptune is associated with dreams and fantasy, suggesting that the debutante ball is creating an illusion, and there is little that is solid or genuine behind it. Notice that Emily despairs that the elegant ballroom is not all that it appears, the debutantes are “false” in that they have artificially changed their appearance, and that there is something insubstantial about the proceedings – which we barely manage to see. Not to mention that the ball itself takes a rather surreal turn, as if it is all just a dream. (Is it pure coincidence that Lorelai immediately talks about falling asleep?).

Lorelai’s statement about “the debutantes of ancient Greece” can be taken as nothing more than a joke – as if the MC’s reminiscences about her own debut must be positively ancient. However, the ancient Greeks did hold puberty rites for girls, of which you could say debutante balls are the spiritual successor. It seems very unlikely the MC would really mention ancient puberty rites, but the ball is just bizarre enough for this to be taken at face value.