PREVIOUS: Episode 1, “Winter”
Ah, springtime in Stars Hollow. The birds are chirping, the flowers are blooming, and Rory and Lorelai are trying very hard not to ruin their lives.
Welcome back to the second installment of Netflix’s Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, which picks up just as the town center has started to thaw from winter. Lorelai is in therapy with Emily, has doubts about the Dragonfly, and ends up lying to Luke, while Rory is trying to unspool her complicated relationship with Logan and get back on her feet, professionally.
With cameos from Gilmore Girls-adjacent stars (hello, Mae Whitman!), old Stars Hollow favorites (Babette!), and a visit to Chilton (Tristan, is that you?), “Spring” features hints and Easter eggs for Gilmore Girls diehards while expertly navigating the new plot’s shocking twists. Yes, we’re calling Rory’s one-night stand with a Wookie a “shocking twist.” Let’s get into it…
“Spring” kicks off with a cold open, featuring Lorelai and Emily back in therapy with Claudia. They sit in silence. Lorelai apologizes for everything at once and nothing specific, and that isn’t enough. No one’s healed yet, but over the next 90 minutes, we start to see who the therapy is actually helping. (More on that later.)
Back in Stars Hollow, Taylor and Kirk are running an international spring food festival, featuring Swedish meatballs, bibimbap from the Kim family, and Jackson’s beloved vegetable stand. There’s still no sign of Sookie, but Jackson assures she’s doing just fine up at Dan Barber’s organic mecca.
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Across the pond in London, Rory is visited by another old acquaintance: Mr. Huntzberger. He drops by while she and Logan have lunch, and we’re reminded of the condescending nature of their last encounter, when he told her she wouldn’t make it as a reporter. Here, though, he’s suspiciously kind and totally unaware of Rory and Logan’s illicit relationship. Instead, he offers to help Rory nail down that Conde Nast interview. It’s a tense conversation, made only more uncomfortable when we find out that Logan is engaged.
Let’s repeat that: Logan is engaged.
And yet, he and Rory are still seeing each other.
As more details of their relationship unfold, we learn that he still calls her Ace (!) and that his fiancée is a French heiress named Odette who lives in Paris. Sorry Rory, no one comes out of this looking like a winner.
But before we get too entangled in Logan and Rory’s mess, we’re treated to our first Town Hall of the year. Taylor’s at the podium, of course, asking anyone who identifies under the LGBTQ umbrella to come on out and walk in Stars Hollow’s first-ever gay pride parade. What follows is an awkward exchange that doesn’t totally find the right tone. (Forcing folks to out someone isn’t great, Stars Hollow.) Gypsy implies Taylor may be gay. Lorelai gets called out for eating. And Babette spills the beans about a secret Stars Hollow bar. Wait, what? We need to go to there. But mostly, Taylor is bummed that a movie starring A-list actors like Matthew McConaughey and Cate Blanchett is filming in nearby Woodbury, and therefore helping their economy instead of Stars Hollow’s. Their town is now stuck with the B-list folks staying at the Dragonfly, which is just fine by Lorelai.
NEXT: Mother-daughter therapy[pagebreak]
A week later, Lorelai and Emily have another therapy session that features laughter about some guy named Trombone Stan and one major revelation: Emily is still mad at Lorelai for running away when she got pregnant and believes that she wrote Emily a horrible note on her birthday. Lorelai has no memory of this note and insists she never wrote it. Some clunky foreshadowing, perhaps?
Lorelai tries to storm out of therapy just as the clock strikes “appointment over” and shuts Emily out of her brain until Luke gets a message from her, asking him to come over for dinner to discuss an “urgent matter.”
When they arrive, Emily tells Lorelai she and Rory, who showed up to sleep over before going to Chilton the next day, weren’t invited and delivers some surprising news to Luke: Before Richard’s death, he left Luke a whole bunch of money … with strings attached. The cash could only be used to expand and franchise Luke’s Diner. Anyone who knows Luke knows this is a horrible idea, something he would never want to do. But, have you ever tried saying no to Emily Gilmore? The night proceeds and pretty soon, Luke is looking at run-down restaurant spaces with Emily and her broker, Ida. (Again, more on that later.)
The next day, Rory and Paris head to Chilton’s alumni day to inspire some students wearing their old uniforms, walking their old halls. Ah, the nostalgia! We run into some old favorites — Francie, who’s still going to Puff reunions; “Tristan,” whom Paris still loves (and isn’t played by Chad Michael Murray); and Headmaster Charleston, who wants Rory to teach at Chilton.
It’s all a dreamy walk down school uniformed memory lane, until both Rory and Paris freak out about their lives back in Paris’ five-floor New York townhouse. We get a glimpse of her soon-to-be ex-husband Doyle (nice to see you, Danny Strong!), a screenwriter who is indeed wearing faded jeans and $200 band shirts, and their two cute kids.
