Red Light

[Early the next morning, Lorelai and Rory are in Lorelai’s jeep driving through Stars Hollow.]
LORELAI: We’re almost there and nowhere near it. All that matters is we’re going.
RORY: We’re practically gone already.
LORELAI: Look out world.
[They stop at the red light and stare at it, waiting for it to change.]

There have been so many mentions of great American journeys in Gilmore Girls, from On the Road to Huckleberry Finn to Thelma and Louise, that it seems in tune with the show’s theme for Lorelai and Rory to hit the road at some point. Their conversation is even vaguely reminiscent of a famous exchange from On the Road:

““Sal, we gotta go and never stop going ’till we get there.’
‘Where we going, man?’
‘I don’t know but we gotta go.”

That urge towards the journey and not the destination is the same one that is driving Lorelai away from her home.

As luck would have it, before they even leave town, they get stuck at the new traffic light, which is timed to come on even if there is no other traffic on the road, and will stay on until the oldest and feeblest person in Stars Hollow can safely get across the road. It’s symbolic of the way that it will always be difficult for them to leave Stars Hollow, even temporarily. There is something in the town which holds them captive to some extent. Scott Patterson’s I’m All In podcast makes note of the fact that while they are trapped at the lights, the door to Luke’s Diner is already open … perhaps a hint of where Lorelai’s future lies.

This is the literal “red light on the wedding night” alluded to in the episode’s title, although strictly speaking it isn’t the wedding night, but several days before the wedding. Symbolically though, it means that Lorelai has put a stop to her wedding going ahead.

The Traffic Light

Taylor lets Luke know that he is getting a traffic light installed in Stars Hollow, even though there hasn’t been an accident in ten years (he apparently has powers to make decisions unilaterally in the town’s best interests when it comes to public safety).

As usual, Taylor is all about town progress, while Luke is all about keeping Stars Hollow exactly the way it has been – two different ways they show their love for the town. Their struggles and interactions end up giving Stars Hollow better outcomes; without Luke, the town would change too much and lose its character, while without Taylor it would stagnate and become a backwater.

This traffic light is the one alluded to in the episode’s title.

Lorelai Gives Rory a Hammer

RORY: What is that?
LORELAI: A hammer.
RORY: It has feathers on it.
RORY: Why?
LORELAI: So the rhinestones and bows won’t feel lonely.

This is the hammer referred to in the title, Hammers and Veils. Of course Rory can’t go off to help the needy like anyone else – she has to do it in an especially quirky, girly manner that immediately marks her as special and the centre of attention. It’s the Gilmore way.

Rory wouldn’t even buy purple legal pads for school because they’d make her look unprofessional at Chilton, but somehow she’s happy to take a gold-painted, pink feathered hammer to volunteer work which she is doing through Chilton, and for which the hammer would surely be useless. Maybe she’s more relaxed now that she’s one of the top students in her class.

Typically for the show, Rory is running ten minutes late for her volunteer job in this scene.

Stephanie Seymour in the Guns N’ Roses Video

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.

Everyone is Interested in Lorelai and Luke

Once word (instantly) gets around town that Lorelai has had a marriage proposal, all the townspeople are inordinately interested in seeing how Luke takes the news.

This is taken to exaggerated levels when a line of people, most of whom we have never seen before, form a line and begin following Lorelai to the diner. They then proceed to press their faces against the diner’s windows so they can watch Luke hear the news. They won’t be able to hear anything from the street, but apparently they don’t care.

For normal people, only friends and family (maybe) are interested in your wedding news; for Lorelai and Luke, they are the celebrities of Stars Hollow that even strangers find completely fascinating.

Rory tells Lorelai that “everyone knows” that Luke “has a thing for Lorelai”, which means that Rory knows too, and still discouraged Lorelai from seeking out a relationship with him.

My Little Corner of the World

This 1997 song by Yo La Tengo plays at the very end of the episode, as Lorelai and Rory run towards each other from opposite sides of the street. It creates a “bookends effect”, as this was the song that played at the end of the first episode of the season, and we are now watching the final moments of the last episode of the season.

It repeats the theme of safety and security, as Stars Hollow itself becomes a sanctuary. The final thing we see is the gazebo in the town square, the heart of the town and a sacred place dedicated to love. Its twinkle lights echo the stars above who gave their name to the town, and lead lovers back into each others’ arms.

