|Lane leading the parade of potential in-laws|
Star-Crossed Lovers and Other Strangers
Season 1, Episode 16
Original airing: March 8, 2001
My Rating: 42
Wow, that was disappointing. Most of this episode falls into the Bad category for me. I will say, I love the little moments with Sookie and Jackson. It’s nice to see them becoming comfortable as a couple in the kitchen scene and during the bonfire.
Overall, I was really frustrated by this episode. The main focus of Rory and Dean’s date never felt real, their break up was really forced, Emily’s set up was beyond awful, and the one interesting aspect (Luke and Rachel) was primarily ignored.
This episode is all about Rory and Dean and the “magic” of their first anniversary. Oddly enough, I thought Jared Padelaki nailed this much better than Alexis Bledel. Rory just never really seems all that excited at any point. She can across over and over again as if she was trying too hard. I’m guessing it’s a life-experience thing that perhaps Alexis had not had at that moment. But either way, it made the entire story line feel extremely unbelievable.
Worse was the supposed break up. It seemed very strange for Dean to go from “I love you” and I’m building you a car from scratch to “Get out my face!” I wish we had seen the actual break up. The presentation of the moment when Rory enters the house and announces it’s over felt very poor. The transition from their awful “I love you” conversation wasn’t clear enough. It seems like breaking up would be something Rory would get in words, not just infer. I wonder if it was Dean or Rory who actually said it.
Lorelai’s storyline was almost as bad. After no mention of Max for five episodes since their break up (S1E11 Paris is Burning), suddenly Lorelai is pining for him. They try to push it off as she’s been too busy… but it seems like she’s just been too busy flirting with Luke and having sex with Christopher (S1E15 Christopher Returns). If she’s pining for anyone, at this point it should be Luke. Especially after his flirty little lean in at the diner.
I actually really liked the idea of Emily jumping on the chance to set up Lorelai with a society man, but surely even Emily can admit that Chase is an incredibly boring (and at times, creepy) choice. Poor Chase gets no good representation in this episode. It’s really hard to believe that Emily thinks this is a good idea when even Richard is obviously lashing out at the man. This felt almost like another Rune joke (S1E12 Double Date). Chase is so boring and creepy as to have no redeeming qualities. It gets old fast to see him leer at Lorelai and attempt to one-up Richard.
This also led to a sort-of cute, but actually incredibly poor character moment for Lorelai. First of all, it’s absurd to believe that Emily put Lorelai’s coat on her childhood bed and not in a guest coat closet (where I’m sure Chase’s coat is residing). But putting that small logic hole aside, it makes Lorelai look really bad to have her climb out the window at the end of the evening. It’s after dinner and desert. She could stay for ten to fifteen more minutes to have a cocktail and then leave by the front door. It’s indescribably rude to Emily and coerces Richard into lying to cover for her. It almost makes it worse that Lorelai acknowledges that this is the exact behavior from when she was sixteen that helped drive the wedge in between herself and her parents. It makes it look like she hasn’t matured at all since then and would not, in my opinion, support her claim to her father that she is a grown adult capable of making her own, smart choices.
But, the most frustrating aspect of this episode was the reintroduction of Rachel. This is the exact reverse moment of Christopher arriving two episodes ago (S1E14 That Damn Donna Reed). Luke and Lorelai are getting along famously and here comes an ex to derail everything. While I actually find both Luke and Lorelai’s ex’s to be pretty fascinating, this is just too close on the heels of Christopher. It’s repetitive. And the show adds insult to injury by introducing her and then ignoring her for the whole episode.
A small highlight of the episode was the visual callback to poor Lane and her “date” with the prospective chiropractor… and his entire family. Seeing everyone troop past Luke with equally suffering, bored expressions was a great joke.
The Bottom Line:
This episode focused very strongly on Dean and Rory. Unfortunately, Alexis Bledel’s acting isn’t quite strong enough yet to support the highly emotional storyline. And it wasn’t presented very well, either. On top of that, we have two retreads of stories we’ve seen within the last five episodes – Lorelai’s bad blind date and the returning ex. It’s frustrating to see the show pulling out the same joke themes while still in the first season.