Tornado

TAYLOR: That boy [Jess] is a walking natural disaster, they should name a tornado after him.

Tornadoes don’t receive personal names, that’s only for hurricanes and tropical cyclones. There has never been a Hurricane Jess, or Tropical Cyclone Jess.

The reference to tornadoes is yet another allusion to The Wizard of Oz [pictured], because it was a tornado that carried Dorothy to the Land of Oz. A possible hint that Jess could provide a gateway to another world for Rory.

Hit Parade

RICHARD: Done. Now, what else is on the hit parade?

A hit parade is a ranked list of the most popular recordings at a given point in time, usually determined by either sales or airplay. Billboard magazine published its first hit parade on January 4 1936.

It’s possible that Richard is specifically thinking of the radio and television music program Your Hit Parade, broadcast from 1935 to 1953 on radio, and from 1950 to 1959 on television. Each Saturday evening, the program would play the most popular and bestselling songs of the week. It was invariably referred to, incorrectly, as The Hit Parade.

Rory’s Letter to Dean

DEAN: What happened? What’d you do to your arm?

RORY: [hands him an envelope] Here.

DEAN: What is this?

RORY: Just read it.

Rory waits for Dean to come home from Chicago that evening, sitting on the porch, in a mirror image of when Dean waited fruitlessly for Rory to come home from Friday Night Dinner. When his dad brings Dean home, presumably from the airport, Rory hands him a letter where she has written down what happened to the car.

It’s a quick way to avoid lots of superfluous dialogue, but it makes Rory look a little cowardly that she couldn’t talk to Dean directly. Are we meant to think that she was too scared to talk to Dean, or that she didn’t feel confident Dean would listen to her all the way through?

Dean does read the letter all the way through, while yelling and kicking a duffle bag, which seems a bit threatening. However, once he is assured that Jess has really and truly left town, he just asks Rory to join he and his family for dinner. Later they watch TV with Dean’s sister, Clara.

It seems odd that Dean doesn’t have any other questions or comments about the accident or about the car – he seems to think the only thing wrong with his relationship with Rory was Jess, and now he’s gone, they can get back to normal.

Rory didn’t seem to have met Dean’s family in the first six months or so of them dating, but she is obviously very familiar with them now.

The Gilmore Group

EMILY: Your father is now the president and CEO of the Gilmore Group, an international insurance consulting firm.

LORELAI: Wow, that’s great. So, um, what’s the . . . like, how does . . . what’s his job? …

EMILY: Your father is an international insurance consultant … He consults on matters relating to international insurance.

Lorelai has no idea what an insurance consultant does, Emily doesn’t really know, and I’m not sure the writer (Allan Heinberg) knows either! I’m a bit in the dark too, because they usually work for an insurance company, and are basically sales agents. I presume an independent insurance consultant would help businesses choose from various insurance plan options, and sell insurance policies from a range of insurance carriers, rather than one. Don’t ask me how a single person can be a “group”.

Jess Leaves Town

BABETTE: Last night, not long after the accident happened, Luke walked him straight to the bus station, stuck the kid on a bus, sent him home to his mom.

MISS PATTY: I can’t believe Luke would send him off like that.

BABETTE: Well, I heard the kid wanted to go. I don’t know. All I know is that Jess is gone.

While watching the film with Lane and her parents, Rory overhears Babette and Miss Patty gossiping, and in this way learns that Jess left town the previous night, after the accident he had driving Rory’s car. Luke walked him straight to the bus station and sent him home to Liz.

We never got to see the conversation between Luke and Jess, so we have no idea why Luke did that, or in what mood he did it. Babette heard that Jess actually asked to leave, rather than Luke throwing him out. Did Luke take Lorelai’s advice and get rid of Jess, or did he regretfully give way to Jess’ request that he go home? We don’t know for sure, but town gossip hints the latter is more likely than the former.

In real life, the last bus to New York City leaves Hartford at 10.30 pm, so Jess would have left Stars Hollow around 11.10 pm, and got to Manhattan some time after 1 am. That might suggest the accident took place somewhere between 8.30 pm and 9.30 pm.

After all the town’s complaints about Jess, Babette and Miss Patty seem rather regretful that Jess has gone, saying that they don’t know what they will do for entertainment now (and Jess stole from Babette and pestered Miss Patty’s dance students, so they have personal reasons to wish him gone). It suggests that the town’s exaggerated hatred of Jess was mostly motivated by a desire to cause drama so they’d have something to focus on. Like old Louie Danes, Jess was a convenient sinkhole where they could throw all their negativity.

Lorelai keeps her face rigidly glued to the screen, trying not to betray anything by her expression, but she knows this can’t be good news for her friendship with Luke. Rory looks hurt and unhappy, and turns away from her mother, as if needing privacy for her grief (or possibly as if she is beginning to blame Lorelai for Jess’ departure). It feels as if Jess being gone will cause just as many issues for the Gilmore girls as Jess being there …

A Film By Kirk

Kirk’s short film is reminiscent of a section of the 1977 surrealist horror film Eraserhead, written, directed and produced by David Lynch, previously discussed as Amy Sherman-Palladino’s favourite director. Shot in black and white, it was Lynch’s first feature-length film. Starring Jack Nance in the lead role, it tells the story of a man left to care for his grossly deformed child in a desolate industrial landscape.

Upon release, Eraserhead received negative reviews, being described as “pretentious”, in “sickening bad taste” and “unwatchable”, and opened to small audiences, with little interest shown in it. It gradually gained a cult following as a midnight movie, and today is critically lauded as a film that is both beautiful and nightmarish. It was the favourite film of Stanley Kubrick, and an influence on The Shining.