Mother and Daughter’s Dating Lives Intersect

Lorelai and Rory run towards each other, like parallel lines which finally cross at some point due to the curvature of the earth. They excitedly jump up and down, both with wonderful news to share. Rory has got back with Dean! Lorelai has had a proposal from Max! Their dating lives converge while both are at their peak, and all is joy, all is light, all is love. The promise of Stars Hollow is fulfilled, and lovers are reunited at last.

This is an oddly complete resolution to a season, which ties everything up into a neat package and gives a fairy tale happy ending to both our protagonists. The reason is that they were not sure if Gilmore Girls would be renewed for another season, and if if this was to be last episode ever, they needed it to also be a possible finale of the show. Of course the show was renewed, and from then on season finales tended to end on cliffhangers, leaving many questions unanswered.

A Thousand Yellow Daisies

MICHEL: Daisies no less. As if I would order these pitiful little things. Foul things, these daisies. And just a notch up from weeds. And look how many. I mean, there must be at least …
LORELAI: A thousand of them. A thousand yellow daisies.
(Pan around inn’s lobby, which is filled with daisies. Lorelai walks into the middle and them and looks around.)

There are clearly way more than a thousand yellow daisies in this scene, which sounds impressive but would really just be a few bunches of flowers. You can make it work by understanding it as one thousand pots of daisies, but in reality they probably just kept putting out daisies until it looked like a huge number of flowers.

Daisies can symbolise love, fertility, and the return of someone’s affections, while the yellow colour is cheerful, vibrant, and a sign of being quick-witted, rather like Lorelai herself. Daisies are sacred to the Virgin Mary, which is a callback to the Gilmore surname itself. More generally, daisies symbolise motherhood, so Lorelai’s choice of flower can be read, “Love me, but remember I am a mother first”.

The name daisy literally means “day’s eye”, and daisies can symbolise the marking of time, and the progress of the sun throughout the day and the year. This makes it the perfect flower for Gilmore Girls, a show which is all about time.

Anywhere But Here

LUKE: It’s just like all the other times Rachel. You’re the anywhere but here girl, you’re restless, you’re bored, it is what it is.
RACHEL: That’s not it.

A possible reference to the 1999 comedy-drama film Anywhere But Here, directed by Wayne Wang, and based on the prize-winning novel of the same name by Mona Simpson. The story is about an eccentric mother and her practical teenage daughter, with Susan Sarandon and Natalie Portman in the main roles. The film was successful and received good reviews.

It seems a bit unlikely as a film that Luke would go to see, but fits in with the timeline and themes of Gilmore Girls. If would certainly be very interesting if Luke had made an effort to see a film about a mother and teenage daughter.

The Troubadour at the Town Meeting

TROUBADOUR: I’ve been the town troubadour for six months now, and I think I’ve done a pretty good job and then, he shows up (points to other troubadour).
TROUBADOUR: And there’s no room for a second troubadour in Stars Hollow.

Even though we’ve only seen the Town Troubadour since That Damn Donna Reed, which took place in February, he’s actually been in town since early November at least. We learn that the Troubadour is a real man of mystery, as we don’t know how he supports himself. He doesn’t play music in the streets for money, even refusing it when offered.

Nor do we know where he lives: he is never shown shopping or eating at the diner, and nobody seems to know anything about him, so he isn’t a regular part of the town. On the other hand, we never see him driving, cycling, catching a bus, or even walking home, so we don’t know where he goes when he finishes playing music in Stars Hollow. This is all part of the “mystique” that he believes troubadours are meant to have.

Is he even human? Is he an angel, or a spirit from the stars, sent to bring music to Stars Hollow? Is he from another dimension, or the real Grant Lee Phillips able to project himself somehow into the Gilmore Girls universe? These questions will never be answered.

His role seems to be to guide people’s lives through song, and to help them learn to express emotions – all part of Stars Hollow being a place where love can be nurtured and developed. Later in the scene, Rory stands up and says that the Troubadour is able to express how the townspeople feel through his songs, and to say what they are thinking. This certainly seems to be case in this episode.

(Interestingly, the Troubadour only seems to have come to Stars Hollow when Rory had begun dating Dean, and Lorelai had begun dating Max. Did their love affairs attract him to the town, as if they now needed his emotional guidance?)