Film and TV

Gilmore Girls Recap: Welcome to Rory's Spring Breakdown

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.

Welcome to therapy, bitches! Is what we would say if this were a reality show competition we were hosting that involved some surface-level soul searching. But, praise be to Frasier, it is not. Instead, it's the second episode of Netflix's Gilmore Girls revival, and those theme-song listeners already know.

Spring has sprung after a confusing but welcome winter. If anything, this "season" makes it abundantly clear that for all the talking these characters do, they spend very little time communicating. (Yes, we have seen all of Frasier. Thank you.) All of our Gilmore girls are in crisis. Rory can't talk to Condé Nast and seems incapable of being honest with herself. Lorelai and Luke still don't know how to recap their days to each other. Emily's grieving. And Lorelai and Emily, well, those two are in some much-needed therapy.

But they're not talking either. We begin in a session they're squandering with one of their world-famous mother-daughter silent treatment routines. They run out the clock, and, like therapist Claudia says: No one is winning. That means another session's in store, regardless of whether Lorelai wants to be manipulated into it.

Cut to the Stars Hollow international food festival, where a paltry showing of countries includes a roast pig that pig-father Kirk deems a pig genocide. Fair. Apart from the meaty displays (Jackson's biceps notwithstanding), this gives us a chance to quickly survey Stars Hollowers and check in with Mrs. Kim, Lane, and an out-of-nowhere Mr. Kim, who, frankly, is a massive and waving disappointment who we thought was dead.

One minute, Rory's there, ignoring her friend Lane to take a call from SandeeSays (which is what, like a shitty Lenny Letter or Rookie-type news org that wants to hire Rory for no reason we can discern except she wrote one article, one time for The New Yorker?) and wearing a flared floral top that makes us nervous she might be carrying the boring spawn of Paul. Rory thinks she is too good for SandeeSays, despite the fact that she has no discernible prospects and flies around the world squandering her #roryprivilege.
The next minute, our not remotely intrepid journalist is in London smooching with Logan about their Vegas-no-strings-style relationship that will definitely not backfire and meeting Naomi Shrimshramsher — a.k.a. Book Lunatic — in London. Book Lunatic is the worst and clearly this book about her is not going to work out. How is Rory seduced by this woman? Fine, she has a great backstory. But she's terrible at present. Shouldn't Rory should have a good cool detector, having grown up with Lorelai? Although, counterpoint, she did date Dean ... Regardless, it seems that Lorelai II: The Worsening is so rudderless and homeless and jobless that she has been swept up in Book Lunatic's nonsense. Which means she might also be an idiot. So, there's that.

Then Rory meets with Logan, who suggests that working with Book Lunatic is the equivalent of joining the Mathletes, and who is engaged, because of course he is. Naturally, this bummer news — that the only not really but kind of semi-stable thing/person/apartment in Rory's life (besides Paul, who might be invisible and therefore does not count) is not so stable after all — comes from Father See-You-Next-Tuesday-Burger. Ugh. He also says he can help Rory get this ephemeral Condé Nast meeting, but she demurs. Because Rory's favorite things besides Logan's beautiful gray couch are hubris and being pathetic.

Back in the S.H., Taylor is not gay, but would like to host a pride parade and is mad that A-list movie stars shooting a nearby movie are staying in Woodbury, where there's a nice inn with mini-fridges. The B-listers? They're at the Dragonfly, where our dear Michel is restless because (even though this small-town inn can hire and blithely fire Roy Choi and Rachael Ray as "pop-up restaurant" chefs) it will never expand, bag Jennifer Lawrence, have a spa, nor fulfill his wildest hospitality dreams.

Which brings us to Lorelai, who is sad, may have hit her peak, and is sure she's going to lose Michel to a bigger, fancier joint. And Luke isn't being helpful. He isn't listening. He shot down her wanting to have a baby together. He doesn't think the inn needs to grow, or that anyone needs more when someone needs more, or that they need to discuss anything (even his dumbass sister and T.J. joining a vegetable cult). Convenient for a man who owns one surely disgusting baseball cap.

