Last time, we discussed what can basically be called the beginning of the end of Gilmore Girls, season 5, which featured a massive shift in characterization, that had me begging for season 6 at the end of it.
Here’s the thing, though: Season 6 isn’t actually better. In many ways, it’s kind of worse. The general tone of the show declines. But what makes it feel better in places are the brief moments when the show remembers what it is about, or successfully tugs on your heartstrings. And these moments come with something like frequency, even.
So, for the second to last time, let’s gear up to dive right in.
Structure is a thing
For something really exciting, I want to quickly observe some structural similarities between seasons here.
Remember how I used to mention a plot exploding event that usually took place between episodes 16 to 19 of a season? Or in all of these episodes like in season 3 when the status quo was doomed anyway, so they really started to shake things up?
I didn’t talk about this at all for season 5, as the event that blew up the plot and involved everyone technically happened during the vow renewal episode. The closest thing after that was the whole Huntzberger family mess Rory got herself into towards the end of the season, which did have an effect on basically every main character, but only really exploded in the season finale.
Season 6 is similar in that it’s major blow-out only really occurs in the finale, like this was a normal television show or something. But what ties it in with previous seasons is that the first part of it is sort of disjointed from what the season finale is about and what all the other episodes lead up to. It’s the extended prologue of cleaning up last season’s mess.
Previously such extended prologues included getting rid of Max and that pesky wedding in season 2, getting rid of Dean in season 3, and getting rid of Dean again in season 5. See a pattern there? It’s usually about ditching inconvenient love interests.
Such is not the case here. Season 6 is entirely unique in that its extended prologue has nothing to do with love interests, though I could name one I’d have loved for the show to ditch. No, for the first time, the very foundation of the show is basically torn apart, for 9 entire episodes.
Rory and Lorelai are not speaking to each other.
That’s right, they rift caused by Rory taking time off Yale and moving in with her grandparents doesn’t only carry over into the first episode, to be resolved in the second so we can have wacky mother-daughter-moments again. No. This conflict stretches itself over almost half the season. Actually more than half if you count the episodes it takes for us to get back to the status quo afterwards.
Most people loathe this stretch of episodes, because they think the separation was one of the bad ideas this season is famous for. I disagree. I think the lengthy separation was a master stroke, actually. You feel bad that Lorelai and Rory aren’t talking? Well, hate to tell you, but that just means that whatever else this show has messed up over time, they’ve done their one, single, main job right. You want these people to go back to what their relationship was. You want to see them happy and together, and that matters more than any of the romantic relationships they could ever be in.
However, that doesn’t change the fact that most of these episodes, when they’re not explicitly focusing on the separation, are a some of the worst that the show put out. This is a weird dichotomy, I know, but every single moment touching on Rory’s or Lorelai’s or, hell, Richard’s, Emily’s or Luke’s feelings about the matter is great. There are a lot of these moments. They’re just buried beneath all the other crap that pads out these episodes.
I’m not sure I’ve touched on this before, but I think that about half the writer’s room had a fundamental misunderstanding about what made the first three seasons work as well as they did – I mean, besides Paris being an actual character instead of a caricature, and Rory having actual stakes in her academic life. It was the general atmosphere.
The writers seem to understand that the wacky small town charm is a central selling point of the show, but they seem to overestimate its importance. Town meetings and weird festivals are great, when they’re there to serve a greater purpose in the narrative. That’s why the basket auction and the dance marathon episodes were as effective as they were – the town event was a backdrop for the character’s interpersonal issues. But once you start doing a wacky thing just so you have a wacky thing, it’s simply not going to work as well.
The same goes for the wacky characters. They work great in moderation, to spice up a scene. When you’re just looking at Kirk gyrating on the floor for three minutes for no reason, it’s just uncomfortable. When you have to listen to TJ say more than two lines, you want to throw whatever you’re watching the show on out the window. When you spend about five minutes of runtime of an episode listening to untalented wannabe town troubadours sing bad songs, it’s enough to make you want to quit the show.
However, with Rory and Lorelai floating around apart from each other, the show has nothing for them to do, really, and as such, the minor characters take over. Suddenly there are baptisms full of Jackson’s annoying family, and TJ has to be hired as a contractor to work on Lorelai’s house because nepotism, and an entire episode has Lorelai do nothing but fight over a new street name for the inn, or deal with the fact that Paris is talking to her and terrorizing the inn’s staff.
I am going to tune all of this out.
Too good for this show, too pure
Luke and Lorelai are still together. Actually, engaged as of the first two minutes of the season. Luke immediately accepts the proposal and they toast and it’s nice. The fact that they get engaged at this point because Lorelai wants to feel happy after what happened with Rory is not exactly a good approach to handling these things, but… Well. It works for the show.
The Twickham House subplot from last season is resolved within two conversations; they’re going to live in Lorelai’s house, because she likes it. The following episodes are spent with wacky adventures in a construction zone. I’m not entirely sure you can just make the rooms on the top floor of your house bigger just like that, that just seems very The Sims to me, but it seems to work out, so whatever.
Lorelai and Luke are also very much a happy sitcom couple throughout. And I don’t mean the “why the fuck are these people married, straight people are weird” kind of sitcom couple, more the Home Improvement or Roseanne kind of sitcom couple where differences are minor, usually resolved by talking it out, and the episode ends with everyone happy and having lots of sex. Without the need of an infinitely wise faceless neighbor, even.
No, really. Up until someone is back to ruin everything with a delayed detonation, their biggest problem is Lorelai feeling guilty for Luke doing things with her that she likes, but he doesn’t. They resolve this by talking about how Luke likes to do things with Lorelai and doesn’t actually mind that much. Other than that, it’s just Luke being thoroughly supportive of anything Lorelai does, be it her fight with Rory, her reluctance to move out of the house, or her petty struggles with Taylor.
