Volvo Sedan

LORELAI: Oh yeah. A Volvo sedan, are you kidding?
CHRISTOPHER: This is a great car.
LORELAI: For driving to bingo.

CHRISTOPHER: I’ve got Alpine head units, two subs, and two twelves. In exchange, no passenger-side airbag.

Volvo is a Swedish brand of luxury cars founded in 1927; the name is Latin for “I roll”. It was founded upon the concept of safety, and their cars have long been marketed as safe and reliable; many of the Volvo’s safety innovations have now become standard or even compulsory. Lorelai sees it as an old person’s car, because of its staid and rather boring image.

I think Christopher’s car is a 2001 Volvo S80, an executive sedan. He describes the car’s sound system as Alpine brand head units, with two sub woofers, and two twelve-inch sub woofers (maybe he means two amplifiers and two twelve-inch sub woofers?), which means he had to give up passenger-side airbags, a major feature of the S80. So he’s bought a safe car, and made it less safe (for the person who’s not him), so he can enjoy music.

As Lorelai notes, Christopher has given up his cool motorcycle for a sensible car, but the old (selfish) Christopher still lives. Take warning!

(There is an immediate shot of the Massachusetts license plate, to remind us Christopher has moved to Boston. It begins with 169, which seems like a naughty joke, although it’s not a vanity plate, so not deliberate on Christopher’s part).

Gentleman Caller

CHRISTOPHER: Whoa! Hold it right there. A lady never runs out to meet a gentleman caller who hasn’t been announced.

A callback both to The Glass Menagerie, previously discussed, and to the advice Emily gave Rory, when she wanted to run out to Dean before he’d knocked at the door. Christopher lets Rory know that he’s lived in Emily’s world, and knows its rules, but that he also takes an ironic, playful attitude to them. He’s letting Rory know that he understands exactly how to behave at her debut, but will be an ally for her in not taking it too seriously, so that she’s relaxed about it rather than stressed.

Then again, Lorelai is running right behind Rory – is his teasing comment secretly aimed at Lorelai?

BattleBots

RORY: Remember that I’ll be watching BattleBots with you for a month.

BattleBots is an American robot combat television show, where competitors design and operate by remote control their own armoured machines, which fight in an elimination tournament. It first aired in 2000.

Here we discover this is a favourite TV program of Dean’s, and that Rory needs a bribe to induce her to watch it with him. Considering that Dean tamely watches everything Lorelai and Rory do, with no complaint, it seems a bit much she can’t put herself out to watch something he enjoys unless he does her a favour.

On the other hand, Dean is Rory’s boyfriend – he shouldn’t really need any “payment” to be her escort for her debutante ball. It should be something he wants to do for her, especially considering that Emily would be more than happy to organise a suitable escort for Rory in his stead. I feel as if Dean is having things both ways: going to the ball only reluctantly and with a lot of moaning, yet if Rory went with someone else, he’d be very jealous and sulky about it.

Boston

CHRISTOPHER: Yeah, Boston. Baked beans, cream pie, tea party, strangler.

Boston is the capital of, and largest city in, the state of Massachusetts. It was founded by Puritan colonists in 1630. It has a population of more than 600 000 people, is one of the economically most dominant cities in the world, and is known for its diversity of neighbourhoods. It’s about two and a half hours drive from where Stars Hollow would be, so Christopher is significantly closer to them now. It’s also 15 minutes drive from Harvard University ….

Note that Christopher has moved to Boston without letting Lorelai and Rory know, or even giving them the landline number for his new apartment. It seems he hasn’t spoken to them since Lorelai’s bachelorette party, with the excuse that he was giving Lorelai space after she broke her engagement. Which might be reasonable, except he has a daughter, and there’s no excuse for not phoning her. Once again, Rory is an afterthought in Christopher’s relationship with Lorelai, rather than the focal point she should be.

Christopher quickly rattles off a few associations for Boston:

Boston baked beans

Baked beans sweetened with molasses and flavoured with salt pork or bacon. It’s been a speciality of Boston since colonial times, and baked beans with frankfurters is a favourite dish. Boston is sometimes known as Beantown.

Boston cream pie

A sponge cake with custard or cream filling, glazed with chocolate. It’s said to have been created in 1881 at the Parker House Hotel in Boston by a French chef. It’s the official dessert of Massachusetts.

Boston Tea Party

A political protest by the an organisation called the Sons of Liberty in Boston on December 16 1773. It was in protest of the Tea Act, which allowed the British East India Company to sell tea from China in American colonies without paying taxes apart from those imposed by British parliament. The Sons of Liberty strongly opposed the taxes as a violation of their rights, with the slogan “no taxation without representation”. Protesters destroyed an entire shipment of tea sent by the East India Company, boarding the ships and throwing chests of tea into Boston Harbor. The British government responded harshly, and the episode escalated into the American Revolution. The Tea Party became an iconic event of American history.

