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Bitterness and Boredom on Gilmore Girls Season 7

Talking about season 6 last time felt like you could literally tell when the downward spiral that led to the worst season of Gilmore Girls started. And no, it wasn’t April Nardini, at least  not exactly. Now we have reached season 7, which I previously referred to as a “dumpster fire”—an ending to the series so unworthy, the show’s original creator didn’t even watch it, and we’re getting a revival in less than two weeks.

But is it really that bad, or are we all just bitter? And also bored. Let’s find out!

Not in Kansas anymore

Right of the bat, things this season are different. Amy Sherman-Palladino and Daniel Palladino, former show runners and heads of writing, didn’t get their contracts renewed for this season. The show also moved from the WB to the CW, though the filming locations didn’t seem to change much.

And while there were many different writers, as is the norm for sizeable TV shows, this change in leadership seriously affects the show, and this is never more apparent than in the front 13 episodes.

To kick this off with some boring structure talk again, this is the only season where I actually felt the “front 13, back 9” thing. Now, looking back, I can tell that episode 13 very often had some big event happen, but there was never as deep a thematic cut as presented in this season.

This is made even weirder that when this phenomenon is observable in, odd choices here, shows like Glee or Once Upon A Time: episode 13 usually marked not only a big competition or the end of the first story arc of the season, but also a bigger break in broadcasting dates that Gilmore Girls never had. Instead of being split in two, most Gilmore Girls seasons were split in 3 parts by the air dates, with shorter breaks between them, but I never noticed any thematic shifts accompanying them in previous seasons.

And yet when I first watched this particular season, I noticed a gigantic shift after episode 13/14, so much so that I figured “oh, some form of winter break must have hit and I guess they got bad reviews in and decided to try something else”. Which would have been completely warranted, mind you, and the truly bad dumpster fire does take place during the first 13 episodes only – with episode 13 already being a step in the right direction.

And yet, no break of the sort happened. The best and worst episode of this season are even written by the same person. I am thoroughly confused.

Salting the Earth

We pick up things more or less where we left off, with Lorelai dealing with the fact she and Luke are over (which Luke doesn’t know about) and the fact that she went and slept with Christopher. It takes the entire episode and a car crash for Luke to show up at her doorstep and telling her they can go elope now, but she turns him down and tells him about sleeping with Christopher.

Here’s a woman happy with her life choices.

And what’s with that car crash? Kirk drives Taylor’s car straight into Luke’s diner, and everyone reacts with… Excitement? Even Rory, whose one true father figure just basically lost his business and was inside the diner when the crash happens runs home and happily tells her mom about the exciting thing that just happened. Cars crashing into store fronts is pretty traumatic, alright? Especially when it involved people you know.

This is the second most jarring tonal shift in these early episodes. The worst one comes in episode two, in which Luke suddenly turns into a radically different person. A person who is downright mean to Lorelai. Which isn’t to say that her running off to sleep with Christopher wasn’t a shitty thing to do. It was, and Luke has every right to be angry about it.

The Luke I know just wouldn’t run up to Lorelai two days or so later and gleefully tell her how he’s over the entire (2 year!) relationship already and how they were just never meant to be, oh well, sucks to be them, and what is Lorelai still hung up over?

I mean, admittedly, this happens in an episode that has a cold opening featuring Luke driving all the way to Boston to punch Christopher in the face, so everything he says after is either a flat-out lie or punching Christopher in the face (which I am very sure is quite cathartic) was all he needed to get over it.

And keep in mind, again, I don’t criticize Luke being hurt by Lorelai’s behavior. I criticize the way he expresses that anger towards her. Even after their worst spats, Luke never, ever, just plain out tried to hurt Lorelai, or anyone for that matter, on purpose. He internalizes. That’s his thing, and that’s what led to both break-ups so far. Then again, the person writing episode 1 also forgot that Luke wouldn’t have to look up that a sea captain can marry you on a boat, as this is what literally happened to him between season 3 and 4.

Lorelai meanwhile takes all his anger and resentment and turns it into the most blatantly racist thing the show has ever done.

Your time to shine, season 7.

Your time to shine, season 7.

I mean, the intent is something in the realm of sweet, as Rory is bummed out over not getting to travel through Asia with Logan this summer, but… Come on.

Thankfully, the party comes to a crashing halt when Chris leaves a message on the answering machine, mentioning the fact that he and Lorelai slept together. Rory doesn’t take it well, at least in this episode she doesn’t. Rory flip-flopping her opinion on her parents dating could be a drinking game for this season. She’s thrilled with her dad just the next episode, for example, but then warns Lorelai that he perpetually ruins things, and this goes on and on.

Oh, yeah. After realizing they totes belong together, Lorelai decides to give Chris a chance and they start dating. Woohoo.

Revisiting stuff that was already resolved

Chris and Lorelai are a thing for a few episodes. These are also the worst episodes of the season, and by extension, the series. And also the most committed the show has ever been to a love triangle narrative.

You heard it here first, folks: the show is more intent on hammering home the Luke vs. Christopher love triangle than it ever was for the Dean vs. Jess love triangle. Because at least when that was going on, there were other things to Rory’s storyline. Hell, both love interests were at their most engaging when they intersected with other things going on in Rory’s life, and Dean’s refusal to do so at all was what made him so incredibly unappealing by season 5. Well, that and other things I have already spent too much time talking about.

Lorelai has nothing going on outside of her love life this season, really. Like, there’s a moment in episode 3 where she has a completely out of place epiphany about cotillions. See, Michel makes her take him to a fancy party for ten year old girls that Emily is throwing because she owes him, and it looks like Lorelai…might be regretting never attending a cotillion herself?

Leave room for Jesus, kids!

