The girls of Gilmore Girls are terrific, of course, but a Daniel Palladino-penned episode reminds us that Stars Hollow is a magnificent creation in its own right. Lots of TV series have brought us beloved offices, hospitals, or radio stations, but I don’t think we’ve seen a fully fleshed town like this since Mayberry (give or take a Pawnee). It’s why the international food festival is one of my favorite scenes in this revival so far, with Kirk and Taylor quarreling over missing countries (“Singapore’s just being a dick. Other than that, 137 countries never got back to me”), a “A-Tisket, A-Tasket” throwback, and various resident cameos (Jackson! The previously never-seen Mr. Kim!). That brief glimpse of Mrs. Kim is just not enough. This exchange made me laugh so hard I rewound it at least three times immediately: “Mama, the tambourine is scaring them!” “They’ll get used to it, just like electricity at night.”
It’s too bad, then, that the next Stars Hollow event—the town meeting—is kind of unfortunate. Why would only gay people be able to march in a Liza Minnelli parade? Why would Gypsy try to get Taylor to out himself at the meeting? It was weird. Fortunately, there was some quick redemption with another Kirk short film at movie night, with Hep Alien and Babette in tow. And Petal acted the hell out of that death scene.
Maybe it’s because Stars Hollow is so solid this episode, but the trips to London and New York just feel like unwelcome distractions. Smarmy cad Logan ordering $300 bottles of wine at a restaurant that’s part of the “family holdings,” and keeping Rory on the side in favor of French fiancee Odette reminds us of everything we hated about the character in the first place. And the quickly spiraling out Naomi does not seem like a decent prospective project for Rory, nor does talking to people in lines so boring they literally make her fall asleep. For her Jack Kerouac year, Rory seems to be wasting it on some lame ventures. The whole Conde Nast meeting makes little sense as well: Why did they want her to come in without a job offer? If not a job offer, why come in?
It’s understandable that a trip back to Chilton would conjure up for Rory all she was intended to do, and there her pieces for Slate and The Atlantic and her longstanding reputation are enough to procure her a job offer. Paris is fortunately around to provide her own accompanying overwhelming nosedive, although hers is personal, with her divorce from Doyle (and Danny Strong nails his portrayal of a tool Hollywood screenwriter) and feeling unattached to her children. That bathroom showdown with Francie was epic, and long-overdue. But at least Paris’ crisis is more understandable. It’s never really clear what Rory wants here: a full-time job? Or just to rack up some more bylines? Again, any freelance writer in the world would love to jet-set from London to New York to Connecticut with no strings, no emotional attachments, and apparently no money troubles, so what is she actually looking for?
But Rory’s failure at Sandee Says is the same annoying failure we saw when she was about to graduate from Yale and passed on a totally decent job after prodding from Logan that she was too good for it. She pushes for this Conde Nast meeting, then barely prepares for it. She deigns to have the Sandee Says meeting and doesn’t even come in with any ideas for a single article? It’s hard to believe that Rory has actually crafted this freelance career without knowing how to deliver a popular pitch. As Lorelai pointed out, life has been pretty good to Rory so far, so her ability to roll with life punches is minimal. This latest Rory fallout seems a bit contrived, but by the end of the episode, it pulls off what it intends to: getting Rory back in Stars Hollow.
Where, as it turns out, her mother is having some crises of her own. The recurring weird dreams could definitely be residual from Lorelai losing her father so suddenly, and her detailed description of Richard’s last moments to Claudia the therapist was heartbreaking. As much as it’s always a delight to see Lauren Graham and Kelly Bishop play off of each other, I don’t think anyone got much out of those therapy sessions in which the two women basically just glowered at each other, least of all the viewing audience. There seems to be a lot of possibilities there (like Claudia said, a lot said in the silences), but apparently the two just aren’t ready to come to some sort of resolution yet. Well, there are two seasons to go.
Even worse, the Emily franchise deal and loss of therapy has led to Luke and Lorelai now keeping things from each other. Why wouldn’t she just tel him that her mother quit therapy? If she is so certain that Luke was so meant to be the one, as she tells Claudia—as we’ve all known from the first moment of this series—it doesn’t make much sense for her to be pulling away from him now. I like how their relationship doesn’t sugar-coat Luke’s personalty—he still barks, even when he’s with Lorelai—but their relationship has been the show’s one constant, and it’s troubling to see it thrown a few kinks itself.
Halfway through the Gilmores’ A Year In The Life, crossroads abound, for practically everyone. Fortunately, they all lead to Stars Hollow, which we’ve practically never even seen in the summertime before. But in this jangled 90 minutes, those town scenes provided this series with a grounding that was sorely needed. No wonder Rory ran back there without even changing out of her lucky outfit.
- “Sherlock’s gay?”
- I have never seen so many women wear impossible high heels in real life, and I live in an urban area and work downtown. Even the realtor. Even for walking around all day in New York? No wonder Lorelai changed her shoes.
- Loved Bunheads’ Julia Goldani Telles as the Sandee, the CEO of Sandee Says: “We’re going with one of our veterans, Caitlin. She’s been here two months.” She’s tearing it up on The Affair right now.
- When learning about Rory’s relationship with engaged Logan, do you think Lorelai had a flashback to Rory losing her virginity to married Dean, like we all did?
- I have made more Rachael Ray 30-minute recipes than I care to admit, so it was nice to see her in Sookie’s kitchen.
- Key items in the Stars Hollow town budget: gazebo upkeep, twinkle lights.
- They couldn’t get Chad Michael Murray to come back for a few minutes as Tristan?
- “Sing out, Louise Pang!”
- There’s a secret bar in Stars Hollow!
- Luke’s forever mantra: “If something’s good, keep it the same.”
- Everybody knows that Joaquin Phoenix’s real name is Leaf.
- That letter story was a head-scratcher. If Lorelai didn’t wrote it, who did? And then why bring it up?
- Fun fact: Paul Anka is Jason Bateman’s father-in-law.
- My review of “Summer” will be up on Friday, “Fall” on Sunday. If you’d rather not wait, check out Myles McNutt’s A Year In The Life binge-watch section. But since not everyone has gone through the whole year yet, please keep the comments below limited to this episode. Thank you!