Thursday, February 27, 2014

Leave it Out

There's a pivotal scene in the second season of the Gilmore Girls. This scene is a catalyst for the shifting of some major relationships over the next several months, and the repercussions of this scene are felt directly by most of the main characters for the next twenty episodes or so.

In case you aren't a Gilmore Girls aficionado, let me explain. No. There is too much. Let me sum up:

This is Rory:
Rory is a good kid. Straight A student, never been in trouble, thinks gin is brown, stuff like that.

At the time of the scene in question, Rory is dating Dean:
Dean is Mr. All-American. Plays multiple sports. Builds cars. Uses shop class to make jewelry for his girlfriend.

But Rory has a crush on Jess:
Jess also likes Rory. A LOT. Jess is also a Bad Boy. Skips school. Fights. Mouths off to authority figures. Listens to punk rock really loudly. But when it comes to Rory, he's a different guy. Around her, he's witty and intelligent and thoughtful.

Jess is the nephew of Luke:
Luke puts his neck out for Jess and it comes back to bite him in the butt. A lot.

Luke is friends with Lorelai, who is also Rory's mother:
Lorelai hates Jess. She hates him for all the reasons that mothers-of-teen-girls hate Bad-Boys-who-like-teen-girls.

While Dean is out of town, Rory is tutoring Jess. He doesn't need tutoring, he just wants to hang out with Rory. And she enjoys hanging out with him. They go for a drive. During that drive, he acts like a normal teen boy, driving competently but carelessly. Rory plays along and asks him to keep driving, instead of going back home to finish their homework.

And then they get into an accident.

But here's the kicker: We don't see the accident. 

We, the audience, don't even see the moments leading up to the accident, or a police officer describing the scene, nothing. We are given after-the-fact accounts from Rory and Jess, and we are given reactions from Lorelai and Luke.

You, the viewer, are forced to invent the narrative for yourself. You are forced to take what you know of the characters and sort out the truth and decide how you feel about everybody in the situation as a result.

You could believe Rory, who doesn't lie and says Jess didn't do anything wrong. But she's biased because she likes him.

You could believe Jess, whose story not only matches Rory's, but it also very plausible. But he has a vested interest in - and a history for - lying.

You could take Lorelai's side because she has a point: Jess is reckless and arrogant and dishonest and there's no real reason to believe him at all, ever. But she's sees nothing good about Jess, no matter what evidence is placed before her, and frankly, she felt the same way about Dean at the beginning, too.

You could take Luke's side because he knows Jess better than anybody else, but he also has been wrong before.
This scene puts a wedge between Lorelai and Luke, Lorelai and Rory, Rory and Jess, Rory and Dean, Rory and Luke, and Jess and Luke. It changes the way these characters all interact with each other for months and months, it sends Jess away from their town, it's the catalyst for every major relationship change over the next year.

But we never see it happen.

So what can we learn from this?

Sometimes you need to skip over the "important" parts. Sometimes that's what serves the story best. Harry kissing Cho. The "morning of" in GONE GIRL.

I'm sure there are more scenes like this, but they're hard to think of because their absence is just so... right.


  1. Huh. I never thought of it that way before. This is brilliant! ::scampers off to see if I can do this in one of my stories::

  2. I always believed Rory and Jess. I know Rory liked him, but I always thought she would have the sense and be responsible enough to say if it was more than that. I did always wonder why she took blame for it, though. I know she told him to keep driving, but if an animal ran into the road, there's really nothing they could have done about it. One line that always stands out to me is when Lorelai is talking about how he broke her daughter, and when her daughter comes home broken, it's game over.

  3. I always believed Rory & Jess, too. But I've been watching the series with a keen eye to the storytelling this time around, and I thought it was so powerful that this scene was omitted. Of all the scenes to leave out, you know? I also really believe that she took blame for it. Not because she thought she was at fault, but because she just didn't want Jess to take heat for something that wasn't his fault. Like Hermione stealing from Snape so that Harry and Ron wouldn't get in trouble. Kinda.

  4. I'm willing to bet it's tricky to pull off - but if you can do it, it could be really powerful!

  5. Sorry, I was laughing so hard over that picture of Baby!Padalecki that I forgot to actually read the rest of the post... ;)

  6. Good point. I am still up in the air on how much of the BIG EVENT of the new book to show.