I know it is basically television law that happy couples don’t make for good entertainment, but I completely disagree and will hold up several select episodes of Gilmore Girls seasons 5 and 6 as a counter example. These two together are never boring. They will get infuriating later, but they are at their best when they’re happy and together.
And thank god Lorelai had Luke for this stretch of episodes, because outside of what happiness she gets from him and her business, she’s not doing too well. Her guilt over letting Rory just move out and more or less throw her life away gnaws at her constantly. She gets the second weirdest dog ever to cope with her feelings, and one of the most moving scenes is when the dog gets sick and Lorelai blames herself for it because she’s just a bad mother in general. And while your mileage on the truthfulness of that sentiment may very well vary, it is still heartbreaking to see her that way.
I have also since mulled this over a bit, and come to the conclusion that outside of a few snipes here and there, Lorelai is mostly justified in her reaction to Rory leaving school. Or at least I can see where she’s coming from. Lorelai has been working her ass off to give Rory any and all opportunities in life, to give her the education she needs. Yes, she didn’t pay for either fancy school that Rory went to, but simply enabling a lifestyle in which Rory could academically flourish beforehand is extremely impressive for a single teen mom.
So seeing her daughter throw this all away because one douchebag told her no that one time, and then voluntarily choosing the lifestyle Lorelai has disdained all her life and also worked her ass off to give them an alternative to leaves her very, very hurt. And I’m mostly confused as to why Rory doesn’t see that. Then again, Rory isn’t exactly good in apprehending what effect her actions have on others in general, so there you go.
The life of a felon
Rory meanwhile lives in the lap of luxury, gets the pool house redecorated into a nice bachelorette pad/sex house, room service, and professionally cooked meals every day. But it’s not all perfect because, oh noes, her grandmother keeps waking her up before 9 AM! The horror.
The true horror comes in the very first episode in the form of her trial. After being told from everyone including her lawyer that being a rich white girl from a fancy family and a fancy school was a get out of jail free card, she gets the most awesome judge of Connecticut on the job who tells her she has no patience for spoiled rich kids going joyriding on yachts and turns down the 20 hours of community service that the plea bargain asked for. Instead, Rory gets a whopping 300 hours of community service and a permanent record that will not even last this season.
Why can’t this lady also try Logan and all of his cronies? Pretty please?
Also, life lesson for Richard Gilmore and anyone else who may not know this: Don’t ever yell at your fucking judge. Ever. Don’t. No matter what happens. When in doubt, they have full control over the security personnel and can tell them to escort you out. Do not do it.
Also, I kinda tried looking up the Connecticut penal code for a bit, because it’s what I do, and from what I can tell, assuming boats pass as motor vehicles, and the one Rory stole was worth more than $20,000, she technically committed larceny in the first degree, which at least according to the source I found that didn’t bore my to death while reading is a class B felony and usually worth a substantial amount of jail time. And I know I called it joyriding before, but everyone keeps mentioning how she’s a felon now and how it’ll take 5 years to get that off her criminal record, sooo… But hey, real law is boring.
Anyway, Rory now has to serve the community! Surrounded by criminals! Who are mostly poor and uneducated people! Oh, the horror. But don’t worry, just a few episodes in, and after having an almost legit fight with another girl who was picking up trash with her, Rory is basically running the whole thing. Everyone loves her, she organizes the work schedules, and even gets to do fun stuff like oversee dance classes in a nursing home.
But woe is her, with the incredible burden of doing 300 hours of community service work in 6 months, she can’t possibly go out and find a job! Who has the time?
Rory, sweetheart, I know you’re more of a political science girl, so I did the math for you. Assuming we’re talking about 5 day weeks with free weekends, to get to 300 hours of community service, you’d need to do 2.5 hours a day. That gives you plenty of time to squeeze in shifts in a multitude of jobs. Hell, I know you only get community service in 3.5 hour shifts. Do one of those every day, and you’re done in 86 days, aka 4 months and a week, with still time to work half-time in whatever job offers hours outside of your community service hours. Do double shifts of 8 hours every day and you’re done in 6 weeks instead of months and find a job after that.
But writers usually can’t math, so we’re supposed to believe even the other people doing the community service think she has a ridiculous work load. So Emily arranges for her to get a job with the DAR! It’s never quite clear what Rory does there except dress conservatively and sit at an office desk and spy on other members for her grandmother, but I guess it’s a job.
The ladies who hired her don’t even know she has a felony conviction and is doing community service when they hire her. The strings Emily must have pulled.
Congratulations! You’re trophy wife material after all!
Due to her DAR job, Rory also starts organizing fundraising events and parties and tea parties and the like. And, of course, she’s a natural at those, too, and practically perfect in every way.
This does however cause Richard to have a bit of an epiphany about her, even if it is a tad bit uncomfortable. Seeing her running events for the DAR makes him think his granddaughter might be throwing her life away… By doing the exact same things his wife does. Yikes.
The first big event Rory throws is crashed by the Huntzbergers, by the way. Not by Logan, because why would he attend an elaborate party thrown by his girlfriend, but by his parents. Mitchum Huntzberger’s presence causes Rory to have a panic attack, and Richard to finally clear up the circumstances behind Rory’s sudden need to commit a felony. Because no one just straight-out asked her beforehand, I guess.
Mitchum delivers a pretty decent smack down to Richard when the latter is enraged that someone would tell his precious granddaughter she isn’t good enough to be the bestest journalist in the world. And also suddenly claims he has read her stuff. Anyway, men in suits almost fighting is always kind of funny, but I gotta give it to Mitchum here, much as I despise him.
“If she has what it takes, she’ll bounce back.”
Yeah. Quitting your Ivy League education and committing a felony because one giant bag of orange dicks tells you you don’t measure up to his particular standards is not a good sign that she actually does have what it takes. Oh well.
