Happy Birthday, Baby originally aired April 22, 2003. This episode was written by Amy Sherman-Palladino and was directed by Gail Mancuso.
This episode opens with Richard cooking Friday night dinner. Rory and Lorelei tell Emily and Richard that Rory’s going to Yale, and Emily and Richard don’t react right away. In fact, they act like everything is perfectly normal…until they are really happy, and go off to call their friends.
At the Inn, construction is underway, and has to be done in 10 days, when guests are scheduled to arrive. Lorelei is having an emergency staff meeting with Sookie, Michel and Tobin, the night manager. Lorelei is looking for ideas to keep the inn going, and Michel suggests a B & B. Lorelei and Sookie shoot it down, but Tobin agrees with Michel and suddenly, Lorelei is willing to consider it. Michel doesn’t want Tobin’s help, and Michel isn’t happy that Lorelei said she’d reconsider when Tobin agreed. Tobin got Lorelei an early birthday present, and Michel and Tobin have this weird glaring/looking at each other weird moment. Michel and Tobin try to one up each other throughout the episode with birthday gifts getting more awesome, and Tobin with a bunch of ideas on what to do with the inn that Michel doesn’t like.
Rory is busy planning Lorelei’s birthday party- from a cake at Westin’s, to the world’s largest pizza. The pizza has some issues throughout the episode, and while Rory is getting soda, Jackson talks to Rory about how Sookie’s crying because Rory didn’t ask her to make the pizza, or ask him for vegetables for the pizza toppings.
While all of this is going on, Lorelei meets with Richard for lunch, where she gets a very large check. Richard had made an investment in real estate when Lorelei was born, and got a letter saying that the complex was sold, so she is now getting the check. She’s really excited, and we see her and Rory trying to decide what to do with the money.
Then, we have another Friday night dinner, where Lorelei pays back Richard and Emily for Rory’s tuition at Chilton. She’s very thankful for what they’ve done, but Emily doesn’t take this well at all. She thinks they don’t need her anymore, and that she doesn’t want the money. Emily also thinks that Lorelei was unkind to use her birthday to tell them that Friday night dinners are over, and even though Lorelei never said it, Emily believes the check got the point across. Richard never told Emily about the investment he made, and paying them back was one of the first things she thought of. Richard told her that Emily wasn’t supposed to know, and Lorelei is confused, since he didn’t specifically tell her not to say anything. However, meeting in secret was how Lorelei was supposed to know. Emily tells her that they are released from their obligation of Friday night dinner.
In Stars Hollow, Rory wants to know why Lorelei did it the way she did it, and that Lorelei had to have known they wouldn’t want the money back and that Emily wouldn’t take it well. According to Lorelei, Rory doesn’t know how hard it’s been for Lorelei to go to her parents for help with Rory’s tuition, because Lorelei decided that she didn’t want their help a long time ago. She did go to them for help because of Rory and doesn’t regret that. Rory thinks she could have done it differently (but isn’t sure what that would be) and Lorelei talks about how her relationship with her parents is very different than the one that Rory has with them. Lorelei isn’t going to let anyone make her feel guilty for paying back a loan that she always intended to pay back, and certainly doesn’t want Rory to judge her for doing so. Rory apologizes but Lorelei says it’s fine.
The episode ends with Lorelei seeing the party Rory planned for her, and loves that Rory did that for her.
What I Thought:
The check that Lorelei gets…I have so many thoughts on this! It’s one of those things where I get everyone’s side- well, mostly. I get why Emily acted the way she did and I don’t blame her for not taking it well. I do agree with Rory that Lorelei could have done it differently, and I get why Lorelei not only went to her parents for help but also why she wanted to pay them back.
I did find myself irritated with Richard for not explicitly saying “don’t tell Emily.” It is very like Richard to have a meeting shrouded in secrecy where said secrecy implies that Lorelei not say anything. But subtlety doesn’t seem to work well with Lorelei, and Richard really should have been more clear.
I also got annoyed with Lorelei when she and Rory were back in Stars Hollow after her birthday dinner with her parents. One thing I’ve thought since starting up with the re-watch ages ago is that we get a very one-sided picture of Lorelei’s relationship with her parents, and while I know the show mainly focuses on Lorelei and Rory, I really wish we saw more of what her parents side is. I was definitely reminded of that towards the end of the episode. I get she doesn’t have a good relationship with her parents, and I just really wish we got more of Emily and Richard’s side (instead of just what Emily says once in a blue moon). And that Lorelei was more specific about why they were horrible parents.
I would like to randomly add that Rory didn’t have to go to a fancy, expensive private school that Lorelei really couldn’t afford. I don’t know if Chilton offers scholarships, or if that would even be enough to cover tuition. And I know it’s there so Rory can get to Harvard (at the time) and so that Emily and Richard are around, but still…it just seems weird to me.
Michel: “I don’t eat bagels. They are like glue in your intestines.”
Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Clash, Gangs Of New York
Let’s Rate It:
I liked this episode, especially given there are no more Friday night dinners. I didn’t completely love it, because I found Lorelei and Richard to be slightly irritating, but overall, I feel like we’ve hit the point where the story line that leads up to the season finale is set in motion in this episode. Happy Birthday, Baby gets 3 mugs of coffee.