Gilmore Girls Rewatch Recap: “Pilot” (Ep. 01×01)

Dean's hair is so perfectly styled for the 2000s era.

I watched Gilmore Girls sporadically as a teenager. When it first aired, I was about a year older than Rory, so I identified a lot with her character. I’ve been rewatching the program recently, and it’s easily my favorite television show. The funny thing is that now, at the age of 30, I identify more with Lorelai (though I’m jealous of Rory and her Yale education).

I know lots of other people are jumping on the Gilmore Girls bandwagon these days (probably because the shows are all available on Netflix now), so I thought I’d do a recap for every episode of the series, comparing my memories of watching it as a teen to my current thoughts. Without further ado, here’s the recap for episode one.


The show opens with the song “There She Goes” playing, which I immediately recognize. I used to love this song, and it reminds me of my teen years, which is both a good and bad thing.

We see Lorelai walking across the street, heading directly for Luke’s Diner. She begs him for coffee, and he hesitantly obliges. My first thought when I see Luke’s Diner is, “Has there always been so much stuff on the wall?” There are tons of shelves full of random junk, and I swear I don’t remember it looking this cluttered inside.

Luke gives in to Lorelai's coffee addiction.

Luke gives in to Lorelai’s coffee addiction.

I also notice that Luke’s hair is a little bit curly, and he looks younger than I remember. Though the initial conversation between Lorelai and Luke is cute and funny, it’s lacking a bit of the vivacity that I’ve come to expect from Lauren Graham. She’s a good actress, but it seems like she hasn’t really figured Lorelai out yet, which is understandable since it’s the first episode. Scott Patterson (Luke) seems to be completely in character already, though.

The banter isn’t quite as fast as I remember, either, though I know that picks up later. (Disclaimer: this isn’t the first time I’ve watched the entire series this year, so I already know some stuff.)

A creepy guy hits on Lorelai, then Rory comes in, and the creepy guy hits on her, too. I guess this is the writers’ way of explaining the unusual mother/daughter relationship the Gilmores have going on. I’m noticing that Rory’s not quite as demure in the pilot episode; she’s much sweeter/shyer later on. Also, is her voice deeper than I remember? When does that change? I’ll have to pay attention.

Anyway, now Lorelai is at the inn, and we are lucky enough to meet Michel, who is one of my favorite characters. He’s already hilarious. He’s arguing with some stupid customer on the phone until Rory comes in and makes him promise to look over her French homework.

Michel argues with a stupid customer while Lorelai stands nearby.

Michel argues with a stupid customer while Lorelai stands nearby.

Rory meets up with Lane before school, and we learn a bit about Lane’s overbearing parents and strict upbringing. They walk into school, and a really young-looking Jared Padalecki (Dean) watches Rory from afar. In the classroom scene, the writers are quick to show us that Rory is way too smart for public school. Noted.

Cut back to the inn, where Sookie is being very clumsy. I had completely forgotten that this was a thing, but it’s definitely a thing. She cuts herself, catches stuff on fire, and hits a guy with a frying pan within a very short timeframe. I wonder why they cut this out in later episodes? Is it just more subtle later on? This shtick is hilarious. Melissa McCarthy was already in character; I guess she’s just always been awesome.

Rory and Lane are at Kim’s Antiques, looking for Lane’s mother, who is another hilarious character. Rory asks why Mrs. Kim hates Lorelai. Did Mrs. Kim hate Lorelai? I really don’t remember this plotpoint, either.

Lorelai reads a letter to Sookie that explains that Rory is accepted to Chilton. We also find out that Rory dreams of going to Harvard, and Lorelai wants to live vicariously through her daughter (as all parents sometimes do). Rory comes in, and Sookie and Lorelai give her the great news. Rory’s elated, and Sookie does the cutest dance and catches a rag on fire. This scene is delightful.

Sookie and her dancing are both delightful.

Sookie and her dancing are both delightful.

There’s a really funny moment with Michel here, in which he utters one of my favorite quotes from the entire show. The phone is ringing, and he says, “People are particularly stupid today. I can’t talk to any more of them.” I swear, I’ve said this exact thing before.

