“Lazy-Hazy-Crazy Days” (season 3, episode 1, originally aired 9/24/2002)
These two episodes are an epic of feelings, slowly boiling over, shocking you with their power. How quickly this show can switch from charming banter to achingly authentic emotion without seeming remotely corny! Beginning its third season, Gilmore Girls really was at the height of its power. “Lazy-Hazy-Crazy Days” is just showing off. We have an insane town festival dominating the square, cameos from Washington movers and shakers (you go, former Congressman Doug Ose!), a ton of boy drama from afar, Lorelai and Luke’s much-needed détente, Paris going on a date, oof, it’s a lot.
Christopher’s forced rejection of Lorelai, after so tantalizingly dangling the promise of a storybook life in front of her (and her parents’) face, is still following our heroine around like a poisonous cloud. We don’t really get to see how she’s coped without Rory in the house (she’s been in Washington on a leadership summer course) and Luke cooking her food, but it can’t have been the happiest summer of her life.
Gilmore Girls has a challenge here: Its audience (largely) has no interest in Lorelai uniting with Christopher. I’m sure there are shippers out there who would want her frolicking through Connecticut with her handsome boring man, driving a Volvo and maybe planning another baby. But that doesn’t really sound like a show. So while we might feel Lorelai’s pain, it’s tough for the show to wallow in it, because really, we’re pretty relieved to be shot of Christopher as a serious romantic prospect. He’s marrying Sherry, she’s having his baby, that’s pretty much the end of that (at least for now).
So it’s not like Lorelai is sitting on her couch, her face full of ice cream, sobbing and wallowing. She’s bearing a fresh, nasty emotional wound, but she does her best to grit her teeth and soldier on. There are two big moments in these first two episodes where her pain is exposed, though, and in “Lazy-Hazy-Crazy Days” it’s the quieter one, her tearful conversation with Luke about the life she lost from Christopher.
It’s an interesting scene because it could almost be taken as manipulative; in the hands of a lesser actress, maybe Lorelai just comes off as breaking out the waterworks to get Luke to forgive her. But Lauren Graham makes it clear that this is the inevitable overflow from a summer of pent-up frustration and sadness with no one to lean on. Order had to be restored after last season’s fight, but it’s realistically done.
Rory’s dilemma is very much her fault, but even after two episodes, she doesn’t realize it yet. It’d be easy to accuse the show of arresting its development—she kisses Jess in the finale, but at the end of the episode (after being called on her wishy-washy shit by her mother) she’s assuring her and us that Dean is just the best and sweetest and she doesn’t know what she was thinking. But that makes sense to me—such dithering is a necessary and painful part of any breakup. There’s Dean! What a nice boy! He should be enough. It’s easy for Rory to convince herself that he’s enough.
This is the season where Rory becomes an incredibly frustrating character for many Gilmore Girls fans (not so much for me, but I get it). I have a lot of thoughts about this. We’ll have much to discuss over the coming weeks.
“Haunted Leg” (season 3, episode 2, originally aired 10/1/2002)
I prefer “Lazy-Hazy-Crazy Days.” It has Paris going on her date with Jamie, which is just wonderful (no one delivers a ten-page monologue freakout like Liza Weil). “Haunted Leg” is bogged down by the return of the incredibly irritating Francie who has some Nixonian plot to raise the hemlines at Chilton and rants boringly at Rory for whole minutes about it. WHO CARES. Chilton plots, at this point, should simply concern Paris’ plans to govern the world from Connecticut while Rory makes a worried face and Madeline and Louise toss out sexy quips. There is no other drama to be wrung from the private school setting at this point: Rory is perfectly settled and has no enemies and enough boy troubles as it is.
Other than that, “Haunted Leg” is powerful stuff, and has the more explosive exposure of Lorelai’s festering pain of rejection by Christopher, when he bursts into the elder Gilmore household to try and talk to Lorelai and complain about her keeping Rory from him. It’s that rare Gilmore Girls scene that just has a lot of people yelling in each other’s faces, with the quips few and far between. Since this show is so comfortable in Lorelai’s archness and Rory’s quiet, funny intellectualism, it’s always jolting to just see characters fight.
Christopher is quite overmatched, of course. His position is pretty much indefensible: outside of his Rory complaint (shot down when his daughter harshly informs him that she’s the one ignoring him, not on Lorelai’s orders) he doesn’t have much to offer. “I don’t like how things are,” he moans, without offering any kind of solution on how to fix it. The scene is really just important for Emily—watching them fight, she understands that this can’t be chalked up to her daughter being flaky, and just how bad things have been for her. She intervenes on Lorelai’s behalf and with that, nothing more needs to be said. It’s a great mother-daughter moment and it puts a bullet in Christopher/Lorelai for quiiiite a while.
An even more definitive smackdown awaits Rory at the hands of Jess (entirely metaphorically, of course) when she calls him out for sucking face with some new lady after their little liaison before the summer began. Rory has quite a lot of gall here, as Jess points out—she never contacted him, she’s marching around happily with Dean, blah de blah. But she accepts none of his criticism and marches out sourly, proclaiming to her mother that she’s “done.”
This is what I mean about Rory being harder to love this year. But it’s a necessary, and kinda fascinating, turn for her character to take. She’s so incredibly easygoing and happy-go-lucky and free of typical teen problems (or really, any typical human problems) in her first two seasons on the show. Even though she’s very smart and capable, Rory has lived in quite a bubble her whole life which is especially amazing considering the circumstances of her birth. It simply has to break at some point, and if that makes for some rude awakenings for both her and the audience, well, that’s just the way it goes.
- Lorelai’s dream about Luke is adorable and just shows off how strong Lauren Graham’s chemistry with Scott Patterson is. “I’ll put a toy in your cereal!” “Dirty!”
- Rory had a possibly sexual dream about Taylor hula-hooping. “Taylor was supposed to be Dean! I could tell by his freakishly thick head of hair.”
- Paris thrills at being paired with Jamie for debate. “Why not just line the halls with self-esteem counselors?”
- Kirk’s pitch on hay-based skin cream is perfectly summed up by Michel: “So sad not to have a cocktail in your hand every time he comes by, you know?”
- Weirdly, no Lane in either episode, but Mrs. Kim has a great scene— “Ten bucks if you don’t let her buy the fish.” “Twenty.” “You’re kidding.” “I never kid.” “You know, I believe that.”
- A mouse is running around the inn. “Tell them it’s a baby. People love babies, they will talk to it in funny voices,” Michel advises.
- Rory hates the intimidation and bribery of Chilton politics. “What are we, French skating judges?”
- Luke fondly recalls Kirk’s face when talking about asking out Lorelai. “He almost had an expression.”
- Madeline wants a professional photographer to take class photos. “Helmut Newton is my godfather,” Louise offers. “Tell him to leave the whips and chains at home,” Paris replies.