Today I watch The Deer Hunters. This episode gives me feelings.
First, a summary: Rory is not doing as well as she used to at Stars Hollow High now that she is at Chilton. She embarks on a week of intense 24/7 studying with her mom, only to be late the day of because she did not wake up on time. She understandably flips in class, then Lorelai understandably flips at the headmasters’. They aaaallll fucking flip. Meanwhile, Sookie worries that a food critic says her Magic Risotto is barely “fine”.
SPOILER ALERT. I have seen all the seasons before, so I am reviewing with future events in mind. SPOILER ALERT.
Chilton makes me think of my high school. Not the stuffiness or snottiness or rich-kid-ness, but the pressure I felt to do better than I was doing, academically. I often felt like my classmates were all doing better than I was, and did it effortlessly. Even if this wasn’t true, the feelings were real. This episode centers Rory’s struggles with a new, much more demanding school, in which people are not friendly at all. My classmates were super friendly, which is what allowed me to survive the pressure and stress and anxiety. I cannot imagine what Rory must have felt all those years without a lot of friends inside the school.
I don’t like Rory too much sometimes, but I do see myself in her. I see parts of me that I don’t like. She puts up with a lot of people being manipulative (her grandmother, her mother even, her boyfriends). She is also incredibly selfish and sheltered at times, but we will get to that when we get to that.
In this episode, though, I get her. She feels like she is drifting off, like everything is out of her control. She is feeling feelings and she cannot properly verbalize them. She snaps because she needs to, and even if the place and time are “inappropriate”, honestly, to hell with that. She is tired, and tired of Tristan and Paris being assholes, and tired of having so much expectations thrown onto her but also of the expectations she throws on to herself. We have all felt that quiet defeat of thinking “we’ve got this” when we’ve got absolutely squat.
This episode also gives me mother-daughter feels. My mom rarely studied day and night with me because studying seemed like a solo thing for me. But she was there. She was there to cook me something at 3am so I wouldn’t have to get up and do it myself, she would give me the space I needed and was unbelievably patient with me when I was stressed and tired. She got me a little something after an intense exam, and picked me up from friends’ houses at midnight when I was doing group projects. She was there, and when I was stressed, she felt it with me. When I was feeling disappointed in myself, she encouraged me while also giving me the chance to feel okay with not doing everything perfectly. She was there.
And so is Lorelai. She basically breaks her neck studying with Rory and feels the pain Rory is feeling. She excuses herself from a parent-teacher meeting because she knows Rory is not feeling well and needs a friend. She fights for her against Il Duce (the principal, of course). While sometimes she expects too much of her daughter and projects her wishes for her younger self onto her, she gives me all the feelings in this episode. Like she says, they *are* basically one person, just like my mom often was.
Lorelai: I hate when I’m an idiot and I don’t know it. I like to be aware of my idiocy.
Now, let’s talk about Sookie. I haven’t talked enough about Sookie. She is an adorable creature and to think that Amy Sherman-Palladino saw the genius of Melissa McCarthy before most big shot comedy people did makes me really happy, and speaks to Amy’s eye for excellence. And in this episode you see just how much her cooking means to her. We later learn she also spends a lot of time at the hospital helping, and then she works at the Inn where she hangs with her best friend. That’s her life (this far into the series, anyway). And she takes such pride in her work that she will go the extra extra kinda-ridiculous-and-stalkerish mile for it. She is funny and adorable and she makes my heart sing.
In this episode Lorelai meets Max as well!!
And they fuck each other with their eyes. I have nothing more to add to that except that they’re pretty cute and I have always had a thing for teachers and … okay. Whatever. We’ll talk more about this later.
The talk at the end when Lorelai and Rory are looking for the deer is so important. Lorelai allows Rory the space to make decisions about her future. If she wants to stay at Chilton or not, they’re both okay options. And Rory decides to give it a shot but says she “reserves the right to change her mind”. I remember marveling at her maturity and her stubbornness and how determined she is. She learned it from a woman who left her house at 16, started working as a maid until she became manager and supported her kid every way she could, every day of her life, though, so it’s really no wonder. I love how all the women in this series are super badass in their own way, going after what they want.