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Title: Gilmore Girls S4.E01 “Ballrooms and Biscotti”
Gilmore Girls S4.E02 “The Lorelais’ First Day at Yale”
Gilmore Girls S4.E03 “The Hobbit, The Sofa And Digger Stiles”
Released: 2003
Series:  Gilmore Girls

Drinks Taken: 41
Cups of Coffee: 8

Last week, on Gilmore Girls (big thanks to my pal Mandy J for subbing!)

It’s Season 4! Here’s what’s amazing about this season: it’s a universally accepted truth that when the main character of a show goes to college, that is the precise point at which the show heads off the rails. BuffyDawson’s CreekSaved by the Bell: The College Years – I have years of anecdotal evidence to support this theory. And yet Season 4 of Gilmore Girls is arguably one of the best seasons ever. Everything’s different – Rory’s at Yale, Lorelai and Sookie are starting the Dragonfly – but the spirit of the show remains. Quite an accomplishment, Amy Sherman-Palladino!

So let’s dive in, but first! A reminder of our drinking game rules: 

The Gilmore Girls Drinking Game Rules

Drink once every time:

Lorelai or Rory drinks coffee.
Emily gets flustered by Lorelai’s bizarre sense of humor.
Sookie is controlling about food.
Paris is controlling about anything.
Michel snubs a customer.
Luke is crotchety.
Taylor has an absurd scheme for Stars Hollow.
The girls acquire massive amounts of food and then fail to take even one bite.

Drink twice every time:

Kirk has a new job.
You see a town troubadour.
Emily gets a new maid. 

4.1 “Ballrooms and Biscotti”

Lorelai and Rory are back from Europe and so happy to be home.

They had an incredible trip, of course, and now they have a week left to see everyone in Stars Hollow to drop off their souvenirs (the jerks forgot Luke and Kirk, but at least they feel really bad about it) and to squeeze in a lifetime of co-dependent fun before Rory leaves for Yale. OR DO THEY?! Turns out Rory wrote the wrong date for orientation in her planner (so unlike her), so she and Lorelai only have a couple days to fit everything in. It doesn’t help that Taylor has unilaterally dubbed Rory the Ice Cream Queen for his new soda shoppe, and Emily is insisting on quality time with both ladies. Lorelai tells Rory to head to Friday night dinner without her – it certainly doesn’t take long for her to free herself of that obligation, does it? – while she finishes up Rory’s pre-Yale errands, and Emily is PISSED. She holds Rory hostage with hours of ballroom dancing competitions, until Lorelai heads to the house to rescue her. She argues with Emily that it’s Rory’s last night before Yale and Emily points out they could have all spent it together, but the younger Gilmore girls end up having their cozy co-dependent night anyway, cuddling on Emily’s sofa, watching ballroom dancing and eating the last of their Italian biscotti while Emily snoozes on the loveseat. 

In Luke news, he’s very weird about the cruise he took with Nicole, refusing to spill the beans for a long time until he finally breaks down to Lorelai: he and Nicole GOT MARRIED on the cruise (ooh, girlfriend does not enjoy that bit of news), but now they’re getting a divorce. It was one of those blink-and-you-miss-it vacation marriages that TV informs me are very common. 

How many times do I have to drink?

15.

How many cups of coffee do the Gilmore girls drink?

2.

Flirtation quota

Cutest moment: when Lorelai heads to Luke’s the morning after arriving home, and he immediately pours her a cup of coffee. “You remembered!” she sighs, and he half-smiles at her. “Yup, a couple things about you stick.” SWOON.

Best/most dated pop culture reference

Taylor implies that Rory’s too busy for Stars Hollow now that she’s gotten into Yale since she refuses to be the Ice Cream Queen, and she frets to Lorelai, “I mean, I’ve always had time for the town in the past, and now suddenly I don’t? Am I changing? I don’t want to change. I don’t want to be the anti-town girl. I’m not Daria.”

Sookie’s best dish of the episode

She’s cookin’ up a bun in the oven! She’s much more pregnant than when we last saw her, and we learn it’s a boy! I mean, you, me and Lorelai learn – Jackson’s refusing to find out the gender of his baby, and Rory joins him in solidarity. 

Lorelai’s craziest outfit

I can 100% see her buying this hat in Scotland or some place and then wearing it home so it wouldn’t get crushed in her backpack. 

Kirk insanity

He amateur parachutes into Taylor’s grand opening. It goes about as well as you’d think.

Michel madness

None. 

