“I was in college”

RORY: Did you see me?
LORELAI: Yes.
RORY: I was in college.
LORELAI: It was amazing!
RORY: Did I look like I belonged?
LORELAI: Completely. You’re a natural.

In fact Rory and Lorelai’s behaviour while at Harvard is absolutely cringe-worthy. Far from being a natural fit, neither of them have the slightest idea how to behave, and they have apparently based all their ideas about college life on film and television. It would be nice to think the writer is showing how absolutely unprepared for college Rory actually is, but you can’t help wondering if he is likewise basing his ideas about college on film and television.

Erika Hilson Palmer

On her way back from going to the toilet, Lorelai has a poignant moment looking at a display of past valedictorians, and makes a point of gazing longingly at Erika Hilson Palmer, the valedictorian for 1990. This is the year that Lorelai would have graduated from university if she’d gone straight from high school instead of having Rory, and it’s a reminder that Harvard was her dream first, and that she seems to have had high ambitions for herself.

In real life, Harvard University does not have class valedictorians.

Dormitories

[Lorelai and Rory are walking past a dormitory.]
LORELAI: This is a dorm? Not bad, huh?
RORY: Pretty, actually.
LORELAI: Come on, let’s see what it looks like on the inside.
RORY: It says “Residents Only” in plain English.

Harvard University has seventeen dormitories for freshmen students in Harvard Yard. While some can be by no standards called “pretty”, a few of the older dormitories do have a certain charm to them. The dormitory may be intended to represent Wigglesworth Hall, which is near the Widener Library. Constructed in 1931, its past residents include Leonard Bernstein, Bill Gates, Ted Kennedy, and indie pop singer Naomi Yang.

It is of course almost inevitable that the Gilmore girls will decide that they are above the rules, and free to trespass wherever they so choose. They even go into someone’s room and take photos – despite photos of dorm rooms being available on the Harvard website.

“The engagement is off”

[on the phone]
LORELAI: Yeah, Rory and I decided to hit the road.
SOOKIE: But how can you be hitting the road? You’re supposed to be getting …
LORELAI: The engagement is off, Sookie.
SOOKIE: What? What happened?
LORELAI: Well, it’s a long story. I don’t really wanna go into all the whats and whys and gory details right now, but you should know we all still love Max, and to figure out exactly what happened, you’d have to dig up Freud himself and have him work on me full time.

Lorelai’s engagement to Max is off, but there is never any real explanation for how that occurred. Did Lorelai even call Max to let him know, or has she just run away?

Sookie has of course already finished making a beautiful elaborate wedding cake for Lorelai when she gets the news. Being a good friend, she pretends she forgot to make the cake.

Lorelai and Rory’s Road Trip

We see Lorelai’s road trip plan in action – she is driving aimlessly around, and neither she nor Rory know where they are. It’s an obvious metaphor for how lost Lorelai feels at the current moment, and how she has no plans on how to navigate her life or move forward from here.

It’s also an opportunity to show Lorelai and Rory’s different outlooks on life, with Rory becoming increasingly alarmed and panicked at their lack of planning and direction. Interestingly, Lorelai makes an offhand remark about driving into the Pacific Ocean of the west coast rather than the Atlantic Ocean of the east coast – have her thoughts naturally wandered to Christopher in California? Or perhaps it’s a sly meta-comment about the road trip obviously being filmed in California rather than New England.

Lorelai Phones Christopher

While Sookie calls Jackson, and Rory sends Dean a message using her pager, Lorelai slips away to make a phone call as well. Everyone assumes that she is going to call Max, being as struck with the romance of her mother’s wedding as they are, but in fact she secretly phones Rory’s father, Christopher.

It’s interesting that Lorelai begins the conversation by pretending to be a girl named Trixie. Trix is her grandmother’s nickname, and as they are both named Lorelai, the made up nickname has a strange sort of sense.

This is the first time Christopher hears that Lorelai is about to get married, and the viewer can tell that this isn’t welcome news. Lorelai hadn’t even told him that she and Max were together, although he had heard of their relationship through Rory (Rory doesn’t seem to have updated her dad on the coming nuptials, perhaps thinking it wasn’t her place to do so).

Christopher ends by giving her very conditional congratulations, by saying he wishes her well if she has found the right guy, and that he can certainly picture her married – to the right guy. He expresses some doubts as to whether Max is the “right guy” for Lorelai.

Like Luke, he is intent on planting serious doubts in Lorelai’s mind about her decision to marry Max, but is far more successful, as he is naturally more wily and manipulative than Luke. Luke’s clumsy attempts pushed Lorelai into an engagement, while Christopher’s cleverly sown doubts will bear fruit quite soon. The tragedy for him is that he doesn’t know it until it is too late.