"The Road Trip to Harvard"
Written by Daniel Palladino; directed by Jamie Babitt

Lorelai and Rory are in the Jeep, heading to an undecided location (see “Red Light on a Wedding Night”) and lamenting the fact that they forgot to bring road trip music. Rory is worried because they don’t know where they’re going, but Lorelai tells her that the point is to be spontaneous. Rory thinks this is risky and panics when she sees a sign that either said “don’t” or “death.” She thinks they’re lost, but Lorelai points out that they can’t be lost if they don’t know where they’re going. Lorelai turns on the radio and the girls freak out when they hear that Hootie and the Blowfish is coming up. The girls stop by a roadside food stand, raving about Haden’s Nut House. Lorelai says that if she were in a rock band, she would make the tour bus stop at ever Haden’s Nut House they passed. “Wow, your Behind the Music is gonna be really wild,” Rory comments. Back in the Jeep, Lorelai calls Sookie, wanting to let her know where they are. She tells her that the wedding is off and that she hopes Sookie hasn’t already made the cake. Sookie says that she hasn’t, but she’s standing next to a giant, five-tiered cake. Lorelai asks Sookie to tell Miss Patty what’s happened, since she’ll spread the news and everyone will know by the time Rory and Lorelai get back to Stars Hollow. After she hangs up, Sookie cuts the cake and hands out pieces to her kitchen staff. “You were a good cake, Clyde,” she tells it. “I never should’ve named you.”

Lorelai catches Rory looking at a map; she says that it’s going to be dark soon and she doesn’t want to have to sleep in the car. She says that they’re heading towards Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and Lorelai remembers that she knows someone who lives there. He owns a cool B&B (which Rory thinks is like saying “an understated Nicolas Cage movie.” Apparently every room is decorated in a different style for a different century. Rory agrees to give it a try but wants to call first. Lorelai reminds her that she needs to have a sense of adventure. They head over and meet a woman at the front desk named LaDonn. She asks if they want to ring the bell, since she’s usually not at the desk and the guests like to ring the bell. Lorelai rings the bell and LaDonn praises her. Lorelai asks if Donald is there, but LaDonn explains that she bought the place from him the previous year. Lorelai notices that it’s changed a lot and LaDonn says that she didn’t think the previous style was something that B&Bers would enjoy. Also, the new name of the B&B is the Cheshire Cat. Lorelai pulls Rory aside and tells her that they have to leave now. Rory complains that she’s hungry and tired and doesn’t want to die of exposure in the Jeep. Lorelai relents and LaDonn grabs their bags and shows them to their room. On the way up the stairs, they pass a huge cat named Sammy.

Rory and Lorelai are shocked to see how many flowers decorate the wallpaper of their room. Lorelai even wonders if the flowers are moving. LaDonn says that B&Bers like to be in a peaceful setting to get away from their normal lives. She asks what Lorelai does; Lorelai lies that she’s in publishing. After LaDonn leaves, Rory looks through the guest book and sees that one guest wrote, “This room makes my soul soar.” The girls head downstairs to get dinner but spot a group of dentists and decide that they can’t get past them without having to stop and talk. Rory decides that she’s hungry enough to risk it, but Lorelai convinces her that she’s not. In the room, Lorelai finds fuzzy Certs which she’s had in her purse for a long time. The two criticize the dentists’ activities, noting that they get cranky when they’re hungry. It’s only 8:23, so they don’t want to go to sleep, but there’s not much else to do. Lorelai suggests singing “Anarchy in the UK” very loudly, but Rory wants to talk. She brings up Max, but Lorelai doesn’t want to discuss him. She tries to go to sleep and Rory keeps bugging her to talk about the reason she really left. Rory thinks that Lorelai does love Max but just got scared. Lorelai doesn’t want to be interrogated by her teenage daughter; they may be best friends, but in this kind of situation, Lorelai gets to put her foot down. Rory points out that she’s tossed off their life, not just her own, and she and Max were counting on this happening. She adds that she thinks Lorelai will regret her decision. They turn off the lights to go to sleep and Lorelai says that she’s sure about her decision and she wishes she loved Max.

The next morning, Lorelai tells Rory that she thinks the flowers on the wallpaper have grown and multiplied. Rory discovers that she’s written in the guest book and criticizes her for saying, “Satanic forces are at work here.” Rory changes it to, “Sat and forever am at work here.” She makes sure that she and Lorelai are okay after their fight the previous night. Lorelai admits that she ate the fuzzy Certs, which tasted like keys. The girls check the dentists’ activity schedule and realize that they have a small window in which they can grab some breakfast without being harassed. Downstairs, however, they run into LaDonn and some guests who are watching hummingbirds. Lorelai and Rory get some scones and have to endure some questioning from some of the guests. One of the woman finds out that Lorelai is in “publishing” and asks for some titles of children’s books that she can get when she’s back at home. Lorelai makes up some books, Goodnight, Spoon and The Horse that Wanted to Bark. The woman thinks she’s read that and Lorelai refreshes her memory on the ending. (The horse dies.) Lorelai leaves to make a phone call, abandoning Rory with the interrogators.

