The Ins & Outs of Inns
Season 2, Episode 8
Original airing: November 20, 2001
My Rating: 67
We finally meet the woman who gave Lorelai and Rory a real start in life. I think the show did a great job with this introduction. The actress is likeable and affable and it seems like she really does have a relationship with our two main girls. The chemistry between them is quite strong and very entertaining. Mia is a perfect fit for Lorelai’s spiritual mother. She’s obviously a whirlwind of energy and good humor. Perhaps Rory isn’t just a reflection of her mom’s crazy?
Mia’s effect in the town was great. She fits right in as if she did live there for decades. Her interaction with Luke was particularly wonderful. I loved their body language during the hug and her teasing in the diner. The Town Meeting is enhanced by her morbid enjoyment as we also see Taylor and Luke go toe-to-toe.
Bootsy’s life-long relationship with Luke was another nice reveal. I like that they are building up Luke’s history with the town. It gives the Jess situation another layer of ridiculous. Luke should have the cache at this point to handle things without other people interfering. But, this is Stars Hollow, so they can’t help themselves.
Jess continues to be just a little punk, without being an all out, irredeemable “bad boy”. His prank is the kind I appreciate which doesn’t actually harm anyone and is quite clever. It’s unlikely there’s ever been a truly violent incident in Stars Hollow and the town is small enough that a full head count can be performed before any panics over potential missing family members. It comes across well and leads in to an excellent series of moments between Jess and Rory.
Their conversation on the street is very similar to their quiet meeting at the end of S2E5 – Nick & Nora/Sid & Nancy. There’s no big fight or explosion, Rory just quietly lays out her side of things and Jess quietly thinks about it. Their interactions feel adult and mature in a way we have never seen between Rory and Dean. It’s a marked contrast when Dean comes out of the store and the two boys finally (in the audience’s eyes) meet face-to-face. Although Jess does fall back to being quite sneaky in his little asides.
Of course, this moment is later capitalized on when Jess does something nice for Luke by fixing his toaster. His refusal to take credit is perfectly in character. But the best part is his side eye to Rory as he goes out the door. Surprisingly steamy!
I really liked Lorelai following Emily in to the kitchen after mocking the painting. It was good of her to immediately apologize and acknowledge that she was being a poor sport.
A major highlight of the episode was the fight between Lorelai and Sookie. It’s painful to see these two disagree and especially so when it feels so justified. As Sookie states, nothing Lorelai is saying about her punctuality is untrue or unsupported, but it’s also things Lorelai and the audience have known about her for a long time now. Lorelai’s sudden attack fits right in with her fears over starting a new business and the potential loss her emotional home with the sale of the Independence Inn. But she still unfairly unloads all of that fear on to Sookie. I really liked Sookie’s refusal to cry in front of Lorelai in that moment. It was a strong statement from her.
The best part of this fight, in my opinion, was the forgiveness scene. Again, I really liked that Sookie stood strong. She forced Lorelai to acknowledge that she herself was flaking out and being unfair. Sookie so often folds to Lorelai’s force of personality, so it’s extremely important to see her stand up for herself when it really matters.
I was quite confused and frustrated by the running joke of Mia and Michel. It’s difficult to tell, especially in the scene with Rory “translating”, if Mia is teasing Michel or if she legitimately can’t understand him.
If she’s teasing, she seems to carry the joke a bit too far. It becomes a little cruel to think she’s been treating him this way for years.
If she can’t understand him, the entire joke is a little too farfetched. She’s either hard of hearing or deliberately being difficult. His accent is not that strong. It makes her seem potentially racist in this circumstance. And she should be strongly offended by Rory’s translation of Michel’s responses in the lobby scene.
It’s easy to assume this is supposed to be a funny joke, but I think it fell greatly short of the mark.
The other thing that irked me a bit in this episode was the random business of Lorelai putting placecards on the tables during her fight with Sookie. As a detail oriented person, I found this bodywork distracting. I couldn’t tell if she was doing a really poor job with this task or trying to distract herself or what was happening.
The best scene of the episode in my opinion was Emily and Mia’s confrontation. Mia is gracious from the beginning, which fits her more traditional motherly attitude of taking care of people. But she’s also very defensive in her posture and arm positions. She’s the interloper in this family situation and she knows it. Emily, meanwhile, stands very tall in her tailored suit and points out that Mia basically took on a role that didn’t belong to her. But she also shows again that she doesn’t really understand Lorelai. At that time, if Mia had sent her away, Lorelai would not have gone home. In the end, I think Mia did the best thing she could.
The scene ends on the heartbreaking request from Emily for pictures of Lorelai and Rory as a baby. I loved that Mia immediately offered up all that she had to give. It was very touching.
The Bottom Line:
Aside from a few distracting issues, I thought this episode did an overall excellent job of introducing Mia. She’s a pivotal character in the development of both Rory and Lorelai and we can see her some of the reasons why. It was also very nice for the show to address the dichotomy between Lorelai’s blood mother and her spiritual mother. On top of that, I really liked how this blossomed out to include the fight with Sookie. And finally, I thought there was some great development in the spark between Jess and Rory.