I guess this week's director must be fresh out of film school, because while he hasn't quite picked up the subtleties of this show's locked-focus fetish yet, he does insist on all sorts of goofy angles and close-ups where they're not really warranted. This scene begins with an overhead shot of a priest's chest, crucifix dangling against a red silk-shirt. Eventually, it resolves itself into a meeting between David, Father Jack, and the head priest at the church. Father Jack explains that David grew up in the church, having been baptized and confirmed there, as well as president of the Youth Ministry. The head priest quizzes David on his motives, saying, "Being a deacon is more than just having access to the church mailing list and passing out your business cards after mass." David responds with all the right answers, claiming, "I won't deny that I run a business providing a service to people in times of need, but I would never exploit my relationship with the church for marketing purposes. Frankly I would consider that to be a very grave sin." This time, Father Jack says it for me: "No pun intended." There are some more questions, the subtext of which is clearly whether or not David is gay. After asking about his marital status, the head priest solemnly inquires, "Is there anything else you'd like to tell me about yourself before I consider this?" David plays the "don't ask/don't tell" card by answering the priest's question with one of his own: "Is there anything specific you'd like to ask me?" The priest shakes his head at this and gets up to leave, saying he'll have a decision in a few days. Once he's gone, Father Jack eagerly informs David that he's already referred a parishioner to Fisher & Sons.
Formaldehyde Fortress. Ruth bursts into Claire's room, prompting yet another snotty comment about knocking from her daughter. "Pack some things," Mom orders. "We're spending the night with your cousin in San Bernadino." Claire is confused, as she has homework to finish, but Ruth is adamant, shouting that she'll write a note to get her out of school.
Back at the Parents' Place, Nate, Harvey, and Bo are seated on a raised patio beside the pool that totally wasn't there the last time we were here. Unless we're supposed to believe that this house has two or more swimming pools, I think it's safe to say that the director let himself get carried away by a cool location for this scene, and neglected to worry about pesky little details like continuity and common sense. It does make for a pretty cool shot, though. Anyway, Bo talks about how happy she is that Brenda has finally brought a man home for them to meet, but Nate still doesn't get it. "Well, to be perfectly honest," he blathers, "I'm not sure Brenda really meant for us to meet. I don't think she knew you were coming home that night." Oh, come on. No one is that stupid. And if they were, would someone like Brenda really be interested in them? Bo is forced to explain Brenda's manipulative nature, only she has to do it using small words and a pie chart. Finally, Nate seems to get that there's more going on here than he originally assumed, and he wonders if he can ask them a question. Harvey finally gets a line: "As long as it doesn't involve asking us for money." Nate inquires as to whether or not the name "Nathaniel" means anything to them, and Harvey and Bo share a little look before responding, "Of course." They lead him inside, and show him a series of children's books called Nathaniel and Isabel. Apparently, they were Brenda's favorite books as a kid. Bo breathlessly explains that the books are about "two orphans who have adventures. They ran away from an orphanage, there was a malevolent nurse who was always hunting them down, but they always managed to escape her. Typical infantile wish-fulfillment stuff." Wow, that could almost be my autobiography. Or hagiography, for the few Sopranos fans left watching at this point. She goes on to explain that Brenda used to sit beside her brother's crib and read him these stories for hours on end. "It's all in the book," she says, but Nate's blank look and "This book?" reply tell her that he has no idea what she's talking about. Incidentally, the closed-captioning has been alternating between calling Brenda's father "Vern" and "Bernie" for this whole scene, so I'm glad I went with Harvey. No matter what his name is, he's shocked that Brenda didn't tell Nate about her book. Considering that it took three weeks to get an explanation on the tattoo, I'm not really surprised when they don't tell us about the book now either.