This is seriously weird, considering how she did in fact attend Rory’s coming out party in season two, and several other events her parents have thrown, and the only thing she ever hinted at regretting missing out on was her high school graduation. Like, sure, this episode is accompanied by her having a crisis over whether or not she likes Pop-Tarts, or whether she has only ever liked them because her parents would hate it, but come on. This is not a new plot point. We’ve been over this a few dozen times in the last seasons already.

And still, this is the closest Lorelai comes to having a plot point be about her, and not the men in her life. Or in her daughter’s life.

Inadequate Inadequacy Issues

Who gets an arc instead? Christopher does! No. No really. Thanks to our new focus on “Chris is so much better than Luke until he isn’t,” Chris gets his very own storyline. With themes and shit!

And that theme is that he suddenly feels guilty for not having been in Rory’s life, having been an inadequate father, and how much pain that causes him, with Lorelai as his cheerleader on the sidelines telling him how he doesn’t have to feel bad, because he’s perfect now!

That is the plot of at least three episodes. I’m not even kidding.

In the episodes between that, he is ridiculously clueless about how Lorelai and Rory actually function. Case in point, he thinks Rory will be thrilled about her parents dating. Like, dude, she would have been in season 1, but after you sort of wrecked everyone’s shit in season 2, she kind of got over you, remember? There was yelling involved.

And when he tries to be more in Rory’s life, he does stuff like come to Yale parents weekend and invite her entire staff out for dinner and drinks. Rory doesn’t know any of these people outside of being their boss at this point. He was goaded into this by other Yale dads mentioning all the sacrifices they made for their kids, like helping them with homework and driving them to hockey practice, which made Chris realize he didn’t know anything about Rory’s teenage years, so he has to be part of all the things now.

It’s “Visit your kid at work” day!

And I mean, I’d personally be more interested in seeing how this all affected Rory or something, which was between the lines more than anything, or that Lorelai maybe at some point could have been really angry about the lack of Chris’s presence in their lives, be it financially or otherwise. I bet those child support payments would have helped in not living in a tool shed for eight years. But this is about Christopher’s angst, dammit!

And he grows more and more angsty about it. At one point, Sherry writes a long letter about how she’s gotten over the whole not being a mother to her kid thing, and that she wants Gigi to come stay with her in Paris for a while. The city, not the person.

What a great idea, take your 4 year old, who until last season showed behavioral issues due to her mother leaving, all the way across the Atlantic into a foreign country whose language she doesn’t even speak, to stay with the mother who caused most of her problems to begin with.

When Lorelai very politely points this out, and that sending the kid alone with a 25 year old nanny also is probably not the best idea, Chris gets pissed. He takes Lorelai’s justified concerns as an attack against himself, thinking she’s actually saying that Sherry can’t change into being a good mom, like he could never possibly change into being a good dad, or something. And then says Lorelai is jealous of Sherry. It’s… A very convoluted argument, that ends with Lorelai disentangling all the problems and talking through them like his mother, until they enthusiastically agree to go to Paris together.

The only redeeming quality of that episode is Lorelai first keeping her opinions to herself, then having a monologue at Sookie (who also remembers how Chris is a perpetual ruiner of everything and thus not on board) about how unlike Luke, Chris has always valued her input where Gigi was concerned (unless it was about how Gigi was a spoiled, uncontrollable monster last season, but hey), and then gets slapped in the face with all this drama once she does offer her perfectly reasonable opinion. If I didn’t feel kind of sorry for her, that’d have been hilarious.

In any case, off to Paris they go together. The city, not the person, sadly. And before I even touch on that, let’s talk about a few more tragic fates, shall we?

Say goodbye to the rest of your life Part 2: Instant Pregnancy!

Lane’s story arc across all seven seasons is probably the biggest tragedy the show ever portrayed. And it never gets more painful than this season.

We first meet her in episode 2, returning from a disastrous honeymoon with Zach. They went to That Shady Place In Mexico™, because Zach can’t do anything right. He also got a parasite from drinking the tab water, and was convinced that Mexican people speaking Spanish meant they were all plotting against him and Lane. What a catch.

Lane then, in some detail, tells Rory about that one time she actually had sex. It wasn’t the wedding night for some reason, because… They wanted it to be special? Okay. Odd, but okay, you do you. Or maybe not in this case. Instead, they waited until they were in Mexico and found an almost private beach to do the deed.

Okay. PSA, kids. Open, public spaces with wildlife are not something you want to be naked in, especially if there’s sand. It is always, always a bad idea. Listen to Rory here, a bed will fundamentally improve the experience. Or just any indoor location, really. Be careful with rug burns, though.

Lane has since been convinced that the only person who has been honest about sex her entire life has been her mom. Rory can’t convince her to give it another go, and for some reason, Zach doesn’t seem to be interested, either.

Like, part of his characterization to this point was that he was actually somewhat experienced sexually. Remember all the women he ran around with? And yet he seems to lose all interest in sex after this endeavor – and didn’t have enough experience to realize that a beach might not be the best location for it. It’s truly odd.

And of course, because Lane is doomed and the world hates her, the sand also managed to tear the condom they were using. Which is my explanation for this, because the “cheap Mexican condoms” routine isn’t all that convincing. She is immediately pregnant, and can know for sure not two weeks after the intercourse happened. Didn’t season 5 tell us that two weeks is when pregnancy tests first start to give somewhat reliable results?

And side-note: This whole pregnancy fiasco implies that despite the sand, the literal crabs, and the stalker bothering them, Zach actually got off, and didn’t give a damn that Lane didn’t… Color me unsurprised.