Thankfully, she's headed back to therapy, where she and her mom actually talk! But it's about a guy nicknamed Trombone Stan and therefore unsubstantial. Stan is just the beginning, though, and Emily launches into grievances about Lorelai abandoning her and about a mystery letter that she swears Lorelai wrote her and that Lorelai swears she did not. However, we don't get resolution on this letter. Not here, anyway.

But back to London, where Book Lunatic is bickering with Rory (who cares?). Rory is sitting on Engaged Logan's lap, making us uncomfortable and debating whether she could possibly deign to engage with SandeeSays. Rory wants to stay and hang out with the cute rich boy forever because her life is in ruins. Alas, Logan's French heiress fiancée, Odette, is coming over. So she can't. Let's upgrade that to super-ruins. We're talking Rome, people.

Anyway, Luke and Lorelai are going to see Eraserhead complete with Kirk in an Eraserhead wig and extra-complete with a new short film by Kirk that, if we are being honest, made us tear up. It's about his pig, Petal, finding your place in the world, and hubcaps tossed into the street. Kirk's masterpiece is interrupted by a call from Emily to Luke. She wants him to come over for dinner. A classic Emily scheme, to be sure. One that Lorelai hopes to thwart by attending and bringing Rory into the mix, too.

The scheme doesn't entail more therapy iterations, though. Instead, Emily shares that her late husband, Richard, left a trust fund for Luke with the express purpose of him franchising the diner, something he specifically did not want to do when Richard brought it up in the past. And really, Lorelai and her crisis could use the money to do something with the Inn. (Side note: Remember when there was a buyer for the Dragonfly and she could've made all the money? Oops.) But Emily DGAF.

Someone who gives all the fucks? Paris. She and Rory are visiting Chilton for an alum day where they get to talk at children about how music classes changed their lives and traumatize plaid-skirted youths with Stalin quotes. Rory also has to face how royally she has screwed things up by never deciding on a thing. We get it. She wrote a piece for The New Yorker. That is awesome. But it is one article. She apparently does freelancing here and there (and of course we do not want the show to be about pitching and deadlines), but has this 32-year-old ever had a job? Seems like nah. Headmaster sees what we see and encourages Rory to get a master's and then come teach at Chilton. But, as with Burgermeister, she insists she has it all together.

Back in mother-daughter therapy, Emily and Lorelai are jabbing and jabbering. The former refers to her daughter and Luke as "booty buddies." Rude and hilarious dig, Emily. Thank you. Though if we put on our compassion caps, it's apparent that, after losing her husband of 50 years, this is Emily's — and we say this with love — bitchy, dismissive, self-aggrandizing way of telling Lorelai that she wants her to have a long, loving, and committed relationship. Lorelai cannot with this (partly because she doesn't feel secure in her relationship with Luke right now) and decides to storm out of the session, even though the session is over.

If only someone were giving Rory that level of tough love. She spends the rest of her day serving as a temp au pair for Paris' kids in a park and calling Logan from one of her 12 cell phones to ask if his dad can do her that Condé Nast favor anyway. She tells Logan about how she can't find her lucky outfit for the long-awaited meeting, which will finally happen now that it's out of her hands.

Despite the last session ending dramatically — Gilmorelly? — Lorelai is ready to roll at the next one only to find out that Emily is being passive-aggressive and quitting the whole thing. But really this gives Lorelai a chance to work through her dad's sudden death, the mean stuff Emily said last session, and, we hope, all her Luke Troubles. So win-win?

Day free of therapy, Emily decides to kidnap Luke and make him look at franchise locations.

