Season 3, Episode 1
Original airing: September 24, 2002
My Rating: 65
This was a pretty mild emotional opening for season three. We spent a good amount of time catching up with characters catching up with each other.
I liked the resolution of Lorelai’s Christopher relationship as it stands at the moment. I’m glad this was addressed in the episode between Lorelai and Rory. It’s completely understandable for both of them to be upset enough to cut Christopher off for a while. It was a pretty huge event in all of their lives and they need time to recover.
I really liked Emily and Richard’s response to Lorelai’s news about Christopher. I expected them to be upset, but I didn’t really know how that would manifest in the show. It was a surprise to see it turn in to an argument between them instead of a united front of disappointment against Lorelai. I felt both Emily and Richard’s reactions fit their characters very well and will allow for a natural continuation of the storyline in several episodes to come as they come to a full confrontation with Lorelai.
What I liked most though was how the Friday Night Dinner scene led in to the resolution of Luke and Lorelai’s fight which began in S2E19 – Teach Me Tonight. Luke still seems upset with Lorelai, but one of the biggest pillars of his character is how he will yield to her needs and happiness. That’s not necessarily a good thing for balance in their relationship, but it’s consistent to have him finally give in and be a support for her again. I hope we see even more of Lorelai returning the favor this season. I liked that their scene, interactions, tone, and conversation were all very mild. They didn’t need to have another big blow up and it was a good adjustment after the anger displayed at the Gilmore Manor.
I found the subplots of Kirk and Sookie well-suited to the episode. They didn’t feel out of place and brought a nice dash of humor.
Rory and Paris wrapped up their final days in Washington, DC for their summer program. It was excellent seeing Paris get a date without realizing it was occurring. Her typical focus on academia led to this very cute scene with the tall and not-overly-dashing Jamie. I really liked this entire story as it led to great moments between Paris and Rory. It’s easy to see how their relationship has blossomed over the past seasons. They are at a point of confidences and emotional support that I’ve been hoping they’d reach for a while now. I enjoy them much more as friends than I do as enemies.
It was also interesting to see all the little hints about Rory’s emotional state over the summer. She’s obviously pulling away from Dean. Her discussion with Paris about compatibility seems to be all about Jess. And her unfinished letter is addressed to him as well. The big moment is when Dean signs off the phone with “I love you” and Rory is conveniently distracted to avoid saying it back.
I felt they show even had a moment in the airport when Lorelai was picking Rory up from her flight home. Lorelai mentions arranging the evening so Rory can spend it alone with Dean and Rory’s physical reaction is to tense up, open her eyes very wide, and look quite terrified. This was all really excellent to put it out there how Rory’s Jess attraction is affecting her relationship.
The show hits it home even harder when they’re at the festival and a dressed-up Rory spots Jess kissing another girl. This leads in to the inevitable fight with Lorelai who learns about the kiss at Sookie’s wedding. Lorelai was going to find out eventually and I knew there would be a big fight about it. I didn’t fully expect Lorelai’s position to be “choose whomever you want, but choose!” I expected her to be more fully on Dean’s side, so it was nice to see her more on the side of treating everyone with respect no matter what Rory chose to do. Dean’s sudden arrival again showed Rory being off-balance and uncomfortable. And her lingering glance to Jess during her hug with Dean was really quite upsetting.
All of this preparation is why I was really disappointed by the end of the episode. Rory’s decision to recommit to her relationship with Dean doesn’t really make a lot of sense, except as a way to keep the love triangle storyline full of extra drama. After seeing Rory’s reactions to Dean throughout this episode, it doesn’t feel like she really wants to be with him anymore. Regardless of if she chooses to pursue Jess, she just doesn’t seem that interested in Dean anymore.
I greatly enjoyed the entire pre-date scene with Paris and Rory. Paris’ unnecessary panic was accentuated by her stunning appearance and obvious desire for things to go well. Jamie invited her out after hearing how she enjoys crushing opponents during debates. He’s pretty aware of, and attracted to, her strong personality. So she really has nothing to worry about if she would just calm down and be herself.
It was great having Rory give Paris the mental slap of sanity to help calm her down. And it was sad and adorable when Paris asked Rory to hide in the closet and then thanked her through the door. I also enjoy vulnerable Paris moments and this was a lovely string of them.
The Bottom Line:
This was a good episode, but it didn’t leave me super excited or emotionally affected overall. I’m a bit annoyed by the ongoing confusing presentation of the Rory and Dean relationship, but not enough to have any lingering annoyance once I finished the episode.