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Do you ever want to be a dryad and turn into a tree? I’d love to be a tree, like a magnolia tree in the deep south. That’s the tree I’d be. I could grow tall and wide and be admired for centuries. Have people read, children play, and couples fall in love underneath me. Feel the warmth of the sun nourish me and sleep deeply in the winter frost. Oh, how I’d love to be a tree.
But I’m not a tree, I’m a freelance writer just trying to make deadlines while she stops by Stars Hollow.
Season 2, Episode 6: “Presenting Lorelai Gilmore”
There are only two good things about this episode: the new developments in Emily and Richard’s relationship, and the return of Christopher. The rest of this episode is absolute garbage.
Ask me how much I care about Rory’s debutante ball. Oh wait, you can’t because no care had ever existed. The worst thing is that I could have been made to care. The audience could have wanted Rory’s debutante ball to go so well because Rory could have been excited and nervous about it, but she wasn’t. Instead the debutante ball was just a thing that was happening in the background, an event that had the plot depth and emotional tension of a blurry tree halfway in frame of a b-roll shot.
The debutante ball mainly serves as a tool to get Richard and Emily to fight, and for the audience to learn that Christopher has a girlfriend, yet it takes up over half of the episode. We see Rory prepare for the event, convince Dean to attend the event, see her with the other debutantes, dance with her father… yet the audience is not meant to care about it. The audience has no reason to care about it because absolutely no one has anything at stake if the ball goes wrong.
When an event is the focus of an entire episode, a vast majority of the characters should have skin in the game, the audience will care just as much as they do. If the characters don’t care (and have a good reason to care) the audience won’t care at all.
Now let’s focus on the positive: Emily and Richard fighting. This is the first time we really see the two of them go at it. In season one their relationship was purely proper and fit neatly into the gendered nuclear family roles established in the 1940s and the 1950s, now we’re getting into the nitty gritty. The truth of all long marriages: the fighting, and their fighting is remarkably true to life. Stressful situations in the workplace is a commonplace catalyst for fights among married couples. Bottling up the anger and frustration you feel at work and letting it loose in a fury of passive aggression towards your spouse is a common practice in American households, and it’s great to see the subject brought up. Hopefully it resolves in a manner that is just as realistic as the situation itself.
Christopher’s return is great… just because the character of Christopher is great. It’s wonderfully bittersweet to see a new and improved Christopher whose model behavior was crafted not out of the necessity to support Rory or win Lorelai’s heart, but to please a completely different woman that he just happened to meet. It’s a great sliver of irony to add to Christopher and Lorelai’s dynamic and I can’t wait to see how is causes conflict later on.
With this lackluster excuse of an episode behind us, let’s hope that all events from this point on will be significant as we move…
Onto Season 2, Episode 7 “Like Mother, Like Daughter”