Best Gilmore Gal witticism

Babette rang every consulate in Europe looking for the girls when they came home a day later than she expected, and now poor Lorelai has to call each consulate back to assure them she and Rory are okay. Rory: “She just loves us.” Lorelai: “Well, be a little less lovable, would you, ’cause it’s costing me a fortune. Try being one of those kids where people are like, ‘Oh really, she was kidnapped? Eh, well, thin the herd.'”

Random observation

Rory doesn’t really sufficiently get Lorelai off the hook for Friday night dinner – would it be so hard to say “I wrote my orientation date down wrong, and I had so many errands to run before moving to Yale tomorrow, so Mom very nicely offered to take everything off my hands so I could come see you.”? Instead she’s all, “Yeah, she’s busy.” No wonder Emily gets mad!

4.2 “The Lorelais’ First Day at Yale”

It’s moving day! At first Lorelai and Rory both seem to be keeping it together very well. Lorelai borrows Luke’s truck so she can help Rory move into her dorm, and for a moment it all seems like a normal mother-daughter exchange… but then, we know better. Rory’s dorm suite is of course unreasonably huge (aren’t they all?), and she encounters two of her new roommates: Tana, a 16-year-old genius who is super weird and random and adorable, and…Paris! Rory’s not thrilled by the surprise, but naturally the rest of us are. Paris brings her life coach, Terrence, and also her new craft table. These things help keep Paris centered. For now. Luke could use a Terrence – he’s dealing with multiple lawyers from Nicole’s firm even though he doesn’t want anything from the divorce, and he’s handling it BADLY. Like, “Dewey Cheatem and Howe” amounts of badly. Groan, Luke. Groan. 

Lorelai’s saying goodbye to Rory for the first time when she realizes that other kids in the dorm have stuff Rory doesn’t have, like a mini-fridge and a rug, so she takes Rory’s gross old Yale mattress back to Luke and asks to borrow the truck again. I say “ask,” but you guys know Lorelai by now, so you should know that what I really mean is “demand.” Luke goes with her to ensure the truck’s safe return and to try and find a way to get rid of the mattress, and after fancying up Rory’s room some more, Lorelai hugs her goodbye for the second time. 

An hour later she gets the following page from Rory: “Come back!!!!” Aww. Rory’s wigging about being on her own for the first time, and she knows it makes her a weinie to want her mommy, but the heart wants what it wants. Lorelai bullies Luke out of his truck some more and goes back to Yale and starts a take-out party in Rory’s room – all the girls try every restaurant within delivery distance and then rate them on food, speed and delivery guy hotness. I know it’s a little silly, but Lorelai does a great job of making it not feel weird that she’s staying over on Rory’s first night at college, and Rory even makes some new friends. And Lorelai is so great here – she never once reveals how sad she must be to be losing Rory. She puts on a face of such enthusiasm to bolster Rory’s spirits, and I love her for it. 

Finally, the next morning Lorelai and Rory say their real goodbyes. For really real this time. No backsies. 

It kills me a little. Rory starts adjusting nicely to Yale life, while Lorelai goes home and stands in her empty living room, making me cry. Also poor Luke is still stuck with that mattress.

How many times do I have to drink?

13.

How many cups of coffee do the Gilmore girls drink?

3.

Flirtation quota

This is the most fight-flirty episode of Luke and Lorelai ever. I love when he draws her a shift diagram for his truck – it’s so totally something my husband would do for me.

Best/most dated pop culture reference

Lorelai tells Rory to do the “going off to college walk” for a picture, and when she tries to demonstrate, Rory cracks up: “You look like Alfalfa coming to pick up Darla.”

Sookie’s best dish of the episode/Kirk insanity/Michel madness

Something we’ll have to get used to in Season 4 – occasionally our favorite townies have to make room for some Yale newbies. But Tana and Terrence are tops, so who’s complaining?

Lorelai’s craziest outfit

She only wears one outfit the entire episode, and it’s cute. Remember this, Lorelai: quality, not quantity.

Best Gilmore Gal witticism

Okay, this one’s actually Paris, but it makes me laugh so hard every time I hear it. About Terrence: “Yeah, I was pretty lost. Then my rabbi conferred with my therapist who said a hypnotist he knew thought a life coach would be right for me, and that led me to Terrence. He’s here to assist me with whatever I need assistance in, from wardrobe to diet to finding me a kickass gynecologist.” God, her delivery on “kickass gynecologist” slays me.

Random observation

Lorelai is so crazy inconsiderate to Luke in this episode – she borrows his truck and makes less than zero attempt to return it any of the times he says he needs it back. But she’s dealing with losing her daughter, best friend and roommate to a new town all at once, so I cut her some slack, and I suspect Luke does too – he pretends to be crotchety about it, but he’s really pretty sweet over the whole thing. 