Someone who is perfectly justified in her enragement is Emily, who confronts Sheila Huntzberger about why the fuck Rory is allegedly not good enough to marry into their family. Remember, she is a Gilmore, and her ancestors came over on the Mayflower. This results in the most brutal smackdown ever witnessed on the show. Emily is merciless, and even though she fat-shames a woman whose husband is cheating on her, which is incredibly mean, I kind of think this was… Well, somewhat deserved.
In any case, Rory continues to put on perfect little parties, which Richard grows more and more uncomfortable with, to the point he wants to plan another coup with Lorelai to get Rory back to school. He brings her her old dollhouse that Emily was going to throw out, which is actually very sweet of him. Lorelai turns him down flat though, since he was the one who botched up the first “get Rory back on track” plan and got them in this mess to begin with.
Teenage sexuality, the life ruining consequences thereof – early 20ies edition!
Rory’s comfortable life with her grandparents only really starts to crumble after they catch on to the fact that she and Logan kinda sorta maybe get up to more than just holding hands in their uninterrupted free time. They get to this conclusion by finding them making out in Logan’s car, and because Logan gave Rory a Birkin Bag!
It’s a pretty hideous, by the way, but Emily and Logan treat it basically like an engagement ring. Or a free pass to bone town.
Shortly before her 21st birthday, Rory finds herself having dinner with the family Reverend, who starts giving her an abstinence only education speech about how her virtue is the most precious gift she has to give away, and how all she has left to give after giving this gift to the wrong man is a sweater.
Rory, not good at thinking on her feet, flat-out tells the man that her ultimate gift ship has sailed and is probably in Fiji by now. Strangely enough, when she tells Logan about this conversation later on, she says that Logan is the one who “has her virginity”, which I’m like pretty sure is not exactly true. Rory herself is pretty sure that’s not true a few episodes later when telling a therapist about that married ex-boyfriend she lost her virginity to, so… Someone on the writer’s staff for that episode didn’t watch the last two seasons? Rory is actively deceiving Logan regarding her sexual experience? You decide!
Anyhow, this discovery sends Richard spiraling into a breakdown that leaves him getting sad-drunk during Rory’s birthday party because they totally failed with Rory and also built her a sex house. Emily, meanwhile, gets into meddling mode, reverts the pool house to a storage room, moves Rory into the main house, and starts snooping around and cutting into her free time and randomly inspecting everything she does.
Lorelai’s probably not too sensitive assertion that Rory has been having sex for almost two years at this point doesn’t help. Though it does make Emily chip up and say they only failed with Rory once she comes home pregnant. Yikes.
Help from unexpected places
Episode 4 marks a major shift. It is the first one in which Lorelai and Rory interact positively again, with Rory reaching out and inviting Lorelai to her birthday party and them actually being civil for like three minutes. Previous interactions this season so far were limited to yelling at each other about who was more hurt, Lorelai by Rory’s general attitude, or Rory by finding out about the engagement from Luke instead of Lorelai. At the side of a highway Rory was cleaning at the time.
There is also the baptism episode. I hate that episode. It has Rory and Lorelai yelling about cellphone numbers.
Rory actually comes to Stars Hollow once after feeling lonely, and having a cup of coffee at Luke’s, where she finds out about the engagement. Luke is trying to be supportive, and is technically on Lorelai’s side, but also tells her that he’s very in the middle of this conflict, because he also cares about Rory. Good on him, he never actually does anything that Lorelai disapproves of in this situation, though, because he is too good for this show and probably also humanity. At this point.
Another really touching moment is during Rory’s birthday party, when Luke gives her a pearl necklace that belonged to his mother and I can’t even.
Okay. Moving on.
Rory’s new life in the Gilmore household feels like yet another genre shift. This is now Heidi. With Emily as Fräulein Rottenmeier, and no Clara or nice grandmother in sight to make things easier. Rory is being monitored, despite being a legal adult, and things get a bit ridiculous.
Though on the other hand, how monitored can she really be when she can still chaperone bar hoppers until pub closing hours? Whatever. Just when her life is nothing but being under constant scrutiny from her grandmother, bar hopping and organizing tea parties, someone makes his comeback on the show.
Jess shows up, out of the blue, and despite it being like 2 AM or something. Rory takes him up to her room, and they talk about their current life situations. Rory is suddenly very insistent that all of this is temporary, despite alluding to never going back to Yale a few episodes before. Jess, meanwhile, is a breath of fresh air. Do you know that feeling when you meet old friends from better times, and they treat you like nothing has changed? And you’re like “oh, right, that’s what I was like once”? I’ve had this happen to me once. It hits you hard. And you can see it hitting Rory hard.
Jess, meanwhile, has been working for an independent bookstore that also has a small printing press and is some sort of creative scene hub in Philadelphia. He also wrote his very own novella, and has come here to give it to Rory and thank her for always believing in him.
If you couldn’t tell before, this scene and episode are largely the reason I stan for Jess as hard as I do. I’m not sorry. They decide to meet again the next day, when they can talk far away from Emily Gilmore and above a whisper, but unfortunately their outing is crashed and ruined by Logan existing. And not even in the traditional love triangle kind of way; the only one giving off those vibes is actually Logan.
No, really, you can tell Rory and Jess still have chemistry in these scenes, and you can certainly read it romantically, but it isn’t exactly framed that way. Jess, at least in this episode, is not implied to have any other intentions than thanking Rory and catching up with her. It’s genuinely sweet and reminiscent of the scenes I liked between the two of them in season 2.
And then Logan saunters in, makes fun of Jess for being less well-off, for writing a book, claiming anyone can do it, makes fun of them for having dated in high school, and tries to make Jess feel inferior by rattling down names of authors he assumes Jess has never heard of. These authors being Kafka and Tolstoy. Dude.
Jess has had enough and storms out for the evening, and Rory comes after him, making excuses for Logan. He’s had a bad weekend, too much to drink, the works. Strangely reminiscent of far darker things. Jess cuts her off, because to him, this isn’t about Logan, this is about Rory dating someone like Logan in the first place, quitting Yale, not talking to her mother, working for the DAR.
