Season 3, Episode 2
Original airing: October 1, 2002
My Rating: 71
This felt like a continuation of the season opener. I was happy to see some direct addressing of the Lorelai/Christopher situation and the Jess/Rory situation.
Emily’s self-involvement in Lorelai’s relationship with Christopher felt very true to her character. I liked that she inserted herself in a way that she probably viewed as helpful, but also stood up for Lorelai when she really needed it in the final scene.
I was a little bit proud of Christopher for forcing a conversation about the situation since we know Lorelai and Rory have both been avoiding his phone calls. I was surprised and happy to see him arrive during Friday Night Dinner! But it didn’t last as he also stayed true to his character and wasn’t there to discuss the events, but to make accusations. It was really powerful to see Rory tear him down for breaking his promise to her within minutes of making it. Her comments cut very deeply.
I was also very in to Jess and Rory’s final conversation. The set up scene in the diner was a good small reminder of exactly where they stand. Neither of them will look at each other and we have the wonderfully awkward kiss between Jess and Shane where he pulls away. It was excellent for setting the stage for their scene in Doosey’s Market. I liked that they danced around the issue for a while. This seems like the first words they’ve exchanged in about three months since Rory left for Washington DC. So it makes sense that they might each have to work up the nerve to address the tension between them.
I appreciated really getting to hear Jess’ perspective. It was exactly what I suspected it would be; Rory hurt him by running away and not communicating for three months, so he presumably moved on with his life. However, it would seem he hasn’t and Shane is likely more of a distraction for him than a real interest. This develops way more interest in the Rory/Jess/Dean storyline because it gives Rory real, understandable reasons for staying with Dean versus pursuing Jess. Their mutually injured feelings and pride are the source of conflict.
Kirk’s story was particularly well-handled. It was a big surprise to have him ask Lorelai out on a date and yet makes perfect sense. Kirk is awkward, but he’s also an adult. He has an attraction to Lorelai based on their mutually crossing paths (much of which we’ve seen in various episodes). So his dinner suggestion is really quite reasonable. And while the storyline is largely played for laughs with his voice message and everyone mocking Lorelai, it’s handled quite delicately. It was good to have Lorelai have a considered, kind, and compassionate response to Kirk. This story was an excellent opportunity to expand Kirk’s character and remind us of a few reasons why we love Lorelai.
I’m less enthusiastic about the Chilton bits of the episode, but I thought they were ok. Of course it’s entertaining to see Paris in a position of power and how quickly she takes complete and utter control of her position. But I felt the Francie-side of things was lacking. Her threat is a retread of Season One Paris – a mean girl who’s purpose on the show is to make Rory’s school life uncomfortable. Her vocalized threat to ruin Rory and Paris’ relationship is just frustrating. If the show returns to that well for a third time, it will feel beyond tired and clichéd. If the writers find a new angle for this, I think it could be interesting. But it’s not a terribly promising start.
The other bit of the episode that frustrated me was Emily’s bait and switch at lunch. This was another retread that felt unnecessary and wrong. Emily may have pulled this earlier in her and Lorelai’s relationship, but at this point I think she knows it wouldn’t result in Lorelai being willing to listen to anything she has to say.
I was really impressed by the small scene of Lorelai trying to decide if she would save a seat for Emily with her purse. She holds a pretty long joke moment of picking up her purse and putting it back down with aplomb. Her facial expressions as she goes through the pros and cons of each decision were very engaging. The kicker was Emily arriving with the bag off the seat and commenting on Lorelai’s lack of courtesy.
The Bottom Line:
This episode did a great job of kicking off season three with a momentum that was lacking last week. The main storylines were very strong and engaging, as was Kirk’s dinner invite. The Chilton storyline is really more of an unknown, so I’ll have to wait and see how that develops. Overall, I greatly enjoyed this week.