Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life recap: Episode 1, Winter
Emily deals with the loss of Richard while Rory travels the world to find her next gig
I smell snow Gilmore!!! It’s been far too long since we last said goodbye to Stars Hollow and its many inhabitants, and there are no words to express my excitement as it’s finally time to see them all again. And more than that, I’m excited that I can say the first Gilmore Girls episode did not disappoint. It was chock-full of pop culture references, quirky story lines, heartfelt moments, and even a cameo or two.
So, let’s get to it!
The entire revival kicks off with a black screen as some of the original series’ most memorable lines play, starting with the first line of the pilot — Lorelai begging Luke for coffee — and including such highlights as “Oy with the poodles already” and “I love you, you idiot” before ending on Lorelai pronouncing, “I smell snow.”
Just like that, we’re back in a snowy Stars Hollow, but this time, it’s 2016. So while Lorelai and Rory meet up at the gazebo — Rory’s in town for a day before she’s back on a plane to London — they’re surrounded by people on iPhones taking selfies. Okay, raise your hand if you cried when Lorelai said, “I’ve missed you, kid.” Because I definitely did. And you have to give them props for throwing in a little wink to the fans when Lorelai asks how long it’s been and Rory says “Feels like years.” DOESN’T IT THOUGH?
From there, Lorelai takes Rory on a tour of the town, which features Taylor’s signs for his latest campaign: He’s petitioning that the town switch from septic tanks to a sewer line. Hopefully this one is more successful than the time they put parking meters in the town and then had to remove them because nobody paid (even though you know Kirk was willing to help tow).
When Rory gets a call on one of her many phones, she starts running around town trying to find reception, which eventually lands her in the produce section at Doose’s. Sadly, Miss Patty isn’t there to tell her to try a plum — they’re better than sex, you know — but Lane is there! She informs Rory that Zack got a promotion and is now the manager for The Roots, which apparently isn’t a good thing.
Meanwhile, back outside, Lorelai runs into Kirk, who is walking his new pet pig, Petal. (It seems he and Lulu mentioned maybe having a kid and the town chipped in to get them the pig in the hopes that it would buy them a few years.) Kirk, not surprisingly, is launching a new business, and this one is a ride-sharing company called Ooober. You simply call Kirk’s mother, she calls him, and boom, you’ve got a ride! No, it’s not at all like Uber because Kirk doesn’t have an app.
Once Rory makes her way back outside, Lorelai smells snow, and we get our first shot of Grant-Lee Phillips as the town troubadour while Rory and Lorelai make their way home, say hello to Paul Anka, and then say hello to a super proud Luke.
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Luke, who’s in the middle of making the girls dinner despite the fact that they’re eating tacos — what, you thought their metabolisms would’ve changed? — cannot get over the article that Rory wrote for The New Yorker. In fact, he subscribes now.
Leaving Luke in the kitchen, Lorelai and Rory head into Rory’s bedroom, which is filled with boxes from Rory’s Brooklyn apartment. As Rory puts it, “Lena Dunham will just have to get along without me.” Right now, Rory is excited about her chance to be “rootless” and travel wherever there’s a story to write. The only problem? She can’t find her underwear … or her lucky outfit, which she’s going to need for her Condé Nast interview.
Just then, Paul arrives at the door. No, not the dog. It seems Rory has been dating a guy named Paul for the past two years. But the real kicker? She barely remembers him. Then there’s Luke and Lorelai, who definitely don’t remember the poor guy that they’ve clearly met several times. Luke even took him on a fishing trip! (Yeah, this bit 100 percent worked for me I loved every moment of it.)
NEXT: An update on Sookie
After dinner, Luke and Lorelai get ready for bed, and we’re reintroduced to the dynamic we fell in love with all those years ago. She’s filled up their DVR with crappy Lifetime movies and Luke tolerates every second of it. But when Lorelai’s recurring dream about a horribly dirty bathroom wakes her in the middle of the night, she heads downstairs to discover Rory tap dancing — yes, you read that correctly! — in the kitchen.
