''Gilmore Girls'': Christopher reads the letter
It doesn't quite seem fair that the unraveling of Christopher and Lorelai began with a cutely bland opener in which Rory and her two parents bonded outside the big house, concocting schemes to ditch their napkins of unchewed quail. Doesn't quite seem fair that Kelly Bishop only showed up for that one little scene either, but them's the breaks.
But before I splash around in the romantic puddle that has become Gilmore Girls, I'm going to skip to the real stars of this episode: Paris and Sookie, two of my favorite women on TV (joining my dream softball team of Lorelai, SVU's Olivia Benson, 30 Rock's Liz Lemon, The Office's Pam, Project Runway's scary-sexy Nina Garcia, Bailey from Grey's Anatomy love the SAG speech! and that terrifically bitchy receptionist on Ugly Betty).
Paris! May we all be lucky enough to have a friend like Paris, who, when worried about her own future, makes us our own gigantic placard charts so we too can cover the bases, who steers us toward oceanography for the hell of it, and who, when we're feeling bruised by somebody's brittle cold shoulder, will stand up in the cafeteria, make a killer Heathers reference, and stomp over to push that cold shoulder around. Paris, who I'd rather have as a friend than milkmaid Rory or that pelican Lucy, gave Lucy a blunt talking-to about her junior high rejection of pure-of-heart Rory. And, just like that, all was forgiven. Rory is officially again infallible. And, however dopey this whole nondrama has been (was Marty really just called back for that?), I'll take it, for the chance to have seen Paris so stubbornly defend her friend.
Sookie! I've always thought Sookie was an underused character, too often relegated to a minor scene starring a tray of bruschetta or a cutting board of bell peppers. Melissa McCarthy, a whiz at physical comedy, really got a chance to shine last night, and she was the only character who gave me a couple laughs. I liked the whole bit of her trying on the sweaters, and loved her little flouncy dismissal of that third sweater's ruffled collar. I got a good chuckle when she gave Jackson that throwaway raspberry for ''letting'' her check on her children after he refused her a drink at lunch and a run on the slopes. And I hung on her every word after she found out that Jackson shirked on the whole vasectomy thing and she wailed to Lorelai about the impossibility of changing another baby's diapers. Lorelai eased her out of meltdown mode and ended up, after all that warm fuzzy talk about babies falling asleep on your chest and looking up at you mystified from the bathtub, leaving me feeling drunk for a baby of my own. (That might have been my second Shiner Bock talking, though.)
I enjoyed those couple scenes, but otherwise I thought this was a pretty limp episode, full of flat writing (Rory: ''I'm not buttering you up.'' Grandfather: ''Oh ho ho, I thought I smelled butter.'') and awkward, sitcom-y scene shifts (the judge is for some reason reading the character reference aloud hey, now Christopher is reading the letter!). And no good pop-culture references. There were muffin tops begging for a Seinfeld joke, but instead the best we got was a lame Sue Grafton gag.
I've pretty much emotionally shut down on the whole love triangle, although thumbs up to Lauren Graham's acting. There's something desperately sad about the way her face can go from beaming enthusiasm to a sagging, nagging look of panic. It happened during her and Christopher's tense moment over Luke's coffee, and again when she walked into the kitchen, buoyant after baby fantasizing with Sookie, and realized that her notepad with Luke's letter was on the table. And David Sutcliffe gets a high five this week as well. As much as we've been abruptly steered out of his camp the past few episodes, he wasn't just being a big baby when he blew up at her. ''Is our marriage for you just basically marking time?'' he demanded. It's a good question that we viewers should be asking ourselves as well. If the scenes for next week are to be believed (Richard's heart-attack scare intensifies, and Luke shows up to the hospital ready to be of use while bratty Christopher remains AWOL), weren't we viewers just marking 12 episodes before the inevitable Luke-Lorelai romance reaches its crescendo? I, for one, feel used.
Finally, Richard! Yes, he got the lamest line of the night (see above butter reference), but I did not like seeing him slump over his lectern like that. And poor Rory, just sitting there like a lump. (What's with me knocking Rory lately? I swear I like her, but she's been so blah lately. Hell for me would be being locked in a room with the new namby-pamby Rory and Renée Zellweger. Renée will squint at me from behind her slits and Rory will gape with those salad-plate baby blues, and the three of us will just sort of fake grin and nod at each other.) Anyways, I'm ready for waterworks next week when Lorelai and her mother see each other at the hospital.
But what did you think? Weren't you touched by Paris' fierce display of loyalty? Is Anna the most ridiculous mega-bitch on TV? Even if you are the staunchest Luke lover, did you feel for Christopher at all? Are he and Lorelai done for good? And finally, do you agree that no matter how much you like Diane Keaton and Lauren Graham, a Mandy Moore movie is just not in your future?