He apologizes for yelling afterwards, but his words stick. They are the final wake-up call Rory needed here. He is challenging her so she can be the best version of herself, basically. Something he kind of always did, albeit in twisted ways. And in my own personal interpretation that the best Rory can be is an assertive person with a spine, which she was around Jess, and pretty frequently so. More than around any of her other boyfriends. Yes, I will shut up about this now.
Oh, also she yells at Logan for his behavior afterwards, and he runs away. This will have consequences.
Back to form
Things move fast after this. Rory moves out of her grandparents’ house and in with Lane, somehow immediately arranges her re-enrollment at Yale for the coming semester, and hounds the editor of the newspaper for a job. As in, she refuses to leave the office before she gets one. Hitting the bricks, like that Old Economy Steve meme suggests. Why they hadn’t simply thrown her out by security, I have no idea.
Emily has a bit of breakdown after this and almost buys a plane. Lorelai has to talk her out of that, and they have one of the most heartbreaking conversations of the series, in which Lorelai assures her mother that she never lost her, and neither did they lose Rory. And if that wasn’t enough perfection for one episode, it also features the once scene that always, always makes me cry.
This is why I argue that the separation is probably the best thing to happen to the series. Yes, the filler material in the episodes to resolve this was pretty bad, but that’s just par for the course at this stage of the game. The payoff is amazing. And it’s finally, finally, an arc that is about nothing but Rory’s and Lorelai’s relationship, putting that front and center instead of being the backdrop to their love lives or whatever wacky town plot is going on at the time.
This is one of these moments of perfection where the show is everything it could be.
Unfortunately, the same episode also presents us with a bit of a… Problem.
April Nardini never stood a chance.
This is April. She is Luke’s love child with a woman who is way more like Lorelai than any other of his love interests on the show, yet another super serious girlfriend he’s had that Lorelai never, ever heard about, and she’s also played by the woman who was Jess’s dad’s roommate for the spin-off that never happened.
Unpopular opinion time: I like April.
No, really, I do. She felt just quirky enough to me, and Vanessa Marano did a great job. I usually hate child actors in series, especially when the children are supposed to be quirky or some shade of smart, but April I always liked.
As a character. Not as a plot device.
The only reason they introduced April, if you don’t buy into rumors that Amy Sherman-Palladino knew her writing contract wouldn’t be renewed and was actively trying to derail the show, was because Luke and Lorelai can’t be happy. Happy TV couples are boring. Or something. Her existence makes Lorelai suffer and Luke close off from her, and ultimately breaks them up.
Which is, by the way, not at all April’s fault. The two times they meet, April and Lorelai get along really great. A little too great, actually, I think. April is the sciencey girl. She’s introduced by testing DNA samples to find out who her father is for her school’s science fair, goes to math competitions, and is basically the other kind of smart compared to Rory’s literary and political ambitions.
Most sciencey smart girls I’ve met, especially at 13, weren’t exactly into birthday parties that included shopping for make-up and getting makeovers. Maybe my area was just hit very hard by the “not like other girls” virus, I know I was, so the enthusiasm there just rang a little hollow to me. But hey, way to bust stereotypes, I guess?
My point is that April very undeservedly usually tops people’s lists of most hated characters on this show. With people like Shane, Lindsay, Nicole, and Christopher. Anyone sense a pattern there? And the actress was 13 when she started on the show, and got all of that hate, which is just not cool. She seems to be taking it okay, though.
And ultimately, it is not April the character who breaks anyone up. It is April the plot device, and Luke and Lorelai the characters who are to blame for the breakup, on a Watsonian level. No, really. I’d blame April’s mother for the breakup before I’d blame her. Wait a minute…
The ethics of single parenting
For some reason, this season is really all about parenting. You know, after the main characters have moved on from a phase in their lives when how to parent your daughter would have been an appropriate subplot. Though admittedly, Lorelai struggling with being a failure as a mother was kind of the point of the first nine episodes.
Also front and center this season is, yet again, Christopher. And I have to say, except for at the very, very end, I kind of like him here. See, he has come into a metric fuck ton of money he didn’t have to work for, and is thusly conveniently available to pay for Yale after Rory has a falling out with the grandparents.
Additionally, he is still struggling with raising Gigi on his own, and doing a piss poor job because of course he does. Even, and probably especially, with all the resources of the world at his disposal, Gigi is growing up to be a little hellspawn who at one point vandalizes Lorelai’s house when she’s looking after her. Doesn’t exactly speak for Lorelai’s skills with kids, either, but hey.
Christopher is also finally positively involved in Rory’s life, and there is a very, very weird scene during which he learns to love the Logan by comparing which fancy boarding schools they both got kicked out in their youths. And people say Jess is Rory’s Christopher…
Anyhow, Chris is finally stepping up, and due to his own newly discovered fatherhood, Luke is actually okay with that. He throws a fit about it first though, for extra hypocrisy points.
Luke, being the responsible and dependable guy that he is, tries for most of the season to be a father to April, too. And he goes above and beyond the call of duty, really, chaperoning class trips and at least attempting to throw her a birthday party at his diner. Sure, he sucks at parties and preteens, but he tries, okay? He tries.
What he also tries is to keep Lorelai completely away from April. As a reason, he gives that April is going to like Lorelai better than him, which is kind of bullshit. I mean, sure, Lorelai is fun, but even if it’s as new as it is, the whole father-thing kind of seems to mean a lot to April, too. Her mom at least sure thinks so.
Which leads us to Anna. Who is… Weird. Like. Who tells their 12 year old three different guys she’s slept with around the time of her conception, and then lets her go out to find these men and test their DNA?
And when the result comes back, Anna doesn’t seem surprised that Luke is the father. She also doesn’t seem to know him very well, saying she kept the whole daughter thing from him because he hates kids and would have been out the door immediately. Bull. Shit.
