Marines: Gilmore Dinner. Emily tells Rory that Richard is bringing her something super special from Prague. Rory is excited about this and talks about an ex-cell, now hostel she would like to stay at. Lorelai is paying half attention because she’s picking out avocados from her dish. This gets Lorelai and Emily snipping at each other, and it doesn’t end when Emily asks Rory about the upcoming formal. Rory didn’t mention it to either of them, but Emily read it in the Chilton Newsletter, which she thought it was only right to receive a copy of, being a major contributor of Rory’s education. This only earns a mild eyeroll from Lorelai, though I feel like in the past (all 8 episodes lol) that may have earned a full on meltdown.
Sweeney: Lorelai’s growing! Slowly, but at least she’s growing, which is more than I can say for Emily.
Mari: Lorelai lies about having totally read the newsletter for no good reason, because that is something that is easily verifiable. Namely, Lorelai has no idea what was on the front page. (S: OK, so that’s some reeeeal slow growth.) It’s a picture of an owl. The school is collecting donations to protect the owls and Emily donated in Rory’s name. Lorelai says Emily doesn’t need to do that, but she does so by lying again about having totally read about the owls.
Lorelai kind of changes the subject by asking Rory about the formal. Rory doesn’t think she’s going to go. Lor is fine with that, but Emily is not. Rory excuses herself to get a Coke, letting Emily and Lorelai bicker about this alone. Lorelai insists that she didn’t say anything, and Rory’s disdain of formals is her own. They agree to drop it and Lorelai continues picking at her salad.
On the drive home, Lorelai asks why Rory didn’t mention the dance. Rory simply says it’s because she wasn’t planning on going. Lorelai presses, obviously having taken Emily’s comments to heart. Rory says she hates dances, but she hasn’t actually ever been to one, so she doesn’t know she hates dances. Lor says she well might hate them, but essentially it should be an informed hate and she shouldn’t miss out on experiences because she’s too afraid. Lor knows Rory isn’t a party girl, and she loves her for that, but she wonders how much of that is fear and shyness. If Rory really doesn’t want to go, Lor will drop it, but only if it has nothing to do with fear. Rory hesitantly says she doesn’t have a dress. Lorelai offers to make one and buy her new shoes and new earrings and do her hair. Rory cautiously asks if Lor won’t think she’s an idiot and it kind of breaks my heart. Lor does a good mom thing and jokes that it depends on what hairstyle she chooses.
WHERE YOU LEAD, I WILL FOLLOW.
After the credits, Rory is worrying about Dean saying no as she and Lane walk together. Lane asks what the good of having a boyfriend is if he isn’t your automatic dance date. Rory balks at the term boyfriend, and somehow prefers “gentleman caller.” Lane suggests the “where do we stand?” talk and Rory is impressed with her knowledge of #boyfranthangs.
The girls get to Dean’s store and Rory immediately wants to bail, but Lane won’t let her. Mostly because her mom threw their TV out and she needs some entertainment. Rory hypes herself up and Lane reminds her to enunciate since she’ll be reading lips from outside the store. (S: Lane is the best.) Rory finds Dean and asks him if he works on Saturday. He says he comes in sometimes if he has no plans. Rory then delivers the Most Words way of inviting him to a dance, saying it’s an event given by the school where music is playing, dancing happens and chicken is served. She even goes on a tangent about the chicken before Dean admits that he’s lost. Rory blurts out that it’s a dance. Dean doesn’t seem stoked because he’s never been to one and he’s not a big joiner. Rory says it’s fine but Dean can sense the disappointment. He gives in, even though it’s a coat and tie event, and Rory gives him an excited kiss and thanks him. Rory and Lane have a small, controlled squee as they leave.
Lor is working on Rory’s dress and somehow manages to pull the whole dress form on to of herself. She has to get up quickly because there’s a knock on the door. Sookie has brought extra thread and also notes that Lor is walking funny. She explains that she just pulled a muscle and for some reason, Sookie has like an entire pharmacy of prescription pills in her purse? And no one really says anything about it? I want to know what’s happening.
Sweeney: I want to be a TV show protagonist so that I can have a best friend whose purse is casually filled to meet my fleeting needs.
