Rory the Spy and Other Out-of-Character Developments
Megan Watches Episode 126: "I'm OK, You're OK"
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What’s Wrong With Episode 126: “I’m OK, You’re OK”? Out-of-Character Choices Spell Doom
I’m really struggling with this season of Gilmore Girls — in part because it’s objectively bad, but also because my attention is split TV-wise right now. I’m obsessed with Yellowjackets, the teenage soccer team cannibal show that owes a great debt to my other favorite show, Twin Peaks. And my brain is so devoted to the Reddit threads and Autostraddle recaps of that show that tuning into Stars Hollow feels awfully jarring by comparison. Why do I care about Lorelai being bummed Anna Nardini gave Luke a travel bag? I NEED TO KNOW WHAT THE SYMBOLS ON THE TREES MEAN
(If you’re in the Yellowjackets hive, too, please DM me. I just wanna talk!)
Fortunately for all of us but especially for me, this season of Yellowjackets is a useful way to frame “I’m OK, You’re OK,” which is decidedly not OK and in fact a very bad episode of an increasingly bad show. First, some context: The first season of Yellowjackets was extremely good — the first three episodes are some of the best TV I’ve ever seen, with two timelines that slowly converge and explore one of my favorite subjects: not the evil men do (e.g., Twin Peaks), but the complex evil women are capable of! (See also: Bad Sisters.) Middle-aged women committing crimes while their younger selves are bitchy to each other is a subject that interests me endlessly! Forget a Strong Female Lead, I want to see a deranged Walter White-esque lady who attends PTA meetings and seems all right but secretly knows how to butcher an animal! To me, that is cinema. And gender equality. Kidding but also not.
So anyway, season one of Yellowjackets was incredible, and I’m still fully on board, but the second season? It’s just not as good. It’s hitting all the necessary plot points with gruesome acuity, but the pacing feels off. The dialogue’s getting clunky, verging into unintentional humor and thudding exposition. The character choices make less and less sense, they’ve started to make decisions that serve the plot without really being earned the way they were in the show’s first season, and the writing no longer seems to trust that the audience can tune into the show’s more subtle elements, so they’re kind of gone.
I do not think this means the show is doomed: Yellowjackets is a younger and much more sophisticated show than Gilmore Girls, second seasons are often uneven, and even if it becomes irredeemably bad it will be saved by the acting abilities of an incredible cast (Juliette Lewis, Melanie Lynskey, Christina Ricci, and Lauren Ambrose are all on this show).
But when characters start making out-of-character choices, it’s a red flag. And “I’m OK, You’re OK” has some truly egregious ones that, in the case of Gilmore Girls, did indeed spell doom. Here are some of the worst ones.
Rory Becomes an Amateur Spy
In perhaps the most surpassingly stupid storyline in this episode, Rory decides to spy on Anna Nardini on Lorelai’s behalf, a decision Lorelai doesn’t encourage or want, in order to… what? Get some leverage on this person they’ve never met? Listen, I have no idea. It’s a development as incomprehensible as Rory suddenly putting sugar in her coffee, a behavior I have not seen from her before. Lorelai and Rory may be annoying in their eating habits, but they’re strictly black coffee or frilly espresso beverage ladies, and never the twain shall meet.
Anyway, back to Rory’s newfound lack of boundaries: She goes to Anna’s store, poses as a customer, buys an admittedly cute Pan-Am stewardess bag for Lorelai, and then seems to think Lorelai will be really happy about all of this. OK, wow. This is a truly incomprehensible thing to do, and surprise! Lorelai isn’t pleased. I find a lot of Rory’s behaviors this season out of character, but this one is extra silly because it didn’t even need to happen. She only does it because she’s hiding out in Stars Hollow making nonsensical speeches about hot dogs because she’s mad at Logan but can’t say she’s mad at Logan. I suppose there is a universe where these behaviors make sense for the character — Rory is prone to passivity, although it’s often more rooted in her strong ability to read people and her misplaced care for them. But I’d be more convinced if Rory (a) just broke up with Logan, since even though I don’t think the bridesmaids thing counts as cheating, they just clearly want different things and she’s not going to really get over it, and (b) staying out of the weird triangle between Lorelai, Luke, and Anna.
In past seasons, Rory had squishy boundaries sometimes, but they were typically better grounded in the character. This storyline seems like it was written for someone else entirely. SPEAKING OF WHICH
Lorelai is Passive and Suspicious of Luke (and No Longer Takes Pleasure in Food)
In this episode, Lorelai does the following:
(1) tries to assert control over her relationship by… trying to buy Luke a new duffel bag (this doesn’t even succeed)
(2) feels threatened that another woman, who has a child with Luke who is the reason he has to travel and also has access access to a large inventory of bags, gives Luke, a well-documented spendthrift, a bag for free
(3) has Sookie make an entire delicious smorgasbord from scratch to eat with her parents on their surprise visit, but forgets to tell Sookie it’s for the Elder Gilmores, and is horrified to receive a pretty dope-looking spread that she complains is “fattening”
(4) becomes obsessed with the Final Destination franchise
Only one of these behaviors (4) is on-brand for Lorelai. That roller-coaster scene really is harrowing! But the rest of these choices are laughably out-of-character for her, and betray a weird retconning that happens with her this season. Gone is the queen of nebulous boundaries, a deep commitment to bringing up uncomfortable topics as a hobby, and a saving grace in the form of her emotional skillfulness and care for others. Enter a woman so passive the only way she can ask for what she wants in her relationship is to… try unsuccessfully to buy a man a present. I don’t love it!
