LORELAI: I will tell them when I’m ready to tell them. You have to accept that because I’m the mother and you’re the daughter, and in some cultures, that means you have to do what I say.
RORY: If you don’t tell them in two weeks, I will.
For years, Lorelai has been running she and Rory’s lives by making all the decisions for both of them (in fact, she’s been shown to be quite controlling, like Emily). Now Rory is a few months off seventeen, she is starting to make her own opinions heard, especially when it comes to her grandparents. These are the first rumblings of what will eventually be a major rift between mother and daughter.
Rory says she will wait two weeks before telling Richard and Emily, meaning she’s quite happy for them to miss Max and Lorelai’s engagement party. Maybe she’s in no hurry for them to meet Dean again.
MADELINE: If I don’t improve my French grades, I can kiss Vassar goodbye.
Vassar College is a private, liberal arts college in the town of Poughkeepsie, New York. Founded as a women’s college in 1861 by philanthropist Matthew Vassar, it became co-educational in 1969. It is one of the Seven Sisters, seven elite liberal arts colleges in the northeast of the United States that were originally founded for women. Vassar offers B.A. Degrees in more than fifty subjects and a flexible curriculum, and is one of the the top liberal arts colleges in the United States. It has a reputation for being cool and hipster, which might be what attracts Madeline to the idea of going there.
Apparently Madeline never did improve her French grades, as she did not go on to attend Vassar College.
Rory has tended to think of her grandmother as the more difficult and exacting grandparent, while her grandfather can be counted on to dote on her. Moreover, her grandmother had a meltdown after Rory and Dean stayed out late together.
However, at the special dinner it is Emily who makes an effort to be civil with Dean (we already know from Rory’s Birthday Parties that she thinks social occasions are not suitable times to get into arguments), while Richard basically attacks Dean.
Richard is furious that his precious beautiful granddaughter, so smart and ambitious, bound for an Ivy League university and a glittering career, should have a boyfriend like Dean – an average student who doesn’t know where he’s going to college, and hasn’t thought about what job he might do later.
Richard comes down hard on Rory for choosing Dean as her boyfriend, telling her that as a Gilmore, she has a responsibility to uphold the family name. We know from his fight with Lorelai in Christopher Returns that the Gilmore name is very important to Richard, and that he has immense family pride. He warns Rory that Dean can only hold her back in life.
Richard is incredibly rude and snobbish in this episode, revealing how elitist he is. There must surely be some jealousy as well, knowing that he is not the most important male in Rory’s life.
Rory is justifiably angry with him, and defends Dean as well as she can – as she can’t exactly counter Richard’s arguments, all she can say is that Dean is incredible and special to her, and that he shouldn’t be treated that way as a guest before storming out.
Rory will later find herself in the same position as Dean when a future boyfriend’s parents don’t believe she is good enough for their son.
RORY: So, what kind of dress are you thinking of?
LORELAI: Um, the one Stephanie Seymour wore in the Guns N’ Roses video.
Lorelai is referring to the music video to the 1992 power ballad November Rain, written by Axl Rose and from Guns N’ Roses’ 1991 album Use Your Illusion I. The song got to #3 on the charts, and at over eight minutes long, is the longest song to ever get into the Top Ten.
The music video, directed by Andy Morhan, shows Axl Rose getting married to his then-girlfriend, model and actress Stephanie Seymour, intercut with a live performance of the song. Seymour is wearing a traditional white wedding dress with a long train and a veil, but the front of the dress puffed up to be as short as a mini skirt. On a budget of over one million dollars (with $8000 spent on the dress), the video won the MTV Award for Best Cinematography.
The song is about a man’s unrequited love for a woman who no longer loves him in return, another foreshadowing of what is to come between Lorelai and Max. (The name Axl even looks and sounds a little like the name Max). The music video is based on the short story Without You by Del James, a friend of Rose’s; in the story the girl shoots herself, but the music video is ambiguous whether the Stephanie Seymour character’s death is a suicide or a murder. Yet another love leads to death reference in Gilmore Girls!
In 1993, Stephanie Seymour abruptly left Axl Rose to be with someone else – a foreshadowing of Lorelai’s future behaviour.
JACKSON: Uh, hey, do you wanna look at the Brussels sprouts?
SOOKIE: Yes, I do. [giggles] No. Ooh, what about some nice Brussels sprouts with like a garlic olive oil for the wedding? That sounds like a “‘Til death do us part” kind of side dish, doesn’t it?
Sookie says “I do”, which is the traditional way to agree to marry someone in the wedding vows, and “… until death do us part” is the conclusion to the traditional wedding vows, which date back to medieval times and are printed in prayer books.
Sookie is just teasing Jackson, but later they will be married for real.
LANE: My mother and father are sending me to Korea for the summer to visit my cousins.
LANE: They’re sending me to Korea and they won’t tell me when I’m coming back.
Mr and Mrs Kim have bought Lane a one-way ticket to (South) Korea for the summer, leading her to panic they never intend for her to come home. This story line was based on an incident from the childhood of Helen Pai, the real life inspiration for Lane Kim. Her parents did exactly the same thing, but as with Lane’s case, it turned out all right.
The American flag in the background is surely a symbol of where Lane’s heart lies, and also shows that she will return home. In Korea, the colour yellow can be symbolic of good luck, so Rory giving Lane the yellow daisies wishes her good luck on her travels.
RORY: You should get married in Italy.
LORELAI: All the way from home, same topic. There’s tons of stuff going on in the world. Big stuff.
RORY: That was ages ago. Read a paper.
Lorelai is referring to the Yugoslav Wars, a series of ethnically-based wars and insurgencies that took place in the Balkans, those countries in and around the Balkan Peninsula in Eastern Europe – Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovinia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, and Turkey.
Lorelai may be referring specifically to to the Kosovo War, which went from 1998-1999 – hence Rory saying that it was ages ago (two years ago from the time of this episode). Insurgencies in the area continued longer, and there was still armed conflict in Macedonia in 2001 when this episode aired, not ending until August, so possibly Rory has not kept up with international events either, or doesn’t think of Macedonia as part of the Balkans.
It’s interesting that Lorelai immediately mentions a war during the conversation about her marriage proposal; a possible sign of things to come. This parallels Rory mentioning the war in Lebanon just before she broke up with Dean.