Luke is a pretty grumpy guy who likes to complain about things, sure. But he’s never been anything but dependable, and is a classic case of the guy who doesn’t like kids unless they’re his own. Or Rory.
What’s even worse are Anna’s unreasonable demands. First, she tells Luke he can absolutely never cancel after making plans with April. I get that he has to be dependable and she doesn’t want April’s hopes to get crushed, but, uh. Accidents happen, family stuff happens, work stuff happens. Telling your 12 year old daughter you have a thing at work and therefore need to postpone hanging out with her is not going to crush her spirit for the rest of her life. It might make her sad for a moment, yeah, but I’m sure people cancelled plans with her before, and as long as Luke schedules a meeting to make up for the missed one, everything should be fucking fine.
But the coup de grace is definitely when Lorelai takes over the party for Rachel, and Anna flips. Yes, her concerns about leaving the girls alone overnight with a woman she never met are justified. This is not my problem here. My problem is that she tells Lorelai engaged ain’t married, and as long as the deal isn’t sealed and the certificate isn’t signed, she has no business in April’s life, despite being her father’s fiancée.
Hold your fucking horses.
Now, maybe my perspective on this is kinda skewered because, uhm, I grew up in a somewhat comparable situation, but I damn sure met my father’s future wife way before they got married. I also met most of my mother’s partners, at least the ones she was serious with. Didn’t fuck me up any, and honestly, telling your child’s father’s fiancée she has no place in your daughter’s life is… No. Fuck you. Is April supposed to meet Lorelai for the first time on the wedding day? Hello April, I am the complete stranger your father is now legally bound to, isn’t that fun?
You know who did this right? Christopher, of all people, when he introduced Sherry to Rory back in season 2. Serious girlfriend, lots of potential, go meet my daughter and try to get along. And Chris was way less involved in Rory’s life than Luke is in April’s just in these 13 episodes.
And if you do worse at anything than Christopher does, you know you’ve fucked up royally.
Rory back on track is pretty great for a few episodes. There’s fun bits with her at Yale, and even something resembling an arc or storyline there which had so much potential.
First of all, she moves in with Paris. Again. And also Doyle because we have to keep the worthless love interests around. Or do we? As of episode 10, Rory and Logan are officially broken up! Or, well, as officially broken up as you can be when one party doesn’t know about it and gets a consolation call from the other party’s sister who has just heard the news. Classy.
See, Logan doesn’t do relationships, so he has no idea that you don’t break up by simply yelling at each other about crappy life choices in a pub. He walked out after fighting with Rory for the first time, and it wasn’t even a fight between them. Not really. Sure, Rory berated him for being an ass to Jess, but the majority of the argument came when she started ranting about how she was throwing her life away.
Logan got defensive, thinking she was blaming him for that, even though this is neither what she said nor intended to say. I mean, yes, you can absolutely argue that it was Logan’s influence that got Rory into this situation, but that’s more of a passive debuff than an active skill he uses on her. He never actually tried to make her do anything but maybe party a little bit more, yet he immediately felt like she was blaming him. Someone sure seems to have some repressed guilt issues, huh?
Also, Logan never ever even tried to push Rory in any direction, not even towards talking to her mother again. Like, I get that him and Lorelai didn’t get along, but come on, she was important to your girlfriend. In the same vein, it’s rather telling that Logan wasn’t in the episode in which Rory returned home at all.
But last season was endgame season, so we can’t have nice things, ever. Logan starts stalking Rory and trying to buy her affection back with flowers and fruit baskets and a personal coffee cart. He waits for her at coffee carts, too. And waits in front of her door with coffee.
This eventually leads to Rory breaking down during a mandatory appointment with a therapist. Logan had just shown up at her front door, with coffee, and tried to explain the situation. How this wasn’t what he wanted, he really thought their fight was a break up, and he’s really, really sorry and totally wants Rory back and pretty please. Oh and also he loves her.
The ensuing scene at the therapist is a perfect summary of everything that has been wrong with Rory for the last season or two. She’s snippy, evasive, and then breaks down crying, wondering “How long until he doesn’t love me again?” and yelling about her “married ex-boyfriend who I’ve lost my virginity to!”. She gets regular sessions after that, that we unfortunately never get to see, nor do we see them having any effect on her.
Logan eventually resorts to getting a letter of recommendation from Lorelai, of all people, who even writes the damn thing, which Rory admittedly seems quite amused by. Unfortunately, this is the final reason why she actually agrees to date him again.
Meanwhile, Paris! Has a story! And things we can possibly turn gay!
See, back during Rory’s birthday, she announced that she was going to be editor of the Yale Daily News now. As it turns out, that’s not the best idea. She terrorizes the staff, restricts bathroom times, forbids eating and talking in the newsroom, and assigns everyone numbered caps instead of remembering names. Soon, the staff grows mutinous and plots to overthrow her. Why Doyle isn’t there to advise her on how to do this shit is never explained. He just doesn’t exist.
This comes to a head in episode 13, during which so many people have called in sick that the paper is not going to come out. Hearing about that, Rory goes into full-blown crisis mode, activates everyone she can find (except Logan) and makes them all work super hard so the paper will come out. It’s basically the most badass thing she does all season. Also, she does this on the evening she was supposed to go out with Logan again, which technically makes it greater in my estimation, if not for the fact that Logan comes to find her.
Now, he is actually helpful, because he does know his shit, his father has seen to that. What dampens the awesomeness of it all though is that in the end of the day, it is not Rory’s quick thinking and people skills that get them through this, it’s Logan using his father’s name as a bargaining chip to keep their printing spot. So affluenza saves the day, instead of hard work. Affluenza that makes him totally dateable again. Isn’t he dreamy?
Still, this brief sequence is just so refreshing to watch, because it’s Rory, and you can actually tell that while she might not be the best reporter, organizing a large staff is the kind of work she just might have been born for. This even ties back into her being great at organizing DAR events – it’s technically the same thing. She makes sure everyone does their best work, and checks on them to get shit done. Not a valuable skill in a foreign correspondent, but an incredibly useful skill in almost every other field of work.
