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Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life Fails Rory with “Fall”

By on November 29, 2016

GILMORE GIRLS | (Left to Right) Jared Padalecki and Alexis Bledel. Photo credit Neil Jacobs/Netflix

By Chelsea Hensley

Amy Sherman Palladino, referring to Rory’s relationship with Logan said, “we wanted Rory to date her father”. If that isn’t a total indictment of Logan’s character I’m not sure what is, as Christopher Hayden, who makes a return appearance in “Fall”, is the closest thing Gilmore Girls has to a villain.

Since we met him, we’ve known him as a tumbleweed who blows through just to cause upheaval among the Gilmores, whether it be between Rory and Lorelai, Lorelai and Emily or Rory, Lorelai or Emily or everyone else in the known universe. Christopher is quite possibly the worst (and season seven did him no favors) so announcing that Logan was intended to be Rory’s Christopher is…not a good look.

But it does fit.

Logan, like Christopher was born to difficult parents and supposed to take over the family business. Like Christopher, Logan shirked this responsibility at every chance (until eventually falling in line) and did dumb stuff like jumping from tall heights and performing death defying stunts. Oh, and he fell in love with a Gilmore girl. Now, he’s gotten her pregnant…

“I’m pregnant.”

The four words, the ones we kept hearing about, the ones denied the Palladinos by the CW’s failed contract negotiations? Those words that were going to be so special and so important? Sure, very important. Special….in a way. Also very, very annoying. Not because of the words themselves but for what led up to them. It’s fitting that a mother/daughter story would end with news of another generation, and if the circumstances surrounding it were different, I could even be happy about it. But there’s been a Logan-shaped cloud hanging over this revival and a sense of dread permeating Lorelai and Rory’s final scene.

This isn’t a happy occasion. It’s disappointing. Disappointing because Rory’s entire revival story has been all about nothing much, excepting her and Logan’s stupid relationship (I’m irked at this revival for trashing all my good will toward Logan which I swear used to exist). Even if Year in the Life really is the end (though I wouldn’t put another season past Netflix and the Palladinos), we know how this will go. Rory’s clearly supposed to be following in Lorelai’s footsteps. Even her visit to Christopher telegraphed her trying to decide whether or not to involve Logan in her baby’s life, but we know Rory’s going to have that kid (it’ll probably be a girl). She’ll raise her alone (with Lorelai’s help), and Logan will remain distant and foolish in London, only turning up to wreak some emotional havoc (or, as he does here, show up with college friends to party at a tango club). And then somewhere down the road Rory will finally stop screwing around with him and mary Jess.

Oh yes because there’s Jess making googly eyes at Rory (kudos to Dean, married with millions of kids, and never looking Rory’s way again). It’s been ten years and clearly they don’t chat much (since she got her Jess info from Luke), but Jess is still carrying a torch? When this particular development arose I wrote in my notes, “heavy sigh” because that’s all you can really do at this point. Despite Sherman-Palladino’s annoyance that people care so much about Rory’s romantic life, she wrote herself into that corner and did little to get out of it with the revival.

It would have been nice for Rory to get something more than this, but judging by the way Rory’s freelance career, and even the book, were written, the Palladinos don’t care about her professional life anymore than I do. I felt a tiny twinge of emotion when she finished the book at Richard’s desk, but otherwise it’s all very meh. Not unlike the original series Rory was failed by her creators’ inability to imagine much more for her than troubled boyfriends.

“I feel like we should be married already.”

You’re telling me, Lorelai!

“Fall” isn’t all bad.  Not all bad at all because if this is the last time we’ll see Lorelai Gilmore than I’ll be satisfied. It was a beautiful episode for her, and despite the abysmal “Summer”, a beautiful revival for her, too. A lot of this comes down on quintessential dramedy actress Lauren Graham, who is perfect, perfect, perfect as Lorelai.

On her (stupid) hike, Lorelai is away from Stars Hollow, from Luke, from Rory, from Emily, from the Dragonfly, from all the quirks. She’s still witty and plucky and smart but when she’s alone, she really shines. I’d have loathed watching Lorelai actually hike, and all the time leading up to the hike she never even goes on is tedious, but once Lorelai reaches that hill and looks down at that vista everything falls together as suddenly as it does for her.

Lorelai has some resolution regarding Richard’s death and manages to (sort of) make amends with Emily. Since their usual way of dealing with things is just to pretend they never happened while still resenting one another for it, Lorelai calling Emily to tearfully share her favorite memory of RIchard is sweet and affecting (and of course Lauren Graham acts the hell out of it). But it’s undercut by Emily and Lorelai being financially chained together so Lorelai can fund the Dragonfly’s expansion. It’s supposed to call back to the series’ start, but it’s not nostalgic, it’s a step backward. Lorelai’s memory of Richard won’t heal all the damage between her and Emily, but for us to return to a Lorelai only begrudgingly linked to her mother is cheap. It would be just as easy to have Lorelai actually interested in repairing her relationship with Emily (even in Nantucket three weeks out of the year).

That being said, Emily’s resolution is the most satisfying, and the most surprising. Luke and Lorelai’s marriage, Sookie’s return (with wedding cakes!), and Lorelai expanding the Dragonfly all feel inevitable. It had to happen. But Emily selling her house and moving to Nantucket to work at the whaling museum is delightfully absurd, and it’s nice to Emily really unwinding and finding peace, however odd it may look.

And what about Luke and Lorelai? Their wedding is beautiful (though where did the dancers come from and why?), and Luke cooking Paul Anka’s food (and blowing on it to cool it off) is the icing on top of the cake that is already Luke. Having something good come of it, and having what was denied us ten years ago, makes this flawed revival worth watching. But I’ll still skip it when I do my Gilmore Girls rewatch.

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