“Nag Hammadi Is Where They Found The Gnostic Gospels,” season four, episode 13, originally aired 2/10/2004
What makes “Nag Hammadi” such a standout in the dregs of season four? It basically has everything we look for in a Gilmore Girls episode: Stars Hollow hijinks, white-hot Emily zingers, Luke and Lorelai inching closer together, and some Jess drama. Even Lorelai and Digger were never better than when fake-pretending to be a couple at the fancy rare manuscripts fundraiser (hence the explanatory episode title).
Getting Rory out of Yale takes a lot of strain off of an episode that just wants to let Kirk be Kirk, confusingly barking at people over his walkie-talkie while preparing for the annual Firelight Festival, and almost getting run over by Jess and his broken-down car. When Jess then lets out his humiliation and anger about getting run out of town at Luke, saying that all of Luke’s aid only made him feel worse about this ultimate failure, Luke gets drunk on beers from T.J. and spills in front of Lorelai. We just had a moment in front of the bells; now, as Lorelai fixes the cut on his hand, Luke obviously considers a move, but is too besotted and bedrunkened to actually reach the object of his affection. Jason or no Jason, it’s obvious from the bonfire scene that the fire mimics what is going on in the hearts of our two main characters. It’s a slow burn, but as we know how season four ends up, totally worth it.
The introduction of T.J. (who knows more about the importance of family than Michael DeLuise?) also adds a needed note of humor to the Liz story. Both Luke and Jess’ reactions to T.J.’s demand that he guess what his initials stand for are hilarious (Luke: “I… can’t.” Jess: “No.”), but it’s obvious that he really cares for Luke’s sister, so that we know at long last she’s going to be okay. She thinks Jess will too, not that anyone else is on board with that concept at this point. But the ties that unite Luke, Jess, and T.J. seem to be loosely in place by the end of the episode, with T.J standing up to Luke, and Luke sneaking some cash into Jess’ car.
The family bonds are much tighter on the Gilmore side, with a gimlet-deprived Emily anxious about filling a fundraising table (told about a friend’s alternate plans, Emily rails, “Well, she can just go straight to hell then, can’t she!”), trying to get Lorelai to bring a date. When she fails, her mother counters with the wickedest Emily Gilmore putdown of all time: “Honestly Lorelai, it’s not your looks that are keeping them away. Think about that.” The more I think about it, the more hilarious/awful it is: Changing your looks is one thing, but changing an unattractive personality? Burn. Lauren Graham’s resulting pout is absolutely spot-on. But at least Lorelai gets one up on her mother by pretending to be with the secret boyfriend she actually has, making plans to make out in the coatroom. Digger fills out that tux just fine, but he lacks the sizzling chemistry Luke and Lorelai have while breaking bells, fixing windows, or just standing in front of a bonfire. The future is clear.
Also aces in the chemistry department: Rory and Jess’ interactions after season three are much too brief. This episode is no exception, with Jess running away from Rory every time he sees her, until he turns the tables on her at the end. It’s obvious he still loves her, but how can he possibly make up for his heinous behavior? One of the best parts of the revival is how it touched on Rory and Jess’ complicated love story. In my rose-colored mind, eventually they end up together.
“The Incredible Sinking Lorelais,” season four, episode 14, originally aired 2/17/2004
After “Nag Hammadi,” “Sinking” is a bit of a let-down, but at least it’s the first episode (halfway through the season) that directly addresses the dire consequences of the separation of the Gilmore Girls. It may be the first episode of the series where they don’t directly talk to each other, playing phone tag and sending insufficient voicemail messages. Without each other to lean on, both are floundering. Perfect student Rory is shocked when her Yale work is revealed to be sub-par, and falls apart all over Dean, setting up catastrophe for the end of the season. Lorelai is having labor and financial issues in getting the inn ready; her parallel breakdown in front of Luke seems not only more pointed, but also highlights what a better onscreen cryer Lauren Graham is than Alexis Bledel.
Taking up my weekly “this week in Gilmore entitlement” is Rory’s smug certainty that her paper is traditionally stellar, only to find out that it’s D work. Her dismay over dropping a class appears a bit extreme, until we remember that she can’t get through to Lorelai, and really, there’s no one else she can talk to about her school anxiety. Certainly not Paris, who’s still in a full-on war with the rest of the suitemates. This appears to be a theme throughout Rory’s young life: Raised as the golden child of Stars Hollow, practically every time she ventures outside of it, she finds out that the world is more difficult than she realizes. All the way to the revival.
Lorelai’s stumblings are more precarious, as she’s playing not just with her future, but Sookie’s and Michel’s and Tom’s crew that she’s stiffing. I know why she doesn’t want to do so, but $30,000 would make a much smaller dent in the finances of her parents than it does in Luke’s nest egg, considering how much is at stake. The fact that Luke is only momentarily taken aback by this request, just adds even more fuel to that blazing lovelorn bonfire.
- Anyone else really into the banter between Jess and Gypsy? “I’m going to overcharge you like you’ve never been overcharged before.” “I bet you say that to all the guys.”
- Do you think that Lane calling her “Mrs. Kim” hit Mrs. Kim as hard as it did the rest of us? Absolutely brutal.
- Reluctant omission: I straight-up love the renaissance faire, drinking giant pints of ale while watching jousting and falconers. I don’t dress up, though.
- This week in guest stars: I love how Marion Ross can go from America’s perfect mom Mrs. Cunningham to the terrifying first Lorelai, Trix. Emily’s glee when Richard takes his mother down: also delightful.
- Grant Lee Phillips is the all-time best Stars Hollow troubadour.
- Best Gilmore Girls outfit: I really don’t think her hair looked so bad, but that burgundy dress with the cutouts that Lorelai wore to lunch with her grandmother was stunning.
- Next week: