For Gilmore Girls fans, the season 5 finale was a sign of dark days ahead: After Mitchum Huntzberger (Gregg Henry) told Rory (Alexis Bledel) that she didn’t have what it takes to be a journalist, she crumbled. And when she decided to drop out of Yale, Lorelai (Lauren Graham) refused to support her daughter, a decision that ended with Rory moving into her grandparents’ house, thus beginning a nine-episode rift that would devastate fans.
But when it came time for Gilmore to bring the women back together in season 6, it wasn’t Lorelai who ended up getting through to Rory. Instead, the show brought back (now reformed) bad boy Jess (Milo Ventimiglia) to talk some sense into the youngest Gilmore.
“We always played that Rory and Jess saw each other for what they were. That was the great thing about that relationship. She saw Jess for exactly what he was, and he really got her,” creator Amy Sherman-Palladino tells EW. “So it just seemed like a natural thing [for Jess to pull Rory out of her funk] because you needed somebody to do it. It wasn’t going to be Lorelai, and it just made sense for the relationship that we had set up with them that he would get her.”
Once Sherman-Palladino presented the idea to the cast, both Bledel and Ventimiglia were on board. “They always had an intellectual connection and he always pushed her out of her comfort zone,” Bledel says of Jess. “That was a big part of their relationship, so it makes sense that that’s the role he plays in her life. I think, in a way, she looks to him for that.”
Ventimiglia adds: “Jess was always the troublemaker, but when you take a troublemaker that’s grown up, they are an instigator and more so, a thought provoker. That’s the role that Jess filled, particularly with Rory: ‘I’ve known who you are but you haven’t believed in yourself in a long time, so let me give you some perspective that may help you.'”
Watch EW Reunites: Gilmore Girls here now on the new People/Entertainment Weekly Network (PEN). Go to PEOPLE.com/PEN, or download the PEN app on Apple TV, Roku Players, Amazon Fire TV, Xumo, Chromecast, iOS, and Android devices.
Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life hits Netflix on Friday, Nov. 25.