Back in the Saddle Again

To “get back in the saddle” means to return to something after a break or absence, often after some kind of failure or setback. The phrase originated in the early 19th century, and referred to cowboys and other professional riders who had suffered an injury, but were now recovered and “back in the saddle” to continue their normal lives. By the late 19th century, it had begun to be used in the more general sense, to mean returning to any activity.

This episode is about Richard “getting back in the saddle” as he comes out of retirement.

Halloween and Trick-or-Treating

CY: So, like I say, it’s Halloween, right, and we’re lucky Louie doesn’t have razor wire around his yard, you know how he is. So finally one of the neighborhood kids, he gets all courageous and he goes sauntering up to the door and he goes ‘trick or treat!’.

Halloween is a contraction of All Hallows Evening, the night before All Hallows Day, which is November 1 (so Halloween is October 31). Alluded to several times already in the show as an important date on the calendar, it is a day for remembering the dead with a Christian name but with probable pagan roots.

Halloween customs were brought to North America in the 19th century by Scottish and Irish immigrants. In return, the American influence on Halloween has spread around the world in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Trick-or-treating is a Halloween tradition where children dress in costumes and travel from house to house, asking for treats, with the phrase, “Trick or treat?”. The “trick” is a threat, usually idle, to commit some small act of mischief on the homeowner should no treat be provided.

The custom goes back to at least the 16th century in Scotland and Ireland, where it was called guising. In America, trick-or-treating has been a tradition since the 1920s; the earliest known example is from Canada in 1911.

It is apt that one of the last things that happen in this episode is a memory shared of Louie’s behaviour on Halloween, since it is day for the remembrance and honour given to the dead.

“Why did you put me through all that?”

TAYLOR: Why did you put me through all that hoohah at the town meeting if your vegetable business was just temporary?

TROUBADOUR #2: Actually, you put yourself through it, Taylor. You put yourself through it.

The vegetable stall sub-plot comes breezily to a close with Second Troubadour telling Taylor that he was only doing it on a very temporary basis, selling off all the excess produce from his garden in a few days to make a bit of extra money. How he managed to grow such a large amount of vegetables and fruit all at once is something of a headscratcher, although its superior quality is plausible, since home grown produce is nearly always better than that sold in supermarkets.

It seems that apart from making money, his motivation was to get revenge on Taylor for not allowing him to become a Town Troubadour in Stars Hollow. By setting up a rival fruit and vegetable business across the street from Doose’s Market, he took business away from Taylor and made him panic. And as he says, Taylor “put himself through it”, he knew enough of Taylor to understand how to push his buttons. Why he originally wanted to be a Troubadour in Stars Hollow remains a mystery.

The sub-plot of the bountiful spring harvest is to underscore the death of Louie Danes, who is “harvested” by the Reaper, and buried in the soil, part of the natural cycles of time and the earth.

Emily’s Wedding Plans for Lorelai

Imperial Russian Winter theme

Snow white roses

Trees with white lights and candles

Snow everywhere

Lorelai arrives in a silver sleigh pulled by white horses

This actually doesn’t seem like a totally crazy idea for Lorelai’s wedding. Lorelai loves the snow, and she adores horses. She organised a horse-drawn sleigh ride for the Bracebridge Dinner, sharing a ride with Luke. It does sound very beautiful and romantic, and I think Emily has picked up on a least a couple of things her daughter would like.

Emily’s Russian-themed winter wedding may have been influenced by the 1965 historical romance film, Dr Zhivago, directed by David Lean, set in Russia during World War I and the Russian Civil War, and based on Boris Pasternak’s autobiographical novel of the same name. The film is beautifully shot and features a sleigh ride through the snow, as well as an “ice palace”.

Dr Zhivago was highly popular, especially with female audiences, the #2 film of the year, and a big influence on mid-1960s fashion. It may have even been Emily’s dream for her own wedding, which she hoped to one day create for her daughter.

In this episode, Emily becomes the first person to predict that Lorelai and Luke will be married one day, showing that she knows her daughter better than Lorelai believes.

Sookie’s International Wedding Connections

Prague, Czech Republic – big ceramic stands

Paris, France – giant papier-mache mushrooms

Belgium – the papier-mache from here was rejected as hack work

Oslo, Norway

Copenhagen, Denmark

Bora Bora, an island group in French Polynesia, popular honeymoon destination [pictured]

Hong Kong – acrobats

After a few words from Lorelai, Sookie suddenly understands that she’s wandered into Emilyland, and that she wants her nice simple wedding with Jackson back. A subplot which ran its course very quickly.

Town Meeting

A town meeting takes place in this episode, with the order of business being the retirement of Harry from Harry’s House of Twinkle Lights, and the issue of whether the Second Troubadour has the correct permit to run a farmer’s market in the park across the road from Doose’s Market.

Town meetings are held on the second Thursday of the month, so it must be 11th April.

Emily Meddles in Sookie’s Wedding

While Lorelai is helping Luke to organise his uncle’s funeral, Emily meanwhile decides to get involved in Sookie’s wedding. She begins by making a couple of suggestions, with Sookie clearly not wanting to offend her best friend’s mother and a major client. What with Emily’s strong personality and Sookie’s tendency to go along with things to be nice, this escalates, until very soon, Lorelai takes enough interest in non-diner related activities to discover that Sookie is getting samples from celebrity wedding planners.

The Return of the Second Town Troubadour

TAYLOR: Wait a minute, I know you. You’re that long-haired freak that wanted to be town troubadour even though that weird brown-corduroy-jacket-wearing freak was already it.

TROUBADOUR #2: That’s right, good memory! How are ya? [hugs him]

Last season there was an episode where the town had a meeting to decide whether they wanted to keep the mysterious Grant as their only Town Troubadour, or allow another guy to also play music around town. Thanks to an impassioned speech by Rory, the town voted in favour of Grant.

The other Town Troubadour, played by Dave Allen, isn’t from Stars Hollow, but runs a Kinko’s printing business in Groton, an hour or so away. He has now returned to be a Second Market Guy to Taylor, setting up his own fruit and vegetable stand in the park opposite Doose’s Market.

Why this man was originally drawn to Stars Hollow remains a mystery.

Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go

This song is sung by the Town Troubadour as Lorelai and Rory walk to the diner, talking about Luke’s news about his uncle’s passing.

Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go is a 1984 song by British pop duo Wham! Written and produced by George Michael, it was their first #1 UK and US hit, a world-wide smash, going to #1 in many countries, and went Platinum in the US.

The music video shows George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley wearing Katharine Hamnett tee-shirts with CHOOSE LIFE emblazoned on them – a bit of a message for this episode which focuses on death. Apart from that, the Troubadour seems to singing it as an early morning song, to show that people are just starting to wake up and get ready for the day.

Louie Danes

Luke’s Uncle Louie has died shortly before this episode opens, at the age of 85. Louie was the brother of Luke’s father, William Danes, and lived in Stars Hollow until he retired and moved to Florida. This episode focuses on Luke’s efforts to organise Louie’s funeral.

(The episode never says this, but it seems possible that Luke was given the name Lucas because it sounds similar to his uncle’s name of Louis).