“You’re gonna kill yourself in a couple of hours”

LORELAI: Taking pity on your burger?
RORY: Not hungry.
LORELAI: Honey, you’ve got to eat. You’re gonna kill yourself in a couple of hours, you really need your strength.

The timeline of this episode, already fairly wonky with a week that seems to have gone missing, goes completely bazonkers on the day of the final rehearsal. Rehearsal starts at 5 pm, and Lorelai says Rory has to kill herself “in a couple of hours” (yet another suicide joke in the show). So it seems as if it is 3 pm, and they are eating mid-afternoon burgers, perhaps a late lunch.

Yet not long afterwards, Lorelai makes plans for them to go shopping that afternoon, as if it’s midday, then Paul and his parents come in for breakfast. Lorelai and Rory are eating burgers for breakfast??? They always have eggs or pancakes on a weekend (muffins if they’re not hungry), they’ve never had breakfast hamburgers before. Is this brunch or a second breakfast or an early lunch? What the dink time is it?

“We do the scene on Sunday”

RORY: I know you hate it.
DEAN: Yeah, I hate it. I really hate it.
RORY: But we do the scene on Sunday, and then it’s over.

When Professor Anderson gave them the project, she said it would be performed Sunday week (not the next Sunday, but the one after). Suddenly, the project is due that Sunday – only a few days away. It doesn’t seem like enough time to get everything done. I’ve tried to construct a timeline where most of the first week is skipped over, but it doesn’t quite work, and also runs into Thanksgiving.

Emily Post and Martha Stewart

LORELAI: Okay, once again, I bring up the fact that this is a wedding present, and as I am not getting married, neither God’s law nor Emily Post allows me to keep this …
SOOKIE:
[Martha Stewart] said that if it arrives after ten weeks …
RORY: Eight.
SOOKIE: …eight weeks, that you don’t have to return it.

Emily Post and Martha Stewart, both previously discussed. The program that Sookie watched was Martha Stewart Living.

There is, of course, no such “wriggle room” rule in etiquette (Sookie and Rory invented it because they want the ice cream maker). If your wedding is cancelled, you return all the gifts, no matter how late they arrive (unless the sender specifically tells you to keep it, which does sometimes happen).

However, if a gift arrives with no name attached to it, then there is little you can do, because it’s considered even ruder to ring around and ask people if they sent such-and-such (it seems like you’re criticising them for not sending it, and assume they are too dim-witted to attach a name to it). You could try to find out the sender by calling the company who delivered it, but after that there’s not much you can do. If conscience smites you, you can always donate it to charity, or sell it and donate the money.

Lorelai must surely suspect her mother of sending it, yet she’s the one person that Lorelai doesn’t ask, as if she doesn’t want to know.

Sookie says it is more than ten weeks since the wedding was cancelled, and Rory corrects her to more than eight weeks. In fact, it is just over twelve weeks since Lorelai and Max’s wedding was meant to take place.

“It was fifteen years ago almost to the day”

MIA: I miss you. Hey, do you realize it was fifteen years ago almost to the day?
LORELAI: Yes it was.
RORY: What was?
MIA: To the day when this skinny little teenage girl showed up at the inn. She had this tiny little thing in her arms.
LORELAI: A little thing named Rory.

The date appears to be 31st October 2001, although there is no mention of it being Halloween. Presumably the parties and celebrations will be in the evening, offscreen. If it is fifteen years, almost to the day, since Lorelai and Rory arrived in Stars Hollow, then it would have been in late October or early November 1986, when Rory was two, and Lorelai eighteen and a half.

In 1986, Halloween was a Friday. If Lorelai arrived in Stars Hollow that weekend, then she could have arrived on Saturday the 1st of November. The connection with Halloween gives Lorelai’s entrance into Stars Hollow a magical feel, as if forces beyond our ken were at work to bring the Gilmore girls to this starlit little town. That weekend would have also been the Autumn Festival, which remains a touchstone for the Gilmore girls throughout the original series and into the revival.