Lorelai has difficulties paying for Chilton. She tries to joke her way out of the situation, but apparently Chilton people don’t have the best sense of humor. Sookie tries to help her come up with a solution. She even offers to sell her car, which is really sweet of her. (Also, I used to own this Tiger shirt that Lorelai is wearing in this scene. It was one of my favorites; don’t judge.)

Lorelai can sew. She’s going to hem Rory’s skirt. She doesn’t really seem like the sewing type, but it turns out that she’s really good at crafty stuff.

The camera zooms in on a photo of a cute little girl in front of a huge house. I’m assuming this is toddler Lorelai. Yay! We get to meet the  Gilmore grandparents now.

Lorelai is really not happy about visiting her parents. She and her mother greet at the door. They apparently only get together at Easter. They’re both acting like they haven’t seen each other in years, though. She tells her mother that she’s taking business classes. Then Lorelai’s dad walks in. It’s very, very obvious that Lorelai has a strained relationship with her parents.

The tension between Lorelai and her parents is almost palpable.

The tension between Lorelai and her parents is almost palpable.

She proceeds to ask them for money for Chilton. They’re fairly gracious about it, in my opinion. They do require her presence at weekly dinners at their house. They also want a weekly phone call. This arrangement seems reasonable (and really sweet) to me. However much Lorelai dislikes her parents, it’s obvious that they at least care about her and Rory.

Rory’s cleaning out her locker, and Lane is assisting. Oh, no. Rory is finally meeting the cute boy named Dean, right when she’s leaving the school. She tells Dean to ask Ms. Patty about job openings in town because he’s looking for employment. He asks her to introduce him to Ms. Patty. They have an awkward conversation on the way to the dance studio. We learn that Stars Hollow is exactly 30 minutes outside of Hartford, CT. Apparently, Dean’s had a crush on Rory for a while, but she’s still oblivious to this fact.

Rory just finished reading Madame Bovary, which is an awesome book. Now she’s reading Moby Dick. I’m not big on whale stories, but I’ve heard it’s pretty good.

Dean’s hair is so incredibly early 2000’s style that it’s almost painful to see.

Dean's hair is so perfectly styled for the 2000s era.

Dean’s hair is so perfectly styled for the 2000s era.

Luke’s Diner says “Williams Hardware” on the sign. I know from watching later episodes that Luke’s dad used to own a hardware store, but Luke’s last name is Danes. Maybe his dad’s first name was William? It doesn’t really matter, but I notice these types of things.

Lorelai and Rory are eating salads, which is definitely unusual for them. Oh, here come the burgers. Luke tells them that red meat can kill them, and I remember now that he was originally a heath-conscious sort of person. What sort of health-conscious person opens a diner? Aren’t diners known for their junk food? Maybe that’s why they wrote this personality trait out of the show.

They’re drinking coffee with their hamburgers. That sounds gross. I mean, I love coffee, but that’s gross, right? Rory’s being really snippy for some reason, and Lorelai utters two curse words in this scene, which is more than the entire rest of the series. (Slight exaggeration, but they really don’t ever cuss in Stars Hollow in later episodes. I’m glad they cut this out; it doesn’t really fit with the rest of the show.)

Rory’s having second thoughts about Chilton, which seems really stupid. Oh, it’s because of Dean, isn’t it? Gosh, Rory’s being a major brat right now. She’s wearing a lot of lipstick, too. They leave, and Lorelai almost forgets to pay for the food. Then the money falls on the floor by the table. I wouldn’t blame Luke if he hated them; they’re awful customers sometimes.

They see Ms. Patty on the way home, and she spills the beans to Lorelai about Dean. Lorelai’s not an idiot, so she quickly figures the whole situation out. Wow, Rory is acting like a major brat. They have a little fight about Dean. This whole thing seems really out of character for Rory. Of course, I know she does some weird, out-of-character things later, too, so maybe it’s not that strange.

Lorelai is upset about Rory making big decisions based on her feelings for a boy. That’s understandable, since Lorelai “threw her life away” at sixteen for a boy when she got pregnant and had Rory. She puts her foot down and tells Rory that she’s definitely going to Chilton. They yell and Lorelai leaves Rory’s room. Rory turns on Macy Gray. Lorelai does, too. This show has good music.