Mari: That is a wish I never knew I also had.
Next, the phone rings. Lorelai hobbles over to pick it up and the first thing out of Emily’s mouth is that Lor sounds awful. She lies about stubbing her toe and dear God, all these small interactions are just so GOOD at showing what is wrong with these two. Emily always leads with negativity and Lorelai just CANNOT be honest with her mother.
Emily starts rambling about the clutter in the living room being dangerous, but the real reason she called is to insist that Rory go to the dance. Lorelai baits her for a while before admitting that Rory is going. Emily is thrilled and asks Lorelai to take a ton of pictures so maybe she can put them all in order and pretend she was there. Lor gets the hint and invites Emily to come over on Saturday and see Rory off.
Chilton. Paris is running the ticket line. Tristan buys two tickets and she asks who he’s taking. He asks if she would like to go with him, but she kind of stumbles and he takes it back, saying there is no way she would be free this close to the dance. She smiles like a person who is free this close to the dance. Further back in the line, Rory waits while reading. Tristan comes over and makes a “reading, how novel,” pun and Rory tells him to go the heck away. Tristan makes fun of her for buying a ticket when the boy is supposed to do that. Also, he thought maybe she’d want to go with him to the dance. Rory knows he isn’t serious because he would have to be stupid to think she would go anywhere with him, given their history. Tristan says fine, he’ll ask Cissy, who at least won’t have to buy her own ticket, and leaves.
When Rory reaches the front of the line, Paris aggressively yells at her for being rude to Tristan when he was actually trying to be nice. Rory is all, “dude, then you date him.” Paris keeps being awful by saying that there probably is no boy and Rory will probably come down with a mysterious flu that dorks come down with on dance nights. Rory takes it all in stride, leaving by saying she doesn’t want to wait for her change because money makes people shallow.
Sweeney: Season 1 Paris is pretty much the worst, and it’s only kind of about evolving as a character. More often than not they wrote her into scenes like this where she was just an asshole for the sake of being an asshole so that we can see how great Rory is.
Mari: Much foil, very good.
Dance night. Lorelai is sitting on the couch because of her injury and she yells at Rory to come out. Rory yells out that she’s primping, but Lor doesn’t think there is anything to primp since she’s 16 and has skin like a baby’s ass. Rory comes out in the finished dress and little flowers in her hair. She’s also wearing combat boots because her heels hurt too much to wear right now. Lorelai compliments her daughter and sends her to get some hairspray.
Sookie arrives with food for Lorelai because she is a really great friend. She also offers to spray down Rory’s hair, but she ends up spraying herself in the eye. Lorelai does it and jokes about how many dances her hair can now withstand, but any moshing will take another coat. Rory giggles and says she’s good. Lor sends her into the kitchen next to help Sookie wash hairspray out of her eyes.
Emily arrives with the camera and much excitement.
Sweeney: I wanted to say “she wouldn’t know,” but then I decided that was too mean/unfair/not-really-true and even I don’t hate S1 Emily that much. Which is to say that I have some boundaries, but not enough to not put it out there that I had this thought.
Mari: But just the thought!
Lor sends Rory back into the kitchen to lose the bib and taco and come out for the pretty picture.
Sookie says she better be going and it’ll be fine that she can barely see because she walked. Lorelai asks her to call once she makes it home safe. Sookie returns to call if she needs help getting up the stairs or something. Emily asks what’s going on and Lorelai clearly didn’t want to tell her about it, but the cat is out of the bag: Lorelai hurt her back.
Emily is temporarily distracted when Rory comes back out. She snaps a couple of pictures before Dean arrives and honks. Rory starts to run out, but Emily says that girls don’t just run out when a guy honks at them. “This is not a drive-through. She is not fried chicken.” Mostly quoted that because it made me really want some fried chicken.
Sweeney: If I were a TV show best friend, I would have some for you, but I’m not, so. I’m real sorry we leave in the real world, where it’s boring and we have to get our own fried chicken.
Mari: Well, great, now I’m sad.