So there we go. Instead of going somewhere else and making it big with her music, Lane will most likely forever be stuck in Stars Hollow with a horrible husband and twins, and make most of her income being a waitress at Luke’s.

Oh, yeah, she’s having twins, and it takes Zach a while to understand that twins doesn’t automatically mean conjoined twins.

And this isn’t even the most tragic aspect of this; shortly after the twins are born, Zach gets to go on tour with a different band as their lead guitarist.

I mean, kudos to him, he actually tries to get Lane and the twins to travel around with them, until Lane kindly informs him that yeah, taking your wife and infant twins on tour with you is probably not going to work out, especially since they can hardly handle the workload that the twins are in Stars Hollow, with their support system in place.

…Guess that means Lane can totally see herself taking care of the twins without Zach, but not without her mother or Brian to help. You know what? I have no trouble believing that.

So Zach gets to drive off on tour, earn his living being a rock star, and Lane stays home watching over kids she never really wanted. This is why you don’t get married to the first guy you want to rub genitals with, girls.

Seasons of… Babies?

And Lane’s double baby surprise isn’t even the only one this season. Remember Liz’s pregnancy from last season? Her due date is around Christmas! And Luke is invited! Jess is not. All for the better, really, I don’t want to know what this season would have done with him.

Anyhow, Liz also has a home birth, and we don’t even get to know about the plastic sheet for her mattress. Just the standard screaming in the background. What she does get is a doula, bless this show for at least mentioning the concept.

In fact, Liz and TJ are so impressed with their doula, they name their daughter Doula in her honor. Not, like, after the actual person who helped them so much, but after her profession. I like to think that a few years later, they called their second daughter “Khaleesi”. Revival, make that happen!

That poor child.

Little Doula is a plot device to give Luke something to do, and also to sow additional seeds of discord in what is already the most committed the show has ever been to a love triangle. But more on that later.

Somebody else who gets hit by this season’s baby curse is Sookie. Yeah, you read that right. Didn’t Jackson get a vasectomy back in season 5? Nope! He only said he did! And never told Sookie he wasn’t shooting blanks! And she went off the pill!

I know the debate around this is dark and full of terrors, but I think when you deprive your partner of the ability to make informed choices regarding their reproductive functions, it brings up heavy concerns of consent. It’d be grounds for divorce for me, in any case, yet this is treated more like a quirky mishap—an oopsie-daisy that Sookie is pissed about for a few episodes and then it’s oh well. No, really, they sort of resolve this with a fight over Jackson breaking Lorelai’s doll house (most tragic loss of the season), where Jackson tells Sookie she has to forgive him eventually.

Like, fuck you Jackson, no one has to forgive you for pulling this kind of shit. Be glad she didn’t leave your sorry ass in the dirt.

But since it’s already been endgame season, Sookie does stick around for baby number three with a husband she’s not too happy with. Yay?

It’s good to be financially secure enough to just be able to have another child, I guess. Then again, Zach and Lane have two with only one waiting job between them. It’s also nice that Sookie and Jackson’s house just magically expands to accommodate a third child.

So that’s four new kids within one season. Just imagine all the child actors they’re gonna need for the revival, oh my god.

Back to the wreck

So. Lorelai and Christopher do Paris. Paris, one of the busiest cities in the world, with lots and lots of tourists. And yet a major plot point of that particular episode is them lying in bed at 4 AM because they can’t find a place to eat.

News flash: Even Paris has 24h McDonald’s and other fast food places. And those are just the establishments I know for sure. 4 AM is also the time around which a bunch of breakfast places open, and yet when they actually walk through the place, all the boulangeries are fermé. Also, I saw the establishing shot of their hotel, and getting from that part of the city to the tiny cobblestone streets with the charming little houses on foot should take a while.

Am I being a bit too particular with this? Yes, probably. But I have once walked from the Parisian city center to somewhere in Paris where streets start looking like this, and it was not a pleasant walk, and not a short one, and not one that didn’t cross several establishments that would be serving food at this hour.

Also, this is my bedroom wall right now. Paris and I have history.

20161111_184746

Maybe I’d be complaining about something else, if there was anything else to this episode other than comfortable Parisian beds and establishing shots, and… Uncomfortable stuff.

See, Chris pays a restaurant to open just for them, because this is the season of the loaded boyfriends doing expensive shit for their Gilmore Girls. Unlike that crummy Luke who only ever purchased real estate. And to make the contrast to that crummy Luke even more clear, Chris insists they go get married. Right now, in Paris.

This ain’t Vegas, guys.

They’re not even sure they’ve gotten married after the fact, since everything was in French, which sounds so much like something that would actually happen. Like, I don’t know much about the actual process of getting legally married, leave alone getting legally married in France, but something tells me making sure both parties being aware of what they’re doing should be part of it.

The scene where Chris proposes is very uncomfortable, too. Because he just says it, Lorelai hesitates, and then he basically spends a few minutes talking her into it. Don’t talk people into marrying you. It wasn’t okay when Lorelai did it to Luke, it won’t be okay when someone else does it at the end of the season, and it isn’t okay now. And yet, somehow Lorelai is swayed by his speech about how this has been 22 years in the making and that they’re just meant to be, or something. And she says yes.

Highlight: He calls her Mrs. Hayden once they’re back home, and she makes this face.

A woman happy with her life choices

A woman happy with her life choices

This is followed by a few painful episodes illustrating why revisiting your high school boyfriend is never a good idea.

Love thy neighbors

Christopher’s second arc, I am not even kidding, is about finding his place in Stars Hollow. Nobody there likes him, because we have gone full meta now and he got in the way of the townspeople’s OTP. I mean that more literally than any of you can imagine right now.