Note that the poster advertises the film as “A film by David Lynch” – Kirk seems to have used the tagline as the inspiration for his film’s end title.

The other actors in Kirk’s film are Mary Lynn Rajskub and Jon Polito as the girlfriend and the father respectively. Rajskub had been in the sitcom Veronica’s Closet and has since gone on to numerous other shows, such as 24 and Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Polito was a veteran actor who worked with the Coen Brothers several times, and appeared in the TV shows Crime and Homicide: Life on the Streets. Neither actor includes Gilmore Girls on their filmography!

If they are supposed to be other people from Stars Hollow helping Kirk out, we never see them again. Perhaps Kirk actually hired professional actors for his film. It doesn’t seem out of character.

Persimmons

LORELAI: Hey, why isn’t Jackson here?

SOOKIE: Oh, he’s singing to his persimmons tonight. They’ve been a little sour lately.

Persimmons are the edible fruit of a number of species of tree in the genus Diopyros. Technically the fruit is a berry, although not often thought of that way. The most commonly cultivated is the Oriental persimmon (Diospyros kaki) – one of the most commonly human-grown fruit trees on Earth, and first cultivated in China more than 2000 years ago, then spread to Japan and Korea in the Middle Ages. It was introduced to southern Europe and California in the 1800s.

Jackson may be growing American persimmons (Diospyros virginiana) [pictured], native to the eastern states of the US, and very hardy in cold weather. They’re harvested in the fall, and eaten fresh or used in baked goods and steamed puddings. Jackson’s persimmons are months away from harvest, so no wonder they are sour! The fruit is very astringent or even bitter unless it is fully ripened.

The previous year, Jackson danced to his watermelons and threw his back out.

The Contessa and the House Wench with the Talking Mice

LORELAI: And over here you have a tiny but annoying bell in case there’s something here that you need but you don’t have and you want to summon the common but lovely house wench who will promptly leave her talking mice and come to fetch the Contessa whatever she may require.

Lorelai compares Rory to The Barefoot Contessa, a 1954 drama film written and directed by Joseph F. Mankiewicz about the life and loves of a Spanish sex symbol named Maria Vargas, who is known as “the Barefoot Contessa”. Ava Gardner plays the title role as the glamorous Contessa. The film received mixed reviews, but made a big impact on popular culture.

Presumably Lorelai means that Rory, being in bed, has bare feet, yet will be waited on hand and foot like a great lady. Interestingly, the film has a major plot around infidelity and a love triangle, like that between Rory, Dean, and Jess. Like so many of these references, it ends in violence.

Lorelai compares herself to Cinderella, previously discussed. In the 1950 film, Cinderella is friends with a number of talking mice. Lorelai is saying that she is Rory’s humble servant and will get her anything she needs, just as Cinderella slaved away in the kitchen.

Lorelai behaves absolutely absurdly towards Rory. She has the most minor of injuries, and yet Lorelai acts as if she has two broken legs, at the very least. She not only gives Rory a bell to call her with, as if Rory is crippled, but actually sleeps in Rory’s room.

Why? Is she worried Rory will die in the night without her there, or does she think Rory needs help to go to the toilet with a cast on her wrist? It’s a callback to the years mother and daughter spent sharing a bed, their boundaries completely merged.

It’s almost as if Lorelai thinks she can justify her over-the-top demonisation of Jess by acting as if he has done terrible injury to Rory. She is also trying to make up for her failure to “protect” Rory from Jess by overcompensating now, when it is too late.

Lorelai’s instinct is always to smother Rory when she feels their relationship is threatened; whether this is good for Rory or not is never questioned. Her fussing over a barely injured Rory seems like confirmation that Jess was right – Rory is not cut out for the tough life of a foreign correspondent.

(Note that Rory has a Powerpuff Girls glass next to the bed, a callback to when Lorelai said they were going to buy some. Although they didn’t buy them that day, it’s confirmed they did eventually make the purchase).

Rory’s CDs

Stan Frerberg

Stan Frerbeg (1926-2015), actor, comedian, musician, puppeteer, and radio personality. He was one of the talents recruited by Capitol Records in 1951 for their spoken word division, doing satirical recordings about popular culture. He also did musical parodies of popular songs.

Rory’s CD might be The Stan Frerberg Show: Direct from the Famous CBS Broadcasts, which was released as a four-disc box set on CD in 1997, published by Smithsonian Historical Performances. The other possibility is that it is The United States of America Volume 2, The Middle Years, comedy sketches based on figures from American history, released on CD by Rhino in 1996.

Ash

Ash, Northern Irish rock band formed in 1989 by vocalist and guitarist Tim Wheeler, bassist Mark Hamilton, and drummer Rick MacMurray. Their first full-length album was released in 1996, and titled 1977 [pictured]; it is regarded by NME as one of the greatest albums of all time.

Their song “Girl from Mars” from the album has already been used in Gilmore Girls, appearing at the end of the episode “Nick and Nora, Sid and Nancy” to illuminate Jess’ attraction to Rory. It’s a little sign that Jess and Rory might share a favourite band, or that Jess might have got Rory interested in the band. It’s also a callback to the moment that Rory and Jess first made a real connection with each other.

Sinéad O’Connor

Sinéad O’Connor, now named Shuhada Sadaqat (born 1966), Irish singer-songwriter. Her 1987 debut album, The Lion and the Cobra, charted internationally, while her 1990 second album, I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got, received glowing reviews and was her most successful album – the lead single, “Nothing Compares 2 U” (written by Prince) was the #1 song of 1990.

O’Connor has released ten studio albums, many of them going gold in the UK or US. Her most most recent album at this point was Faith and Courage, released in 2000. It received positive reviews and was a commercial success.