Lorelai says that it’s totally cool for Rory to just run outside, but Emily insists, saying Dean will figure out that he’s supposed to come to the door. He honks a few times and Emily says he must not be a very bright boy. Dean does eventually figure it out and knock. Rory answers and Emily is behind her. She tells Dean to come inside.
In the living room, Emily introduces herself and Lorelai cuts the conversation off there and says goodbye. Emily tells them to be home by 11 and behind her, Lor mouths 12. The kids smile and take off.
Emily asks Lorelai what she knows about Dean and if he’s a drinker. Lor answers sarcastically, but then tells her to calm down because Dean is a good kid. She promises to call the next day and give Emily all the details of the dance, but Emily is not actually leaving because she’s not leaving her daughter unable to move on a couch. Lorelai tries to prove that she can move, but she can’t actually, so Emily is staying.
On the drive over, Rory is having second thoughts about the dance. I think Dean is supposed to be kind of going with the flow of whatever she wants to do, but it actually comes off as curt and kind of dick-ish. He does tell her she looks great and that sells her on going to the dance after all, at least for a little bit.
Back at the house, Emily starts looking around for crystal candlesticks she gave Lorelai last Christmas. Lor says that they didn’t have a lot of use for crystal candlesticks so she exchanged them for a monkey lamp. Wow. It’s a really ugly lamp, too. Emily is being very stern and aggressive but it is a really ugly lamp so I’m kind of on her side right now. (S: I deeply hate to admit it, but this is fair.) Em wants an explanation but Lorelai just pouts and says her back hurts.
Dance. Dean suggests having their picture taken and leaving, but seeing Rory’s reaction to that suggestion, also offers up a little dancing.
Paris’s Mean Girls (I have no idea what their names are) are already bored, but are still waiting for Paris to arrive. They spot Rory and Dead and decide to mean-girl over. The blonde, meaner one compliments Rory’s dress and asks who it’s by. Rory explains that her mom made it. Blonde Meaner asks if Rory is traveling with a body guard now and Rory hesitates to introduce Dean as her boyfriend. She does helpfully tell us the mean girls are Louise and Madeline. Madeline spends the rest of this scene ditzily talking about her mom’s inability to make anything, including soup. Louise repeatedly asks Dean how tall he is until he offers up 6’2”. The Internet tells me that Padalecki grew another two inches after this. Beautiful.
Anyway, Louise flirtatiously says that 6’2” is a good height. Dean shuts her up by positioning himself behind Rory and wrapping his arms around her. He asks Rory if it’s too tall, and she says not in heels. They make jokes about saddle shoes and Louise is over it and leaves with Madeline. Rory tells Dean he’s very nice. A slow song starts and they head to the dance floor.
On the way there, they see Paris who is all, “Rory, you’re here.” Paris’s date politely introduces himself, and Paris pulls him away, saying those people aren’t friends. Rory and Dean start slow dancing.
House. Emily has made Lor some mashed banana on toast, something she used to make for baby Lorelai any time she was sick. Emily offers to take it back and throw it out, but Lor feels bad and tells her to leave it because she’s definitely going to eat it. She picks it up and tries to eat it, but ends up asking her mom to please not make her eat it. There is still a burrito in the fridge that Sookie brought. Emily offers to warm it up, but Lor says she’ll eat it cold, which makes Emily sad. Lor again feels bad and tells her that hot is better. Emily smiles. Lorelai takes one of the muscle relaxers Sookie left her.
Dance. Dean heads off to grab some punch. Jacob takes the opportunity to flirt with Rory and ask for her number. Rory is uncomfortable I’m sure for a number of reasons, chief among them because Jacob is here with Paris. Jacob says he is, but he’s also her cousin. This makes Rory pretty darn happy and she leaves him with a wish for a nice evening and a bounce in her step.
Sweeney: Because Paris is so stock villain that we get to root for Rory being smug.
Their whole dynamic in the beginning unsettles me. Evil, competitive, driven Paris v. Pure, shit-just-works-out Rory. It calms a little as Paris gets to be a fully realized character, but it’s always lurking, having been embedded into their relationship from the beginning.
