“Like Mother, Like Daughter” (season two, episode seven; originally aired 11/13/2001)
This is a patently ridiculous episode of Gilmore Girls, so silly that its lame plot twist is pretty much immediately acknowledged as lame by its characters and quickly swept under the rug. It’s an episode that introduces a problem that doesn’t really exist and complicates it with a new character who really comes out of nowhere. I appreciate what the show is trying to do in build out the Chilton universe a little more, but, as Rory argues at the end of the episode, there’s already too much going on for that to really work. She’s at Stars Hollow, she has her boyfriend, there’s all of Lorelai’s stuff—there’s just not room to delve into the inner workings of Chilton.
Even though she’s an outstanding student, an emerging star on the school paper and by all accounts a lovely, conscientious student who is well-liked by her teachers, Rory gets called out for being antisocial this week, simply because she dines alone and reads a book at lunchtime. Now, I know Chilton is a fancy school but this level of intervention feels a little absurd. And mean! Why call out a kid for eating alone! Anyway, Rory is pressured to… socialize? What the hell? I’m infuriated even writing these sentences. It’s such a tissue-thin concept for an episode.
In socializing, Rory learns that there is a secret society that rules Chilton governed by the prominently foreheaded Francie (Emily Bergl) and titled, ridiculously, the Puffs. Rory stumbles into this group almost by accident, catching the attention of Paris, who desperately seeks their validation. High jinks ensue, I suppose, if by “high jinks” you mean “they all go to Chilton at night to ring a bell on the headmaster’s desk.”
Yes, that is literally the crazy scheme of the Puffs—to kidnap the girls and make them ring a bell. Lorelai’s mockery is dead-on. “Bad girl, how many times have I told you to never ring bells!” she fake-chides Rory. The only problem? Mean old Santa Claus Headmaster Charleston, who is appalled at everyone’s behavior and threatens suspension. Rory bitches him out for pressuring her into being peer-pressured and he caves a little bit, but the whole confrontation just doesn’t really work from beginning to end.
But that’s okay, because the other storyline in “Like Mother, Like Daughter” sees Lorelai and Emily modeling fashionable red coats at a booster club fashion show and I’m sorry I just fell asleep writing that. The two of them on the catwalk is a very cute moment. But that’s about the extent of it (there’s better Emily material in the next episode) and we have to suffer through a crazy-boring Brenda Strong guest appearance where Lorelai briefly thinks Luke is flirting with her. With Brenda Strong of the booster club. There are whole scenes of the booster club just methodically planning a fashion show. Gilmore Girls doesn’t need to be exciting every week. But it needs to at least be fun to watch.
“The Ins And Outs Of Inns” (season two, episode eight; originally aired 11/20/2001)
This is also kind of a bad episode! Don’t worry guys, I’m not gonna start ragging on Gilmore Girls every week, but it is funny that two of season two’s biggest duds come back-to-back. It’s another episode built on a foundation of false drama, a fight between Lorelai and Sookie that comes out of nowhere and recedes just as quickly. Sookie is undoubtedly annoying and scatterbrained, but it’s not enough cause for Lorelai to brutally snap at her as mercilessly as she does here.
Lorelai is stressed because their plans to buy the Dragonfly Inn are stymied by cake shop owner Fran (who will own it until she dies, although she seems unclear on the concept of death) and because when she breaks the news of her possible departure to Independence Inn owner Mia (Elizabeth Franz), she realizes her surrogate home may be sold off after she departs.
Mia is a difficult character for the show to just dump on us, since she’s presented as someone of paramount importance to Lorelai and Rory’s past and present (she also knows Luke, Taylor, and pretty much everyone else in Stars Hollow) but she comes completely out of nowhere and we’ve never heard of her before. Franz is totally fine in the role, but she’s nothing special, coming across as friendly and pleasant when her surrogate mother bond to Lorelai should hit a little deeper.
What works very well in “The Ins And Out Of Inns” is Emily’s encounter with Mia, which is just impeccably done by Kelly Bishop as per usual. She’s struck by Lorelai’s attachment to the place and its owner, and visits in secret, saying she wishes Mia had just sent Lorelai home when she showed up on the inn’s door with a baby in her arms (Mia hired her and gave her a place to stay). It’s an irrational thought on Emily’s part—how could Mia force Lorelai back to somewhere she had just fled—but an understandable one nonetheless, and Mia is quietly accepting of Emily’s coldness.
“The Ins And Outs Of Inns” is also the first episode to give Jess any real screentime after his introduction (there was a cute moment of him donning Luke’s flannel shirt and old baseball cap earlier on, but that’s it). Annoyingly, it’s via another ridiculous prank, but at least this one has some panache, a chalk outline of a body outside Taylor’s store. It pretty much signals an end to the whole “Jess is a punk prankster!” story thread, with Luke forced to defend him before an angry town meeting and Rory breaking through with Jess to help him realize his uncle isn’t a bad guy. It also gives us our first meeting between Jess and Dean, a brief, terse affair that bodes wonderfully for their future as rivals. Baby steps, but in such a forgettable episode, it’s what sticks out the most.
- “We were just discussing homecoming. Thoughts?” “Great movie. Oh, that was Coming Home.”
- Lorelai and Rory grab food when the Gilmores are barbecuing. “What is this, a refugee camp?” Emily asks. “Animals eat outside.”
- Lorelai has named Luke's toolbox Bert.
- Luke tells Jess to stay out of trouble. “I guess that means calling off the chickie run at the salt flats.” He's self-aware!
- Michel suggests names for the new inn. “How about The Money Pit?”
- Lorelai chimes in on the Jess hate-a-thon at the town meeting. “I heard he controls the weather and wrote the screenplay to Glitter!”