You know when you’re watching traffic go by, and you marvel at how well everything is going? All the cars are following the rules and paths that have been predetermined for them on the way to their ultimate destination. You don’t know where they’re going, but it’s as if for a few fleeting moments you’re along for the ride with them. Then, you notice that one particular car seems to be having more trouble than the rest. It swerves, but seems to correct itself so you relax. Nope. At the last minute before it leaves your field of vision, it crashes into several other cars before coming to a grinding stop. It hurts to watch, but you can’t look away the whole time.
That’s the equivalent of what Gilmore Girls season 3 is for me.
Previously on Gilmore Girls…
Rory kissed Jess at Sookie’s wedding then ran away to Washington for the summer without giving him an explanation. Lorelai and Luke still haven’t made up since Rory and Jess got in the car accident.
Lazy-Hazy-Crazy Days (3.01)
Everyone and their mother knows that the person that Rory describes as the ideal mate-“Someone who likes what you like, someone who reads the same books or listens to the same music or likes to trash the same movies. Someone compatible.”-while she’s fixing Paris’ hair is based on Jess, right? Notice how Rory clams up and tries to change the subject when Paris assumes she’s talking about Dean.
One’s Got Class and the Other One Dyes (3.04)
So it’s interesting that Rory does the same thing again when she’s doing Lane’s hair this time and Lane says that she wants to have what Rory and Dean have. Why the parallel of these occurrences happening when Rory is doing her best friends’ hair?
If Lorelai and Luke are giving a talk at the high school, meaning that school is in session, why are Rory, Lane, Jess, and Shane not in class?
Take the Deviled Eggs (3.06)
It’s clear that Christopher has told Sherry nothing about what went down between him and Lorelai prior to his receiving the news about the baby. How long did he think he would be able to go without that biting him in the ass?
I wish they had gone further with the town loner’s protest. If nothing else, if they really wanted to know what he was protesting, they could have just ran over and picked up the banner off the ground to see what it said.
Deep Fried Korean Thanksgiving (3.09)
As much as I love Luke and Jess, Dave is undoubtedly the most worthy of the series’ suitors. Not many teenage boys learn Christian hymns in the hopes of earning approval from their pending girlfriend’s mother.
I don’t know if Lorelai not knowing about Rory applying to safety schools reflects more poorly on Lorelai-for making her feelings about Rory going to any school other than Harvard well known-or on Rory-for once again avoiding necessary confrontation.
Speaking of Rory avoiding confrontation, she is being too considerate of Dean’s feelings at every turn and not considerate enough of Jess’. Dean is picking up on that, giving him hope for a reconciliation and the courage to (creepily) face down Jess in the alley.
Rory says, “Just remember, there’s cute jealous and there’s Othello.” To recognize the difference, simply rewatch “Swan Song” for the former and “Deep Fried Korean Thanksgiving” for the latter.
This whole “conflict” is absolutely ridiculous. Jess not calling exactly when he said he would because he was working is not at all a transgression that should be held against him, especially when he stood in line all day to get concert tickets so he could make up for it. He’s right to think that Rory would most likely be home at 7:30 on a Saturday night. It’s not his fault she only has 1 1/2 friends.
The Big One (3.16)
The lyrics that Paris sings under her breath to psych out Brad aren’t actually from Into the Woods. However, the play does actually include “magic beans,” so it could be that the lyrics that Paris sings are satirized to make the play sound more infantile.
What is even the point of Alex? Max is a more appealing alternative compared to him, but that’s not saying much. The spark between Max and Lorelai has faded. Lorelai says that she wanted them to talk because they never had any closure, but their scenes feel like they’re there to grant closure to the audience more than to them.
Happy Birthday, Baby (3.18)
Jess looking up the distance between Stars Hollow and Yale shows the commitment that he has to Rory. He isn’t one to do grand romantic gestures, but smaller ones like this show how much he cares. With only Dean as a basis for comparison, Rory isn’t used to such a thing and thus contributes to her doubting the depth of his feelings most of the time.
I love how the conflict between Lorelai and Emily is presented here. Neither of them are 100% in the wrong. Lorelai is justified in her exuberance to finally be able to pay back the debt to her parents, just as Emily is justified in her disappointment and outrage at Lorelai for picking her birthday of all occasions to presumably be their last Friday night dinner for the near future. It’s a slippery slope.
