Du Hast

The song playing in car Christopher’s car when he turns the sound system up. It’s a song by German electro-industrial metal band Rammstein, from their 1997 album Sehnsucht. The song was a #5 hit in Germany, and went to #20 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Songs chart in the US.

The song’s title translates to “You have” in English, but in German is a play on words with the homophone Du hasst, meaning, “You hate”. Possibly a slightly threatening song to arrive with, although it’s another reminder that Lorelai and Chris are both heavy metal fans.

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”.

“… some mice, a dog, a pumpkin”

LORELAI: And uh, you’ll need shoes, hose, gloves, some mice, a dog, a pumpkin.

Lorelai is referencing Cinderella, previously discussed. Cinderella’s fairy godmother turned a pumpkin into a coach, and a dog and some mice into attendants so that she could go to the ball in style.

It’s interesting that the last time Lorelai compared Rory’s situation to Cinderella was for her sixteenth birthday party, organised by Emily. This is another formal, dressy occasion they are going to for Emily’s sake, where Rory will be primped and put on display for Hartford society. For both events, Lorelai did her best to help Rory, even though she didn’t fully approve.

Lorelai is casting herself in the role of the fairy godmother, who is going to help Rory transform into a fairy tale princess for one night.

“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).

“Gross shirt”

LUKE: Hey, part of the deal of you staying here is that you work here, and when you work here you will wear proper work attire, and that is not proper work attire. Now go upstairs and change into something that won’t scare the hell out of my customers.
JESS: Whatever you say, Uncle Luke. [goes upstairs]
LORELAI: Gross shirt … good band.

Luke has made good on his promise of Jess having to work in the diner when not at school. Jess is obliging, but still teases Luke by wearing one of his heavy metal tee-shirts to work. This is the Metallica tee-shirt that Jess joked wouldn’t get along with his Tool tee-shirt.

Lorelai immediately makes a note of the fact that she and Jess share a favourite band, both being fans of heavy metal.

“I’d rather know right now”

LORELAI: A-plus.
RORY: You’re my mom.
LORELAI: Is anything higher than an A-plus?
RORY: You have to say that.
LORELAI: It’s an A-plus with a crown and a wand.
RORY:
This is not how you raise a child. You don’t send them out there with a false sense of pride, because out there, in the real world, no one will coddle you. I’d rather know right now if I’m gonna be working at CNN, or carrying a basket around its offices with sandwiches in it.

Rory says she wants honest feedback on her work, but when she’s later given a critique of her abilities and an assessment of her career options, she has a complete breakdown and is unable to continue. In this case, she is happy to receive confirmation that she’s doing great, and to enjoy being coddled a while longer.

I don’t think it’s really Lorelai’s job to provide Rory with an assessment of her abilities and suggest a grade she deserves to receive. She’s not a teacher, a journalist, or a writer. She doesn’t have academic credentials or training. Surely as a mother, all she can do for Rory is support and encourage her, as she is trying to do.

At this point, Rory shouldn’t need any harsher criticism than she’s already receiving, because Chilton is supposedly a strict school with high academic standards. Is it possible she already feels that the teacher supervising The Franklin staff is too easy on her?

Richard and Emily’s Argument

The episode open with Lorelai and Rory stumbling into Richard and Emily having a disagreement with raised voices. This is the first time we have seen Richard and Emily together since the night that Lorelai announced her engagement, back in June. Apparently things haven’t been going well since then.

Richard has always been shown to be very preoccupied with his job, and even had an angina attack from the stress. Since then, he hasn’t slowed down, and has spent a lot of time travelling for work. Now it’s seemingly taking up so much of his time, he is unable to escort to Emily to her many charity events. I’m not sure why Emily is unable to go alone, or with a friend. Perhaps it would excite gossip that her marriage was on the rocks or something.

This has left Emily not only out of the loop socially, and no doubt lonely and bored, but feeling deeply unappreciated. Richard refers to her charity work as “social engagements” – which they are – but to Emily they are so much more. They are her life’s work, and her power base, which she has worked on achieving just as hard as Richard does at his job. For Emily to keep skipping events would be like Richard missing work, and you can feel her fear of her life slipping away from her.

It turns out in this episode that Emily sits on the boards of so many organisations that it seems unbelievable it has never caused any conflicts until now. In fact, it’s quite an unbelievable amount of boards in itself, to drive home the point that Emily Gilmore is one of the people who “run” Hartford.

Oliver Twist

RORY: Goodnight, Dodger.
JESS: Dodger?
RORY: Figure it out.
JESS: Oliver Twist.

Oliver Twist, or the Parish Boy’s Progress, is a 1838 novel by English author Charles Dickens. The titular protagonist is a poor orphan boy who is born in a workhouse and apprenticed to an undertaker. He escapes to London, where he meets the “Artful Dodger”, a boy who belongs to a gang of juvenile pickpockets. It’s an unromantic portrayal of criminals and their sordid lives, and exposes the cruel treatment of orphans in the 19th century.

Rory jokingly refers to Jess as the Artful Dodger, a boy thief who is known for his great skill and cunning as a pickpocket. It’s something of both an insult and a compliment. More interestingly, the Artful Dodger attempts to seduce the innocent Oliver into a life of crime, as if Rory instinctively sees Jess as a corrupting influence.

Rory is not only teasing Jess, she is setting him a little test. Does he only read the Beat poets, or is he also familiar with classic novels? You know, proper literature, as studied at school? Jess passes the test with flying colours, and Rory beams, as if she has found a kindred spirit.

Look out, Non-Reading Dean ….