Apparently, this is now Rory’s go-to activity for stress relief. So, considering neither of them can sleep, Rory and Lorelai grab some coffee and chat. Rory tells her mom that her piece for The Atlantic got bumped, and Lorelai updates her daughter on her stress dreams. It seems Lorelai has been feeling her mortality ever since Richard’s death. It all really started the moment someone left a brochure for a cruise at the inn and Lorelai – gasp! — found herself actually considering it. Then, she broke a hip. Just kidding. (Her joke, not mine.)
The next day, Luke’s back at the diner doing what he does best: Lying to his customers (making up multiple WiFi passwords) and dodging Taylor’s request for a septic tank testimonial. By the time Lorelai and Rory show up — they forgot poor Paul at the house — Luke is ready to show off his new menus, complete with Rory’s New Yorker piece printed on the back (along with a photo of her from when she was in high school).
Luke quickly prepares Rory her entire list of food — she has a plane to catch (and I wouldn’t want to be sitting next to her) — and by the time Paul catches up with them, the Gilmore girls are ready to move on to their next destination. It’s okay, Paul. Most people can’t keep up.
At the Dragonfly, we learn that Michel is married!!! He and Frederick tied the knot and now, Frederick wants children. Meanwhile, Sookie is apparently a year into a six-month sabbatical at Blue Hill Farm trying to discover new food-growing techniques or something while Lorelai keeps firing every chef they bring in to replace her (including Anthony Bourdain, who made the mistake of parking in Sookie’s spot).
Once Lorelai takes care of that, she makes her way to Hartford via Kirk’s Ooober — her Jeep is at Gypsy’s — which comes complete with a Brita filter and Kirk’s lovely rendition of “On Top of the World.”
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Rory arrives at the Gilmore house just a few minutes later, and together, Rory and Lorelai are introduced to the family that now lives in Emily’s house — mom is the maid, dad is the handyman, and the kids run around and play soccer. As for Emily, she wrongfully ordered a wall-sized painting of Richard, a mistake that launches her to yell at Lorelai about some speech at Richard’s funeral? Let’s back up, shall we?
As Lorelai fills Rory in, we get a flashback to Richard’s funeral. (Yes, I cried when I saw the Chuck Berry album.) But the biggest surprise of the funeral is a cameo by none other than Digger! He’s still around, and yes, he’s still in love with Lorelai. I mean, can you blame him?
As he tells her, “You look like the hottest Italian widow I’ve ever seen.” We then get a little background into how Richard died: Lorelai mentions that it was sudden and Emily didn’t have to watch him fade away. Jason then asks if Lorelai is happy. Yes, she is. Bye, Digger.
Okay, now to the part that made Emily mad: After Luke drives Rory to the airport, Lorelai sticks around and drinks her weight in scotch, a mistake she’ll come to regret when Emily decides that everyone should go around and share their favorite Richard story.
Lorelai, panicked and a little drunk, can only come up with two things: The time she was 10 and tried to play hide-and-seek with Richard and he left her in a steam trunk as he went on a business trip, and the time he walked in on her having sex at the age of 15. Not surprisingly, this leads to a Emily-Lorelai fight in the kitchen. (Pilot throwback, much?)
Emily tells Lorelai that she’s selfish — even accusing her of bull-dozing Luke’s wants — before she accuses Lorelai of not caring that Richard’s dead. So yeah, Emily kicks Lorelai out, and as Lorelai puts it, they come “full freakin’ circle.”
NEXT: The return of Paris
Back in present day, Rory’s all caught up, so the three of them start eating dinner. Correction, the four of them. (Kirk joins after his car broke down in the driveway, which prompts Luke to show up to drive them home.)
Over dinner, Emily can’t seem to get over the fact that Rory is 32 and living a “vagabond existence,” but Rory insists that she’s happy, and nobody else seems to have a problem with it.