Perhaps more interestingly, they came to Stars Hollow just days after Rory’s second birthday. It makes you wonder what occurred to drive Lorelai to flee her parents’ home, because she doesn’t seem to have made a planned, measured, or calculated approach to running away. The show makes it sound as if she grabbed Rory and a few essentials, jumped in the car and drove at random until she found somewhere that would take her in.

Although I think it is safe to assume that things had always been fraught with her parents, there must have been a final straw around the time of Rory’s birthday which triggered her sudden flight. Did Richard and Emily shower Rory with luxurious gifts, so that Lorelai began to fear they might buy Rory’s love or make her spoiled?

Was there an extravagant party (shades of Rory’s sweet sixteen), where even a baby Rory was being pressured to perform to exacting Gilmore standards, did Emily become so demanding that every detail of the party be perfect until Rory was stressed and crying?

All just speculation, but fascinating to imagine. The seeds of Lorelai’s mistrust of allowing her parents near Rory must have sprouted somewhere, and we know it began early.

Jess the Prankster

POLICEWOMAN: Everyone’s accounted for Taylor. It looks like this is just an elaborate prank.
TAYLOR: But it looks so real. Where’d they get the police tape?
POLICEWOMAN: Kids have their ways.

TAYLOR: Who’d be depraved enough to pull a stupid prank like this?
POLICEWOMAN: Hard to say.
[Rory sees Jess standing across the street smirking as he watches the crowd]

The police officer reassures Taylor that the chalk outline and police tape is just a prank. Somehow, she knows that a child or teenager is responsible. To be fair, Rory also knows – Jess isn’t exactly being subtle here. The police officer seems to be remarkably blasé about someone stealing police tape from the police station. The bizarre way the police behave makes me think that they were in on the prank with Jess, either overtly or tacitly. It’s actually the only way this scene makes any sense.

Once again, one of Jess’ pranks is connected with Rory – it takes place outside the grocery store where her boyfriend works, at a time when he’s doing a shift, so that there’s a good chance of her seeing it. It seems to be a calculated move to get her attention and show off to her, as well as encroaching on her boyfriend’s territory.

In line with the autumnal colours of this episode, Jess wears a dark red tee shirt – Dean is also wearing a red sweater in a bright tone, as if Dean and Jess are the light and dark attractants for Rory (or the public and the private). Red is love and passion, but also aggression and danger, like a red rag to a bull. Both Jess and Dean wear grey sleeveless jackets over their red tops, as if in partial concealment of their feelings. There is nothing on their sleeves – yet.

Jess’s top is a vintage 1980s tee shirt with a Tasman Empire Airways Ltd logo on it – the former name of New Zealand’s flag carrier airline (since 1965, Air New Zealand Ltd). The show keeps connecting Jess with travel, journeys, and flight.

The fire truck going past is also bright red; in fact notice how many things in this scene bear the colour red. It’s a callback to when Rachel was telling Lorelai about her distress in discovering Luke’s romantic preference for Lorelai with the fire department in the background. It’s another painful love triangle situation marked with sinful scarlet, bloody red.

The poster in the background announces another Autumn Festival, nearing the anniversary of Rory and Dean’s first kiss. This suggests that the date is Tuesday 30th October, the day before Halloween. Yes, I know it looks bright and sunny, but that’s because we’re in TV Land, not the real Connecticut!

Does the big number 7 on the fire truck mean that Jess is blessed with luck in his endeavour? Or does it represent the seven days of the week, and the great wheel of time?. It might be a sign that Jess’ time has come. So much can change in just one year.

NOTE: Thank you to reader M for pointing out that the red vehicle is a fire truck or fire engine, not a bus as I incorrectly stated!

Daughters of the American Revolution

VIVIAN LEWIS: Well you know, the Daughters of the American Revolution Debutante Ball is next week.

The Daughters of the American Revolution, previously discussed.

The Daughters of the American Revolution really do hold debutante balls. They are often held on patriotic dates, and as this episode takes place in September, the ball might be held around the date of Constitution Day, which is September 17. In 2001, it was a Monday, but the ball could be held the following Saturday. This is also around the date of the Fall Equinox, giving the ball a Harvest Festival feel, as if the young girls are ready to be “gathered” or “picked”.

