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

“Pulp Friction,” season five, episode 17, originally aired 3/8/2005 

“Pulp Friction” loses a lot of points for the sheer obnoxiousness of the Tarantino party, but it has a few helpful parallels and foreshadows that make the episode better overall than it seems at first glance. It kicks off, after all, with a nod to Rory’s future thievery: Starts with Cocoa Puffs, ends with a yacht. At this point, she’s so far removed from Life And Death Brigade antics that she leaves cash at the cereal counter so as not to get into trouble or to be unfair to the school. Hard to believe she’ll ratchet up into grand larceny in just a few weeks.

Rory’s floundering through this Logan situation, in fact, is heightened by her separation from Lorelai, which this episode also makes perfectly clear. Spotting Logan out with another girl while shopping (and then he takes Rory for coffee just a few hours later! Take it easy, guy), Lorelai immediately knows how wrong for Rory this is. Even though Rory won’t admit it.

This week in Rory Gilmore entitlement, though: She goes ahead and uses Robert (Grimaldi) merely as a pawn to make Logan jealous. Apparently that scene where he talks about inheriting money and cutting off his family is supposed to make us not feel sorry for him? But really, it’s kind of a shitty thing to do, even though it appears to have her desired effect, and Rory wraps up her success with a few phone calls and future dates like a cat that just got the cream.

Lorelai knows this isn’t right, and her kitchen talk with Luke does an excellent job of laying out why she has to let Rory try and fail with her own decisions, even knowing how hard that is, and seeing all the hurt that’s likely in store for her daughter. And what’s even better than that is the juxtaposition of that scene against Emily’s blowup with Luke. Emily’s insistence that she was just trying to do what’s right for Lorelai, that she knows better than her grown-up daughter does about her own life decisions, is a 180-degree turn from Lorelai’s own parenting style, and underlines why she’s the kind of mother that she is. It’s not just because it’s cute to be your daughter’s bff and fun to talk fast—it’s because she never felt like she had a friend in her own mother as a child, only a dictator. Those two scenes leave us with a lot more to like in “Pulp Friction” than we remember on our first watch 12 years ago (Luke’s dumbfoundedness in the face of Emily’s wrath is especially palpable), even though we’d be happier without the dumb theme party and the camper and naked Kurt in a boat.

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“To Live And Let Diorama,” season five, episode 18, originally aired 4/19/2005 

There was a bit of a spring break between “Pulp Friction” and this episode, which explains why the Logan relationship so appears to have run its course after Logan’s quick besottedness. Honestly, the guy seems to have the attention span of the average gnat, so even though he comes around next week, there’s nothing to indicate that he’s actually ready for a serious relationship with someone like Rory. Quite the opposite, in fact.

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So we get to see Rory (and Paris, and Lane) in the throes of romantic heartbreak for once, but really, it’s just a depressing (although familiar to some of us) setting of waiting for that phone call that never comes. As much as I appreciate Lorelai acting out the role of ’50s mom for Kirk (“No forts!”), I hate, really hate seeing a desperate, barefoot Paris looking like a Manson wife, scrounging for change to call Doyle. To say nothing of Rory sobbing on a bathroom floor. As usual, Lane and Zack appear to have the stablest of all the relationships, bonding over cleaning supplies, and the only stepping out Zack does is to play bluegrass music.

And I know the dioramas are supposed to be hilarious—the caveman with the wrench, the mute little boy, the little girl saying “I love Jesus”—but the Stars Hollow museum is too ludicrous to be actually funny (although points for the cannonball in the basement). It just doesn’t do much for me. Neither does Luke lying to everyone, even Lorelai, after they just got back together. But the lowest point may be his scene with pouty Dean (honestly, was the direction like, “Okay, Jared, we want you to really pout here, okay? Very petulant. Lots of stomping around.”), because why—because Luke’s with Lorelai and he’s no longer with Rory? Watching this from the 2017 perspective, it’s clear that the show was trying to set up some bigwig thing (based on Richard’s comment last week that someone could buy the inn) that would nearly pull Lorelai away from Luke and Stars Hollow. Except she’s always talked about how much she loves her crazy little town and has never suggested any hint of any ambitious sentiment otherwise. Which may be why the show dropped that particular tack, but gave us April instead, and it’s hard to imagine anything more painful than that. But it’s difficult to watch Luke’s excitement about the Twickham house here, knowing that it will never happen, that he will have a last-minute commitment freakout and then screw up this relationship with this woman he’s waited for for years. Man, as season five nears its end, I’m already getting steamed up about the next two years.

This week in Lorelai Gilmore entitlement, she rips Michel’s head off for having a camper delivered to the inn during a photo shoot last episode (even though having it delivered to him there made absolutely no sense), but she’s able to ruin an entire magazine article—and cover!—by blabbing away in an interview without realizing that she was likely to be quoted. D’you think she’ll even get a stern talking-to and/or a suggestion that she should brush up on her p.r. skills? I haven’t done my re-watch for next week yet, but I’m guessing not. It’s obviously to show that Lorelai still cares about her mother, even during their estrangement (that “Shut up!” last episode was dagger-like). But since it follows Lorelai chewing Michel out for doing something similar, it rings painfully hollow. So the highlights of the diorama episode are meager: Kirk and Lorelai at the breakfast table, and the cannonball in the basement. Pretty low bar.

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Stray observations

  • Worst Gilmore outfits: Oh god, remember the shrug, the most useless piece of clothing since the pashmina shawl? Also, Liza Weil is a lovely woman, but that brown pilgrim dress was beyond unflattering. Can’t believe she would ever wear that on purpose. Maybe if she lost a bet or something.
  • Best Gilmore outfit: I really liked Lorelai’s red sweater with the purple flowers but I feel like there’s something’s wrong with me for liking it?
  • Nice touch: The Carole King-penned Monkees hit “Pleasant Valley Sunday” playing when Lane comes in to talk to Sophie about her songwriting past.
  • That had to be Lane’s first drink ever, right?
  • We had a talk on the comments a few weeks ago on whether it ever rained in Stars Hollow: There’s the finale, and raining on Rory and Paris last year before they decide to go to spring break, but I think we all forgot about it raining on poor Lane and all her cleaning supplies.
  • I have met a lot of famous people, mostly due to this job, but Carole King was one of the absolute nicest. I worked backstage at the first Farm Aid when it came to my school, and she was the first (possibly only) autograph I ever got. It was for my mom, who practically raised me with Tapestry as the background. Anyway, she was super-sweet about it.
  • Next week: Meh.

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