As what seems like most of the Stars Hollow population prepares to descend upon the ATX Festival, Gilmore Girls fans may find themselves rewatching an episode or two (or 50) in anticipation of the cast reunion.
So, to emotionally prepare you for all of the nostalgic references, teases about whether or not we’ll finally get that movie, and other incredible reunion moments, EW has chosen five episodes to watch in anticipation of the festival.
These episodes should help fans relive some of the best moments between actors who will be on the panel. But of course, if you need more, EW already recommended some of the show’s best episodes for when it made its Netflix debut.
1. “Forgiveness and Stuff” (Season 1, Episode 10)
One of many amazing Gilmore Girls Christmas episodes, “Forgiveness and Stuff” is a classic example of the show’s ability to blend drama and comedy with impressive skill. An episode focused on Richard’s (the late, great Edward Herman) heart attack at a Christmas party, “Forgiveness” can have you hurting from laughter one minute and moved to tears the next. Once he wakes up, Richard and Emily share an incredible scene that immediately underscores why the audience can love characters whom Lorelai dreads so passionately. It’s also one of the first big episodes to push Lorelai and Luke closer together, as he patiently waits in the hospital with the Gilmores. And even if it’s a little weird, his Santa burger is still a memorable token of just how much Luke cares.
2. “They Shoot Gilmores, Don’t They?” (Season 3, Episode 7)
Fine, maybe we’re doubling up from our previous list—but it would be a crime not to mention season 3’s “They Shoot Gilmores, Don’t They?” It’s a fantastic snapshot of Jess and Dean battling (knowingly or not) for Rory’s affections. Centering the struggles between Jess and Dean on a 24-hour dance marathon elevates the tension in a whirlwind episode that never misses a step. It’s also a great showcase for the non-Gilmore denizens of Stars Hollow, including the power-mad Taylor and the ever-disapproving Mrs. Kim. “They Shoot Gilmores” is Gilmore Girls at some of its best and deserves a mention on just about any “Best of” list.
3. “Those Are Strings, Pinocchio” (Season 3, Episode 22)
It’s nearly impossible not to cry during “Those Are Strings, Pinocchio,” the season 3 finale that sees Rory’s time at Chilton come to an end and Lorelai and Sookie consider chasing their dreams. The episode culminates in one of the series’ most beautiful moments, as Rory gives a graduation speech that leaves Lorelai, Rory, Sookie, and Jackson (and likely the viewer) blubbering messes. The speech encapsulates Rory and Lorelai’s relationship—and child/parent relationships in general—which, really, is at the heart of what made viewers fall in love with this show.
4. “The Festival of Living Art” (Season 4, episode 7)
As important as Lorelai and Rory’s relationship is to Gilmore Girls, the town of Stars Hollow is just as essential. “The Festival of Living Art” is one of the finer examples of the town’s population coming together for a silly but wonderful event: a series of Living Art tableaus. From giving Kirk a spotlight as the organizer to Lane’s band to Luke’s love life, the episode casts a wide, quirky net. And really, it’s just a great excuse to watch our beloved Stars Hollowians (Hollowites? Hollowvians?) in ridiculous costumes.
“Raincoats and Recipes” (Season 4, Episode 22)
The season 4 finale is great for many reasons, but the first thing most fans will associate with it is that Luke and Lorelai finally kiss. Yes, four seasons in—it’s been such a long time since “Forgiveness and Stuff”—Luke and Lorelai finally take the plunge. But the episode is not a completely happy affair. Years after their relationship was in full swing, Rory and Dean’s romance is rekindled, despite one big problem—Dean is still married to Lindsay. Happiness and heartache juxtaposed makes for another incredible finale.
And before the cast reunion this weekend, watch Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel discuss the show for EW’s Reunion Issue in 2010.