Also, despite it being framed like Logan was actually what saved them, Rory does get recognition for her work, and is voted editor after Paris is finally disposed of. This causes Paris to throw her out the apartment. But never fear! Logan is there to move in with, so now she gets the nicest place to live ever, after living in what passes for a ghetto on this show. It had run-down apartments with crappy paint jobs, oh the horror.
But even though moving in with your boyfriend who you should still be mad at about the whole non-break-up break-up via sister, it is framed like everything is well in paradise for a bit. There’s an entire extremely abhorrent Martha’s Vineyard episode that could just as well be titled “How everyone learned to stop worrying and love the Logan”. Luke more than anyone else, really.
The episode is cringy and feels like season 7, but it does set up a few sort of relevant things: Rory and Logans have plans to tour Asia in the summer, his father has plans to send him off to grow up working in London for immediately after graduation. Also, after Mitchum bumps in and yells at Logan in front of guests, Lorelai… Relates with him on account of sharing impossible to please parents or something? I don’t get it.
Honestly, I legitimately don’t get this about Logan. He constantly complains about a life full of opportunities that are forced on him by his father. And okay, I understand disagreeing with a set-out path for yourself. What I don’t get is why Logan doesn’t just get the fuck out of there if everything’s so horrible. Try getting by without daddy’s money if you disagree with daddy’s rules. It’s what Rory suggests in their fight in the Jess episode. It’s what Lorelai did, and I don’t see why she would have the patience for someone like Logan in this situation.
I know there’s stuff coming up on that front next season, but it is absolutely relevant here, too.
Things don’t stay that well for too long, though. Remember how the whole grand theft boating incident took place during Logan’s sister’s engagement party? It’s time for her to get married! And Rory is roped into being her designated dresser by the merits of being sober, unlike all the bridesmaids. There are also uncomfortable jokes about maidenheads.
The room is also overwhelmingly blond, which is, I mean, not relevant to anything besides my thoughts on this show having a personal vendetta against blond women. Because as it turns out, during that time Logan thought he had broken up with Rory, he kind of slept his way through all of them. Every single woman in the room he isn’t related to.
When Rory confronts him about this, Logan does the classy thing and blames the stupid blond women for telling Rory as if it was their fault or anything. Rory doesn’t buy any of that shit and breaks up with him then and there. This is followed by an uncomfortable scene at a pub where she gets drunk, and commiserates with Doyle who has been kicked out by Paris. After being nuzzled by him, Rory makes her way over to Paris to make amends, and also because she has nowhere else to live. And for a moment, for two and a half minutes to be exact, the show is made of complete perfection.
They talk about repainting the apartment, which Doyle didn’t want to paint because he doesn’t believe in increasing anyone else’s property value. And we all know how sexy painting can be. Paris even greets Rory with the words “I thought you were Chinese,” meaning the food, which is so retroactively funny I will make this cross-fandom reference and if it is the last thing I do.
Anyhow. We can’t have nice things. So the perfection doesn’t even survive the cold opening of the episode. Hell, it lasts for about two and a half minutes until Logan shows his face. Oh, wait, at first, this just makes everything more perfect. Look at the entire gif set here, there are no youtube clips to be found because people suck like that. Have a short sample of why Paris is the most awesome person on the planet anyway.
Unfortunately, Doyle shows up after this, giving Logan time to gaslight Rory back into a relationship. His excuse is that he thought they were on a break broken up, so in his mind, he never cheated on Rory, and that should make it all okay. Because Rory has the assertiveness of a wet paper towel around him, she folds and gives in and moves back in with him. The address changes give Lorelai whiplash and make me yell at the clouds for what an uneven mess this series has become.
The art of passive-aggressiveness
Credit where credit is due, though, Rory is actually pissed, and by her later season’s standards, fucking livid. She snobs Logan at the paper by writing an article assigned to him herself, goes home for a few days without telling him, and completely freezes him out during this time. This is not how you handle relationship problems, but it’s something and I’ll take it.
Something I’m less comfortable taking is the final appearance of Jess in the series. Rory drives out to attend the open house of the bookstore/publishing house he works at, and to tell him that everything in her life is fixed now.
Side-note: Jess dealing with pseudo-deep proto-hipsters gives me life, and whatever he does for a living seems awesome. He and Luke, there on April’s class trip, even get to share a hug, and he pays him back all the expenses he caused living with him. Yet another one of these brief moments of perfection overshadowed by other shit.
That shit being Rory apparently coming there with the explicit purpose of cheating on Logan like he cheated on her. She and Jess even start kissing before she realized she can’t do this. Jess does that thing where he says one shitty thing and one justified one; the shitty thing being that coming to his open-house, which he invited her to, was more or less asking for it. Gives me war flashbacks to Kyle’s bedroom. The justified thing is that he kinda doesn’t deserve her coming to him for that purpose. And I agree with that.
Seriously, Rory, if you feel like you need to jump into bed with anyone, go find a random guy. You have the looks. Don’t drag someone this emotionally involved into this. Also, is this supposed to hint at Jess still having feelings for Rory? Is she still a contender? Not exactly healthy, but dammit, my shipper heart will take it, okay?
Ah, well. The kiss also serves as an epiphany for Rory.
Now there’s something sounding dangerously close to a battered wife… Again. Oh well. Jess tells her she can tell Logan something happened between them if that makes her feel better, and they part, ultimately, on good terms.
Of course, before this can amount to anything, Logan goes off to Costa Rica to base jump off a cliff and end up with life-threatening injuries. Now Rory can feel guilty for being hurt in the first place! And that solves everything! All is well in paradise!
Well, okay. Second most awesome thing Rory does this season: Yell at Mitchum Huntzberger.