In real life, the DAR chapter for Hartford is called the Ruth Wylls Chapter. It was founded in 1892, making it one of the oldest chapters. It has over 50 members.

We already know that Emily is a member of the DAR, which means that she is a direct descendant of someone involved in the American Revolution, meaning Lorelai and Rory are eligible to join too. In real life, the easiest way to join the DAR is to have a blood relative who’s already a member, as your ancestry is proven. This becomes a plot point later in the show.

The Brothers Karamazov

When Rory is interviewing Max, this book is on the desk between them, in a pile of other books that includes Anna Karenina, previously discussed.

The Brothers Karamazov is a 1880 novel by Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky about the sons of a buffoon named Fyodor Karamazov; he has three sons from two marriages, and it is rumoured that his servant is actually an illegitimate son. Fyodor takes no interest in his sons, who are raised apart from each other and their father. A passionate philosophical novel, it delves deeply into questions of God, free will, morality, faith doubt, and reason, involving a plot about patricide. It is acclaimed as one of the great works of modern literature, and has influenced many great authors and thinkers. It was Einstein’s favourite novel, Freud considered it the greatest work of literature, while Franz Kafka felt indebted to it as a influence on his own work.

We know that Russian literature is the first component of the English Literature course in the sophomore year at Chilton, and this must be on the curriculum. On Rory’s first day at Chilton, the teacher talked about how they had studied Dostoevsky the week before. We can feel pretty confident that Rory would have read this novel in her efforts to catch up with her schoolmates, and it may have helped give her an interest in the works of Kafka.

Tuesday night in Stars Hollow

RORY: Because it’s Tuesday night in Stars Hollow. There’s nowhere to bail to. The 24-hour mini-mart just closed twenty minutes ago.
JESS: So we’ll walk around or sit on a bench and stare at our shoes.

A confirmation that it is now Tuesday, and the previous day was Monday, which doesn’t actually make much sense. Also, we’ve gone from Stars Hollow being the small town that never sleeps and gets up super early, to having a 24-hour mini mart that closes at 7 pm.

Is the 24-hour mini mart a joke, just referring to Doose’s Market? Because Taylor only seems to fear competition from supermarkets in neighbouring towns, so presumably there is nowhere else to shop in Stars Hollow.

By the way, one of the most befuddling essays I’ve read on Gilmore Girls is one categorically stating that a grocery store like Doose’s Market couldn’t possibly survive in a town of only 9000 odd people, with graphs and pie charts and so on to prove its economic unfeasibility. This is despite the fact that Washington Depot, the real life original inspiration for Stars Hollow, only has about 3000 people, yet has managed to maintain a successful grocery store (Washington Depot Food Market) much like Doose’s for decades.

Rory’s First Article

TEACHER: I mean, when you’ve got a reporter who can take an incredibly mundane and seemingly unimportant subject like the re-paving of the faculty parking lot and turn it into a bittersweet piece on how everybody and everything eventually becomes obsolete, then you’ve really got something. Miss Gilmore, I was touched.

This is truly one of the most unbelievable things to happen in regard to Rory’s career as a reporter. The idea that one thousand words on the re-paving of the faculty parking lot, made into a bittersweet piece on how time claims us all, is utterly ludicrous.

It sounds completely hokey and self-indulgent, and a type of journalism more reminiscent of The Simpsons‘ news anchorman Kent Brockman than The New York Times. In real life, Rory would have had her article cut by at least 75%, and a big red pen put through her waffling think piece on re-paving.

And when did Rory hand her article in? It seemed at the last meeting that articles were due at the next day’s meeting (i.e. this meeting). Yet the teacher has already received it from Paris and read it. Possibly Rory was careful to hand it in early, or give it to the teacher herself, to make sure there weren’t any other Paris-caused mix-ups. Or else when Paris said it needed to be “on her desk”, she meant her regular school desk, not her editorial desk. Which seems very confusing.