Mari: House. Emily and Lorelai are watching TV and sharing a Nice Moment. It’s actually really nice and they give me so many feels I can’t even help it. (S: SAME, WHAT IS HAPPENING?) They both can’t believe that Rory has grown up into the little woman who walked out of there today, looking so beautiful. Lor quietly confesses that she made the dress and Emily tells her she did a good job. On the dress and Rory. Lorelai says thank you in an even smaller voice. Emily shakes the tender moment off by offering to clean away the mashed banana toast, wondering at the fact that Lorelai doesn’t remember eating it at all. Lorelai says she’ll taste it after all. She takes a bite and says it’s even more disgusting than she thought it would be. Emily doesn’t believe her, so she takes a bite herself, and regrets it.
Dance. Dean suggests leaving, not because he’s bored, but because they have a little time left and it would be nice to grab a coffee and maybe spend some time alone. Rory agrees and he leaves to grab their coats. Paris stomps over to Rory and asks how many people she told about her cousin date and starts rambling loudly about all the details of bring her cousin as her date. Paris says now Rory can tell everyone, but Rory points out that she doesn’t have to because Paris just yelled about it and everyone heard. (S: Rory again earns her justice through inaction.)
Dean is making his way back but is stopped by Tristan. Dean knows who he is because of what Rory has told him, namely that he’s a jackass, though he admits Rory didn’t use exactly that word. Dean tries to go around Tristan, but he won’t let him pass, saying he just doesn’t like Rory, but that’s not what it looks like to Dean. Rory sees what’s happening and hurries over. She tries to break it up, and it seems like she pulls Dean away, but then Tristan steps up in Rory’s face and that sets Dean off. He pushes Tristan away and Tristan is all, “you will not push me again!” Dean asks if he’s seriously trying to act tough while wearing a tie and looking like an accountant. Tristan pushes him back and a bunch of guys rush to break up the fight. NOT A SINGLE CHAPERONE TO BE SEEN. Dean yells that Tristan doesn’t want to fight him because HE WILL KILL HIM.
Tristan breaks free from the guys who are holding him back and Dean just gets in his face and tells him he will never get near Rory again. They leave. Madeline and Louise really enjoyed the drama. Paris tries to check on Tristan, but he waves her away. Louise asks Paris if she really brought her cousin to the dance and smiles delightedly when Paris walks sadly away.
House. Lorelai has fallen asleep on the couch. Emily turns off the TV and tucks her in. Lorelai sleepily says, “thank you, mommy” and it looks like it makes Emily’s entire world.
Sweeney: If it makes the Emily fans feel any better, I feel like a dick now, so, enjoy.
Mari: Buck up. This couldn’t have lasted.
Rory and Dean have their coffee and are walking and talking. Rory doesn’t get what got into Tristan, and Dean tells her that he has a thing for her. Rory doesn’t know how to feel about having her boyfriend defend her honor and Dean is like, “boyfriend?” Rory babbles, which Dean calls her out on, but Rory eventually arrives at her point: she wants Dean to be her boyfriend. Dean wants to be her boyfriend. Consensus reached.
As they walk by Miss Patty’s, Rory realizes that the door was left open. They let themselves inside to take a look around. Rory drops her purse and it makes a thud because she’s been carrying around a book, which she always does. She’s currently reading The Portable Dorothy Parker. Dean flips through it and reads a bit. They sit on some bean bag chairs, kiss a little, and keep looking at her book.
A time fade shows us the two of them asleep on the bean bag chair. Miss Patty and her first class of the morning have arrived and found them asleep. All the ladies are very shocked. Miss Patty wakes Rory up and as she realizes what happened, she starts to panic. She grabs her things and takes off running. Dean chases after her, asking to go with her and help explain what happened, but Rory says no and runs off without him.
At the house, Emily wakes Lorelai up because Rory isn’t home. She was waiting up for Rory, but dozed off, and now it’s 5:30am and Rory isn’t home. Lorelai stands and starts looking around in a kind of quiet franticness. Emily is yelling and panicking, but it’s the look of terror on Lorelai’s face that brings tears to my eyes, for real. She’s looking for the phone and finds it because it starts ringing. It’s Miss Patty, calling ahead to tell Lorelai what happened.
