It Turns Out That The Worst Season Of Gilmore Girls Is Still A Season Of Gilmore Girls
It took the entire run of the series to figure it out, but your Marathon Diarist now knows the star of Gilmore Girls was Stars Hollow all along.
As it had been explained to me by both the internet and actual carbon-based life forms, the final season of Gilmore Girls was a mess without its creator Amy Sherman-Palladino, a far cry from what the previous six years had given its fandom, a simulacrum of itself. I was reminded of this fairly early in this past week's viewing when Kirk had made an eerily faithful copy of Luke's diner on his own (with liquor license), and Danny Pudi -- who, through no fault of his own, was a part of the most infamous "gas year" season of TV ever -- came out of nowhere for two episodes. There were also plenty of moments that reminded me of earlier, better scenes from the show.
But ultimately, I just felt sad that my time at Stars Hollow was coming to an end. I've read the behind-the-scenes info: at the wrap party for the Season 7 finale, "Bon Voyage," the cast felt "50/50" about the show returning, and if so, for a final 13-episode victory lap. Yet, with the writers deciding not to cryogenically freeze Rory and, instead, letting her actually graduate from Yale brings with it all an air of finality.
What I'm trying to say is two things:
- I was relieved and pleasantly surprised to see that, if the Netflix miniseries wasn't going to happen, at least there was some closure to the series anyway.
- Season 7 wasn't that bad.
Season 7, Episodes 1-9
Lorelai and Christopher get hitched. Who can resist the lure of Paris with a suddenly rich man, after all? Let me be the one millionth person to complain about this doomed marriage, but one of the few to follow that sentiment by once again pointing out that, in some way, at least we get to see exactly how a Lorelai and Christopher marriage would play out. Had this not occurred, there would no doubt be some viewers who would think Christopher never got a fair shot.
What's interesting to me is that the show doesn't really give him a chance to be liked, even when he gets some redemption. Consider all the times Luke has a triumphant moment compared to Christopher's. When we first met Rory's father and we didn't quite know what to think of him, other than that he's witty and drives a motorcycle so Lorelai's former attraction makes sense, there was that painful scene where he tries to buy Rory the Oxford English Dictionary only for his credit card to get declined. Even though he only got his money upon the death of a grandfather, I would have thought that, when it permits him to pay for Rory's college education, it would be a more satisfying reversal. And when Christopher uses his money to open up the restaurant in Paris for himself and his starving, jet-lagged lover, it doesn't feel romantic, nor does it feel earned. His largesse also gets the Yale Daily News staff drunk at an inopportune time. And when he ruins the Stars Hollow knitting festival by coming up with the needed bridge funds himself, it finally proves that the guy has inherited cursed money.
It's tragic to think Christopher will spend his days thinking he was doomed never to get the timing right, always just chasing someone who couldn't love him as much as he loved her. Then again, the latter is probably just as crappy as the former, and his face is kind of punchable.
That Lane, daughter of Mrs. Kim, could get impregnated after having sex exactly once is enough of an ironic storytelling turn reminiscent of the show's past that it's forgivable for Hep Alien to be sidetracked, possibly for good. The storyline also gives us the scene where Lane tries to get Rory to admit she was in on the whole "sex feels good" conspiracy, and showed all of Zach's positive qualities.
I did notice, or at least was conditioned to pay strong attention to, a languidity to some scenes in these episodes. In seasons past, the slower pace would occur in just the first couple of episodes -- the ones that took place over the summer, when the less hurried dialogue and editing made more sense. There was also a gross rehash of an earlier plot. "The Big Smell" consisted of a C-story which went nowhere about a horrible smell in town, resulting from pickles rotting in the sun in a nearby town. A much better way to get the town to stink would be if Kirk hid eggs from kids for Easter a little too well and a task force was necessary to find them. Which is what happened in Season 4's "Tick, Tick, Tick, Boom."
I'm going to miss the Yale Daily News stuff -- I thought Season 6's "You've Been Gilmored" had a particular energy to it when Rory and Logan had to rally to get the paper published -- but it was already established with Doyle that the editor-in-chief had to abdicate the title before second term senior year, so out you go, Rory. I also miss Finn and Colin, who provided their own random energy that inexplicably wasn't out of place. That those two never met Madeline and Louise is a damn travesty.
Season 7, Episodes 10-16
Instead, we get to see ol' sad sack Marty, for no good reason. He pretends to not know his old crush Rory when his girlfriend, Liz (Krysten Ritter, in another nice casting surprise thanks to my awful memory) introduces the two, which leads to a pointless argument that gives us the smallest of dramas: the friend Rory just made her senior year of college isn't talking to her over something that was completely her boyfriend's fault. To be fair to this final season, this was all reminiscent of the equally stupid rift the long-forgotten Francie made between Rory and Paris in Season 3. What probably made this little arc offensive to all types of arcs was how Logan and Rory even have a boring, long, conversation in the Yale cafeteria where Logan says Rory should just come clean, Rory has no argument, and then doesn't do it anyway.
I know that Melissa McCarthy was actually pregnant for the final season, and therefore Sookie's third pregnancy makes sense, but how the hell did Jackson get out of that vasectomy? A large nurse took him away to get the snip-snip moments after Sookie delivered their second kid. It was pretty funny, so I remember and everything.
I never thought I would type this, but there isn't enough Taylor Doose this year. His absence makes me appreciate his function as the guy the town can bond over in their harmless hatred.