Frustrated that she still hasn’t had her big Condé Nast meeting, Rory caves and calls Logan to ask him to have his father pull those strings for her. Pretty soon, she’s in 4 World Trade Center, meeting with GQ Editor-in-Chief Jim Nelson (played by Scandal’s Dan Bucatinsky) talking over stories about sports and “lines.” Are things starting to look up for Rory’s journalism career?
Yes and no: Naomi Shrompsher’s lawyer (oh hey, Jason Mantzoukas!) calls, saying he’s dissolving her contract and that the book is officially off. The message prompts Rory to phone Jim and demand the “lines” assignment. She’ll do it for free and knock their socks off, she says! Cue Rory’s anxiety-fighting tap dancing.
Things are also rocky back in Connecticut. Emily quits therapy, but Lorelai continues to go to their appointments, using them to talk about her issues with Luke and her family.
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During one session Lorelai relays some more details of Richard’s death: He had a heart attack — “a big one” — and he never got out of the ICU. “This is not how Richard Gilmore goes down!” Lorelai relays. Then his last words were directed at the nurses: “Get the hell away from me!”
While on a day of real estate hunting with Emily and Ida, Luke finds out about these solo sessions, and feels betrayed Lorelai didn’t tell him the truth. When he gets home, he asks her point blank how the therapy is going. Lorelai lies and tells him Emily still does all the talking. When she asks about his nice shirt — “Did you go to the bank?” — he says, yes, the bank. With these subtle lines, a cavern opens between them that only Luke knows about. The lying gates are open. What else are they keeping from one another?
Rory and Lorelai spend some much-needed one-on-one time together while Rory tries to tackle this “lines” assignment, queuing up for the “new cronut” at “Monique Aswell’s” bakery — a clear nod to New York-based cronut inventor Dominique Ansel — sick kicks at a shoe store, and video games at a collectibles shop. The best cameo so far comes here when Lorelai shares her “crodocake” — which I think sounds like a cross between a croissant, donut, and a cake — with Marcy, a.k.a. Mae Whitman, a.k.a. Lauren Graham’s daughter in Parenthood. Ah, how the TV gods aim to please.
NEXT: There’s no place like home[pagebreak]
Things go south for Rory, though, when she shows back up to her and Lorelai’s hotel proclaiming, “I slept with a Wookie!” That’s right. Thirty-two-year-old Rory has her first one-night stand after burgers and drinks at P.J. Clarke’s. Seeking reassurance from Lorelai doesn’t really work considering she, herself, never had a one-night stand. (“Mom at 16,” Lorelai explains. “Hot in Outlander, but elsewhere…”) Rory then spills the beans about Logan, admits her life may be falling apart, and agrees to call the website that’s been stalking her to work there, Sandy Says. It might be nice to stay in one place for a while, she decides.
But, Sandy Says disagrees. Though they’ve been after her for a year, Rory’s meeting with the CEO, Sandy, is a disaster. A hilarious parody of digital journalism — open-office floor plan, free Red Bull, plans to overtake The Huffington Post — Sandy asks Rory to pitch herself, something she wasn’t planning on doing at all considering they wanted her. Instead of walking into a cushy media job, Rory ends up screaming at Sandy, breaking her three phones into bits in the lobby and heading back to Stars Hollow.
“Moving home,” Rory proclaims, as she charges into Luke and Lorelai’s home.
And with that, springtime is over. A roller coaster of emotions and defeat written and directed by Dan Palladino, “Spring” houses some of the revival’s most devastating turns and confusing reveals. What will happen to Rory and Logan’s relationship? Will Luke and Lorelai overcome their betrayals? Will he actually begin to franchise Luke’s Diner? And, hey, when are we going to see Jess and Dean? More to come in “Summer” and “Fall,” but for now, we’ll just have to keep humming this ep’s closing song, the fittingly chosen “Pick Yourself Up” from Swing Time.
- Picnic Basket Auction: The annual spring charity basket auction is underway and Lorelai is nostalgic, bidding against herself to win Cassie’s Basket with Luke.
- Movie night at the Black, White, and Read bookshop: Kirk screens Eraserhead AND his own short film shot at Lorelai’s house without her knowledge. Just like in the original season, everyone brings food — or grills it on the spot! — even though they’re not supposed to.
- Rachael Ray: not even Rachael Ray’s sage advice and “soups and sammies” can convince those B-list actors to buy food at the Dragonfly Inn. Another pop-up chef is sent packing.
- Mae Whitman: Mae Whitman’s love for Gilmore Girls (and her Parenthood co-star and mother Lauren Graham) is well-documented, so her presence here is sheer delight.
- Francie: Emily Bergl reprises her role as Paris and Rory’s frenemy from Chilton, Francie. Yes, she’s still a Puff and yes, she still rubs that fact in Paris’ face.
- Doyle: Why cant he and Paris just work it out this once?!
- Tristan: We see you Tristan, bane of Rory’s existence, light of Paris’ life, but you look a little different… we demand a Chad Michael Murray cameo!
Episode grade: B
NEXT: Episode 3, “Summer”