Boston Strangler

The name given to the murderer of thirteen women in Boston in the early 1960s; most were sexually assaulted and strangled in their apartments with no signs of forced entry. In 1967 a man named Albert DeSalvo confessed to being the Boston Strangler while serving life imprisonment for a series of rapes; he was found stabbed to death in prison in 1973. Although his confession revealed some details of the crimes unknown to the public, and DNA evidence has linked him with the Strangler’s final victim, doubts remain as to whether he committed all the Boston murders. George Nassar, the prison inmate DeSalvo reportedly confessed to, is the major suspect; he is currently serving life in prison for murder. Several films have been made about the case, most notably The Boston Strangler (1968), starring Tony Curtis.

Christopher’s glib associations for the city bring to mind the way Rory summed up Chicago to Dean as “Windy. Oprah”.

Dowry

LORELAI: Well, you have a dress. You need a dowry, I guess. There you go.

A dowry is a payment of money or property given by a bride’s family to a groom’s family when the couple get married. It is an ancient custom, with a long history, which probably began with the idea of a dowry helping to give a married woman some level of financial security. It is still practised around the world, but not often in modern western countries.

As Lorelai says this, she passes Rory the pitcher shaped like a cow they have on their kitchen table – in some cultures, and certainly in the past, livestock could be part of a dowry. It’s a joke which is also a reminder that Lorelai doesn’t have much money with which to endow Rory.

The dress that Rory has is the one that Lorelai would have worn to her own debutante ball when she was sixteen, if she hadn’t got pregnant.

(Lorelai and Rory seem to like cow-shaped things – Rory bought Sookie a kitchen timer shaped like a cow which mooed when the time was up for Christmas in 2000).

“Why shouldn’t I do it?”

RORY: Because you should’ve seen the look on Grandma’s face when she asked me. It’s just really really important to her . . . Now if it’s that important to her, and it’s not that important to me, then why shouldn’t I do it?

A key difference between Rory and Lorelai comes up again. If someone she loves wants her to do something, and she doesn’t absolutely hate the idea, Rory will usually do it, whether it’s go golfing or sign up for a debutante ball. Lorelai’s response to her parents’ requests is usually, “Why should I?”, rather than “Why shouldn’t I?” (she wouldn’t even go to her relative’s funeral).

Lorelai is mystified by Rory’s desire to please her grandparents, but she has learnt her lesson from the fight they had over golf. This time she supports Rory’s decision completely, doing everything she can to help (albeit with lots of snarky comments).

Lily Tomlin/John Travolta Movie

LORELAI: I swear, there is nothing in the world my mother is better at than getting someone to agree to something that in any other universe, they would never ever consider … I am still convinced she had something to do with Lily Tomlin doing that movie with John Travolta.

Lorelai is referring to the 1978 romantic drama Moment by Moment, directed by Jane Wagner. It stars Lily Tomlin as a wealthy middle-aged Beverly Hills socialite, and John Travolta as a young drifter. He becomes infatuated with her, and they embark on a rocky May-December romance. The film was widely panned by both critics and audiences. It remains a camp classic to this day – exactly the sort of film Lorelai couldn’t resist watching.

“Isn’t it a little late?”

VIVIAN LEWIS: Why don’t you present Rory there?
EMILY: Oh . .. uh . . . Well, I don’t know. Isn’t it a little late?
SUNNY: Oh please. For Emily Gilmore, I’m sure they’ll bend the rules.

Generally you’d need to apply for a debutante ball several months in advance, and commit to a ten to twelve week course of dancing and etiquette lessons in preparation. It’s more than a “little late”, and they won’t be “bending” the rules for Emily Gilmore, they’ll be smashing them to pieces!

Naturally rules are only for mere mortals, not for the glorious Gilmore girls. In this case, it’s practical for the show, because it cuts down months of ball preparation (snigger) into less than two weeks.

“Lorelai had such a specific walk”

SUNNY: She looks just like Lorelai, doesn’t she?
NATALIE SWOPE: The eyes.
VIVIAN LEWIS: The nose.
SUNNY: Walk around sweetie … I just wanna see the walk. Lorelai had such a specific walk.

VIVIAN LEWIS: Fast.

Emily’s friends eagerly examine Rory, this seems to be first time they have seen Lorelai’s daughter, at least for many years. It’s also the first mention by another character of Lorelai’s fast paced walking, possibly one of the factors helping her stay slim. (I don’t think Rory has inherited it, to me her walking seems normal paced, or even slightly slow for a young healthy person).