After dinner, Luke drives Lorelai and Kirk home, where we get the first mention of April. She’s attending MIT and writing Luke letters that he has to translate. With that, Lorelai — no doubt hearing her mother’s voice in her head — asks if Luke ever wanted more kids. Luke reminds her that he brought it up once, but says that he’s happy. Lorelai, however, can only think that she doesn’t want him to miss out on anything. So…
She takes him shopping for a surrogate! And here’s the kicker: Dynasty Makers, the fertility and surrogacy clinic they visit, is run by Paris freakin’ Gellar, who is more than happy to help her “second mother” find the right candidate. However, Paris’ general personality is a bit much for Luke, and at the mention of Neil Patrick Harris using Paris’ service, Luke decides he needs a break. Maybe this isn’t right for them either. (They already ruled out adoption.)
Meanwhile in London, Rory’s meeting with a woman named Naomi who is looking to write her biography with Rory. But nobody cares about that when Rory is staying with LOGAN. AND THEY’RE KISSING. Apparently, the two of them have an arrangement that they like to call: “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. And when we leave Vegas, we forget about Vegas.” If I remember correctly, they tried this once, but I guess they’re older now? Either way, Logan has to get to work and Rory has to remember her dinner with Paul (so that she can finally break up with the poor guy).
The next day, Paris brings some of her top breeders by Luke’s diner — she’s the Pablo Escobar of the fertility world — for him to consider, but thankfully, Rory comes by to distract her. The bad news? Paris updates Rory on her DIVORCE from Doyle! The two of them have children, but apparently, Doyle decided to become a screenwriter, and Paris can’t deal with someone who drinks vodka because it has fewer carbs.
So while Luke finally caves and gives Taylor his septic tank testimonial, Paris and Rory head to Lane’s house, which used to be Sookie’s house. Rory’s looking for her lucky outfit, though it doesn’t seem she’ll need it considering her Condé Nast meeting has been pushed. As for Hep Alien, they’re still together. Another tidbit: Rory hasn’t told Lorelai about Logan. She tells her mother that she stayed with “DeeDee” while in London.
Not having heard from Emily, Lorelai swings by her mother’s house to check in on her, and what she finds is a house full of people boxing up and throwing away things. It seems Emily, who’s wearing a Candie’s T-shirt and a pair of Lorelai’s old jeans, is throwing out anything that doesn’t bring her joy – decluttering her life, if you will. Thankfully, Lorelai is there to remind her that nothing is going to bring her joy right now. Instead, Lorelai suggests Emily try therapy after she bailed on her grief group. And for once, Emily takes her daughter’s advice!
In fact, Emily loves her therapist so much, she wants Lorelai to attend with her. Lorelai, so excited that her mother took her advice, agrees before she can realize what she’s just agreed to: Lorelai is going to therapy with her mother. This should be fun.
As for everything else, Lorelai and Luke decide to tell Paris “no” to having a surrogate — though you can tell that conversation isn’t over yet — and Kirk had to shut down Ooober after he was contacted by Uber’s lawyers. Don’t worry, he’s just going to blame his brother Dirk.
Best Pop Culture References:
- “You’ve got more burners than Omar Little.” —Lorelai commenting on Rory’s many phones
- “I tell him he looks like a young Leonard Cohen, but he actually just looks like his dad.” —Lane on Zack’s work outfit
- “I thought there would be something fun in there like a treasure map or the prequel to Huckleberry Finn where Huck is a clan leader and terrified of water.” —Lorelai, who’s disappointed in Rory’s boxes of personal belongings
- “I’m looking for a bathroom and then I find one and it’s like the Eastern Promises steam room scene, only the stuff on the walls ain’t blood.” —Lorelai on her recurring “dirty bathroom” dream
- “You Spinal Tap-ped the painting.” —Lorelai commenting on how Emily gave the wrong measurements for her portrait of Richard
- “She’s Jack Kerouac. She’s On the Road-ing it.” —Lorelai on Rory’s rootless lifestyle
- “Apologize to your parents. Tell them you’ll pay them back for the two semesters you spent studying Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s effect on the feminist agenda.” —Paris to the employee she just fired
Best Return: I’m not going to lie: I was happier to see Digger than I expected, but I think this one goes to Kirk. He hasn’t changed at all, and I love him for it.
All in all, it was a charming return to Stars Hollow that made me both laugh and cry. And more than anything, it reminded me of just how much I missed this place.
Episode Grade: B+
NEXT: Episode 2, “Spring”