“The Hobbit, The Sofa, and Digger Stiles” (season four, episode three, originally aired 10/7/2003)
Let’s get the Digger in the room out of the way first: Digger Stiles is a controversial character. It is nothing against the delightful Chris Eigeman, who has a natural way with Palladino dialogue, and even harbors some genuine chemistry with Lauren Graham. Namely, it’s what Digger represents: Not only the posh upbringing that Lorelai is continually trying to get away from, but also his facility as a romantic obstacle to Luke and Lorelai. Personally, I can’t get past his intrusion into one of the most important days of her life at the Dragonfly Inn opening, and his steadfast refusal to accept their breakup, after he sued her own father. Basically he is what Emily hints at this episode, a stilted man-child who is stuck in adolescent rebellion. You could say the same thing about Lorelai herself, but she’s snarky, not vindictive. Digger goes after his father’s own business, for God’s sake.
We’re getting ahead of ourselves, but as we’ll be talking about Digger a lot over the next several weeks, just wanted to get my reasons for character hatred out right up front. And he and Lorelai don’t even cross paths this episode. This episode title is a little disparate at first, but it actually makes a lot of sense. The three plotlines all explore our characters in unfamiliar surroundings, trying to realign themselves in strange times. Rory, most obviously, as she’s still getting her feet wet at Yale. But Lorelai is also out of sorts, between jobs, and without her daughter for the first time. Beside her is Sookie, who is preparing for a major lifestyle change that she has serious doubts about this episode. Even Richard is on shaky ground, establishing his own firm after a lifetime of being a company man, and getting ousted.
To get through these tough times, all of these people dive right in, with varying degrees of success. Rory reluctantly agrees to a Yale party, but she doesn’t seem to be any less the introverted bookworm she always is by the end of it; Paris makes more of an effort, but her real self emerges eventually, shooing everyone out of their suite. She also, of course, is unable to stand up to Emily. Through their catering gig, Lorelai and Sookie discover that Sookie may have an unrealistic view of her future parenting capabilities. And Richard gamely dives into business with Digger, even though we know it will all end in disaster. But all of our Gilmore-ites jump into a new kind of life to varying degrees this episode, showing that even if it doesn’t turn out to be out and out valuable, you learn a lot about yourself as you move out of whatever comfort zone you happen to be in.
“Chicken Or Beef?” (season four, episode four, originally aired 10/14/2003)
Maybe “The Hobbit, The Sofa…” fares so much better against the dreck it is placed next to: “Chicken Or Beef?”, a.k.a. Dean’s wedding. Here’s another rant I have against this show: It wasn’t just that both Gilmore girls were fun and delightful. It was that no one they ever went out with was supposed to ever get over them, ever. Look at Digger, above. Or Christopher. Or Max. Or Logan or Jess or even on his goddamn wedding day, Dean. Rory had pretty much left her boyfriend for the new bad boy in town, but that does not stop him pining for her years later. It’s maddening. I mean, I like the GG girls too, they’re great, but are they really that great? Like life-alteringly great for everyone they come in contact with?
“Chicken Or Beef?” also slams us with a B-story that features Taylor at his most annoying, which is certainly saying something. In fact, in all the crazy schemes Taylor has pulled, has he ever been more annoying than meddling in the construction of the Dragonfly Inn? Wanting to lay lucite over a historic crumbling porch? The resolution, in that he’s just playing Lorelai to get a favor from Luke he hasn’t even asked him for, is meant to be amusing, but only results in frustration. Man, there is very little I like in this episode.
Except for: Michel! Thank god Michel is back. Love him at the high-tech hotel (“Matthew?! What?!”) but c’mon. We all know where he really belongs. Look how happy he is at that ground-breaking selfie!
We also know that Rory does not belong pining behind a tree at Dean’s wedding, especially after she has been explicitly told to make herself scarce. Some nice foreshadowing, but also: Get it together, Rory! You tossed this guy aside soon after something shinier moved to town, you can’t expect him to put his life on hold forever! Although, granted, getting married only a few months after high-school graduation is not the smartest move either. We do or die for Stars Hollow High.
- That crazy, quirky Stars Hollow: Town meeting! What a cute, inspiring donut story. Also, Kirk looking out for Lorelai is sweeter than it is creepy.
- Digger can be quite the charmer, like the way he butters up Emily: “I’ve just got a trainer. But you have cheated God.”
- Just so you guys know, I will never, ever call him Jason.
- I applaud the continuity of Jackson still wearing his “don’t tell me the sex of my baby” button.
- Watching this in such short succession is making me really examine the Gilmore Girls’ wardrobe and furnishings, and I have to say, I find that clown pillow in their living room disturbing.
- Classic Emily: “I was going to wait for you to call me, but my life isn’t as long as yours.”
- Anybody remember pagers?
- And that’s our future Schmidt, Max Greenfield, as Luke’s namesake Lucas in the drunk bachelor party scene.
- Shout out to Adam Brody actually leaving the show for California, The O.C. to be specific. And c’mon, everyone knows Rivers Cuomo went to Harvard.
- “You’re 18, Grandpa: Sleep when you’re dead.”
- Favorite Gilmore Girl outfit: New feature! (because I used to actually look these clothes up online every week). This week: Lorelei’s cool red “Love the one you’re with” T-shirt.
- Hey Rory, when an alarm goes off, maybe close the front door.
- Alexis Bledel is an extremely beautiful young woman, but her haircut this season, compared to future seasons, only proves one thing to me: She has a face that is made for bangs. I look at her season-four hair and all I see is forehead. It’s like how I get exponentially more fascinated by Lauren Graham’s (I’m assuming) extensions as the season goes on. By “Raincoats And Recipes,” her hair is like a lion’s mane.
- I feel like naked Marty was actually supposed to be more of an actual romantic possibility for Rory, but it just didn’t pan out for some reason.
- “What’s with the Gabor sisters?’ Ha! Love Paris.
- Madeline’s boyfriend apparently did not have to worry about The Simpsons being off the air by the time he graduates.
- Next week: Rory finds a tree!