Film and TV

Gilmore Girls Recap: Walkin' in a Gilmore Wonderland

Winter, spring, summer, and fall, we're recapping each new episode of Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. Come for the coffee, stay for the witty banter and pop culture references.

In 2007, a tangled web of changes in creative leadership and networks led to unresolved contract squabbles that marked the end of the much-beloved series, Gilmore Girls. The series creator, Amy Sherman-Palladino, had departed prior to the final season, leaving some of story lines floating in mid-air and others resolved hastily. Fans who grew up with the Connecticut community of Stars Hollow never truly felt like it was the end and have been patiently waiting while rumors were started, debunked, and renewed about a revival.

Fast-forward nearly a decade, and Gilmore Girls successfully rode the nostalgia wave to a full-season pick-up on Netflix, premièring in full on Friday, November 25. It puts Sherman-Palladino back at the helm of the show, with the promised return of many of our beloved Stars Hollow inhabitants and an ending worthy of the fans' adoration. With so much at stake and tremendous ground to cover, the season is split into four 90 minute mini-movies: Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall. (Get it?) Our team of GG experts will be breaking down each episode this week, trying to piece together where our characters have been, where they are now, and everything in between.

The first episode kicks off in the town square, right around Christmas. Snow fell the night before, and Lorelai sits gleefully in the town gazebo, coffee in hand. For a show set in the Northeast, snow has become almost another character, a definitive transformation of time. Rory sneaks up behind her, hot off from a flight from London, looking surprisingly fresh, according to Lorelai. They theorize about how she should look after flying across the pond, bantering at top speed. "Whew, winded!" Rory exclaims. "Haven't done that for a while," Lorelai explains. "Felt good." Rory agrees. How long has it been? At this point, we're not totally sure. Aside from mention of missing a few holidays, it's hard to tell where we are in the timeline. It isn't until we see Paul Anka (the dog) wearing a "2016" crown that we know that we're in present time.

That means almost 10 years — 10 years — have passed and we have no idea, other than Rory coming in from London, what has happened. Much of that unravels throughout the episode, so let's just jump in character by character and piece it together.

Main Characters:

Lorelai Gilmore

She is now 48, lives in the same home, and continues to own the Dragonfly Inn, which has had a bit of an upheaval with the departure of co-owner and chef, Sookie. Her longtime love, Luke, now lives with her, but they aren't married yet. It's unclear if they've been together consecutively since the series finale, but for now, they're happy cohabiting (even if it means their DVR is full of Lorelai's Lifetime movies.) She continues to be at odds with her mother, Emily, tap dancing between affection and perceived contempt. More on that later.

Rory Gilmore
Now 32, Rory has been living and working as a journalist in Brooklyn. She recently decided to live a "rootless life" devoid of an apartment, able to chase stories as they happen. This means shipping all of her belongings to various "home bases," including those of her mom, grandmother, Paris, Lane, and — wait for it — Logan. It seems like a lot more work than to just have a storage unit, but does give us the opportunity to check in with the aforementioned characters while she goes along her journey. Her next step is co-writing a biography with the subject of a New Yorker article she wrote, Naomi Shropshire.

Her story is the most perplexing, as she seems to be running from one red-eye to the next, spending only one day (or so she says) with her mom at the beginning of the episode. Somehow though, she's at her grandmother's house the next night, even though they seemed to say goodbye that morning. She has lunch and goes to Logan's flat in London in one scene, and is at Luke's the next. It makes it very hard to tell where we are within the months or why she's anywhere. Her always-about-to-catch-a-plane mode gets a little tiresome. When she sees Lane at Doose's Market, they greet each other with the warmth of acquaintances, and Lane's wandering eyes while Rory makes a phone call seems to indicate that she's pretty over it, too. Thirty-two is pretty late in the game to lead this kind of life ... Maybe she never really figured it out in the first place?

Luke Danes
Luke still owns Luke's Diner, which hasn't changed much except for the new Wi-Fi whose real password he refuses to reveal. As mentioned above, he's moved in with Lorelai, with the business-as-usual of making sure she eats actual meals and puts away her pajamas. Some conversations have happened about the two of them having another baby, which he is super-skittish about. There's definitely something bigger happening with our lovebirds that we haven't quite unlocked yet. In addition, his daughter you'd hoped to forget, April, goes to MIT and sends him lengthy letters with $10 words he can't understand.

Emily and Richard Gilmore
The moment we were all dreading. The 2014 death of Edward Herrmann (who played Richard Gilmore) left the Gilmore Girls' cast and crew in shock. They have since paid tribute to him, including leaving an open chair for him at the ATX Austin Television Festival reunion. That said, they were bound to give him a fitting "departure" from the show, centering much of the episode's emotional weight around the sudden loss of the Gilmore patriarch four months prior. In fact, it's the only story that gets a flashback, albeit a painful one, where we see his funeral and Lorelai drunkenly telling some not-so-flattering stories about her tumultuous relationship with him. This caused yet another rift with her mother that got even more personal, and they hadn't talked much since. It's the presence of Rory that, per usual, brings them back together.