This is also another way in which this season is fundamentally different. We get treated to a lengthy scene of Christopher and Jackson trying to get along. And not even with Sookie and Lorelai present for a double date or something, just those two. Because who wouldn’t love to see those characters interact for a prolonged period of time?

This somehow manages to be about as insufferable as you average Luke and TJ scene. Or the sudden increase in Luke and Zach scenes. Come on, show. The only interaction between two men that ever were worthwhile during your entire run time were those between Jess and Luke. Nobody cares about Christopher or Jackson.

This is part of a ploy to get Christopher integrated into Stars Hollow society, something Chris doesn’t even realize he really doesn’t fit into. Lorelai is horrified that everyone is just passively polite to him, so she tries to get him to make friends with people. There are two pretty neat things about this, though:

  1. Christopher keeps referring to Jackson as “a farmer,” proving once and for all that he’s actually a snob.
  2. Jackson manages to be something like subtle; he gives a speech about how “farming” is all about “commitment” – it’s not enough to just “plant the seeds,” you also have to be around to see them grow. Chris somehow understands this as marriage advice, I understand it as the sickest burn ever delivered by someone on this show who isn’t Emily Gilmore.

And I don’t even like Jackson, dammit.

Anyhow, even after cutting a town event short and donating all the money they tried to raise by staging a knit-a-thon (finally my kind of town event), nobody sees the appeal of Chris. And Lorelai is starting to lose sight of it as well, since now we are firmly back to “No TV Couple Can Be Happy”. And unlike last time we entered that territory, it actually makes sense here.

Shout-out to the knitathon, though.

Exes and 0s

During this time, Luke gets his own subplot that is significantly less painful than anything he ever got into with Liz and TJ: April stays with him for a few weeks. You know, this is something I will commend this season for. After all the hate and backlash the show got over April, they really commit to her presence this season.

Not always in a positive way, as April attempts to play matchmaker for Luke and set him up with her teachers. Don’t do that, kid, or your mom won’t let you go back to school until the wedding date. This even results in an awkward date for Luke, with a crazy blond woman. No, I am never letting this go.

In a weird twist of fate, April also ends up being instrumental in getting Luke and Lorelai to talk again; she gets appendicitis at an inopportune moment, and Luke has no idea what to do or who to call, so he calls Lorelai. And unlike what Christopher pulled last season, I kind of get this; Luke actually doesn’t know anyone else to help him here. Yes, his sister has two kids at this point, but, uh. She’s not the kind of person you’d go to for parenting advice. So yeah. This is fine. Awkward, but fine.

Little Doula is also around to pour some gasoline on the dumpster fire that is Lorelai’s marriage. Luke carts her around town one day, and he and Lorelai coo over her together.

Because holding a baby up together is almost as sexy as painting/apartment hunting/shoe fixing/actual sexy dancing/applying this joke to every review in the series.

Christopher witnesses this and his inner Kill Bill sirens go off. Next we see them together, he demands to make another baby with Lorelai, right now. She tells him not now, she has to think about it, and Christopher sulks. Almost like he knows that Lorelai was totally ready for another kid last season when Luke was the prospective father.

He takes this so far that they fight over it in front of Emily. Who has a truly creepy but partially delightful moment at the end of that episode, when she drops this nugget of wisdom on Lorelai:

“Christopher is immature, often foolish, and somewhat lacking in common sense.”

I wish the scene had ended there. Instead, she then goes on to tell Lorelai that she has to save her marriage and compromise.

Reproductive issues are not something you should compromise on, you know? That’s for what you’re having for dinner or where you’re going on vacation, not creating another human being at least one of the people involved will be stuck with for the following 18 years. Children also never, ever save marriages, and usually aren’t happy with the knowledge they were only conceived to prevent a divorce that usually happens anyway.

But, hey. Generational conflict? I guess?

That episode, by the way, ends with Luke and Christopher randomly punching each other around Christmas decorations in the town square. No, really. They just spot each other from across the street, start taking off their clothes, and go at it. And not even in the fun way.

And speaking of kids and divorce, Anna is trying to move to New Mexico with April, and flips her shit when Luke tries to console April with the promise that she can stay with him during the holidays. What an unreasonable thing that is…I only spent about a quarter of my school vacations at my dad’s place ever. How dare Luke propose something this preposterous.

In fact, Anna makes it clear that he’s probably never going to see April again because of the move, and then forbids any contact between them when Luke threatens to sue for shared custody. To do that, he needs a character witness, and again, he turns to Lorelai for that, who writes a very beautiful and heartfelt letter that is implied to win the case for him, and at least to me also sounds completely platonic.

Chris, however, finds this letter and flips his shit about how he can’t be Lorelai’s rebound (why didn’t you fucking decide that 12 EPISODES AGO WHEN IT WAS RELEVANT AND OBVIOUS?!) and sulks off for an episode.

Oh, and before that we have a Christmas episode all about how Chris is trying to start new family traditions now that they’re finally a real family, juxtaposed against a scene at the mall with Rory and Luke, where they reminisce about all the well-intentioned but kinda crappy gifts he has gotten her over the years. Subtle, show.

A sudden ray of light

Chris sulking off happens juuust at the right time for Richard to have a heart attack. And like his fit of angina in the first season, this leads to two actually pretty solid episodes of the show.

Lorelai, Emily, Rory and Logan assemble at the hospital for the fine family tradition of being rude to hospital staff, and everyone freaking out is genuinely moving, especially when Lorelai and Emily fight about Emily being in crisis mode and getting Richard’s affairs in order. Lorelai considers it insensitive to get the will and the lawyers already, and is then shocked to find out that this is simply Emily’s way of coping; keeping things running and in order.