4.3 “The Hobbit, The Sofa And Digger Stiles”

Rory’s doing fairly well at Yale, albeit a little extra Type A about everything, and Paris – yes, PARIS – is trying to get her to loosen up. Paris wants to start over at Yale, so she insists on taking part in the dorm floor party. Rory doesn’t want to, because Rory’s a little bit of a baby in this episode, so Paris calls Lorelai (hah!), and Lorelai convinces Rory. 

Then of course, Rory totally holes up in her room during the party. But only briefly! She gathers her courage and wanders out, running immediately into Madeline and Louise, who are there just because they heard from across the country that there might be a party. Rory makes eyes with a sorta cute, very tall boy, but before she can say hi, two DAR-type twins abscond with her, and she learns that Emily insisted they find and befriend her. Rory’s already feeling affronted because Emily had the gall to buy her a ton of beautiful furniture and a super baller home theater system for the dorm, aaaaand I’m kind of annoyed with Rory here. Gosh SORRY your 2003 TV looks nicer than the TV I have today, Rory. Anyway, Rory eventually gets to meet the tall boy because she finds him passed out, naked, outside her door after the party’s over. She wakes him and lends him her robe, and he introduces himself sheepishly as Marty. Sparks maybe fly? It’s hard to tell when she’s so aghast at his nudity. 

In Richard news, the son of the partner who pushed him out of his old firm wants to go into business with him! 

This is Jason Stiles, also known (to his chagrin) as Digger Stiles, and he’s played by the very great Chris Eigeman. He wants to screw over his dad, and Richard’s delighted to help him do so. Emily, however, doesn’t feel as comfortable with this revenge business. Rory plans to confront Emily about the furniture (seriously?) but thankfully she loses her nerve when she sees the way Emily reacts to the Digger situation. Glad we didn’t have to see that little argument.

And finally, until Lorelai and Sookie can get the inn open, they need some extra cash, so they take on a gig planning and catering a kids’ Lord of the Rings party that by the way I really, really want to attend. Lorelai does an incredible job with the costumes and decorations and events, but Sookie is of course Sookie and has literally no capacity to cook kiddy food. Everything she makes is basted with something and stuffed with something and resting on something and the kids hate all of it, and in her frustration she accidentally makes one of the little girls cry. It’s revealed that she’s just panicking over having a kid herself, until Lorelai talks her down from that particular ledge. 

How many times do I have to drink?

13.

How many cups of coffee do the Gilmore girls drink?

3.

Flirtation quota

ALERT: THERE IS NO LUKE IN THIS EPISODE. Zip, zilch, nada. We did not sign up for this!!! I guess Rory’s naked exchange with Marty will have to suffice. 

Best/most dated pop culture reference

Emily, about Rory’s new sound system: “Now I have no idea what this means, but the man who installed it said to get Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. It’s supposed to be amazing.”

Sookie’s best dish of the episode

Too bad none of those ingrate kids would eat it, because I would be hella into Sookie’s Lord of the Rings menu: brie with lavender honey and bourbon-sugared pecans, a crudite platter with a lemon-garlic aioli, assorted charcuteries and macaroni and cheese with a jalapeno cream sauce. Also this crazy cake: chocolate with a rum-raisin, tropical fruit ganache: 

Lorelai’s craziest outfit

Her stretchy, faded tank with the pom-pom border could be better. 

Kirk insanity/Michel madness

Hey, if there’s no room for Luke, you’d better believe there’s no room for these two yahoos.

Best Gilmore Gal witticism

Emily, greeting Rory after calling her: “I was going to wait until you called me, but my life isn’t as long as yours.”

Random observation

SO how do we feel about Rory in this episode? Sure, Emily was imperious as always, but she is paying for Yale, she paid for Chilton, she bought Rory a car, and Rory’s never had a problem with any of that. I think drawing a line at the very nice entertainment system is just wrong. 


So there you have it! Next week we’re covering “Chicken or Beef?”, “The Fundamental Things Apply” and “An Affair to Remember,” so meet us back here next Wednesday morning!

And I leave you with a question, my dear FYA readers: do you like Season 4, or do you start to lose interest once the narrative moves to Hartford?

Meredith Borders is formerly the Texas-based editor of Fangoria and Birth.Movies.Death., now living and writing (and reading) in Germany. She’s been known to pop by Forever Young Adult since its inception, and she loves YA TV most ardently.