After the call, Lorelai tells Emily the few details she knows and suggests remaining calm until they know everything. Emily thinks they already know what happened, but Lor doesn’t see it that way. And Emily just starts laying into Lorelai, saying that she’s seen Lorelai do a lot of stupid things and she held her tongue, but she won’t stand by and allow Lor to let Rory ruin her life. Emily says Rory is doing the same thing Lor did and she’s going to get pregnant. Lorelai says Rory will not. Emily says Rory is going to ruin everything. Lorelai gives a fed up but also very small childish “no she’s not, no she’s not, no she’s not.” Rory is not Lorelai. Emily asks what kind of mother Lorelai is to allow this to happen to her. Lor spins it around and asks what kind of mother was Emily? Emily plows ahead and says that Lorelai is going to lose Rory just like Emily lost Lorelai. It’s not the same. Lorelai says that even if she hadn’t gotten pregnant, Emily still would’ve lost her because she was suffocated in that house. Every argument leads to this.
Every argument comes down to their fundamental disagreement. Emily sees that she gave Lorelai the best of everything and gave her every opportunity and Lorelai saw that as controlling. And yet Emily can’t understand how, if she was so controlling, she still didn’t stop Lor from getting pregnant and throwing her life away. Lorelai tells Emily to get out. She’s not going to let her mom come into her house and tell her she threw her life away. This is a life.
Sweeney: And most importantly for me, I no longer feel like a dick. Thanks, Emily!
Mari: Nothing if not consistent!
Rory gets home and quickly hides and listens to the argument. Lorelai says that if she wouldn’t have gotten pregnant, than she wouldn’t have Rory. And maybe she was some uncontrollable child, but Rory isn’t. Rory is smart and careful and Lorelai trusts her. Rory will be fine and if Emily can’t accept or believe that, she needs to get out now.
Rory goes into the kitchen and starts to thank her mother for saying all those things, but Lorelai erupts. She asks what Rory was thinking, staying up all night. Rory apologizes, but Lorelai says she invented staying out all night and it’s never an accident. Rory says nothing happened, but Lorelai is on a roll. She asks if Rory has any idea what it’s like to wake up, with her mother here, and find that Rory was missing. Rory rightly calls the “while grandma was here” part and how it makes it seem like that’s the important part. Lor says it isn’t. It’s about the sheer terror of your child not being in their bed in the morning. And the additional terror of finding out that she spent the night with some guy. Rory says they didn’t spend the night– they just fell asleep. Lorelai says Rory is going on the pill because she isn’t getting pregnant. Rory says she isn’t sleeping with Dean. What happened to all that stuff Lor said to grandma about trusting Rory? Lor says it got left behind on Patty’s yoga mats. Rory tells her mom that this is crap and she knows it. Lorelai is just mad that Rory screwed up in front of grandma, but Lorelai knows that Rory didn’t do anything.
Rory stomps into her room and slams the door.
Lorelai sits down and cries.
I’m also crying a little bit.
I really enjoyed this episode. I actually watched it twice because someone else volunteered to recap it and then backed out so I had to go back and rewatch to recap. And it was not a chore at all because this is a real good episode with lots of feels. This show where the characters are always using too many words does a surprisingly good job of saying things in the background. Even when Lorelai and Emily are confronting each other outright, there is still so much subtlety about their fears for Rory and having her enter the period of her life where everything fell apart for Lorelai and Emily. In that moment of panic, they were flinging every dirty thing they could think of because they were both terrified of everything happening again. And I felt so bad for both of them and that is the beauty of this very complicated relationship.
I really am conflicted about Dean because something about his kind of deadpan delivery makes him a little insufferable, but then it’s almost always immediately followed up by some act of niceness toward Rory. I can’t tell if it’s writing, direction, acting, or if Dean is going to turn out to be some nefarious character with a violence problem who leads Rory into an abusive relationship and I’m telling you they could very well go that route with his current delivery.
Sweeney: We also know well enough to keep all possible doors open here in Traumaland.
Mari: Otherwise, a great episode with a very simple plot that manages to really start to show us what the stakes are here.
Next time on Gilmore Girls: Mother/daughter fights in S01 E10 – Forgiveness and Stuff.