Meanwhile, Logan gets major credit for just being around, Lorelai tries to call Christopher all episode, but he isn’t answering his phone, and Luke randomly shows up at the hospital to help when he hears about what happened, because of course he does.

Kudos to Emily for putting him to work without blinking an eye.

Christopher shows up at the end of the episode, just in time to see Luke delivering food. This leads to the absolute final breakup next episode, in which Lorelai tries to tell Chris that he’s the man she “wants to want,” but come on, we’ve seen her faces all throughout this season. He’s the bad idea she finally needed to get out of her system, nothing more.

Richard makes a full recovery from his heart attack soon enough, and Emily is sent into a flurry of turning their lives healthy. She throws out most alcohol, gets Richard a personal nurse, and hires a healthy foods only chef who only serves fish and miso soup. This drives Richard insane, who insists on spending his days alone in the bedroom watching old golf games, even though there is paperwork to do.

Emily has no clue how to do the paperwork, or file the taxes, or anything related to their financial situation, because that’s simply not how the system or their marriage works, so Lorelai signs up to help her with everything, with leads to hands down the best scene of this season that you can’t watch fully because the clip cuts out before it gets to the best part.

In short, Emily tells Lorelai how amazing she is for being so self-sufficient. She’s a kayak, hear her roar and all that. And, and this is definitely the biggest deal for Lorelai, after she just told her that she and Christopher broke up, Emily tells her she’ll be okay without a husband, and how great that is.

It’s so great it’s giving me whiplash from all the crappy episodes before this. In general, as little as Emily and Richard are in this season, when they’re around, they’re always a delight. I have no idea how the writers managed to get those two right, of all people.

When your OTP doesn’t do the thing

The town of Stars Hollow wastes no time feeling sorry about the break-up of Lorelai’s marriage. In fact, we now actively see Miss Patty and Babette sitting at Luke’s every day and plotting to get Lorelai and Luke, pardon, the hen and the rooster, back together.

And even though the quality of episodes vastly improves after Christopher’s departure, and even though I agree with the sentiment in general, this is yet another way in which this season just feels wrong.

See, Luke and Lorelai were always meant to be. The audience knew that, completely without random townspeople saying they ship it. We needed no speech by Liz about different dimension and worm holes getting them together, because we knew they belonged together from how they acted around each other. It was funny when Sookie rolled her eyes about how inevitable them getting together was back in the day, not because she previously engaged in discourse about how many meaningful glances were exchanged, but because it was just obvious from the behavior of both Luke and Lorelai.

Show, don’t tell. Basic stuff.

The show somehow can’t manage to do that anymore. Or sometimes it ties with hamfisted visual metaphors; at one point, Stars Hollow turns into a Hay Bale Maze, and the camera follows Lorelai for, no joke, about 20 seconds, through many twists and turns and dead ends, until she runs into Luke when she least expects it. Subtle, you guys. So subtle this counts as telling in my book.

They have a brief heart to heart about how Lorelai was wrong to sleep with Christopher, and how Luke was wrong to use April to push her away, and then Luke tells her the way out of the maze.

Next episode, she decides to get her coffee at the diner again, and then they go car shopping together. Which ends in bickering, interpreted by Lorelai and Sookie as a sign that they’re finally friends again. And Luke, true to himself again if only briefly, finds Lorelai someone with the exact same car she had before hers broke down, so she can just have the engines exchanged and keep her own car.

Hurray, we can annoy each other again!

Luke also sells his dad’s boat after his sister told him not to get stuck on things. I told you that boat was yet another unsubtle metaphor. He then buys an actually functional boat to take a trip with April, which Lorelai says is a totally new development for him since it used to take him weeks just to buy a T-Shirt.

Except those two times he randomly bought real estate, but you do you.

Finally, Lorelai joins the fray of the unsubtle shippers, when she interprets Luke wearing the hat she got him once again as a sign that they’re… Something. Friends? I don’t know.

No, really. She has an actual debate about this with Sookie. It felt like the tag of a disputed ship on tumblr. No, he wore the red and black vest, that means Captain Swan is canon, because why only make one Once Upon A Time reference when you can have two.

And like, I enjoy finding hints for my OTP and interpreting moments romantically even though they might not necessarily have been intended that way. I enjoy nitpicking and finding thematic reasons and guessing at intent where romance arcs are concerned. It’s a thing I do a lot. But when you start having characters do this on the show because you can’t think of another way to make it clear that your endgame pairing is back on track, you have a problem. It also just plain out kills the immersion – if I want to debate these things, I go on tumblr. I like shows proving my interpretation of “hints” right, but please do so after the fact and not have the characters to the analysis for me, okay?

Anyhow. In an attempt to reciprocate the totally romantic gesture (in truth, Luke just lost the black hat, and then decided to keep the blue one on. Good for him, black wasn’t working for him), Lorelai drunkenly serenades Luke during karaoke night, a scene so laden with secondhand embarrassment, Amy Sherman-Palladino, who keep in mind allegedly never watched this season, has been throwing shade on it in completely unrelated places.

“It’s also a nice place to see Sutton perform organically, short of doing karaoke night at the Oyster Bar. When that happens, people have instructions to take me out. When I put karaoke in a script, someone is going to be able to shoot me in the head at a table read.”

Lauren Graham can at least sing, though.

We then get to see half the cast analyze what this scene meant, because we are in high school or something. Finally, Babette and Miss Patty decide just to ask Lorelai about it, and she’s like, oh, you silly old geese, that didn’t mean anything. Just when Luke comes down the stairs to hear it, turning from happy!Luke into grumpy!Luke again.