Say Goodnight Gracie (3.20)
Dave read the Bible from cover to cover in one night! Ladies, get you a man who would do that to impress your overly strict mother.
Rory and Jess both approaching the door of the diner to talk to each other and then chickening out is the perfect metaphor for their entire relationship.
Dean asks Rory for her opinion about him getting married to Lindsay and then gets mad and accusatory when she doesn’t validate his choice to get married to Lindsay. Checks out.
There’s a well-known discontinuity here on the topic of when exactly Jess’ father disappeared. Back in “Nick & Nora/Sid & Nancy” Luke said that it was two years ago, but now says that Jimmy went to go get diapers when Jess was born and never came back. It can be debated how relevant the change is to Jess’ character.
Between Jess’ father showing up and Luke telling him that he had to go, however fleeting and in anger the sentiment may have been from the latter, Jess leaving at that point was inevitable. Everything is crumbling around him, anyone that he gives a damn about has seemingly turned on him in their disappointment of his failures, so he figures that it would be best for everyone if he just left and stopped being a burden. In terms of personal improvement, he’s gone as far as he can make it in Stars Hollow and now its time for him to move on to an environment that’s more conducive to his growth.
Jess promises to call Rory and, well…
Those are Strings, Pinocchio (3.22)
He does call her, even if he doesn’t say anything. (Sigh)
Best Character: Rory Gilmore
In my opinion, this is Rory’s best season out of the entire series. Within it, she makes the biggest positive strides towards overcoming her own proclivity towards passivity. She yells at Christopher for stringing her and Lorelai along all those years, learns to allow herself to have public displays of affection with Jess regardless of what the town thinks, fights for Paris against Francie, admits to Lorelai that she’s thinking about sex unprompted by anyone else, stands up for herself when she feels Jess isn’t treating her right, and makes the transition from the dream of Harvard to the chosen reality of Yale. She’s come a long way, our girl, but she has much more to learn in college…
Best Episode(s): They Shoot Gilmores, Don’t They (3.07) and Swan Song (3.14)
“They Shoot Gilmores, Don’t They” is an iconic episode for a reason. It’s the breaking point of tension that has been building for more than a season, all in a bright, swirling, funny, ’50s themed package. Even Dean is charming in a scene where he teases Lane for her call-and-hang-up flirting method. He loses that charm later when he degrades, yells at, and breaks up with Rory in front of the entire town but, you know, it’s Dean. What else can you expect?
The manner in which Rory and Dean break-up both resolves and sets up conflict seamlessly too. Rory and Jess are finally able to be together, but the catch is that Rory didn’t make that decision for herself. She’s not the one who broke up with Dean, he broke up with her. Jess, meanwhile, made sure to break up with Shane before he did anything with Rory. The contrast in agency and choice is almost certainly something that Jess tried not to dwell over in his more insecure moments.
“Swan Song,” meanwhile, is not as classic an episode as “They Shoot Gilmores” is, but in my opinion is vastly underrated. Just like its classic counterpart, it provides crucial insights into the current mindsets of each of the characters that will drive, plague, and trouble them throughout the rest of the season.
Rory, for example, oftentimes is not particularly sensitive to other people’s distaste for a subject matter at a given period in time. To briefly throwback, when Lorelai didn’t want to discuss why she had called off her wedding to Max in “Road Trip to Harvard” Rory would not let it go until Lorelai had emotionally lashed out. The scenario here with Jess is similar. Jess knows that the dinner at Emily’s house is not the right time to discuss his black eye, but Rory keeps pushing until he has had enough and leaves.
Sometimes, you have to do your homework to gain the aforementioned insights. At one point when Emily is ranting to Lorelai about how abominable Jess is, she sneers that, “Lord Jim has decided cell phones are beneath him.” Lord Jim is a book whose main character stands trial for abandoning his ship’s passengers to their fate after the ship had crashed. Emily’s reference is insinuating in a roundabout fashion the concern of what if Jess once again gets Rory got into a car crash and he doesn’t have a cell phone to call for help?
