A very Daniel episode

I don’t normally dissect episodes of Gilmore Girls here, but I’m going to discuss some details from last night’s episode because it’s kind of on my mind today. Don’t read below if you are planning on seeing the episode and don’t want to be spoiled.

When it was over, I turned to Mike and said, “Good but unsatisfying.” He agreed and added, “A very Daniel episode.”

For the uninitiated, Daniel refers to Daniel Palladino, an executive producer and writer for the show. Daniel’s episodes often make the characters a little meaner than normal, his dialogue is usually very fast (even for this very quick show), and there is often a lot of townie involvement or a high quirk factor. And Mike was right, last night was a very Daniel episode. “You gotta admit,” I said, “Daniel writes arguments really well, and there were some great arguments in this episode. They were probably its strongest point.” We talked about it for a while, about how good it was to see Jess (even though I’ve never been a Jess fan), about how nice it was that he’s written a book, that he’s doing well in his life. What made the character of Jess almost likeable was his potential, the fact that he could have been more. If he hadn’t been such a jerk to Rory when they were dating, if he hadn’t given up on school and turned into a caricature of a bad boy, I would have been a lot more fond of him. I like this iteration of Jess a lot more, and I liked who Rory was when she was talking to him last night. In their courtyard conversation, Mike said, “It’s old-school Rory!” and he was right.

Overall there was a lot to like: seeing Rory turn into her mother when she had to live in the Big House, seeing Logan’s true colors, Jess calling Rory on her crap . . . all great. The Luke/Lorelai story was funny, although I’m not as enamored with Paul Anka as Mike is (he loves Paul Anka), but I’ve got to admit that I am a little tired of the show ending with Lorelai in tears. How many times have we done that this season? I’ve lost count. Lauren Graham rocked the scene, and maybe I’m just feeling impatient because I so, so wanted Luke to find Lorelai and Rory in Rory’s room. I just wanted more. It was sad, though, to see how she called herself a bad mom or a failure or whatever it was. It’s obvious that she’s hurting.

So, as good as the episode was, it was still a little unsatisfying because we still don’t have any reconciliation. I’ve been glad to see the girls be separated overall, because I think it’s been good for both their characters, and I’ve enjoyed the paralleling we’ve seen in a few episodes where they’re both thinking about the same things even though they can’t talk to each other about them. Maybe sweeps will end in the girls finally being able to deal with some of these issues (but don’t tell me if you know, I am enjoying being along for the ride).

The other thing I was thinking about today was only tangentially related to Gilmore Girls, but it has to do with Mike’s take on the episode. Mike knows that I enjoy analyzing television, so he’s learned the lingo. He pays attention when I point things out, and now he can spot a “very Daniel episode” on his own. More than that, though, he’s taking a movie class where he’s learning more about that kind of analyzation. His literature classes have him reading in a new way, with more focus. He talks about things differently, and what I am noticing is that he is really thriving in his college environment. So, as hard as it’s been in some ways, I’m so glad that we’re able for him to be in school now, because he’s growing in so many ways. He can discuss Gilmore Girls episodes not just because he knows it makes me happy, but because he’s thinking about things in a new way because of his new experiences. And I just want to say how proud I am of him.

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