”Gilmore Girls”: Road trip!
So that’s what a good episode of Gilmore Girls looks like! Honestly, folks, I was beginning to forget how much fun this show can be, what with the weeks upon weeks of deadly plotlines involving impromptu marriages in Paris and meet-cutes at the local swimming pool. Has Stars Hollow finally regained its twinkle?
I’ll admit I wasn’t so sure at first. After a just-fine opening segment that featured Lorelai and Rory gabbing away about homework and moon pies in a boutique dressing room where the soon-to-be Yale grad was trying on interview suits, we cut to Logan grumbling about Rory’s shower waking him up. (Seriously, dude? You’re going to complain that her shower disturbed your sleep?) Then he announced his plans for the day: to do a whole lotta nuthin’ with those exemplars of trust-fund entitlement Colin and Finn. Uh-oh, I thought. This is going to be a long night: Logan will slack and sulk and Rory will turn the other rosy cheek to it all. But then the girl showed that, contrary to recent displays of psychological and physical slouchiness, she does in fact have a spine! She called Logan out for being a jerk and stormed out of his pad. She even refused to cave when he later showed up at her friend’s wedding, expecting immediate forgiveness. Good for you, Rory!
And hurray that the recently lovelorn Lorelai also got her groove back. At the Gilmore ranch, she greeted her velour-jogging-suit-clad pops as only she could: ”Nice threads. Having lunch with Tony Soprano?” (It was the first time I’ve actually laughed out loud during GG in ages.) I’ve been enjoying seeing Lorelai and Emily flirt with emotional closeness lately (remember Mama Gilmore’s unwieldy but wonderful canoe metaphor?), and last night’s ep took the relationship exploration a step further, sending the mother-daughter-granddaughter trio on a road trip to North Carolina. In the car, Lorelai wanted the window open, Emily didn’t. Open, closed, open, closed. It was a funny little push-and-pull that encapsulated the duo’s vexed dynamic. Then Emily popped in a CD of show tunes. Of course Emily would play show tunes. And of course, when the gals stopped for a meal at a Denny’s-like diner called Winky’s, of course Emily ordered a glass of chardonnay, specifying to the waitress, ”That’s the clear one.” Oh, Emily, how we love your blue-blood comedy!
But the best stuff came in North Carolina, where Mia, the woman who became a maternal figure to teenage Lorelai and baby Rory back in the day, was getting married. The great Kelly Bishop has never had an off night — especially this season — and her work in this episode was particularly terrific. A subtly stern face was all she needed to convey Emily’s discomfort at seeing her daughter and granddaughter reunited with the woman who once replaced her. (Well, that and a biting remark about the size of Mia’s ”charming” house.) Even stone-faced Emily couldn’t hide the pain she felt after Mia proclaimed that she had not a single bad memory from her days of looking after Lorelai and Rory. With a hint of envy, Emily replied, ”Lucky you.” (Nice to see journeywoman actress Kathy Baker turn up in Gilmore Land as Mia.)
What was really going on in this episode was anxiety. Lorelai worried about being separated from her daughter after she graduated from Yale. Rory fretted that her mother and grandmother would drift apart — or, rather, further apart — after she got her diploma and could no longer play regular intermediary. And Emily, bless her, silently agonized about all three of them keeping contact. Which made the final scene all the more touching: Three generations of Gilmore women sat on the edge of the Day’s Inn bed, snacking on vending-machine junk food and watching The Pursuit of Happyness on pay-per-view. (Who knew Emily had a thing for Will Smith?)
As far as I’m concerned, the entire hour could have been devoted to such effortlessly natural scenes with the ladies. Because the rest of it kind of felt like filler — an indication that the writers are still struggling to balance out the secondary characters’ story lines. Now, I don’t dislike Luke, and I’m starting not to mind Zack so much, but their sequences left me yawning. That is, until Zack compared his due-any-day-now wife Lane to a ”piñata waiting for a kid to take a mallet to her stomach and free all the goodies inside.” That certainly woke me up — and promptly freaked me out. Note to writer David Babcock: Jokes about beating up pregnant women are never funny.
And with that, I’ll sign off and hand the Gilmore Girls TV Watch back to my colleague Karen Valby, who will resume duty when the show returns on April 10.
What do you think, TV Watchers? Are you proud of Rory for telling Logan to grow up and making him sweat it out a little before forgiving him? Since Logan has quit the Huntzberger biz, what will be his next move? Do you think last night’s Emily-Lorelai-Rory story line is hinting at a series finale? And I know this is TV chronology and all, but was Lane in labor for all of five seconds?