“Eight O’Clock At The Oasis” (season three, episode five; originally aired 10/22/2002)
JON HAMM. OMG JON HAMM. HE’S RIGHT THERE. GRAB HIM, LORELAI!
Sorry. It’s hard not to get excited these days! To think, a Gilmore Girls where Lorelai ends up with a character (the preppy, handsome Peyton Sanders) played by a dashing, younger Jon Hamm. This is only five years before the debut of Mad Men, but it seems like a lifetime ago. It’s so weird to see him playing an unappealing character who Lorelai has no interest in, especially since everything that’s unappealing about him happens off-screen.
The moral of “Eight O’Clock At The Oasis” is something to do with Lorelai wading into Emily’s social world, but the episode doesn’t have enough focus to be a really memorable one. There’s a lot of long, meandering dialogue scenes—hardly out of place for this show, but things feel especially aimless. Emily persuades Lorelai to come to an auction, where she clicks with a handsome fellow (Hamm) about the last glass of Merlot (or something) and she has to petition her mother for help getting his number, and it turns out he’d be more than an acceptable match—he’s the son of some well-to-do lady from one of Emily’s many society groups.
My theory is that Hamm is such a charming, magnetic actor that the show just couldn’t use any footage of him being a boring date. Lorelai reports to Rory that he was everything she can’t stand in a man: insufferably status-obsessed, droning on about his car and wine and so on. Of course, knowing how TV is made, I’m sure it was decided from the beginning that it’d be best for all that to happen off-screen, since a boring date is just not that interesting to watch.
The other main plot of “Eight O’Clock At The Oasis” involves a new whackjob who’s moved next to Lorelai and Rory and ropes them into watering his plants. Yep, there’s 15 or so minutes given over to this, especially weird since this guy never appears again despite being a bundle of character quirks. He lives in a horrifying tiki den stuffed with tchotchkes and board games he stole from his wife—from whom he absconded in the night. It’s a lot of setup for a nice, quiet little Jess moment: He saves Rory from flooding the neighbor’s lawn, but has to undo his good work so that Dean (who doesn’t even appear) can come by and play the hero. Aw, Jess. Bide your time, little fella.
“Take The Deviled Eggs” (season three, episode six; originally aired 11/5/2002)
Rory and Jess’ chemistry in the previous episode is lovely and muted—there’s no real bad blood between them even after their bickering in the season opener. Which is what makes “Take The Deviled Eggs” so freakin’ weird. I get that Jess isn’t the most popular guy in town—he crashed Rory’s car, sulks around, does weird prankish things like stealing garden gnomes or drawing a chalk outline outside of Taylor’s. But the townspeople of Stars Hollow are so mean to him! And in this episode, Rory and Lorelai happily pile on for no good reason. What is Jess’ major crime this week? He buys a car after taking a second job at Wal-Mart. Which is an honestly very impressive thing! He manages to save up enough money working two jobs to buy a busted-up hooptie. Lane, who is generally a nice, warm, generous character, yells at Jess on the street about this, out of some misplaced rage relating to his car accident (I assume).
And then they devil-egg his car! What’s wrong with these people? I don’t speak as a Jess defender, just as a fan of human decency. The whole thing is played for laughs, and it just about works—everything’s so light, the deviled egg thing is dumb, it’s no big deal. But every time I watch this episode, I find that Lorelai, Rory and Luke come off as big dumb bullies.
Lorelai, at least, has some good reason to be frustrated (Rory less so, but she’s generally frustrated in her relationship, I suppose). The psychotic Sherry returns to stare madly at everyone for another week and babble on about her surprise pregnancy and rub it in everyone’s faces and it’s a generally horrifying affair. But you know what I said about Jon Hamm’s bad date probably being unwatchably dull? I think the same might go for Sherry’s baby shower, which we have to sit through.
The episode is wallowing in Lorelai’s (largely resolved) feelings about the whole Christopher thing and it’s not particularly pleasant, or interesting, to be there with her, although it may be dramatically necessary to some extent—the topic had to be revisited at least once more after the season opener. The main issues lie with Sherry, who is such a problematic, stupid character, a straw-lady villain Lorelai could never hope to like or even suffer gladly.
Every season of Gilmore Girls starts slowly and takes a while to ease into its main story arcs. Season three is no different. Next week, the real fun begins. I know you guys are excited.
- Luke’s horror at the breastfeeding is in character, although he’s usually a bit more laissez-faire about people’s personal freedoms.
- Michel lectures Lorelai on attending auctions. “You must be extremely careful of your paddle movement.” “That certainly calls for a ‘Dirty!’”
- Richard’s rant to Lorelai about Emily’s insane life is kinda sweet. He knows it’s crazy that she cares about this shit, but dammit, that’s what she cares about, so he cares about it too.
- The “town loner” plot in “Take The Deviled Eggs” is the episode’s highlight, but it’s also a C-story that’d fit anywhere. Still a cute little idea.
- Two recurring characters that never really become recurring: the town reverend and rabbi, a comedy duo that is more than Taylor’s match.
- Taylor calls protesting un-American. “What about the revolutionary war?” “Or Rosa Parks?” “That’s different, they were against the British. And buses. No one likes the British. Or buses.”
- Luke gets the best line of the episode when he tries to figure out where Jess got his money. “Jess… are you a gigolo?”