Above screenshot: Gilmore Girls. Below photo: Warner Bros./Delivered by Online USA/Getty Images

“We Got Us A Pippi Virgin,” season five, episode five, originally aired 10/19/2004

What’s great about the slow dissolve of the Gilmores’ marriage is how much we realize that it’s not supposed to happen. Divorces occur, and people grow apart, but Emily and Richard are so obviously adrift without each other, their separate just isn’t meant to be. Emily’s purchasing crazy things like a panic room, she’s so uncomfortable to live alone. She ransacks the poolhouse, looking for any evidence of what Richard’s been up to without her. These are not the acts of a person excited to be on her own. And Richard is so lonesome, he talks Rory’s ear off and joins a barbershop quartet.

The Gilmores always and effortlessly fit together: Rory and Dean so clearly do not. I don’t even understand the whole trajectory of him moving out of his parents’ house, and keeping his several jobs: What about school? Now that he doesn’t have to work so hard for Lindsey, couldn’t he get back there? It’s fine if Dean wants to sand doors for a living, but that takes him even farther apart from where Rory’s life is headed. Luke does act pretty terribly on that double-date (although I think we can all relate to entering a social event that we’re going to try to tough out and then end up hating it as much as we feared), but he’s absolutely right. Dean would just hold Rory back. Lorelai has never wanted anything but to live her life in Stars Hollow, but Rory has always wanted to see the world, which appears to be a far cry from what Dean wants.

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If Lorelai, devoted to her daughter, has any of these some reservations, she is—perhaps wisely—keeping them to herself. But this is not what she’s done in the past, and her claim that she always liked Dean is absolute bullshit. She made him jump through hoops when he first dared to date her precious daughter, and Dean liked Rory enough to persevere. Yes, Dean’s still only a teenager, but Luke remembers things like Dean dumping Rory the first time after the car gift, or the fact that he married someone else when he definitely wasn’t over Rory (which, granted, Lorelai doesn’t even know), causing all sorts of pain on both sides. The whole situation just leads to an awkward double date (and honestly, it’s hard to believe that the insular Gilmore Girls entertain enough to have an emergency Bop-It! at the ready), which is just not that much fun to watch. Some good Daniel Palladino lines in this one (my favorite part: the panic room code; also, the girls singing the Pippi theme song), but except for the elder Gilmores, a bit of a waste. It could just be that this regular Dean diet is making me remember all the reasons why I can’t stand him.

“Norman Mailer, I’m Pregnant!,” season five, episode six, originally aired 10/26/2004  

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“Norman Mailer” is another episode written by a one- or two-off (get the pattern? The Palladinos would do one episode of theirs, followed by some new upstarts, so as never to stray too far from their initial rhythm). This week’s pair, GG producers James Berg and Stan Zimmerman, only penned one other episode, the awful upcoming “Pulp Friction.” This one gets bogged down by the actual Norman Mailer and the initial musings about The Life And Death Brigade (Is it that weird to run into a girl in a ballgown with a gorilla mass, anyway? At my college, sorority and fraternity pledge classes were doing weird stuff like that all the time).

A New York magazine interview reveals that the initial script featured the Dragonfly dining room getting take over by a “Norman Mailer”-type writer, so the staff decided to just approach Mailer himself. He said no until they cast his son as the interviewer: That’s Stephen Mailer asking those questions, with his father improvising his answers, because he refused to learn lines (Understandable, I guess, when you’re Norman Mailer). The best part involves Melissa McCarthy’s multiple opportunities to go off in Sookie’s pregnancy hormone mania (my favorite line: “What about lunch, Ann?”).

It’s hard to escape the neck-deep smirk of Logan, however: He is the smarm of the smarmiest. I know the idiotic Life And Death Brigade is about to rear its ugly head, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. That said, Rory interrogating Logan is about the closest that we ever get to understanding the pull of attraction between them: intellectual equals (unlike some Doose’s bagboys we could mention), who enjoy verbal sparring with each other. It’s like Jess, but without all the darkness. Many people rightly pointed out last week that the LADB is only one example of Amy Sherman-Palladino’s fascination with the upper crust and idle rich: Logan’s ease with the world, and inability and unwillingness to try any harder than he has to, seems to perfectly embody what that kind of person would look like from the outside.

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So, Rory and Logan get one cute conversation, but the real romance this episode belongs to Lane and Zack. Yes, his declaration in the diner isn’t a big Officer And A Gentleman moment, but it’s pretty sweet nonetheless. And again Lane contains the stern formidableness of her mother to step back and let Zack take his time. Looking forward to seeing these two play out again.

Rory (or really, Alexis Bledel), also owns another big scene this episode: Standing up to her father. Christopher’s whining to Lorelai was almost unbearable (it’s too hard, I can’t do this, wah), and just like the last time he had a kid, Lorelai steps in to pick up the slack. The revival nicely plays up the Christopher/Logan parallels, but in this episode, they are also crystal clear: A rich kid like Christopher who never had to accomplish much on his own, is not a person you can really count on when the chips are down, no matter how much Lorelai might try to reassure him. He knows he only calls the girls when he needs something, and yet, he still does it! Rory’s smackdown to try to keep him out of her mother’s life, and Christopher’s sad resignation at the end of the episode, realizing how much he has blown his relationship with his elder daughter, is all emotionally satisfying. If only the Christopher saga had ended right there—but as we know, it’s just beginning.

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Stray observations

  • This week in “never change, Paris”: “Rory? We’re close. Like… friends.”
  • A Yale Daily News editor like Doyle would never say “I could care less.”
  • Best Gilmore outfits: Lorelai: Black V-neck sweater with floral skirt and fantastic pink heels. Rory: Tan leather jacket, matching boots, and short plaid skirt.
  • Worst Gilmore outfits: Even Lorelai shouldn’t wear cowboy hats, I don’t care what they’re selling at Doose’s. Also, that rerun dress might have been pretty except for the fact that those sleeves were nightmarish.
  • Next week: Rory jumps off a platform carrying only an umbrella. And at long last, Dean finally leaves us for good, breaking up with Rory for the third and final time.

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