Meanwhile, Emily's going stir-crazy, unsure of how to live her life after her partner of 50 years has gone. She attempts going to a grief group and even organizes a massive overhaul after reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. The book tells you to throw out whatever doesn't bring you joy, and she finds herself tossing almost everything out. In a moment of clarity, Lorelai reminds her that her husband just died, so she probably won't feel real joy for a while. Emily settles down and starts to see a therapist one-on-one, who we'll get to meet in the next episode when Lorelai joins her for what's sure to be an eye-opening session.

Supporting Characters:

Michel Gerard
It's confirmed that Lorelai's loyal inn manager, Michel, is now married to his partner, Frederic. His better half is currently baby-crazy, trying to convince Michel to adopt. He's not quite on board yet, preoccupied with filling in "pop-up kitchen" chefs to replace Sookie. More on that below.

Paris Geller
Rory's Chilton/Yale Type-A sidekick has gone on to be an executive at a top surrogate placement agency. She offers to take on Lorelai and Luke's case when they start to explore that option. After Luke freaks out at the idea, she makes it a point to seek him out later and try to get him on board. We also find out that she and her college sweetheart, Doyle McMaster, are on the outs, after he's suffered a "screenwriter crisis" of sorts, getting wrapped up in a Hollywood lifestyle. She plans to take him to court, where they'll need to arrange custody of their children.

Lane and Zack Van Gerbig
Everyone's favorite rock 'n' roll couple are still going strong, raising their twins Steve and Kwan while still pursuing their band, Hep Alien. The full band makes an appearance for a short song, a nice nod to our girl Lane. Their only complaint is that Zack is too good at his job, and keeps getting promoted. She comforts him by telling him he looks like a young Leonard Cohen in a tie.

Kirk Gleason
The serial entrepreneur is at it again, this time developing his own ride sharing company, Oober. Yes, like that Uber. He insists that his company is different, and it's simply calling his mom so that she can call Kirk who then finds a car to pick you up. Literally only in Stars Hollow would this work. He ends up driving Lorelai to dinner in Hartford, where his car breaks down. This explains why he was at dinner with Lorelai, Emily, and Rory in the first trailer. No worries, LoreLuke shippers, she's not dating him. In fact, he's still with Lulu, and the entire town chipped in to buy them a pet pig so they wouldn't reproduce.

Taylor Doose
The Stars Hollow superfan and town activist has a brand-new mission: changing the town's wastewater system from septic tanks to sewers. He spends the episode hunting down testimonials from citizens, with a predicable holdout from Luke. We have a feeling this is going to play a bigger role later, considering how much time they spent on it. Gotta hand it to Taylor: He may be annoying, but no one loves that town as much as he does.

Sookie St. James
As mentioned before, Sookie packed up and left, promising a six-month sabbatical that turned into a year. She's been living on a sustainable farm and shows no signs of returning. Not sure what that means for Jackson or her kids, but hopefully everyone's happy. It's widely known that Melissa McCarthy will make an appearance, so time will tell if Sookie makes a grand return for good to her dream kitchen. For now, the inn is trying out some guest chefs. This episode features Kogi founder Roy Choi. Sort of a random choice to have a West Coast chef on a Northeast show, but hey, if you find yourself in LA, his food is delicious.

Paul is new to the Gilmore Girls world, a boyfriend Rory has been dating for two years. Let's cut to the chase: This whole storyline is bad. No one in her family can remember his name or any conversations they've had with him. Rory forgets that's she's invited him over,  forgets to invite him to breakfast, and ultimately forgets to break up with him. She's across the pond shacking up with Logan, so what does she care? It's an incredibly strange premise, because two years is a loooong time to just casually date someone. It was nice to see them acknowledge that it's possible for her to date someone who isn't Dean/Jess/Logan since it's been an entire decade, but they just use it as a bit. It's boring, let's move on.

Berta and Family
One of the longest ongoing jokes throughout the series is the fact that Emily can't keep a maid for longer than a few episodes (or ... seconds). That's why the introduction of Berta (played by Rose Abdoo, who is also Gypsy) is interesting, because we get to know her, her husband, and her children, who now live at the Gilmore house. They've spent a lot of time talking about this family and the weird language no one can figure out. It seems like they are going to play a bigger part later, or maybe they're just really committing to the joke.

Rating: 4 Coffee Cups out of 5. Still a lot of gaps to fill, but felt like home nonetheless. The amount of cast members that are already back is phenomenal.

Best Moment: Luke trolling his customers with fake Wi-Fi passwords. It's a bummer that Taylor had to point it out, because it could have been one of the great ongoing gags the show is known for.

Worst Moment: Literally everything to do with Rory's boyfriend, Paul. It was funny at the start, then it got boring. Just kill the joke and move on.

Random notebook dump: "Rory couldn't sleep, so she tap-danced terribly and made some coffee. Logical."
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Ashley Harris is a longtime professional fangirl. You can usually find her out at concerts, movies, and live theatre, or glued to the latest Netflix revival.
Contact: Ashley Harris