“It’s Rory Gilmore. I’d just thought I’d call and remind you that Logan is lying in a hospital bed with a partially collapsed lung, and a whole host of other potentially life threatening injuries. And I’m figuring, a guy like you, surrounded by nothing but a bunch of terrified sycophants might not have someone in his life with the guts to tell him what an incredibly selfish, narcissistic ass he is being. So I thought I’d jump on in. Swallow your pride, get in your car, and come down here to see your son! Now!”
And Mitchum does! He comes there and looks kind of scared of her and it’s amazing. I really, really hate the context of the scene, but the content is A+ and yet another proof that the show can when it tries. It just needs to try more often.
Mitchum, by the way, gets back at her by mentioning her editor job in an interview as an example of great talents he sniffed out. It makes her so mad, it’s hilarious.
Their next confrontation is less satisfying however. Or, well, kind of more in a vindictive way. After his graduation, Logan and Rory have plans for their last day together before he is spirited away to London. These plans are delayed when going for drinks with his parents turned out to take longer than 30 minutes. Which should be a given on his graduation. Anyhow, Rory yells at Mitchum in the elevator why he hates her so much he takes Logan away from her. Mitchum shuts this down hard, and subtly points out her egocentrism here. This job in London isn’t about punishing anyone, it’s about getting Logan away from his bad friends and make him grow up and stop partying his life away or jumping off cliffs, which is something Rory begrudgingly has to agree with.
I can’t believe I’m saying this, but… I like Mitchum? Kinda? I like it when he and Rory are hostile towards each other, and I wish this could have continued. He’s an ass and a horrible person, but at least the show wants me to hate him, and he’s not boring like his son.
Oh well. Rory throws Logan one last party, which is British-themed and features horrible accents, before they have a goodbye scene and he’s off to London. I’m sure it’s very touching if you’re into the ship, which a surprising amount of people are, but it just leaves me cold and weirded out that Rory throws parties like that. Oh well.
Long Road to Ruin
On the other part of the show, Luke is keeping Lorelai and April from ever really interacting until the big birthday party, and his confusion about his new role as a dad leads Lorelai to suggest they postpone the wedding indefinitely. Which they do. This is followed by a bunch of episodes of them treading water. Lorelai wants to meet April and have a relationship with her or anything really, but doesn’t articulate it because it’s Luke’s thing and he should handle is. Luke seems to be able to smell Anna’s weird policy about April not meeting anyone but his lawfully wedded wife and keeps this up.
This basically sums up the entire Luke and Lorelai portion of the rest of this season. No, really. I take individual notes for each episode, and every single note on Luke and Lorelai I took after 6×09 is “Lorelai is not comfortable with the April situation, but takes a page out of Rory’s book and just takes it quietly”.
And like, it’s a big deal. They had a wedding date set, and all of the arrangements made. There’s a dress, the flowers are all done, the location is booked, everything is fucking ready to go on June 3rd, and they just walk away from that. By the way, when you’re actually planning a wedding, don’t start in January and expect to get all of this shit done for a date in the same year, leave alone the same half of the year. Which is probably yet another sign of how this was meant to be, but alas…
The probably weirdest thing about this part of the series is probably Emily and Richard being completely on board with Luke marrying into the family. I’m not even kidding. Somehow they remembered that they used to like him for the first few seasons. There’s a dinner scene where they warn him about all kinds of insurance frauds, which isn’t even primarily meant to be demeaning, but actually looking out for him. They start mysteriously stalking around Stars Hollow, and when meeting at the diner, Emily attempts to bond with April.
I am dead serious. Emily is seen playing cards with and being nice to a little girl that she thinks is April. It turns out to be just some random girl hanging out there or something, but she tries. The woman who is still calling Gigi an “it”. And when Lorelai tells her that as long as Lorelai doesn’t get to have a relationship with this girl, Emily really doesn’t, Emily tells her that she needs to get on that ASAP. And when Emily Gilmore has a better understanding of how to handle fiancées in a separated parents scenario, you have fucked up so badly.
The reason why Richard and Emily are in Stars Hollow in the first place, by the way, is because they are looking for a house. As a wedding gift. Because Lorelai’s house is lovely, but not big enough to live in for a couple, especially when there’s more kids coming. It’s a beautiful house, and it has a bit of land around it because Lorelai always wanted horses, showing that Emily can actually be thoughtful in regards to Lorelai. Lorelai then breaks down crying about the wedding never happening in front of her mother, which is yet another one of these amazingly perfect moments buried by tedious plots, and so, so much more shocking than the other breakdown she has.
Oh, right. I need to talk about that, don’t I? What the show giveth, it taketh away.
Say goodbye to the rest of your life, Part 1: Marry a horrible person
Lorelai’s more public and also drunk breakdown was during a wedding that actually did happen this season. A wedding sealing what is probably the most horrible fate on the show.
In a weird, weird parallel, Lane also gets her breakup subplot this season. And hers is actually a subplot and not just a moment of hope that is immediately crushed like it was with Paris and Rory. No, after Zach is just being who he is, which is a self-absorbed, irresponsible dick, who blew their chances at being discovered by a label because he was jealous someone else wrote a song called “Lane” after her turned it down, they break up. Both he and Lane, and also the entire band.
This is quite possibly the best thing to happen to Lane, ever, as she now is free of him and can live with her mom and still be her own person. However, last season was endgame season, no takebacks. Zach spends a few episodes skulking around, scaring off uncles of Lane, until finally getting the band back together and… Proposing to her. Which she accepts. Why. Why.
This is what thinking you have to get married to touch genitals with somebody does to people!
No, really, when they all move back in together, Brian asks what’s gonna happen when Lane and Zach get married, and the only thing Zach has to say is “we’ll finally get to have sex”. Ew. Eeeew. Ew. And I think that’s really all that changes for a while afterwards; Brian still lives with them, they just have a church-sanctioned license to fuck now. Also, spoilers for next season, their sex is horrible. Which somehow turned the show into a PSA about what this kind of mindset can do to a person.