The camera cuts to the inn, where Sookie has obviously caught the stove on fire. There’s billowing smoke and everything. Rory comes to the inn. She’s still being a jerk. Lorelai tells her that they have to be at dinner at seven.

They show up at the Gilmores’ house for dinner. (Rory is still being a major jerk, FYI.) Lorelai brought coffee; Emily Gilmore is not impressed.

Lorelai and Rory dread going in for dinner.

Lorelai and Rory dread going in for dinner.

Richard notices that Rory is tall. Why does this surprise him so much? Lorelai is tall. He’s tall. Even Emily is tall. Why wouldn’t Rory be tall? Has he never met her before?

Lorelai tries to make some jokes, but they fall flat. She and Emily drink a lot of wine. Richard hands Rory a newspaper to read. It’s awkward. Dinner is a little better, though Richard calls the inn a “motel.” This whole scene is so awkwardly true-to-life that it makes me cringe a bit.

Apparently, Richard and Emily talk to Rory’s dad sometimes. That’s a little odd, right? Richard says that Christopher is a smart man, and that Rory probably takes after him. Lorelai takes offense to this statement.

The strain of dinner conversation is too much for her, so she goes into the kitchen and starts scrubbing dishes to calm herself. Emily follows her. She tells her daughter that she’s being a little dramatic. (I actually agree with this.) The Gilmores do some crappy stuff later on (spoiler alert), but this particular dinner conversation wasn’t that bad.

Richard and Rory sit awkwardly while Lorelai and Emily argue within earshot.

Rory and Richard sit awkwardly while Lorelai and Emily argue within earshot.

It does show us the awkwardness of Lorelai’s relationship with her parents, though. We also see that the Gilmores’ main problem with their daughter is the fact that she didn’t get married after she got pregnant. They also hate that she refused any help with raising Rory. And we see that Lorelai hates how controlling her parents are. These are both valid points that make all the characters seem really normal and human.

By the time their conversation is over, Richard is asleep. Rory and Lorelai leave; Rory is nice to her mom again now. I guess she feels sorry for her. She overheard Lorelai and Emily discussing the loan, too, which probably makes her feel a little guilty.

They go to Luke’s, and Luke is all dressed up. Lorelai tells him that he looks nice, and he’s obviously pleased that she noticed. There’s a little flirting here, and it’s cute.

Proof that Luke smiles sometimes.

Luke Danes smiles sometimes. Here’s proof.

The Gilmore girls order food and discuss Dean. Luke brings out their food, and we get a glimpse of his paternal instincts towards Rory when he tells her not to eat chili fries and coffee because it’s bad for her. He says, “You don’t want to end up like your mom.” She replies that it’s too late, and they all share a smile. It’s a little sappy, but it’s endearing, too.

That’s the end, folks! As far as pilots go, it’s a pretty good one, in my opinion. The jokes are just as funny as later episodes, and the writing is superb, as always. The acting is above average, though not quite as good as it gets later on. Overall, I’d give this episode a B+.


 

The funniest lines from this episode:

“None…five.” -Lorelai, when Luke asks her how many cups of coffee she’s had that morning.

“Are you my new Daddy?” -Rory, to the creepy guy who hits on her at the diner

“Tell it to the tip jar.” -Della, the harpist, when a guest at the inn compliments her music

“How was school? None of the girls get pregnant and drop out?” -Ms. Kim, to Lane

“Boys don’t like funny girls.” -Ms. Kim, to Rory

“People are particularly stupid today. I can’t talk to any more of them.” -Michel, at work

“Today, I was so excited that I dressed for gym and played volleyball!” -Rory, to which her mother replied, “With other people?”

“How do I look? Korean?” -Lane, and Rory replied, “The spitting image.”

“Does he have a motorcycle? ‘Cause if you’re gonna throw your life away, he’d better have a motorcycle!” -Lorelai to Rory, about Dean


The best outfit was definitely Rory’s Felicity-esque oversized Fisherman sweater and leather backpack.

Rory's sweater and leather babckpack are very Felicity Porter

Rory’s sweater and leather backpack are very Felicity Porter

Stay tuned for the 2nd episode recap! Also, I need a Luke’s Diner near my house. I love cheeseburgers and chili cheese fries.

Savannah

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