The ”Gilmore Girls” series finale gets it right
I was prepared to be disappointed. I bet a lot of you were too. And I got nervous there in the beginning, after that hammy introduction of Rory to her hero Christiane Amanpour. Really? Would a journalist of her stature really be impressed by a stammering elf in a cute dolly tee and jogging pants? That’s all it takes to get Christiane’s business card? But that’s it from me today. That’s the last time I’ll roll my eyes at season 7. Because, and I don’t think I’m being overly sentimental here, last night really was a dandy.
At Friday Night Dinner — am I in this post-Gilmore Girls world going to have to start a Friday Night Dinner club? — Emily is crabby that Rory missed cocktail hour to network instead. She wants after-dinner drinks as payback. Lorelai blanches. But when Rory trots in with news that she’ll be leaving in three days to start following Barack Obama on the campaign trail (Hollywood loves Barack! Don’t hold it against him!), everyone kind of crumples in their seat. Lorelai does an admirable job of pushing her panic aside and is sweetly firm and confident in her daughter’s ability to rise to the challenge. Who cares if their month-long roller-coaster adventure is now toast? Her daughter has to get on the bus! This scene may have been the first time this season that Rory has shown any of the spunk and quiet grit of seasons past. Maybe that little girl in the strange purple top will make it after all! Emily, on the other hand, looks sucker-punched at the idea of losing her granddaughter, and thus her hold on Lorelai, so soon. But then Lorelai soothes her by saying, ”After-dinner drinks for sure.” I wanted to cry tonight. I’m crying!
With Rory so suddenly employed, there’s no time to plan the graduation-reenactment party. She and Lorelai have fanny packs and book lights (miss you, Paris!) to find. So Luke takes it upon himself to plan the surprise party that the town needs to feel good about sending Rory off into the world. There’s a brilliant moment with Miss Patty sticking her face out of her darkened studio doors, telling Lorelai she’s communing with her muse and can’t be bothered. Cut to a cowering line of Stars Hollow’s finest inside. Later, Luke, so strangely full of go-get-‘em pep, cuts off Taylor’s caterwauling and spurs everyone into action. Kirk offers to DJ. Oh, Captain K, what I’d do for one of your college mixtapes. (Speaking of Kirk, check out Mandi Bierly’s most excellent conversation with Sean Gunn, who shared his top 10 Kirk moments from the last seven seasons.) In one of the night’s funnier scenes, Babette comes careening into the town square, her arms waving in front of her like a zombie having a spaz attack, warning Luke of her swollen ankles. Her hair is 50/50, but the ankles don’t lie. It’s going to rain, and the party will be a washout. I know there’s a lot of Christopher fans out there, as well as fans of the ”don’t mess with Luke and Lorelai’s friendship” formula. But how not to think that she’d be in good hands with a man who stays up all night in his diner sewing together patches of fabric so her daughter’s party won’t be ruined. It took me years, but I’m a believer. Marry the guy.
Rory, meanwhile, has ducked out from under her mother’s perky wing to say goodbye to Lane. Unsurprisingly, the scene was unfulfilling. These two have drifted, and those actors aren’t going to sell lines like ”I don’t know what it’s like to have a sister, but I feel like I do, you know?” Suck on that, Gigi! Back at home, Lorelai’s on an ironing binge to stave off her frantic sense of loss. When Rory gooses her for some emotion, Lorelai’s chin starts puckering, and she insists she’s not ready to get sad. It’s too soon, and they’ve got 36 more hours, and oh my, I can’t handle this. I wish I owned an ironing board. In a relationship defined by quick wit and banter, thank you, writers, for the quiet, devastating moment when Lorelai checks on her sleeping daughter. The la-la-la music was at its achiest, and Lorelai was in a hoodie, and she was pulling up Rory’s blanket, and the chin was going, and not a word was spoken.
I thought nothing could top the oomph of that moment, but when Lorelai and Rory drove up the next day and saw the town clutching pinwheel umbrellas, gathered together under a makeshift tent, my own chin started getting a little crumbly. Why don’t I iron? Thank you, Kirk, for lightening the mood! ”Rory, in my official capacity as town sash presenter,” he says, ”I would like to present you with this sash,” and then he tells Lorelai that he ”got the material from one of mother’s nighties” Love it!
My composure left my living room when the camera turned to the grandparents standing alone on the edge of the party. So vulnerable, those two! Poor Emily can’t stop with the fussy routine, which we all know means that she’s cracking a little inside and that sneer is all she’s got to protect her. Richard, building on his kind words to Lorelai last week at graduation, is turning into one giant-size, bow-tied teddy bear. He starts praising Lorelai for the love and devotion she earned in Stars Hollow and acknowledging his own regrets before Emily cuts the loving off quick: ”Oh, please don’t become one of those ‘I had a heart attack, let me express my every thought’ types.” Nice try, Emily, not buying it! Later, she corners Lorelai and needles her again about adding on a spa element to the Dragonfly. See, they’ll lend her money, and of course they’ll have to get together every now and then to discuss the project, but it’s really for the good of the inn. Lorelai finally gets it and announces that they can discuss the matter further over the next Friday Night Dinner. They’re alive and well! And the way Kelly Bishop unclenched her jaw and shoulders, the way her whole being visibly softened upon news that she would not lose whatever tenuous tether she had to her daughter, was just terrific. And then she snapped back to Emily Gilmore. ”Don’t be late and don’t wear jeans!” Those two will go down as one of my favorite mother-daughter relationships in TV history.
And then we came to the line where a sob surprised me by shooting up my esophagus and exploding in the back of my throat. The grandparents are saying goodbye to Rory, and Emily gets all serious for a second and grabs Rory’s arm and tells her, ”It’s an honor to be your grandmother, Rory Gilmore.” After typing that, I’m thinking, well, is that little line, a throwaway on paper, really what made a bomb go off in my mouth? But the delivery was moving without being mushy, and I remain for life a sucker for Kelly Bishop.
Cheers for the graceful wrap-up of the endlessly frustrating Luke and Lorelai story. When Lorelai hears that it wasn’t Sookie who planned the whole affair, that it was Luke who stayed up all night sewing a patchwork tent of raincoats, well, what’s a girl to do but march across that same street that knocked them on their asses so many times and smooch the guy. I bet many fans will feel cheated that they got but a second of that long-awaited kiss before the camera panned off to focus on the town square. I loved it. I loved that we got to see them reconcile without a lot of words, and that whatever romance they cook up is now their business alone. I don’t want to see him giving her a necklace and promising to make babies that very night. I want her wearing the necklace and him rightfully in the background the next morning while she says goodbye to her daughter.
So the series ended where it began, in Luke’s diner, with Rory and Lorelai making love to their coffee and ordering an obscene amount of food. When they leave us, they’re jabbering away at each other, protected from the world by their enormous, enthusiastic, almost childlike appreciation of their best friend before them. See you later, girls.
And goodbye to you, Mrs. Kim, wherever you are!
But what did you readers think? Do you feel ambushed by the finale or well taken care of? You know which line grabbed hold of my throat. Which one really got to you? Are you satisfied with the kiss? Can you picture Rory on a campaign bus? And how long will you mourn Gilmore Girls before you pick a new TV show to obsess about? What’s in the running?