But nothing, ever, will encapsulate just how silly this has gotten better than the two of them double-talking about Rory getting married in the penultimate episode, with Lorelai putting forward that sometimes people just know, and other people are just never ready, and Luke arguing that you still shouldn’t rush, and also who ever said something about never ready, you just sometimes need time to figure out what you’re getting into. Lorelai counters with after all these years, how could you not know what you’re getting into? I argue good point, and yet you married Christopher anyway. Luke instead chooses to ask just who exactly Lorelai is talking about, because this scene wasn’t subtle enough already.

This is what a show known for its witty dialogue has come to, people. Let us all weep.

Meaningless Meandering

So now that we’ve got everything about the plot that made me bitter when watching this show out of the way, let’s get to the boredom part. The part featuring Rory.

It is truly amazing how it feels like nothing happens for her all season, when she actually spends a significant amount of time looking for a job, preparing for graduation, having existential crises, and dealing with the fact that Logan can switch between characterizations within two episodes.

First, she and Logan are doing the long distance thing, which goes well once the kinks of transatlantic phone calls are worked out, and Paris has talked Rory into sexting. With Logan, not with her, sadly.

Off to a good start, the first set-back is that Rory wants to come visit him in London immediately, but Logan got her tickets for Christmas, and she doesn’t dare speak up about it. Yes, this is how long distance works!

Luckily, Logan is loaded and manages to swing by for random perfect dates every now and then, but oh-oh! He also makes business deals and has business dinners, and one of his colleagues is a woman! Who is blond! And has legs!

gg8-uuugh

No, really, this woman does nothing but be nice to Rory all throughout dinner, and Rory still gets jealous of her and talks badly about her when she’s alone with Logan. And I mean, I get that she doesn’t trust Logan around blondes after last season, but that isn’t even referenced. Rory is just randomly jealous and catty towards this woman. Not for the first time in this series, I know, but come on.

Rory meets a bunch of privileged people at a party and writes a mean article about them. Logan gets mad at her because he’s one of those people, and likes being one of these people, and she’s not exactly paying rent either. They talk it out and Rory moves back in with Paris, but amicably.

Oh, and after Richard has his heart attack during the class he was teaching at Yale, Rory is taught instead by a TA she has a random crush on, but she talks to Logan about it and everything is fine at the end of the episode.

Yes, these are all plot points happening during the burning front 13. This is what proves the “Happy TV Couples Are Boring” rule right. Logan is just randomly perfect, and their problems are meaningless and resolved by the end of the episode and it’s just. So. Boring. Gah.

It gets so bad that Rory gets two random female friends at Yale, who do nothing but remind us all of better shows we could be watching instead.

Ironically, the same could be applied to her newspaper staff.

Lucy and Olivia are art majors at Yale, not the kind of people Rory would usually hang out with, and yet she does anyway. They occasionally serve as the new Madeline and Louise to add some more voices to scenes with Rory and Paris. And the contribute to the least necessary drama of this season.

See, Lucy has a boyfriend. She doesn’t call this boyfriend by name at any time, which my boyfriends always considered rude, but hey, so when Rory finally meets him, she can be zomfg, so surprised! It’s Marty!

gg8-really

…This is the recurring male character you choose to bring back, show? Really? Really?

Marty acts weird around Rory and pretends not to know her, and Rory plays along because that’s just what she does, dammit. She doesn’t really understand why until Marty tells her how beautiful she is during Lucy’s 21st birthday party, after he has been nothing but a dick to Rory for a few episodes. Yikes.

Rory is extremely annoyed by this, but doesn’t do anything. Then Logan randomly shows up again, and even though Rory told him about the secrecy, he chooses to tell Lucy all about Rory and Marty having been friends two seasons ago, because Lucy doesn’t deserve to be lied to or something, and also because he’s jealous.

Premium high school drama you got there, show. Somebody tell the writers Rory technically graduated four seasons ago.

Lucy refuses to talk to Rory for a while, so she writes her a letter (and because we’re doing subtlety this season, she does so at the same time Lorelai writes the letter for Luke). Paris eventually can’t take it anymore and tells Lucy to suck it up and talk it out with Rory, because Rory is too great a friend to just lose over something meaningless like some fuckboy boyfriend who can’t own up to shit.

Stop being perfect, Paris. You’re elevating this train wreck.

And actually, that is just what Lucy does. She kicked Marty to the curb already, and she and Rory remain friends. Yay!

Adulting for beginners

The other plot thread this season for Rory is both her and Logan’s entry into the working population. Logan eventually gets an internet start-up job (where have I heard that one before?) causing him to come back and move to New York – part of the reason Rory amicably moved out of his apartment.

Meanwhile, Rory has to start looking into what she wants to do after graduation, and starts applying to papers for jobs and internships, and feels a little lost.

Logan’s big deal with the internet start-up falls through (where have I heard that before?), but instead of dealing with losing millions of dollars like a responsible adult with deep pockets, he runs off to Vegas with Colin and Finn for a weekend, leaving Rory contemplating whether being with someone like that is actually a good idea.

There’s a great scene when Logan’s dad turns up to tear him a new one, and Rory actually has to agree with Mitchum’s general point. Then they have an actual, real fight and Rory goes off on a road trip to Mia’s wedding with her mother and grandmother. Remember Mia, who owned the Independence Inn and was a surrogate mom and grandmother for Rory and Lorelai before the series started? She’s getting married. We learn about this in the same episode it happens.

Logan show up at the wedding uninvited, and Rory lets him wait outside in the cold after telling him that grand gestures like that aren’t going to sway her anymore. They make up for the time being anyway.

Then Rory lands a job! As a staff writer for a newspaper in Providence, Rhode Island. Not exactly her first choice paper, but a job! But she’d so much rather get a fellowship at the New York Times instead, and Lorelai wants her to take the job, and Logan wants her to shoot for the stars, and the Hay Bale Maze is here for hamfisted visual metaphors!