And their wedding actually does happen within three episodes, during which… Zach has to write a hit so Mrs. Kim gives them their blessing. Just write a song she considers a hit. Not actually make any money with it. I mean, it’s sweet, but also pointless.
The actual wedding is kind of fun, the last time we see Christopher being the okay person he was during this season, and also more uncomfortable things about Koreans I’m not going to get into. The best thing, by the way, was the wedding cake.
This is also the point at which Lorelai breaks down and does a drunken toast about how she is never going to get married, because god forbid weddings on this show are ever about anyone else but the title characters.
Getting the dumpster fire started
This just leaves us the season finale, and I’ve already covered Rory’s part in it, so this should be easy.
As mentioned above, Lorelai went to see Anna, and when she talks to Luke about her justified concerns, he gets mad at her for going behind his back. And also sees nothing wrong with Anna’s insane rules and no need to argue them, for reasons that more or less elude me, since he has no problem suing her for shared custody next season. Instead, he just… Takes it. Is this contagious or something?
Nothing hurts more than your partner not standing up for you, in my experience, and Lorelai is seriously upset after this. So much so that she basically spends the season finale hiding behind tapestries to avoid talking to him – in case you needed any more convincing she’s actually a Martell.
Meanwhile, Emily and Richard are trying to set Christopher up. With a person that is not Lorelai, alert the local news. She’s a therapist instead, and it’s kind of telling how Lorelai jumps at the opportunity to talk to her. The therapist is a lot of fun, actually, but gives kind of terrible advice. She tells Lorelai to just go after what she wants, and if she doesn’t get it, maybe it wasn’t worth having after all.
Lorelai takes this as incentive to run to Luke and demand that they go get married right then and there, elope and get it over with. Luke is understandably miffed by this and refuses, because just springing this on him is kinda shitty.
You know what the therapist should have told Lorelai instead?
FUCKING TALK TO EACH OTHER. COMMUNICATE. BE HONEST. BE OPEN. BE RESPECTFUL. JUST FUCKING TALK IT OUT.
You know, the fact that you TALKED ABOUT THINGS is the reason people dig you as a couple to begin with, okay?
Instead, we get an upset Lorelai, running away to the person she always runs to when the going gets tough, and jumps into bed with Christopher.
OKAY. This is a thing that happens. Point 1: Shitty move, Lorelai. Point 2: Christopher, you fucking know she’s engaged, and should be able to tell she’s upset, both very good reasons NOT TO DO THIS, but he did anyway. Fuck you. Point 3: Gigi runs in on Lorelai lying naked in bed the next morning. I take everything back, CHRIS YOU FAIL ETHICS OF SINGLE PARENTING FOREVER THE WORLD IS RIGHT AGAIN. Point 4: Behold, the creepiest shot of the series to date.
And that’s it. This sets up what will be the dumpster fire that is most of next season, the season which Amy Sherman-Palladino had no part in and allegedly never even watched. For good reason.
So… What’s there left to say about this season? It’s just… Weird. A weird, paradox of an uneven mess. You can tell why the coming season sucks so much. But you can also see the seeds of what might have made it great in the hands of the person running this season.
I said last time that I was looking forward to season 6, and if you put a gun to my head, I would absolutely prefer watching this season over season 5. Yet on the other hand, season 5 got the marginally better average rating (3.25 compared to season 6’s 3.1) in my personal notes, meaning I though season 5 episodes were better in quality.
This was largely a result of so, so many perfect little moments being hidden among crap. It’s the season 3 effect, but kind of in reverse. Season 2 was overall of better quality and more enjoyable, but season 3 has the highest highs of the show, so you instinctively think it’s better. Season 6 is arguably worse than season 5, but sometimes, what made the show good in the first place manages to shine through, so I’d rather suffer through the bad moments to catch a glimpse of that.
So. This leaves us with only one more review to go. See you in two weeks. Until then, let’s watch the revival trailer and be happy.
- The first episode has everyone freaking out about Lorelai proposing instead of Luke, stealing his thunder or something. I ask you, what couple would this be better suited for?
- Lorelai considers renting her house to Korn, like her grandmother did before her.
- There is an early Hamilton fangirl in the DAR. When we’re introduced to the group, they’re voting for the most fuckable founding father, and one of them raves about Hamilton as he appears on the 10 dollar bill. Now we know why tickets to the musical are so hard to get. Stupid people with money.
- Also honestly, why would you do that?
- And thirdly, wasn’t Benjamin Franklin the founding father known for his sexual prowess? Or at least the insane amounts of sex he was having?
- Colin brings home a Dutch milkmaid. She seems to be in her 20ies and not speak a word of English. Or understand it. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a Dutch person in their 20ies not understanding English, considering their language is already a weird mix of German and English to begin with.
- Also, the entire thing went on for three episodes and was gross.
- The baptism episode is both bad and kind of weird to me. Baptisms seem to be a rare thing, people who weren’t baptized themselves get to be godmothers, and this is only decided on the day of the baptism itself.
- Also, my inner catholic had to clutch her pearls. Rory attends church with uncovered shoulders.
- I really do want “Mary is my homegirl” T-Shirts, though. For me and my mom.
- When Emily finds out Lorelai is engaged, she goes “it seems congratulations are in order”. I’m sorry, doesn’t the bride get best wishes?
- Note which boyfriend didn’t come up during the therapy session.
- They have another winter carnival. This is the most consistent town event ever.
- The season finale wastes precious runtime with showing a bunch of white guys with acoustic guitars performing bad songs, and not one of them is doing Wonderwall.
- My least favorite episodes are 6×04 with the baptism, and 6×15 with the Valentine trip about how great Logan is
- Favorite episodes are 6×07, 8 and 9. From the birthday party via the Jess to the reunion. Such great payoff, really.
- I haven’t mentioned it before, but the best Friday Night Dinner™ happens this season, in an attempt to restore the status quo. It’s a fight montage, and it’s amazing.
Images courtesy of the WB