There’s The Rub
Season 2, Episode 16
Original airing: April 9, 2002
My Rating: 68
This was a good episode for some serious character and story development. Emily and Lorelai had one of the first real conversations about their relationship that we’ve seen. And the Rory/Dean/Jess triangle was pushed way forward with some great moments from Paris.
The Emily and Lorelai storyline didn’t start off great as we treaded back over old ground with Emily being overbearing and Lorelai being visibly annoyed. We’ve been here and seen this a lot. There’s some variation of doing it in bath robes and sheets, but it’s really not that funny or exciting.
Then they sneak off campus for dinner and things get good! It’s really nice to see them having a cocktail and laughing together. And the one dance with Chad the Silver Fox was quite fun. I completely understand Emily’s anger during the slow dance. The cheek to cheek dancing was too intimate and Emily allowed herself to end up in that position, albeit with some aggressive body language from Chad. Where Emily goes wrong, of course, is blaming Lorelai for the situation. Emily was the one who could have pulled away more strongly from the man. But having been put extremely out of her comfort zone, Emily lashes out, which is a perfectly understandable reaction.
And it leads to a great conversation in the hotel room. Emily asks the question “Why can’t we have a good relationship?” but she doesn’t really want to hear the answer. She gives reason after reason why the way she raised Lorelai was proper. But the idea of being friends obviously appeals to her and it’s great to see her run with it when Lorelai suggests stealing the robes.
Meanwhile, the younger generation was getting in to all kinds of interesting hijinks.
The best stuff was with Paris. When push comes to shove and Paris is worried about her grade, she’ll overlook all else to find a good study partner. All of her conversations with Rory were excellent, witty, and the perfect amount of quick that these two actresses are just getting better at doing. And the number of moments Eliza Weil had to shine in this episode were numerous. Some of my favorites were seeing her eyes light up when she learned there was mac and cheese, her excitement to be asked to dinner, her hesitant hope that perhaps she and Rory are kind of some realm of friends, asking if they were having a sleep over, and her quick reversion to threats if Rory freezes her bra. It was all brilliant and great fun to watch.
Jess was also cute all over the board. Showing up at the house was extremely presumptuous, of course, but the heat going on in the kitchen with Rory was not all from the food! It’s really fun to watch these two fire back and forth with their tangible chemistry. I liked how the cinematography emphasized their conversation with quick cuts back and forth on their faces. It definitely amped up the tension.
Jess is really pulling off the sexy vibe in this episode. Every scene with Rory has him slightly in her space, just enough to raise an eyebrow. And watching her shove him out the door was surprisingly cute considering it was easy to guess that Dean was about to catch him leaving the house.
The Jess and Paris overlap was great. Having Jess, Paris, and Rory sit around and eat food while debating literature was a scene this show was born to do. These three characters have needed to be in a room together since Jess was introduced and it was utter perfection. On top of that, it highlighted even more how much Jess and Rory have in common. Dean would have never kept up at that dinner table.
Speaking of Dean, I was onboard with the second half of his story. I thought his anger at finding Jess at Rory’s house was completely reasonable. She told him she wanted to be alone and then he came over (which was annoying but see The Bad for those thoughts) and found Jess of all people being hurriedly shoved out of the house. I think anyone would be upset by that.
I also really liked Dean’s response to seeing Jess and Rory in the diner the next day. For the first time we got to see a reaction from him that wasn’t over the top anger and jealousy. I actually felt slightly bad for him and touched by his question to Lorelai, “Rory wouldn’t lie, right?” And I also believed Lorelai’s answer. Rory wouldn’t lie and, personally, I don’t think she is. I think she finds Jess fun and interesting, but I don’t feel like she is aware if she finds him attractive. I think she’s still devoted to Dean and doesn’t fully realize how her behavior is starting to veer in the other direction.
Finally, I’m glad to see the show is going forward with the diner expansion storyline in a tangible manner. It would have been easy in TV world to just say it happened and the next time we see Luke’s apartment, it’s significantly bigger. I like seeing them go through the motions and it allowed for a very cute moment of Jess giving Rory the umbrella.
In terms of what I didn’t like, aside from finding the first half of the Lorelai and Emily storyline a bit boring, I was mostly rolling my eyes at Dean. He continued his habit of dismissing Rory’s requests and generally being a pain about the whole thing.
I was really annoyed with his reaction in the kissing scene. While I can understand a teenage boy being a bit upset that he can’t spend an unsupervised night with his girlfriend, I thought his reaction was extremely childish. First, I can’t imagine that he thought it would be ok to hang out at the house with Lorelai gone. Sure, Lorelai was encouraging Rory to do something slightly crazy (for Rory’s standards), but I still don’t think she would be thrilled with the idea of Dean being there. Secondly, who cares what he wants in this situation?! If Rory says she wants a night alone, that is not an unreasonable request. And Dean’s unconvincing “I’m not mad’s” with the severe pouty face didn’t endear him to me. The worst was his line “I’m a saint”; just irritating.
But what I really found disappointing was the show tacitly acknowledging that Rory has to lie to Dean to avoid fighting with him. We had a hint of this in the last episode when Rory’s response to Dean seeing the missing bracelet was to lie about a rash. But it was really explicit in this episode. Paris has to literally save Rory with a line about liking Jess and Rory has to lie to Dean’s face. And while I like how this feeds in to Paris and Rory’s relationship, I really don’t like that the show is still pushing Dean as a great guy while seeming to point out that he’s a controlling boyfriend who doesn’t listen to or respect Rory. In this way, I don’t blame Rory for lying. Dean was obviously unwilling to hear anything else and Rory’s flinches and crossed arms hugging herself showed pretty well that she was terrified of his anger.
I absolutely loved Paris’ face breaking in to a gigantic smile when Rory invited her to stay for dinner and she saw mac and cheese on the table. It was extremely sweet.
The Bottom Line:
Overall, I enjoyed the second half of this episode a lot more than the first and I really appreciated how we got a lot of focus on two on-going storylines. It felt like a good step for Lorelai and Emily and there was definite progression on the Dean/Rory/Jess love triangle.