Lorelai heads to the staircase, where Sammy is lounging, and calls Sookie again. She’s at Luke’s, having fun watching Kirk drink a bunch of coffee refills. Luke wants him to leave and Kirk argues that in France, you can sit and drink coffee as long as you want. Sookie tells Lorelai that everyone in town knows about the broken engagement except Luke. As Kirk tries to calculate six percent of $4.43, Lorelai asks Sookie to tell Luke, so Sookie calls him over and gives him the news. He immediately brightens and gives Kirk another refill, then tells everyone in the diner that they’re coffee is on the house. He even compliments a customer’s hat. Lorelai rescues Rory, who tells her that she now has abandonment issues. They try to decide what to do that day and Lorelai suggests that they look at Rory’s secret map. After hearing about the Massachusetts towns they’re near, Lorelai decides on a destination but won’t tell Rory what it is. She folds up the map and Rory freaks out because she’s done it wrong. Lorelai notes that it’s smaller, then promises to get Rory a new map. The girls wind up at Harvard and Rory talks about how excited she is to actually be there. Lorelai wants to go inside, but Rory says that they can’t without a tour guide. She convinces Rory to walk around and see the place where she wants to go to school so badly.

Rory and Lorelai look at a guidebook and discuss interesting tidbits of information about Harvard. Rory goes to get coffee from an outdoor kiosk and Lorelai looks at roommate wanted ads on a bulletin board. Rory points out that she won’t be going to college for two years, but Lorelai says that she herself will need a place to stay when she comes to visit. A student starts talking to Lorelai, thinking that he’s seen her around campus, and she plays along. After he leaves and Rory comes back, Lorelai revels in the fact that she used “existentialist” in a sentence. Rory sees the library and learns that it’s actually one of 90 libraries containing 13 million volumes. Rory thinks she’s a failure, since she’s read nowhere close to 13 million books in her 16 years of life. She says that she’s been wasting time by sleeping and she won’t be able to converse intelligently with her classmates when she gets to college. Lorelai leads her to a dorm and they pretend to be students. Rory notes that all of Lorelai’s “college kid jargon comes from Happy Days and the Valley Girls song.” Lorelai finds an empty room and pretends to be looking for a girl named Susie, in case they get caught. They talk about the room and potential roommates. Lorelai takes a photo of Rory at the desk and they start to leave just as the room’s occupant enters. “Oh, hey, Susie,” Lorelai greets her.

Lorelai and Rory head to a classroom and listen to a class discussion from the doorway. Lorelai goes to find a restroom and Rory listens to the class a little longer. She accidentally drops her cup and the professor notices her, asking her if she’s staying or not. Rory decides to take a seat. In the hallway, Lorelai looks at the pictures of the class valedictorians. In the classroom, Rory excitedly joins the discussion. After a minute, she thanks a student she debated and leaves. Lorelai tells her that she looked like a natural in the class. Rory is thrilled to go to Harvard and be a part of this every day. Back at the B&B, LaDonn helps Rory and Lorelai with their bags as Lorelai notes that Sammy isn’t on the stairs. This leads to a long discussion over whether or not Sammy ever lies on the stairs. “Forget it, Jake, it’s Chinatown,” Rory tells Lorelai. LaDonn checks the girls out and says that she’s about to do her favorite thing - read the guest book. Lorelai asks for a five-minute head start. The girls return to Stars Hollow and Lorelai says that every time she leaves, no matter for how long, she always expects things to look different when she comes back. She and Rory note that the town always looks the same. As they drive past townies, they confirm that Miss Patty has spread the news to everyone. At home, Rory suggests that they eat something healthy for dinner, since they’ve eaten junk throughout the trip. Lorelai reminds her that they had lettuce on their burgers the previous night but Rory points out that she took hers off. Lorelai said that it left it’s essence, and that fulfills a weekly requirement of vegetables.

Lorelai sees the chuppah in her yard (see “Red Light on a Wedding Night”), remarks that everything is the same, and starts to cry. At Friday night dinner, Lorelai and Rory share a slideshow of their Harvard trip with Emily, who is unimpressed with their unfocused photos and pictures of squirrels. Emily thinks that the next time they go to Harvard, they have to do it properly, with a guide and a scheduled visit. She wonders if Max objected to Lorelai leaving town so close to the wedding. Lorelai starts to tell her what happened and Emily thinks that she eloped. Lorelai tells her that they actually broke up and accuses Emily of not being surprised. Emily says that she was actually thinking that she’ll have to return her gift. Lorelai wants to know what it is and keeps hounding her, but Emily won’t tell her what she bought. After dinner, Rory and Lorelai head to downtown Stars Hollow, where they run into Lane, who’s back from Korea. She admits that it wasn’t as horrible as she’d expected, especially since she got a bunch of bootlegs. Lorelai heads to Luke’s and he apologizes for her failed relationship. He realizes that the chuppah is still in her yard, but she decides that she wants to keep it. They talk about the trip to Harvard and Lorelai admits that it made her realize what she missed out on. She has also decided that it’s time to make a move on actually opening her dream inn with Sookie. Outside, Rory tells Lane about the trip and they head off to the Kims’. Lorelai calls Sookie and tells her that it’s time to put some serious thought into their inn.

MEMORABLE QUOTES: Lorelai: “I am a grown woman.”
Rory: “Says the woman with the Hello Kitty waffle iron.”

Lorelai: “Well, there’s, um, Goodnight, Spoon and, um, The Horse that Wanted to Bark.”
Woman: “Oh, I think I’ve read that to my grandson. The horse learns to bark, and then he…oh, what happens at the end?”
Lorelai: “He dies.”

Kirk: “You know, in France, when you sit and order, you can have the table as long as you want.”
Luke: “I bet you know what I’m gonna say next.”
Kirk: “That we’re not in France?”
Luke: “Give or take a profanity.”

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