On ''Gilmore Girls,'' Lorelai and Christopher seem the perfect couple at parents' weekend, while Luke has a dating nightmare with a swim coach

By Karen Valby
November 08, 2006 at 05:00 AM EST

”Gilmore Girls”: Parents’ weekend, single hell

Luke really got stuck in the toilet this episode. While Lorelai and Christopher swanned over to Yale for parents’ weekend, looking every bit the dream couple suctioned at the slim, perfect hip, Luke was stuck fending off a verbal assault from clueless Kirk about how he’s a free agent, a slave to no master. (”No one cares if you come home at three in the morning,” Kirk, a man who must now be shot, prattled. ”No one cares if you eat dessert for dinner. No one cares. No one cares what you do or where you go.”) Or Luke was plunking his face in the water at a high school pool learning how to blow bubbles for that creepy Coach Bennett. (That said, he sure can wear a pair of swim trunks, and that tattoo on his right bicep should get a show of its own.) Or he was marooned on a booth bench at a vegan restaurant with said creepy swim lady dodging soul-deadening bad-date questions like ”Who would play you in the Luke Danes movie — alive or dead?” Lorelai gets to run off with her true love, and Luke is left with a bad Marlene Dietrich wannabe. Life really isn’t fair, is it? But he did get to come home after his date to pizza and TV with dear April, who incidentally spent the night at Luke’s apartment hanging out with Lane. The Lane we have yet to hear from since word dropped about her pregnancy and the Lane who we still don’t feel remotely caught up on by episode’s end. Sorry, Lane, maybe we’ll catch up with you at the baby shower that Rory may or may not throw for you, as it’s unclear whether you are or aren’t friends anymore.

At Yale, Christopher, in a well-intentioned show of generosity, invites the staff of the Daily News for a fancy French lunch. As much as I’d like to think there’s a couple of rubes floating about on moneyed Ivy League campuses, the dopey lines coming out of these young actors’ mouths were ridiculous. (”That restaurant’s so fancy I hear they match the napkins to your outfit!” ”I’ve never had crème brûlée before!”) At least Rory and Lorelai got to sit next to each other, marveling at their awkward lunch and Christopher’s relentless attempts to insinuate himself into his daughter’s world by plying her friends with rich food and wine and strange promises of a ski weekend. But the kids had to miss the dessert course when news reached them that there was some kind of high-octane political protest that involved students in Condoleezza Rice masks. Rory snapped to attention, showing a teasing glimmer of her old moxie, and marshaled her troops to order. Special shout-out to poor Joanie, whose drowsy ”I’m a little tipsy” gave me a good chuckle. Christopher later apologized to Lorelai for going overboard with the cool-dad act and bemoaned the fact that he missed out on Rory’s entire childhood. Lorelai shushed his litany of regrets and assured him that he could make up for his absence when Rory has her midlife crisis. And. Then. She. Said. ”The best part is we get to deal with it together.” Lorelai? Slap yourself quick and make a joke about Kevin Federline or something because sappy sentiments never used to dribble out of your mouth like that.

If that wasn’t goofy enough, scenes for next week’s Paris episode came limping to us under the bombastic weight of Nickelback’s ”Far Away.” I’m not saying there isn’t something catchy about the song, but it’s catchy in the way that high school graduation songs are uniting or Dave Matthews at last call is stirring. It’s obvious. A song like that clamps down on you and tries to pressure you into feeling. Lorelai would rather have the Whiffenpoofs move into Rory’s old room than let a band like that serve as background to her romance. And a very special episode called ”The Proposal”? And to make sure we turned away from the TV not just cowed but writhing in the fetal position, we went straight from that to think bubbles floating over the Aerie Girls’ empty heads. For the love of all that is good and right in a thinking woman’s life, make it stop.

In that vein, there have been bursts of lament on the message boards from folks who don’t understand what has happened to their girls, girls who used to communicate mostly in rapid-fire witticisms about their rich internal lives, and their show, which used to be a deep portrait of both a fiercely loyal and independent mother-daughter team and the strange, serene place they call home. Assuming that this episode left them grasping for the hand of someone who could commiserate with them in their confusion, I direct them to New York Times TV critic Virginia Heffernan’s shrewd and loving and mournful study of Gilmore Girls without Amy Sherman-Palladino at the helm. Heffernan sounds like she’s had enough, but I still have too much invested in the chops and charm of Lauren Graham and Kelly Bishop (best scene of the night hands down was Lorelai pretending she was talking to Emily’s answering machine despite her mother’s caterwauling into the phone), the warmth of Sookie’s character, and the steadiness of Luke’s to call it quits. And as I’ll be here all season, I hope there’s a whole lot of you, and that includes all you Logan defenders, who’ll stick it out with me.

But what did you think? Will Luke be subjected to further unspeakable humiliations next week? Does the sight of Lorelai and Christopher linking arms or holding hands in every single shot warm your cockles or tickle your gag reflexes? Rory, with or without bangs? And, once more with feeling, Nickelback?

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