Mrs. Kim and Zack Are Vibing
Listen, I hate that Zack and Lane are getting married. I hate that Zack’s “can I marry your daughter” scene in this episode is basically a wrong-timeline retread of Dave Rygalski’s “can I date your daughter” speech from season three, the one that brought us Adam Brody saying “I hate soda because the carbonation freaks me out,” which I would argue is one of the best lines from the entire series. Zack is no Dave Rygalski.
But what I really hate about this storyline is that suddenly Mrs. Kim and Zack are like… BFFs? Even more incomprehensibly, Mrs. Kim says that Zack can only marry Lane if he writes a hit song, and he spends the whole episode basically doing a Jeff Tweedy impression that is very bad while Mrs. Kim channels Lester Bangs beside him offering tough but needed advice. The problem is I don’t really care about Zack at all, and I only care about Mrs. Kim in the context of her adjacency to Lane — that’s what it means to be a supporting character — and so wasting time on both of these characters together without Lane reads like Keiko Agena was sick that week and they had to fill the runtime.
It doesn’t make sense for either character, and I almost want Mrs. Kim to deny Zack her blessing, because while Zack has had his breakthrough moments of kindness here and there, that’s all basically past tense at this point, and I don’t really understand why Lane has any interest in him, to say nothing of the fact that if you’re already having some profound relationship problems, getting married is extremely unlikely to help!
Mrs. Kim and Zack is the buddy comedy I didn’t ask for and don’t want — and I LOVE odd-couple buddy comedies. But these two are no Rust Cohle and Marty Hart, and to suggest that they are is silly and unconvincing. Their moments together play like the kind that end up on “deleted scenes” compilations, not prime time. No, thanks!
There you have it: When your characters are becoming amateur spies, losing key parts of their personalities, and vibing with enemies without any ramp-up whatsoever, you know things are getting bad.
I still have hope for Yellowjackets, though. And if you have theories about the symbols, I was being serious. Please send them my way. Buzz, buzz!
9 Other Things Wrong With This Episode:
Kirk’s predatory behaviors towards elderly widows and divorcées is giving Ed Gein, sorry. (And Nancy Grace WOULD camp out on Miss Patty’s lawn for a month, wouldn’t she? Ugh, copaganda.)
I LOVE how mean Paris is to Logan (“Well, well, if it isn’t New Haven’s favorite whorehound.”) but Rory just immediately forgives him so we don’t get more of this, or the momentary revival of Paris and Rory’s friendship and dissonant but fun roommate dynamic. Way to give us nothing, Rory!
Some men (Zack and Brian) get into a debate about what signifies gayness and it’s simultaneously casually offensive and the most inane conversation I’ve ever heard. Fragile masculinity is toxic but lmao it is BORING too
Rory says she didn’t know Yale had a lacrosse team. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA omfg you GO to Yale what the fuck
Lorelai hides a FULL VASE OF FLOWERS under a THROW PILLOW. I’m sure no one will notice them there.
As previously established, I love Twin Peaks, and so I also love Sherilynn Fenn, who plays Anna. She is devastatingly vilified by this story line and essentially just a foil for Lorelai and I hate both of those things. What an absolute waste of THE Audrey Horne.
“Pasta a la fromage” just means cheese pasta. I think this means either Richard and Emily genuinely like mac n cheese or no one working on this show speaks French.
Rory grabs Michel’s post-its and disrupts his organizational system and doesn’t care. Sorry, Rory who LOVES an organizational system? She’d have more respect than this.
Bugsy Malone is a very Gilmore movie in which a cast of child actors, including young Jodie Foster, play hardened criminals. I saw it in France when I was 11 because it was one of the only movies my friend’s French B&B-owning grandma had on hand and I remember it being amazing. I wish it had been mentioned in a better episode than this one.
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Yes to everything you said about Gilmore Girls, Yellowjackets, Paris (the character), Sherilynn Fenn, all of it. This whole season is just so bad...and it has to be intentional, right?
Also, if it's ok to mention someone else's podcast, check out Sentimental Garbage's two-part series of top 8 men in Gilmore Girls. It's pretty awesome, includes discussion of female characters, and aligns with a lot of what you've posted.
Also, I want to see the rescue of the Yellowjackets and the post-rescue year!