“Sadie, Sadie” (season two, episode one; originally aired 10/9/2001)
A lot of shows enter their second season with caution, maybe trying to integrate new audience members by going slow or repeating a lot of their original premise. Gilmore Girls (which debuted in a new timeslot for year two) is much bolder, diving right back into the plots it left dangling and showing off its Stars Hollow set with a fun shot of the whole town following Lorelai and Rory as they walk to Luke’s diner to break the news of her pending marriage.
That neither “Sadie, Sadie” or “Hammers And Veils”—which aired back-to-back on the same night run smoothly into each other—deal with Lorelai’s pending marriage is a problem. It’s not even a slight against the Max Medina character to say that it’s obvious there’s no way these two are going to get married. Here we are, beginning the second season of a show that’s really just finding its feet, and Lorelai’s going to marry a man who’s appeared in half a dozen episodes? When Gilmore Girls’ most compelling ongoing plot is her flirtatious relationship with another man? It’s absurd when you think about it, so credit to the show for making Lorelai’s decision feel very plausible.
In “Sadie, Sadie,” she distributes her thousand yellow daisies around the town and tells everyone the news. Sookie is thrilled, immediately begins plotting meals, and amusingly freaks out Jackson with her wedding excitement. Luke plays it cool, says he saw it coming, and freaks Lorelai out by pointing out that she barely knows her new fiancé. And Emily and Richard… find out from Sookie, because Lorelai’s too afraid to tell them.
That’s the moment in “Sadie, Sadie” that Gilmore Girls really lands. This two-parter is an excellent showcase for Emily, who is so understandably upset and deflated that her only daughter couldn’t tell her she was getting married. In “Sadie, Sadie” it works as the tag to another plot: Richard’s interrogation of Dean, which is a little trickier.
Richard’s reaction to Dean makes sense. Rory is fast becoming the apple of his eye and Dean is a pretty unimpressive specimen, especially by Grandpa Gilmore’s standards. Sure, he’s cute and nice, but he’s not offering a ton of intellectual stimulation or future prospects for Rory, and Richard’s going to be especially sensitive considering what happened with Lorelai.
But his behavior at the dinner table is so outright rude and condescending—and Richard is a dude who usually tries at least to be polite. His objection to Straub Hayden’s behavior last season was along those lines. I don’t know—it’s a nicely done scene, but maybe a little too aggressive in its efforts to inject some melodrama into the episode.
“Hammers And Veils” (season two, episode two; originally aired 10/9/2001)
That side of things is all cleared up by “Hammers And Veils.” Richard apologizes to Rory, at Emily’s demand, because she knows how quickly that kind of behavior will wreck a relationship. Dean and Rory get in a fight over her obsession with going to Harvard all of a sudden, which again feels like an effort to introduce melodrama in an episode otherwise lacking it.
This is pretty much the last moment Dean and Rory have together as a nice, boring couple. There’s new characters and plot movement around the corner that will lead to quite a bit of tension, and God, do they need it. Dean is one of the least dramatically compelling characters on this show and Jared Padalecki is not that much fun to watch when he’s whining at Rory. His main objection here is that she won’t hang out with him after they scheduled hangout time. I get it, but I don’t know that it’s interesting enough to be put on television.
“Hammers And Veils” reminds us that Paris and Rory are in a fight. The show made the necessary gamble of avoiding the typical summer jump that a lot of shows do between seasons (it does that after these two episodes), so there’s some summer school to keep Paris in the mix. Madeline has already forgotten the specifics of the disagreement (Tristan, PJ Harvey, who cares) but Paris still bears a grudge. Now, it’s fun to watch Liza Weil bear a grudge. But Paris and Rory become so much more fun when they’re cautious allies, because this is not a show that really thrives on nasty conflict.
Lorelai is not yet focused on Max as a future spouse—“Hammers And Veils” is mostly about addressing her friction with her mother, which she isn’t even aware of until she announces the engagement and gets a frosty reception. “There’s nothing like a wedding to screw up a family,” the increasingly bitter Luke grouses, but of course that’s not the problem. It’s that Lorelai wouldn’t even think to tell her mother right away. Hell, she basically makes the decision to marry Max at the Gilmore dinner table (in “Sadie, Sadie”). Rory sees it on her face and freaks out, alarming and confusing the grandparents, but they never figure out what is up.
So yeah, it’s all about Kelly Bishop in these two episodes. The final moment, where Emily advises Lorelai to wear a tiara (as she did at her wedding), is the most memorable of these opening episodes. Emily is so hell-bent on hiding her vulnerability, and it usually slips through when she’s angry. Here it’s in a much quieter moment, and certainly a touching one.
- Rory says Lorelai should walk down the aisle with something that smells good. “Pot roast!”
- Newsstand owner Bootsie, one of the less-used townspeople, is introduced in “Sadie, Sadie.” I always liked him.
- Michel confesses his desire for immortality to Sookie. “You’re trying to live forever? Like on Fame?” “Don’t speak to me.”
- Padalecki does slay me with the line “Should we do the beer thing again?”
- Lorelai won’t put a timetable on talking to her parents. “When the big hand hits the S and the little hand hits the OON.”
- Lane being shipped off to Korea is a good excuse for a great visual joke (the biggest suitcase you’ve ever seen) and some great lines. “You’ll read about it in my novel, A Connecticut Yankee In Pusan.”