Rory ends up turning down the job, only to be rejected by every other paper in the entire country. Meanwhile, Paris gets into every single med school and law school she applied to, and has a freak-out because she wants to make the decision independently of her boyfriend, so she breaks up with Doyle. For like 15 minutes.

Long enough for her to perform the biggest service on the show yet, in having a conversation with Rory about priorities. Logan has since quit working for his dad, good for him, and is shopping around for work on the west coast. When Paris asks Rory whether she’d go for the New York Times or move to the west coast with Logan, she says New York Times without hesitation. #MyRory! She’s back! Sort of!

Rory argues that she thinks she and Logan could do long distance again (because the first time worked out so well for everyone), but Paris offers this bit of wisdom:

“Sometimes choosing to be apart means choosing to be apart.”

That… Hit a bit close to home for me, as I am sort of just out of a long distance relationship, that slowly started failing the seconds my partner did indeed choose to be apart. And while I still don’t think this sentiment is applicable at all times, well. It is applicable here.

Doyle, by the way, just plain out tells Paris he’ll just make his life decisions around her, so she can choose whatever she wants, because she’s the best thing that ever happened to him. Damn straight she is.

Paris, ultimately, chooses to go to Harvard Medicine, mostly because she feels good saying she got into Harvard. And you do you, Paris, though I will forever prefer the AU where you went for law instead and ended up having sexual relations with another guy named Asher who you still have a somewhat inappropriate age gap with.


Doesn’t she just rock that look?

The finish line

So, graduation is just around the corner, and Rory still has nothing lined up for her life afterwards. No job came through, no fellowship, no grad school, but nightmares about being kicked out of Chilton and her mom leaving her, and Paris and Doyle having the sort of life that would probably cause Paris to commit a mass shooting before noon.

gg8-paris-dream-fridge

Let’s hope this dream is not a vision of the future. Then again, what we’ve seen of revival Lorelai so far looked pretty twin-less, so I guess that one bounced off to Lane.

Things get even more ridiculous in Stars Hollow, when the entire town insists on attending Rory’s graduation at Yale. They get to have a reenactment party afterwards.

Just before this penultimate episode, Logan came to Lorelai with news about his new job on the west coast, and to ask her for Rory’s hand in marriage. Well, for permission to propose, so Lorelai is waiting for that all episode. And of course, because there is no way to keep him out of this without it just seeming dumb, Chris gets to attend the pre-graduation party thrown by Emily and Richard (They sing, and it’s adorable), where Lorelai tells him about this and he briefly sulks about how usually, guys ask the father of the bride for her hand in marriage.

Get over yourself, for fuck’s sake.

Anyhow. Christopher somewhat redeems himself when Logan insists they all stay in the room when he want to “toast” to Rory’s graduation.

gg8-even-chris-judges-your-timing

When Christopher thinks you have awful timing, you know you have a problem.

So. Logan proposes to Rory. In front of everyone. Emily is delighted, everyone else dying from secondhand embarrassment, and rightfully so. Proposing in public is never, ever okay, unless you have talked to your partner about it first. It’s awkward for everyone involved, and puts a gigantic amount of pressure on the person proposed to, and is just a dick move all around.

Then again, this is still ultimately the same guy who thought an expensive pink purse was the ideal gift for Rory. He even tries to invoke that time they jumped off a scaffold together, saying they should just jump again and move to California together and get married. Rory says she needs to think about it, leading to the embarrassing dialogue between Luke and Lorelai I paraphrased earlier.

Rory graduates the next day, and what’s the most iconic shot?

rory-graduates

Yeah, Christopher doesn’t even make it into the promo picture. But at least he’s the one taking it!

Logan chooses the moment immediately after the picture to ask Rory for her response, and as hinted at previously with Paris, she turns him down, because she doesn’t want to be tied down this early in her career. Good on you, Rory! Logan rejects her offer to do long distance again, saying it’s all or nothing, and if all they can do is going back instead of forwards, maybe nothing is the right idea.

Yeah. He broke up with her on her graduation day, something Rory is rightfully pissed about at the end of the episode. Hey. Hey show. Stop being randomly good in the best ways, I want to keep hating this season.

A send-off

The final episode starts with Rory meeting the real Christiane Amanpour, her long-time idol. Rory is a nervous wreck and still gets her card and is told to send her stuff, because of course she does.

And because she’s Rory, all the trouble she had with not having a job lined up after graduation? Meaningless! A few minutes into the episode, she waltzes in 15 minutes late to Friday night dinner with a reporting job. What happened to that job she had last season, by the way? Irrelevant! She’s going to follow Barack Obama on the campaign trail and is leaving in three days.

This means three things. First, this is the last Friday Night Dinner™, and everyone looks appropriately horrified. Second, there will be now reenactment party for the town of Stars Hollow, and everyone is extremely put out by that. And third, the roller coaster trip Lorelai and Rory had planned in the minutes between Christiane Amanpour and Friday Night Dinner™ is not going to happen.

Rory is, by the way, still sad about Logan, as she unpacks his inane rocket gift from the very first episode. Yeah, I didn’t mention that because it was stupid. Lorelai assures her it’s going to get better, and that she herself is totally over Luke at this point since he has failed to respond to the grand romantic gesture of karaoke in kind.

I like how Christopher isn’t even mentioned all episode.

Upon hearing that Rory is leaving in two days, Luke gets ready to rectify that and starts planning a goodbye party for Rory for the very next day, mobilizing the entire town, and going so far as to sow together a giant, waterproof cover when it threatens to rain that day.

There is a nice little send-off with Lane first, and Lorelai is on the verge of freaking out but in project mode, so Rory thinks her mom is just fine. She’s not. Nobody is fine.