Luke says something really disgusting when he’s giving Jess advice about how to proceed in his relationship with Rory, “When you date a girl like Rory, you’re involved with her whole family. Just like that last girl you dated, you were involved with her whole petri dish.” To rephrase, he’s saying that Shane was a slut who probably had STIs and that Rory is inherently better than her because she’s virginal. Gross. Jess does listen to the overall valid argument Luke makes though, which is that if he can’t show basic respect to Rory’s family then it’s only a matter of time before he loses her. Jess has a rebuttal for every excuse Rory gives about why she can’t stay with him when she has take-out, until she says, “My mom’s waiting.” It’s a subtle nod, but it’s there. He’s trying.
Worst Episode: Keg! Max! (3.19)
God, this episode gives me a headache for so many reasons. I try my absolute best to convince myself that it cuts off after Rory and Jess talk about prom in front of her house. Alas, I cannot always live in that perfect world. Why did Stars Hollow High not contact Luke at all this year before it got to this point? Why was Jess not aware of the absentee clause? Why did he not keep an accurate tally of how many days he missed? Why is anyone pretending like Max is still a viable option? Why did no one’s watch Lane’s alcohol intake? Why did Jess have to go to a bedroom of all the possible rooms? Why did it have to be filmed in such a way that it could be interpreted as sexual assault if you don’t watch carefully and/or think critically? Why did Jess have to be right about it being possible that Dean could sucker punch him and make him have to defend himself, as he puts forth to Rory in “Swan Song?” WHY!?!? For the sake of a spin-off that never even happened!?!?
Every Time Dean Forrester Was the Worst:
11. Breaking up with Rory loudly and publicly.
12. Provoking Jess in the alley behind Luke’s because he’s a bitter creep.
13. Manipulating Rory into being friends with the ulterior motive of weaseling his way back into first place for her heart.
14. Proposing to Lindsay presumably on the same night that he gets in a fist fight with Jess over Rory.
15. Getting mad at Rory when she shockingly doesn’t validate his decision to get married to Lindsay despite asking her for her opinion.
Best Lines (in chronological order):
“All those people coming from China and India and god knows where else, they’re all nuts for traveling. That’s why they’re traveling here. And jobs are dropping and dot-com bombing, and something’s acting like a yo-yo, I don’t know what but it’s not good – and over my dead body is Kate Hudson getting your spot, let me just say that right now!”-Lorelai to Rory (“Application Anxiety”)
“That was Episode 1 of Rory and Jess: The Early Years.”-Lorelai (“Let the Games Begin”)
“Shouldn’t we give thanks first?…That we’re not Native Americans who got their land stolen in exchange for small-pox infested blankets.”-Luke (“Deep Fried Korean Thanksgiving”)
“You’re single?…By choice, or do you scare the men with your independence?”-Trix to Lorelai (“That’ll Do Pig”)
“Did you hear the way he was talking to you? ‘Play like a guy, Lane.’ Well, cry like a girl, Dave.”-Rory, ready to fight for Lane (“Lorelai Out of Water”)
“That’s so cute. You’re like a really sweet old agoraphobic couple.”-Lane about Rory and Jess (“Happy Birthday, Baby”)
“I know you have very strict rules about dating and boys but I just want you to know I’m a good person. I don’t smoke, I don’t drink. I’ve never gotten a ticket. I’m healthy, I take care of myself. I floss. I never watch more than 30 minutes of television a night, partly because I think it’s a waste of time, and partly because there’s nothing on. I respect my parents, I do well in school, I never play video games in case they someday prove that playing them can turn you into a serial killer. I don’t drink coffee. I hate soda because the carbonation freaks me out. I’m happy to give up meat if you feel strongly about it. I don’t mind wearing a tie, I enjoyed playing those hymns in my guitar and I really, really want to take your daughter to the prom.”-Dave to Mrs. Kim (“Say Goodnight Gracie”)
“But my ultimate inspiration comes from my best friend — the dazzling woman from whom I received my name and my life’s blood, Lorelai Gilmore. My mother never gave me any idea that I couldn’t do whatever I wanted to do or be whomever I wanted to be. She filled our house with love and fun and books and music, unflagging in her efforts to give me role models from Jane Austen to Eudora Welty to Patti Smith. As she guided me through these incredible 18 years, I don’t know if she ever realized that the person I most wanted to be was her. Thank you, mom. You are my guidepost for everything.”-Rory (“Those Are Strings, Pinocchio”)
RANKING OF GILMORE GIRLS SEASONS:
- Season 2
- Season 3
- Season 1