TV REVIEW: Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life – Fall
After a slightly plodding third episode, Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life managed to bring things home in its finale. Fall, or Autumn as it should really be called, was a crowd pleaser with enough emotional resonance to satisfy long time fans – assuming this really is the swansong of the show. After the cliffhanger on which it ended, however, I’m not sure it’s over yet for Gilmore Girls. More on that later though.
Fall’s first half hour had an urgency missing from the opening of the previous episode. This is partially thanks to the setup of episodes one through three and a need to tie things up. But even so it packed a lot of humour and emotion into such a cramped space. As I predicted last time Lorelai’s efforts to backpack as an homage to ‘Wild’ (I’m afraid I still don’t know what that is) led to some pretty amusing scenes. A coffee obsessed cinofile used to the creature comforts of Connecticut trying to hike through the Californian wilderness delivered comedy gold, my friends. Plus, Lauren Graham got to exhibit a hitherto underused knack for physical comedy.
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Back home, Star’s Hollow fired off a couple of grin inducing callbacks, together giving us the two most entertaining scenes of the new series. The first came from Jess and Luke, who I really don’t remember having this level of consistent screen chemistry in the original show. Luke is acting out of character – handing customers the actual WiFi password of his diner and generally being out of sorts. So once again Jess becomes the Obi-Wan of the Gilmore Girls revival and sits him down for a man-to-man chat. It’s both really fun (watch for the punchline at the end of the scene) and important for Luke’s dramatic speech later in the episode.
Oh, and the Life and Death Brigade are back. Yes, the other best scene of the revival involves Logan and his old buddies from Yale’s secret society taking Rory on an intentionally over-the-top night out. This was fun, especially the roof golf and the tango club. It benefited big time from Amy Sherman-Palladino’s knack for sharp dialogue. Out of nowhere it also made the Rory-Logan romance of the three previous episodes feel like a tragic love affair. The night came and went and Rory was faced the next morning with reality, and a tough choice.
Speaking of tragic, Lorelai’s hilltop speech totally hit me in the feels. I won’t spoil anything, but when she finally phoned her mother to recall a powerful memory of her dad, I almost welled up. There, I admitted it. Lauren Graham is a great actor and judging by her IMDb page, she’s been criminally underutilised of late.
The Final Act
Which brings us to the final hour of Fall, and if I keep breaking things down in this much detail I’m still going to be writing this in January. Let’s try to cover a few things rapid fire style.
Luke’s speech to a returning Lorelai was his moment in the limelight. It’s balance of desperation, grumpiness and Scott Patterson’s matter-of-fact delivery fit the character perfectly.
Next up let’s talk about the cameos. We got three big cameos this episode, each with their own scene: Rory’s father Christopher, her ex-boyfriend Dean and Lorelai’s best friend Melissa McCarthy, ahem, I mean Sookie. They were all fine, though the Sookie scene stood out as the best as it was payoff for an ongoing sub plot. Only Dean’s scene came across as extraneous, and I wonder if Sherman-Palladino couldn’t have found something more pertinent for him to be part of in his brief return.
Before we get to the big climax (and some more serious spoilers) I just want to take a moment to talk about Emily Gilmore. Out of all the Gilmore girls her story felt like it was given the most closure in these four episodes. I’m not sure I’m one hundred per cent on board with her ditching her beloved DAR, the high society club for super rich Connecticut wives. It’s been central to her character in a lot of ways since the early seasons of the show. Perhaps it signals a mellowing of her personality now her husband is no longer around.
She still managed to force Lorelai into another Faustian pact when her daughter came asking for investment funds though. Machiavellian Emily is not completely gone. Her putting the Gilmore house up for sale does feel symbolic though. How do we all feel about her moving to Nantucket? Is it resolution for her entire character? She’s moved on from her former life, but is she still Emily Gilmore deep down?
Spoilers for everyone
Anyway, let’s get down to that biggish spoiler I mentioned earlier. It turns out Lorelai and Luke are getting married for real this time. The whole night-before-the-wedding elopement might not have been prestige television, but it was perfect pay off for 150 episodes of will-they-won’t-they tension. It was charming. So charming, in fact, that I’m only just realising as I write this that it might have just been a massive exercise in fan service. There was sparkly lights, quirky hats and even ballerinas. It’s hard to find three things more quintessentially Gilmore Girls than those, unless you’re looking through Rory’s book collection.
So that’s it. There goes your new Gilmore Girls. I think I may have made mention in the open that there was a cliffhanger. Yes, I just checked and I definitely did do that. Let’s not spoil that right now. Safe to say it leaves the door open for an interesting new direction should more episodes be forthcoming. Strangely though, I feel pretty sanguine about the whole thing. If this really is the end for Gilmore Girls, I could happily live with this resolution. If it really is all over, I think Star’s Hollow goes out on the right note. How about you?