The party itself is a sweet gesture, although it’s also incredibly weird. We get this slow-mo pan over every single supporting character from Stars Hollow laughing and applauding, backed up by some extras who I believe are just there for the free food. The weird slow-mo laughing is even more uncomfortable than that one scene during one of the ending(s) of Return of the King, when the entire Fellowship comes walking up to Frodo’s sick bed one by one, with creepy close ups and so much happiness you think they’ve all been hitting Gandalf’s weed stash.

There are speeches and goodbyes, and Richard’s last words on the show ever are about how the party isn’t just for Rory, but also a testament to the life Lorelai built in Stars Hollow – Edward Hermann’s last words on the show. Emily has no patience for grand speeches though, but is very intent on loaning Lorelai money so she can add a spa or a tennis court to the inn. Lorelai sees right through that and assures her that she’ll be around for Friday Night Dinner™ anyhow, and Emily almost tears up. So do I, actually, in spite of myself.

Richard’s speech brings us right back to the show don’t tell problem we have going on with Lorelai and Luke. Sookie’s reaction to Luke coming to her for party planning is to mention how this is totally going to make Lorelai happy, isn’t it, wink, wink. Yes, everyone. We get it. Luke is doing this for Rory, but also for Lorelai, because that’s just who he is.

And sure enough, once Lorelai hears about this being all his work, she walks up to him and thanks him. He says he just likes to see her happy.

And then the OTP does the thing.

Shush, I’ll have words to say about this in a minute, let me just have this free of broader context for a second.

Next we see is Lorelai freaking out about Rory leaving, thinking she must have forgotten something, anything at all. And this is the only moment this season that actually made me tear up.

Then they leave, at around 5 AM, to drink one last cup of coffee at Luke’s, who opened up early for them. He and Lorelai flirt a bit, and just enough for Rory to make a meaningful face indicating she, too, understood that the OTP did the thing. And just to hammer that point home, she points out Lorelai is wearing the necklace Luke totally didn’t get for her before from Liz that hasn’t been mentioned twice since.

They then have some idle chit-chat about busses and flasks and the world’s greatest reporter, and the camera pans out to end on the most iconic shot of the show, mirroring the ending of the very first episode.

gg8-final-shot

Damn.

Conclusion

This ending was somehow both thematically appropriate and horribly unsatisfying in its execution. I don’t know how they managed it. I like the fact that Rory is single and off on a job a lot, and I like that Luke and Lorelai got back together, too. Let’s tackle that first, though.

It feels… A bit contrived. Not that Lorelai would react to this gesture with a smooch, not at all, just… I’d rather they’d have gotten together again as a culmination of small moments, getting back to normal again. Instead it’s just awkward to grand gestures in very few episodes, and more time is spent with characters talking about how they’re perfect for each other than them actually interacting – the complete antithesis to everything that made them so great as a couple before.

Rory getting a job is great and all, but it kind of makes her struggle a bit meaningless, doesn’t it? Not that she can’t eventually succeed, but in the end, it is a little too easy. I mean,  I don’t know why she didn’t get any other jobs before this really, her resume should look amazing, and there probably was no deeper point to this at all except to cause some cheap drama along the way.

I don’t have to mention how on-board I am with her not being with Logan anymore, do I? But that too felt more like it arose out of the current circumstances rather than the show acknowledging he had a lot of flaws and he and Rory just weren’t compatible on the long run. Like, that look Lorelai and Christopher give him for the proposal is spot-on, but we never actually see the show commit to condemning his behavior. When he did shitty things before, such as not telling Rory about his financial troubles and then running off, all he got for that was a slap on the wrist. Though I guess you could argue that all of this eventually contributed to the break up, and fine.

So yeah. The ending was entirely appropriate under the circumstances. But with the first half of the season being such a trainwreck, and the second half of the season seeming more concerned with telling you it knows what it’s doing, that’s… A low bar to clear, really. The show deserved better, as flawed as the later seasons were. And I am so, so glad I’m not leaving it on this note.

See you all next week, when I round up everything we know about the revival so far and write a rant or two about my expectations.

Random Remarks

  • The first part of this season really, really tanked the average rating. The total comes to 2.75 out of 5. Which is technically still above average, I guess, but only because unwatchable starts at a 2 for me.
  • Episode 2, by the way, got a rating of 1.5, the lowest any episode ever got.
  • Episode 15, “I am Kayak, hear me roar” was my favorite of the season.
  • The inane rocket subplot of the first episode is stupid and absolutely not something Logan would do.
  • Emily gets arrested for arguing with an officer after being pulled over for using a cell phone while driving. Characters continue to use cell phones while driving.
  • For some reason, Rory has to step down as editor this season. Doyle had the job for two entire years. And she has to step down before graduating.
  • For the record, I personally think Rory and Paris would both have done great at law school.
  • Someone has a boner for old Hollywood movies this season. We get random lines as subtle theme reinforcements a lot.
  • Lorelai doesn’t actually change her name to Mrs. Hayden, by the way. Chris just calls her that once.
  • Lorelai makes the most amazing faces when Chris touches her, or when she calls him. You can just tell how into this she was.
  • Emily and Richard get Lorelai a horrible picture as a wedding gift, probably as revenge for her eloping like that.
  • Also, the mystery of what the wedding gift from season 2 was is still not resolved…they specifically mention having bought the picture just recently.
  • Mitchum Huntzberger this season is actually tolerable. And Logan says he looked proud when Logan quit working for him. D’aawww.
  • Emily has a crush on Will Smith.

Images courtesy of the CW.

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Jana should be studying for her law degree right now. She prefers to obsess over pop culture instead.

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