Richard Announces His Retirement

RICHARD: No, what you meant was that people in the insurance industry are drones. Well I agree. They are a dull, dull lot, and I am glad to be rid of them …

TAYLOR: Oh, are you retired Richard?
RICHARD: Well, uh …
EMILY: Of course he’s not. Richard? Richard?
RICHARD: Actually, I am.

After at least three months of unhappiness in his job, with the knowledge it was only going to get worse, Richard has unexpectedly retired, explaining his abnormally cheerful mood. Without planning to, he announces it at the Bracebridge Dinner, so that Rory’s plan of cheering up Richard and Emily doesn’t quite work out. They arrived cheerful, and wind up in a bitter row when Emily discovers that Richard has announced his retirement publicly without ever mentioning it to her.

Military School in North Carolina

TRISTAN: The police are letting our parents handle it, and in my case that means military school in North Carolina.

A meta comment. Chad Michael Murray, who played Tristan, left the show in order to begin filming the teen drama One Tree Hill (2003-2012), shown on the same channel as Gilmore Girls (The WB); Murray had the lead role of Lucas Scott. One Tree Hill is set in the fictional town of Tree Hill in North Carolina, and mostly filmed in Wilmington, North Carolina.

Amy Sherman-Palladino apparently planned for Tristan to become Rory’s boyfriend in high school/college and her “Christopher”, which, because Chad Michael Murray went to another show, was a role filled by the character of Logan Huntzberger instead. In this farewell episode, you can see the faint beginnings of the tenderness between Rory and Tristan which would have blossomed into eventual love. Anyone wishing to see what would have happened if Logan had been Tristan instead must turn to fanfiction.

In real life, there is only one one military school in North Carolina, and it is Oak Ridge Military Academy, so presumably that’s where Tristan is headed. It was originally founded in 1850, and was one of the first military schools to become co-educational, in 1972. It apparently had a reputation at one time of taking troubled youth, which it is working to overcome.

If Tristan turned up to Chilton in order to say he was leaving for military school, couldn’t he also have stayed to do the scene with them? Does everyone transfer schools on a Sunday night in this universe? (Maybe because they’re boarding schools?).

With Tristan out of the picture, the love triangle between Rory, Dean, and Tristan comes to an end, to make way for a new love triangle, which becomes clear in the very next episode.

“What about Brad?”

RORY: What about Brad?
PARIS: Brad transferred schools.

An explanation for why we don’t see Brad again for a while – Paris terrorised him until he had to move to a different school on the day their Shakespeare project was due. How he managed to transfer schools on a weekend, I don’t know. Even if he was starting at a new school on Monday, having secretly applied to another school as soon as he met Paris, couldn’t he at least have done the scene with them on the Sunday so they didn’t fail?

Brad Langford (Adam Wylie)

BRAD: I’m Brad. From the third period Shakespeare.
LOUISE: He’s the answer to our lack of boys problem. Isn’t that swell?

This is the first time we meet Rory’s schoolmate Brad Langford, played by Adam Wylie. Although uncredited for this episode, Wylie was already an experienced actor with a lengthy CV. Brad was a gentle soul who lived in terror of Paris, and seemed to get along fairly well with Rory.

Brad is roped in to provide a male character for their group project, even though he tends to throw up from nerves when speaking in public. This leaves the role of Romeo open for Tristan.

Mia is Ready to Sell

Lorelai finally gets the courage to tell Mia that she and Sookie have a dream of opening their own inn. Mia is very supportive, but also reveals that she receives many lucrative offers to buy the Independence, and the sooner they can strike out on their own, the better, as far as she is concerned.

Lorelai is dismayed to hear this, as buying the Dragonfly seems out of reach while Fran refuses to sell.

In this episode, Lorelai’s plans are upset by two independent-minded old ladies who own inns – one won’t sell her inn to Lorelai, while the other seems likely to sell her inn from under Lorelai.

The Crimes of Jess, According to the Town Meeting

Stole money from the bridge fundraising jar (money was returned)

Stole a gnome from Babette (gnome was returned)

Hooted one of Miss Patty’s dance classes (it’s not really clear if he hooted a horn or hooted in derision, either way, they’re just little girls, so kind of yuck)

Stole a hose from Fran’s front yard (was this payback for refusing to sell her inn to Rory’s mother?)

Set off all the fire alarms at the high school

Drew a chalk outline outside Doose’s Market so that Taylor lost business

The viewer might be getting the impression that Jess, although clearly a pest and a nuisance around town, is hardly committing any major acts of villainy. For some reason, the police don’t seem to be getting involved, even for petty theft, misuse of a fire alarm, or vandalism, and perhaps this lack of police action is one of the things fuelling the town’s frustration. It may also be spurring Jess on to further mischief, if he’s mostly doing this for attention or to prove he’s a “bad boy” so he’ll be sent back to his mother.

Rory Poses For Her Portrait

EMILY: Lorelai, your daughter’s being impossible. She won’t pose in an appropriate manner.
RORY: I’m trying to, Grandma. It’s just awkward.

Rory goes to her grandmother’s house after school to pose for her portrait, but it turns out this means sitting on a “throne” (a needlework armchair) in a red velvet dress with a hungry honking swan, and her arm raised in an odd pose. The living room portrait is quite normal, so it’s strange that Emily suddenly wants this bizarre “swan princess” picture of Rory. It might explain why Lorelai’s own portrait was never completed. Rory is already looking quite grumpy, just as Lorelai got fed up with being painted.

Lorelai is able to quickly convince Emily that a picture of Rory sitting and reading would be natural and appropriate, saving the day.

“You’ve made me redundant”

RORY: Mia, why don’t you move back here? We miss you.
LORELAI: Or at least visit more? You used to check in. You never come at all.
MIA: I don’t have to. You’ve made me redundant.
LORELAI: I have not.
MIA: Don’t be humble. The inn is beyond covered. It’s never run this well or been this successful. That inn is like your place now. Without you I wouldn’t know what to do, I’d be lost.

An explanation for why we’ve never seen Mia before – she lives a long way away, and Lorelai is doing such a good job of running the Independence that Mia doesn’t need to check in with them any more. This unexpected visit from Mia seems to be almost purely nostalgic, and perhaps timed to coincide with the Autumn Festival.

Of course, it leaves Lorelai feeling very guilty. If the Independence can’t function without Lorelai, how can she and Sookie ever quit to start an inn of their own?

Taylor’s Investigation

TAYLOR: Three people have reported seeing Jess in that area late last night, skulking, lurking.
LUKE: There were a lot of people out late last night. I know because I fed some of them. I’ll give you their names so you can add them to your suspect list.
TAYLOR: Another person witnessed Jess walking out of an arts and crafts store two days ago with what appeared to be chalk.

Since the police have refused to show any interest in the prankster who stole their police tape, Taylor has done his own investigating. I’m not sure why lurking around the site late the previous night is so suspicious, the prank was done in the late afternoon, unless we’re meant to think Jess was gloating over it hours later or something. But carrying chalk from the arts and crafts store looks like a clear piece of evidence. And one piece of circumstantial evidence is enough to convict Jess in the Taylor-led court of public opinion.

Still nobody has anything to say about the police tape being stolen, which actually would constitute a slightly more serious crime. Did Jess steal it, or did the police simply allow him to take it, so they would have something to do? It must get pretty boring being a cop in Stars Hollow, after all.