Lorelai and Christopher are officially over. For good. Definitely. Probably. Again, the writers could have simply condensed their dating and short marriage into one episode if they really wanted to, instead of half of the final season. I'll give credit where credit is due, though: the last few minutes of "Farewell, My Pet" are pretty killer. I like that Sookie asks an excellent hypothetical that shuts the door on Christopher forever (probably): if Luke never existed, is Christopher still "the one"? And of course, he isn't. We all know this now -- even Christopher -- but then Lauren Graham sells the shit out of it, saying through tears that she wanted him to be the man she wanted.
Lorelai's letter for April's custody hearing is the final straw for Christopher (besides his wife not loving him.) Luke's full-fledged fight over partial custody for his daughter is a welcome distraction from the Lorelai business in his life, as well as his time with his sister and convincing "pinhead" Kirk to not end it with Lulu. Lorelai's "character reference" is touching, and not just because she didn't make a single joke in it. It's still weird that in a letter outlining all the ways Luke is great father material, Jess isn't mentioned once. Luke turned that rapscallion into a published author!
Season 7, Episodes 17-22
This might be an example of how the show lost most of its wit in Season 7, but I don't really care. Yanic Truesdale's accent is the key behind why this was one of the funniest exchanges in Gilmore Girls ever had, as far as I'm concerned:
Michel: Oh! Whatever.
Sookie: Michel, people stopped saying "whatever" like two years ago.
Michel: Whatever. I'm outtie 5,000.
I liked the final stretch run, and love the finale. It's a joy to finally get the Stars Hollow residents involved in the activities. Pregnant Lane getting prescribed bedrest leads to The Monkees-inspired bed dash down the road to the bridal shower at Miss Patty's.
It feels like the first grand physical comedy bit the show had done in awhile. Two episodes later came "Hay Bale Maze," an episode where Taylor in his most megalomaniacal plot yet turns the entire town into a hay maze, and the town ends up not hating it. Further sealing its inclusion into the discussion of the great episodes in Gilmore Girls history is how much Logan enjoys the town's hijinks, in a non-condescending way. The only negative is Logan and Lorelai's conversation, where, as I often noticed in this final season, a character spells out what past seasons would slyly intimate, when his walking away from his father's money makes Logan similar in temperament to Lorelai. We could have figured that out, thanks.
Rory turns down Logan's marriage proposal. Good. I'm Team Logan, and I like that his ultimatum to Rory of marriage or a break-up makes him more like Lorelai than he realizes. It wouldn't be consistent for the two to be married -- at least, not when Rory just graduated from college, with Lorelai as her mother and closest friend. (Lorelai's refusal to offer an opinion on what Rory's answer should be is conveniently both a sign of maturity and cockiness that she taught Rory enough to assume she would say no.)
The decision also sets up "Bon Voyage," a great "series finale" that hones in on the main relationship of the show -- Lorelai and Rory -- and Stars Hollow, their extended family. When Rory suddenly gets a gig as a journalist on Senator Barack Obama's campaign bus, the Great Roller Coaster Summer Tour '07 is cancelled, and Luke scrambles to give Rory a farewell party. (I'm assuming this May 2007 episode of television was the origin of the "Thanks, Obama!" meme?) Once she hears of his efforts, Lorelai walks right up to Luke's lips. This is the ten thousandth time Luke has shown he loves Rory like she is his own child; it's kind of weird to say, but this is the time he truly is the personification of the town that fell for Lorelai and embraced her for her true, wisecracking self. While pulling off a backwards baseball cap, no less.
There was a bit of everything in "Bon Voyage": Christiane Amanpour, saving season seven from recording a shutout in cool, decidedly non-CW/WB cameos. Emily remaining true to herself (but not too true to herself) until the end, undercutting what otherwise would have been a too schmaltzy speech from Richard about how Stars Hollow's admiration for Rory was a testament to Lorelai and the life she built there (it was still sweet anyway), and her sudden interest in adding a domed tennis court at the Dragonfly Inn being such a transparent attempt at continuing Friday night dinners you couldn't blame Lorelai that much for saying she'll keep going anyway. One last grandiose physical bit, with the townsfolk starting to set up the tables and chairs after dark before realizing Lorelai and Rory were right behind them.
Finally, in the most lazy, yet emotionally manipulative series finales trope of them all, there's the concluding scene of the series mirroring a scene from the pilot.
In that case, Lorelai and Rory had their last cup of coffee (and eggs, and bacon, and hashbrowns, and pancakes) at Luke's, just like the concluding scene in the first episode that remained at the end of the opening credit sequence throughout the series, camera pulling back to give us a view from the street. At the end of the first episode, after we got to know a little bit about the Gilmores and Stars Hollow, we heard Kit Pongetti welcoming us to this little corner of the world. It was a really confident way to end a first impression. I can only imagine what it sounded like in October 2000. Welcome / We know you'll be back / We're like a fun Mayberry / or Twin Peaks without the murder!
For "Bon Voyage," it's music coordinator Sam Phillips's gentlest "La La" song of all time. Or the most taunting. Nailed the landing / No more episodes for you / Check out Pawnee a year from now / Good luck convincing your friends to watch us / We're niche as fuck
I don't have an ex-fiancé to make up with, nor a perfect song or cue handy to wrap up this marathon diary, so I'll just say I enjoyed these last two months of slowly realizing how I cheated myself out of some entertaining laughter, heartbreak, and hating Chad Michael Murray over the past eight years. And if I don't like everything that happens the next time I see our girls -- excuse me, our women -- and the Stars Hollow gang, at least we can blame its reinstalled creator. Together. As the quirky little town of critics we are.
Episodes Left To Watch
Roger's Gilmore Girls Marathon Diary
In advance of Netflix's 'Gilmore Girls' revival, Roger Cormier takes his very first trip to Stars Hollow and tells us all about it.
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