“The Lorelais' First Day at Chilton”
Season 1, Episode 2
Original airing: October 12, 2000
My Rating: 65
- The introduction to the world of Chilton is very complex. I like that the whole episode lingers on the various components of Rory’s day, from the different demands of the teachers, to the weirdness of the other students. I like how both Paris and Tristan focus on Rory but in different ways, both equally unscrutiple and unsettling.
- The humor in the scene that introduces Paris, Madeline, and Louise is spot on. I especially like Madeline’s interjections and the way the other two girls ignore her, which seems to set up a dynamic I assume we’ll see more of later on. The moment when she sees a lizard and takes off is really great.
- The show is good at expertly shifting from screwball humor to emotional realism and back. They show off this skill well when the Lorelai’s arrive at Chilton and make their way through the halls together as what I believe is the first instance of the more emotional musical cue plays.
- The introduction of Jackson in the peaches scene with Sookie was fantastic. I especially like when she rolled the peach and proclaimed, “They’re even rolling differently.”
- Both brief Miss Patty scenes were perfect. I loved her Harry Potter joke, her cigarette holder, and her fringed shaw.
- The scene with the DSL men looking for a frog and arguing about whether it’s a frog or a turtle was very funny.
- The highlight of Lorelai’s plot for me was when she tells off her mom in the salon and then tries to keep that same level of authority to ask if the salon validates parking. Emily’s cold and measured, “There’s a stamp at the desk,” was perfect too.
- The nighttime stroll scene is a great way to ground the episode back in the world of Stars Hollow. After spending a day with Rory at school, it feels like coming home, and it’s nice to have another appearance of Lane. Also, all the string lights in the trees do a good job of lighting up the characters' faces and making the town feel idilic. So far, this show is getting me every time with pretty, cozy lighting.
- I think it’s good that Rory’s first day is the focus of this episode, but I couldn’t help but wonder if Lorelai’s plot would have been more interesting with one central conflict or perhaps just better execution of the three they gave her. I enjoyed her silly outfit and the various encounters with her mother, but the sacrifice she makes by turning down the Chilton dad just left me cold. Maybe it was because he came off as kind of weird, so it didn’t feel like much of a sacrifice. I do think this plot line worked insofar as it set up Lorelai’s slight consideration of Luke as a romantic partner at the end of the episode.
- The castle smashing moment just didn’t work for me at all. Why would Paris leave it in the hall? Why did no one point of that it was in the hall when the teacher questioned the validity of Rory’s story? Couldn’t the teacher have evaluated the smashed castle and still given Paris a grade? If Paris cares so much about being top in the class, why is so so quick to accept an incomplete? This is such a tiny moment of the episode, so I don’t want to oversell its significance, but it literally made no sense to me, which made for a disappointing climax to the Paris/Rory conflict.
The Sookie/Jackson peach scene, especially Sookie rolling the peach and Jackson exclaiming, “you planned this” when Lorelai pronounces the peach “a little watery.” This is a great introduction to this relationship, and Melissa McCarthy is at her funniest here.
The Bottom Line:
Almost like a second pilot, this episode has the responsibility of introducing a whole world and a slew of characters. Since Gilmore girls primarily functions around two worlds (Star Hollow and Chilton), it was really smart to save the introduction to Chilton for the second episode so that it could really shine, and it does. This isn’t one of the best episodes, firing on all cilenders, but it’s effective at what it set out to accomplish.