“A-Tisket, A-Tasket” (season 2, episode 13, originally aired 2/5/2002)
This isn’t the episode where the audience’s sympathy shifts to Jess. If you like Jess, you’re with him already, perhaps because you’re bored of Dean, perhaps just because he’s a literate boy, perhaps because you identify with his sob story of being abandoned by his mother, perhaps because you feel an allegiance to Luke. No matter. Jess is a little nicer, a little calmer, a little less of a dumb prankster in this episode, but I’m pretty sure you either liked him beforehand or you never really will.
But this is the episode where Rory’s sympathy shifts to Jess. She’s outright suspicious of him before now, intrigued by his bookish nature, but otherwise not knowing what to make of his antics. Plus, Dean doesn’t like him, and even though that’s not an emotion Rory really has about anyone, it’s also not helping matters. By all means this episode should just be another chapter in his chronicle of jerky behavior, outbidding Dean on a picnic basket/lunch date with Rory at one of Stars Hollow’s many quaint festivals.
But here’s where Rory realizes Jess isn’t just a troubled kid with inner depths, he’s also just a fairly good time. I’m editorializing when I say she also realizes that Dean is a dumb jealous lunk, but this is definitely not a shining episode for him. Robbed of his lunch date with Rory, he goes right to Lorelai to pout, not exactly the coolest move in the world, and planting more seeds of doubt in Lorelai’s mind revolving around Jess Mariano’s bad-boy status. It’s a bit rich of Dean, who swans around in his leather jacket saving up to buy a motorcycle, to ask Lorelai to judge Jess by his cover, but ask he does, and judge she does.
At least, until she explains the situation to her mother, who completely agrees with her and recommends stricter control of Rory’s social life. It’s a nice moment that doesn’t even require a big argument between Lorelai and Emily—it’s just a subtle reminder for Lorelai that Rory is a teenager, she’s not going to just want one thing forever, and it’s best not to try and dictate her behavior, because she’s pretty much living evidence of how badly that can work out.
I really enjoy “A-Tisket, A-Tasket,” even though it is one of those airy, light Gilmore Girls episodes centered around a quaint town tradition, and those can occasionally be a bit much. But this has a lot of nice, quiet, emotional moments. Jackson hints at moving in to Sookie, and when she doesn’t get it, he’s upset, but by the end of the episode he’s proposing to her, as it should be. The show is not interested in any real drama emanating from that couple, so why not tie the knot already? The added element of Kirk buying Sookie’s delicious basket and having to give it back to Jackson, admitting he’s the loneliest member of a huge family, is the first time we get some real character shading for the town weirdo. Kirk always works best when he’s all sad.
Even better is Lane’s “breakup” with Henry after her latest scheme to meet with him in secret goes awry. Henry is a normal 16-year-old and unsurprisingly has no interest in these cloak and dagger shenanigans, but the great irony is, of course, that Mrs. Kim would probably approve of him. I like the muted drama of Lane’s breakdown. Mrs. Kim isn’t even ready to see how upset her daughter is, so shellshocked is she that she’s not even really being rebellious. “And you’re sure he was Korean?” is a funny line, but it’s also quite a sad one for Lane, since she’s so far from being understood by her poor mother.
“It Should Have Been Lorelai” (season 2, episode 14, originally aired 2/12/2002)
Lane’s drama continues to unfold in this episode, although as usual for her character it’s pretty much a C-story. But I really do like the weird dynamic she has with her mother, even though Mrs. Kim is sometimes uncomfortably cartoony. Lane is basically under house arrest, not even going to school, but she’s pretty chill about the whole thing, defying rules as usual (there’s an elaborate scheme to get her the new Belle & Sebastian CD) and grudgingly accepting tea and healthy snacks while locked inside the house. Mrs. Kim’s love is smothering and probably harmful in the long term, but it’s love nonetheless, and she’s raising quite a great kid.
“It Should Have Been Lorelai” revolves around the introduction of Sherry (Madchen Amick), about as annoying and unlikable a character that the show has ever featured. She’s Christopher’s beautiful, driven girlfriend, obviously somewhat of a workaholic who is now laser-focusing on settling down with a nice man as hard as she concentrated on other aspects of her life earlier. She’s a colossal pain in the ass and Lorelai can’t help but see her as an invader, considering how focused she is on bonding with Rory.
Once again, Emily’s outsized reaction tempers Lorelai’s; Emily is outraged and upset to meet Sherry, knowing that this could well be the final nail in the coffin of her dreams of Rory’s parents getting married one day. It’s sweet, if once again rather controlling, but the whole thing would be better-pitched if Sherry wasn’t so irritating. It mostly just reflects super-poorly on Christopher that he’s with this woman. I mean, obviously she’s beautiful and successful, and she appeals to his whole settling down and being normal concept, but otherwise, how can he stand to have her around? Yeesh.
The biggest problem with this episode is absolutely nothing else is going on in it. It’s just the invasion of Sherry, who first comes a debate Rory and Paris are participating in at Chilton, then to Lorelai and Rory’s house, then to the Gilmore home. There’s Lane’s shenanigans but that’s pretty thin stuff. Sherry’s appearance isn’t quite enough to sustain an episode (I suppose if you’re super invested in Christopher and Lorelai, it might be) so the whole thing definitely drags on a bit, but luckily we won’t see her again for quite a while.
- The return of Brad is the absolute highlight of “It Should Have Been Lorelai.” The way he melts into his seat when he sees Paris is wonderfully done.
- Lorelai tries to temper Jess’ shenanigans. “I’m trying to think in what scenario this situation could be construed as positive.” “Well?” “No one’s head is on fire.”
- Sookie’s entire basket is an edible pretzel with a goat cheese filling, because of course it is.
- Rory’s love of Ayn Rand’s monologues is a testament to her gentle support of every human being’s talents, no matter how flawed their souls.
- Luke sticks up for The Outer Limits over The Twilight Zone. “Great show, just as eerie, same era, but no one ever references it.”
- Lorelai and Rory frantically try to set up their house for hosting. “We have leftover Halloween candy.” “What, and waste that on company?”