Lorelei doesn't tell Luke her mom bailed on therapy, but lies and says Emily showed. But he knows that Emily didn't show, because he was being kidnapped by her. Neither of these long-term partners feels it's important to, you know, just mention this stuff? Because they are in a terrible relationship and what if Max Medina was the one and now we'll never even find him because he wasn't even at Chilton during Rory's very depressing I'm An Adult Now! day.

Speaking of adulting. Finally Rory meets with some GQ people (not all of Condé Nast, how disappointing), brings no ideas or presentations and talks about her doomed Shrimpshack book. Things Rory doesn't say: I would love to work for you; What's your pitching process?; What kind of pieces are you looking for right now?; Would you like to hire me, sir and madam? They toss her a story idea about people waiting in lines and tell her to noodle it around. Like you do with people you're desperately excited to work with.

Shortly thereafter, Shrimmy Shrimmy Cocoa Puff dumps Rory via Jason Mantzoukas, who we wish would be her next love interest. With nothing left to do besides nanny full-time for Paris, she takes the on-spec GQ writing assignment — no strings, she says, because that always works out for her — about lines. It brings us to a very cute Lorelais Take Manhattan day that involves a Parenthood Amber cameo (only shitty daughters for Lauren Graham!), the new Cronut, and Rory fucking some dude in a Wookiee costume after discovering a line that leads to nothing except two dudes eating lunch on a stoop.

Really though, Rory is the one waiting in a line to nowhere and nothing. Perhaps she couldn't quite see past all the Wookiee fuzz.

And that is in no way a dig at her dating life, just her inability to make good choices as a 32-year-old globetrotting "journalist" with an Ivy League education who, far as we can tell, hasn't worked a hard day since she was in charge of litter cleanup on the side of the highway. Ah, simpler days.

Well, her dating life is not great either. She breaks it to Lor that she's been seeing Logan all this time and that somehow Paul is still in the picture (apparently via texts and calendar reminders only, as we do not see him this episode). This is perhaps rock bottom for ol' Rory, who is now willing to entertain a career with SandeeSays and knows where that elusive lucky outfit is: Lorelai's closet.

And we'll hand it to her: The red shirtdress is beautiful, if a bit high-waisted.

So young Gilmore takes a pride hit and a meeting with Sandee, who is thoroughly unimpressed and disappointed that Rory arrived at this meeting (which she thought was a sure thing) with literally zero ideas. Cute hubris, Rory. Cute. Nobody cares about you or your article unless you're bringing new ideas to the table, welcome to the world. Welcome to being a freelance journalist with an overpriced education.

Maybe it's because she won the genetic, socio-economic, and intelligence lotteries, but this girl sure does expect everything to bend to her cutesy whims. But Sandee, who did seem enamored of Rory and willing to pay her some/all of the money to be part of her office, is not playing this Gilmore game. She all but dismisses Rory, calling her while she's still in the lobby to say that SandeeSays is going to hire someone else. Surprise! Glad you wore your party dress for this one. You get nothing.

And here, at the actual rock bottom, is where she pulls a Devil Wears Prada, throwing away all her stupid phones that made her feel important and proclaims to Mother Lorelai that she is "moving home!"

Rating: Three out of five Emily skirtsuits — buoyed by the fact that Kirk's film really did it for us, and because finally Rory's terrible-ness cannot be debated.

Best Freakout: "You saw him out there, mackin' on that slutty biznotch," Paris said of a guy who she thought was Tristin, but in no goddamn way, shape, or form was Chad Michael Murray.

Worst Surprise: Apparently, Lane's dad can just pop in when there's a convenient second episode of a Netflix reboot and there just so happens to be an international food festival and it is clearly more important than having anything to do with Lane's upbringing or her 622 children or her husband whose hair seems to keep changing color. Pretty sure Mrs. Kim would agree with us when we say: For shame, Palladinos. For shame.

Random notebook dump: journalism is 2 hard

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Becky Bartkowski is an award-winning journalist and the arts and music editor at New Times, where she writes about art, fashion, and pop culture.
Contact: Becky Bartkowski