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Episode: The Ins and Outs of Inns ...

Original Airdate: November 20, 2001

During the requisite Friday night dinner, Emily and Rory discuss the fact that poor Richard is on business in Akron, Ohio and he had to actually eat in a diner the other night. While Rory sympathizes with gramps, Lorelai couldn't care less and engages in a lovely conversation with herself. Until she realizes that Emily is convincing a naive and sympathetic Rory to sit for a portrait. Rory, always ready to please, says she would love to do it while Lorelai tries to convince her daughter to just give the artist a picture and be done with it. Apparently, Lorelai once sat for a portrait a long time ago and after three artists and much scowling, the thing never got finished. Try as she might, Lorelai cannot change Rory's mind. So it's settled. The portrait begins first thing in the morning.

At the diner, Jess is serving coffee, while Lorelai is trying to figure out what to name the new inn she and Sookie want to buy and renovate. For the time being, it's called the "Rachel property," which is just an unwelcome reminder of Luke's unfortunate past. While Jess heads off to school, Lorelai lets out all her anxiety about owning an inn and having absolutely no idea what she's doing. Luke tries to reassure, for lack of a better word, by saying his dad didn't know anything about running a diner either. He just dove right in. And that's exactly what Lorelai is going to have to do. Luke, does however, tell her that she's going to do just fine. That old soft spot has got to come out every once in a while.

Of course, once Lorelai gets to work, evil Michel is full of doubt and discouragement. He explains to her and Sookie that most businesses go belly up within the first two years. Michel suggests naming the inn, "The Money Pit." He then hands some papers over to Lorelai and Sookie, which contain the name of the real owner of the old inn. Her name is Fran and she owns the local bakery. She is also known as the cupcake lady, which leads Sookie and Lorelai to believe that buying the place will be, well, a piece of cake. But, the process doesn't turn out so easily. In fact, it's downright impossible because Fran just flat out refuses to sell. The place belonged to her parents and since Fran doesn't have any siblings, the inn is the only legacy of her family that she has. So, you see, she's just not selling. Ever.

Later, Rory and Lane walk through town and come across the local grocery where there's some police tape and a chalk outline of a body. What the heck is going on here? The police think it's just a big prank, but the store owner isn't buying it. Just then, Dean arrives and he and Rory flirt away, making Lane bail. As everyone wonders just who might pull such a prank, Rory spots Jess across the street with a grin on his face. Hmmm. It won't take much detective work to figure this one out.

Over at the Independence Inn, the mysterious owner arrives for a visit. Her name is Mia, and both Lorelai and Rory are pleased as to see her. And of course, Michel is his usual insulting self. The three girls head to Luke's, where he and Mia have a nice little reunion as well. Seems everyone just loves Mia, who now lives in Santa Barbara, California and hates it because it's sunny all the time. They all chat for a while and Mia spills the beans on Luke in his younger days when he used to skateboard and wore a Star Trek t-shirt every day for a year. Lorelai loves this ammunition and declares that she'll need a three-month vacation from work because she needs the time to laugh her butt off.

Meanwhile, the grocery-store owner comes in to chastise Luke about Jess's little prank. Luke isn't interested in local politics and shrugs off the accusation. Mia, on the other hand, is just loving all the small-town drama of Stars Hollow. But the reason she doesn't return more often is because she's not really needed anymore. Lorelai practically runs the inn all by herself. Uh-oh, how is Lorelai going to explain to Mia that she's bailing to start her own enterprise? Over at Emily's, Rory is complaining about her portrait posing. See, Emily wants her to look like some sort of ballerina with her arm over her head but Rory would rather be reading. It's more natural. After a call to Lorelai, the issue is settled.

That night, Lorelai, Rory, Luke and Mia head to the town meeting. When they arrive, Luke is angered to see that it's started without him. The rest of the folks did in on purpose because they wanted to talk about Jess and all the trouble he's brought to town since his arrival. The discussion turns into an argument and then an all-around bickering match, which accomplishes absolutely nothing. Luke storms out while everyone wonders what should be done about Jess-the-menace.

After the meeting, Rory goes off to smooch with Dean while Lorelai finally comes clean about her intentions to buy her own inn, even though she doesn't really have an actual inn to buy right now. Mia thinks it's a fabulous idea. In fact, she's wanted to sell the Independence for a long time but worried about putting Sookie and Lorelai out of their jobs. So, it's the perfect situation. Except that Lorelai and Sookie don't really have an inn to buy at the moment and they may be out of a job real quick. Not to mention the fact that some big nasty chain will probably buy the Independence and take all the charm out of it. (Of course, no one here is really talking about the obvious - that Lorelai and Sookie should buy the Independence.)

But Sookie does think of this. And Lorelai just jumps down her throat, explaining that the Independence is way out of their price range. Optimistic Sookie thinks that there must be a way to work it out. Lorelai completely loses her patience and her manners, and goes off on Sookie and her flaky ways. This fight isn't really about Sookie's annoying quirks but it doesn't matter. Sookie starts crying and leaves, making Lorelai feel really bad.

Later on, Rory and Dean are walking around town and he decides to pick up his paycheck. He leaves Rory alone for a few minutes, giving Jess an opportunity to give her a hard time. But Rory has little patience for the prankster. She gives him an earful about all the trouble he's causing Luke. After a few smart remarks, Jess actually feels bad and apologizes. When Dean comes back, Jess wants to know if Dean is her boyfriend because, well, she never mentioned she had one. Ouch.

Friday night, Lorelai and Rory arrive at Emily's for dinner and get a sneak peak at the portrait. It's pretty awful, truth be told. Rory's creeped out, but Lorelai lies and says it's nice. Of course, Emily isn't pleased with her daughter's lack of enthusiasm and storms out of the room. Lorelai follows her mom and apologizes. She explains the whole inn situation and why she's so cranky about everything.

At home, Lorelai finds Luke doing some handy-guy stuff and they have a little heart to heart about being an entrepreneur. Lorelai thinks she doesn't have what it takes, but Luke admits to throwing up and passing out when he opened the restaurant. He believes in her, but Lorelai has got to believe in herself or it's never going happen. The next day, Lorelai apologizes to Sookie and they quickly make peace and start giggling like school girls. Sookie is clearly the kind of girl who doesn't hold a grudge.

Over at the Independence, Emily comes in and has a cold chat with Mia. Mia had hoped the two might get along, but it isn't happening. See, Emily thinks Mia should have sent Lorelai home that day fifteen years ago when she arrived on the doorstep with Rory in her arms. But Mia disagrees and thought it would be better to give her safe, warm, loving home. Then, Emily asks that Mia keep discussion a secret from Lorelai. The meeting? Or has Emily bought the inn from Mia? It's confusing, but in the end, Mia promises to send over some pictures of Lorelai and Rory from long ago.

As the show ends, Lorelai and Rory chow down at Luke's and chat about how it sucks to fight with your friends. When Rory orders toast, Luke tells her it will take a while because the big toaster has been broken for a while. Not so! Turns out, Jess, who won't admit to it, has fixed it. Perhaps his little attempt to make Luke's life a little easier. Jess gives Rory a knowing look and she gives him one right back.

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