Richard and Emily's house. Lorelai finds Rory in her old room. Rory apologizes for snapping at Emily. CuteDean, however, is nowhere to be found. Just to prove that I'm manly, but not elitist, I can admit to the world that I'm a big fan of the Gilmore Girls, and you can even click the link to be impressed by the depth of my knowledge. But while I do enjoy watching it, I don't possess the required estrogen levels necessary to recap it, so I'll just leave that to Pamie. I will, however, note that airs on the WB, which is of course HBO's sister network. Gerald Levin is nothing if not synergistic. We pull back to reveal Ruth and Claire, watching the show with the cousins from San Bernadino. The cousins are also a mother-daughter team, and they giggle, chow down on their KFC, and basically lob anvils at us until we get that they're just like Gilmore Girls while Ruth and Claire are just like The Addams Family. Yeah. We. Get. It. Anyway, for all the obvious reasons, I dub them Borelai and Snory. Snory suggests that they'll have to take extra "spinning" classes to work off the dinner, and even gets excited when Borelai mentions that "Derek" will be teaching tomorrow's class. "Mom and I have this huge crush on a spinning instructor at the Y," gushes Snory. "He is hot, hot, hot." Gee, thanks for that, Buster Poindexter. And just what the hell is spinning, anyway? I mean, do you really need a class to learn how to turn around? Or does everyone just get on a sit-and-spin and twirl until they puke? Because that probably would be an effective way to lose weight, you know. It's like bulimia, only with children's toys. ["It involves stationary bikes, I think." -- Sars] Snory next asks Claire about college, and Claire reveals that she's considering NYU or Columbia. Columbia? Hmmm. I smell spin-off. The Claire & Meadow Show could be a Laverne & Shirley for the new millennium. I'm telling ya, Lauren, you gotta call me. I can make all this happen for you. Snory, on the other hand, likes going to college right in her hometown. She saves money by living at home, and besides, who wants to be "stuck in some crappy dorm where everyone is smoking pot and playing loud music all the time?" Ooh, I do! I do! And apparently, so does Robert Iler. Hmm. Do I sense another spin-off? The Aaron & AJ Show, perhaps? Watch as they get high, crack on TV shows, and beat up all the other child actors for their lunch money. You know, I should totally start my own network. You guys would watch, right? The scene ends with Snory declaring, "I love my mom, and I'm not ashamed to admit it." Aww. Visits to my mom usually inspire me to those sorts of defiant declarations as well, but mine tend to run along the lines of "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore." Bonus points for anyone who gets the secret "starting my own Network" joke there.
Ugh. I've been dreading this scene. This is going to be like a twelve-page paragraph right here. Nate shows up at Brenda's house, looking pretty pissed after the evening he's just endured. "So how was it?" she asks. "Oh, it was quite informative," he replies. "I now know what Nathaniel means, I know you have an IQ of 185, and I know you had a book written about you." Brenda promptly hands him a copy of said book and says, "Here. I signed it for you." Before we go any further, let's just stop a second to ponder the idea of Brenda as über-genius. You know what, never mind. I'm giggling too hard to ponder right now. Nate wants to know why she didn't tell him all this herself, and goes on to say that he can handle the idea of her being a genius, but what he can't handle is the way she "keeps mind-fucking [him] for [her] own personal enjoyment." Hey, at least someone is enjoying it, right? Brenda snots that she's sorry she's "not some well-behaved little nothing who never challenges [him]," before adding, "If that's what you're looking for, you might as well just leave right now." Oh, come on, Brenda. If that was really what I was looking for, I'd be recapping Ed right now, don't you think? The director suddenly remembers that his actors have to move every few minutes or things start to look like a bad stage play, so he sends them over to the chairs in the middle of the room. Brenda explains that it was her mother's idea that she not be there for dinner, but Nate still wishes she'd warned him. Brenda answers that he wouldn't have gone, and then sighs mightily. "I just wanted to get it all out of the way. Them, the book, everything." She seems incredibly weary, and Rachel Griffiths does an excellent job of portraying a woman who's probably had this exact same conversation more than a few times before, without it ever working out. She rants about how her parents discovered that she was a genius when she "scored through the roof on some standardized, culturally-biased test" at the age of six. They handed her over to scientists and psychiatrists who analyzed her every move, thus creating the ironically overly self-aware monster we see today. Because she's Brenda, everything has to be wrapped up in a tidy little metaphysical bow: "It is a fucking law of physic