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''Gilmore Girls'': Christopher steps up his game

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David Sutcliffe, Gilmore Girls

”Gilmore Girls”: Christopher steps up his game

I imagine the message boards will be roiling the next few days with calls for Christopher’s head, but let’s first agree Lauren Graham and David Sutcliffe have killer chemistry. Hit me with your best arguments that that is a poor substitute for loyalty or trust or dependability, and then I’ll hit you with a replay of that opening kiss between Lorelai and Christopher. Now that’s what I call a proper good night!

While her parents are making nice out on the front porch, Rory is inside packing her bags to head back to Yale (where — hooray! — she might find a plotline on her fall schedule). When Lorelai floats in gasping about her date, she checks herself and asks Rory if it was weird that Christopher didn’t come in to say hello. (It was!) Rory, who’s changed her bratty tune, says he could have come in and she would have given them some privacy. (Getting weirder!) Then Lorelai starts gushing about Christopher and pumping Rory for some inside scoop. Rory wisely tells her mom she’s not going to start passing notes between her two parents, and then gently warns her about swerving down this road she’s been down so many times before.

Later, Sookie gives Lorelai a firm smack-down for her swan dive back into Christopher’s arms. In a scene most of you women have probably been on the giving or receiving end of, Sookie invites Lorelai to dinner and then guesses, correctly, that Lorelai is waiting to see if Christopher comes through with plans for another date. Sookie, in her bighearted way, thoroughly disapproves. She reminds her friend that she hasn’t been broken up with Luke for all that long (finally, a voice of reason!) and that Christopher, the wayward father of her child, is probably not the healthiest of rebounds. Lorelai again insists that her eyes are wide open and makes a crack that for all the people worried about her safety, she needs traffic cones set up around her heart. Message boarders, take note.

In Luke land, where Lorelai has completely forgotten that she ever planted a flag, we finally get another look at April. I know a lot of you don’t like the character, but I think she’s pretty sweet, and I’m all for more teenage girls on TV who talk about books and wear glasses and shirts that reach the waistlines of their pants. April is staying with Luke for two weeks while her mother (the preternaturally hot Sherilyn Fenn, who in just a few scenes is proving to have some nice chemistry herself with Scott Patterson) is away. Luke has set up a little bed and desk for April and needlessly teaches her how to use call waiting and offers to set up a nightlight so she can safely make her way to the bathroom at night. Again, for all those who complain that April was an unnecessary source of plot tension, she also fleshes out Luke’s otherwise gruff character in interesting, sympathetic ways. Finding Luke’s apartment depressing, she takes him on his first trip to Target (who must be paying GG beaucoup ad money for all the love it got), where they buy candles and placemats. Over dinner, worried about her dad’s breakup with Lorelai, April talks up her newly single biology teacher, who has lots of piercings, ”but only in one ear.” Luke, that doll, tells her he’s just fine. ”You don’t have to take care of me. I’m here to take care of you.” Do you hear that, Lorelai? That’s the sound of good parent-child boundaries. Take a page.

At Yale, Rory mopes her way through another awkward call with Logan but rebounds at the paper and later at an art exhibit. She meets two girls, both of whom are silly and pretentious, just like all hipsters. But hey, the girl needs friends. The three end up back at Logan’s apartment, and just as they’re about to binge on popcorn and tunes, Logan calls. And that schmo, an advertisement against college binge drinking if ever there was one, has the nerve to act vaguely annoyed that Rory can’t talk and why is the music so loud and what do you mean you have to go? Good for Rory, who hangs up to hang out with her two new annoying friends. One small step for Gilmore kind.

And finally, the big date with Christopher. Now I know that it’s much easier for rich guys to put on a good show to impress a lady, but he seriously brought it. A shiny red convertible (poor Lorelai’s hair!), a drive through the country, an abandoned barn for a movie screen, and the night lights up with Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire swanning their way through Funny Face. Snacks in the glove compartment, too! For all of our worries that this merry-go-round is going to abruptly grind to a halt, pitching Lorelai into the dust, has she ever looked happier? Just once, actually, when she later got a call from the police station saying that Emily had been arrested (for talking on a cell phone while driving and refusing to submit to a germy Breathalyzer) and needed to be picked up. At the end of her golden evening, Lorelai, despite her protestations that they should take it slow, invites Christopher to spend the night, and Gershwin’s ” ‘S Wonderful” starts playing as they kiss. Heavy-handed, yes. But still marvelous.

And then the spell was ruined by a late appearance of the Aerie Girls. Perhaps because the advertiser sensed that a pack of them on chintz sofas was too much to bear, the girls have been reduced to four and upgraded to a coffee klatch around a card table. They started yammering on about love, and I shut the TV off and went to add Funny Face to the top of my Netflix queue.

What do you think? Should Christopher and Lorelai stop now or see where this all winds up? Should Rory have said something? And will Emily ever learn to keep quiet?

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