Warning: Sorry, but you’re no safer from spoilers today than you were in Part One. Less so, in fact, since I will be revealing the mysterious final four words Ms. Amy’s been holding in her head for years. If you haven’t watched A Year In the Life yet, well, you know what to do.
When we last left Rory, she had destroyed her three phones and moved back home, much to Lorelai’s shock. What’s next for our two intrepid ladies? Ooooh, it’s juicy, ladies and gentlemen, so we’re gonna jump right in.
Summer: Lorelai and Rory do a couple of lounging sessions by the pool in this episode, trying to avert their eyes from all the…ahem…substantial men in Speedos walking by, but they cope by hiring two kids to hold their parasols and tote their stuff around for them. Equally squirm-inducing for Rory is that all kinds of people are welcoming her back to Stars Hollow, to which she keeps insisting, “I’m not back.” The poolside scenes are unnecessary and uncomfortable, though, as the set-up could have easily happened with the ladies walking through town.
Unfortunately, those bits of discomfort pale in comparison to what Taylor has cooked up: A musical. About the history of Stars Hollow. More on that later.
At the town meeting, Taylor mentions that the editor of the Stars Hollow Gazette, Bernie Roundbottom (I wish I were kidding.), is retiring, which means the paper will cease to exist unless a new editor is found. Hmmm, I wonder who that could be?! Yep, you got it. Rory happily steps up, even though the paper pays basically nothing. Then she finds out everything about the paper is old. I mean, old. The employees, Esther and Charlie, are old. The computers use MS-DOS and floppies. That’s old. The editor’s desk has a dictation machine straight out of the thirties and a tabletop radio straight out of the forties. That’s really old. “Where’s the abacus?” wonders Rory. Being Rory, though, she makes it work, much to the chagrin of the town, who like things the old way. Sigh.
And now for the musical. Oh, the musical. Taylor’s had some wacky ideas over the years, but this one is off the charts, and it’s more annoying than anything. Not surprisingly, Taylor wrote the book for this epic himself, with a former New Yorker, Nat Compton, writing the music. Ah, Nat. This guy always looks sour. I was finally like, “Dude. Take an Ex-Lax. Please.”
Anyway, there’s a ton of enthusiasm for this little undertaking. Lorelai is one of about a dozen (including Sophie Bloom, might I add) who volunteer to be on the advisory committee, which means they get the final say-so before Stars Hollow: The Musical makes its debut. Only one problem: Lorelai is the only person who isn’t completely gaga over what is undeniably and hilariously cringe-worthy material.
A few choice snippets:
“You are me in pants.”
“And you are me in a dress.”
“It’s a love, love, love revolution in a revolutionary time.”
What really takes the cake, though, is when the actors get to the Victorian segment of the musical and are talking about dishwashers when a guy pops up and starts rapping. “Oy vey,” says Lorelai. My thoughts exactly.
What I don’t get is, why didn’t Miss Patty and Sophie Bloom have more of a hand in this thing? Miss Patty’s performed everywhere, and Sophie’s well, Carole King. Then things would at least have been decent. Instead, Miss Patty is taking names for auditions and Sophie tries to play “I Felt the Earth Move,” only to be shut down by Taylor. Groan. If you’re gonna have a story within a story, it had better be good, or at least quick, otherwise it’s merely padding. It’s not always worth it to have the narrative come to a screeching halt just to slip in more cuteness.
“Summer” isn’t a complete flinch-fest, though. Jess comes to see Rory at the Gazette, and Rory invites him to lunch (read: join her in some scotch.). She, of course, pours her heart out as well: she’s broke, no job, no prospects, and above all, no underwear. Now, I’ve never shipped Rory with anyone, but I found Jess to be a welcome sight. Out of all of Rory’s boyfriends, Jess is the guy who had to do the most to get his act together, and his experiences have given him wisdom. He encourages Rory to write what she’s passionate about, which isn’t a new thought, but it is something that every writer has to hear at least once. In Rory’s case, what she’s passionate about is her mom and best friend.
Except Lorelai isn’t crazy for the idea of Rory writing about their life, because she’s afraid it’ll give Emily something more to pick at. Rory is crushed, and goes to stay with Lane. It doesn’t help that Odette has moved in with Logan, so no more jetting off to England. Rory feels more than ever that she’s going nowhere fast.
Lorelai’s reluctance to be the subject of a book is probably due to her having a tough summer. Rory’s in a holding pattern, but Lorelai is feeling rather stale about her life. Michel is talking about taking a job at the W Hotel in New York City because he thinks the Dragonfly is too small. Emily has accused Lorelai of Luke just being her roommate. Luke and Lorelai have a confrontation at the diner about who runs the relationship. The final straw for Lorelai is when she goes to approve another number for the musical, “Unbreakable” (which is actually a good song), and tears up because the lyrics seem to be about her. She goes home and tells Luke that she’s going to do Wild (the book, not the movie) and hike the Pacific Crest Trail to clear her head. Luke is understandably flabbergasted, but Lorelai tells him, “It’s never or now,” and goes off to pack.
Fall: “Summer” may have been the messiest season of the four, but it sets up some important plot points for the last episode. And I do mean last. I watched “Fall” feeling rather melancholy, because big changes were on the way, and then it was farewell to Stars Hollow.
The episode opens with Lorelai standing in a motel room surveying her stuff, which looks more at home at a Sephora than the Pacific Crest. She then tries to wrestle all her things into her backpack, which spits them back out at her. Lo and behold, when she tries to go out on the trail the next day, the park ranger advises everyone to wait because a storm is coming. Lorelai ends up sitting around a campfire with other Wild ladies, eating Lean Cuisine and drinking boxed wine, and they go from strangers to support group in minutes.
Back in Stars Hollow, Rory is walking down a foggy street at night when a unicyclist rolls by and intones mysteriously, “By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes.”
Farther on, a raven in a tree looks down at Rory and chirps, “Get ready, Rory.”
Feeling weirded out, Rory unlocks the door to the Gazette, only to find Esther holding a flashlight under her chin and saying, “In omnia paratus.” Which means only one thing to Gilmore fans, if you get my drift.
Three shadowy figures walk out of the mist wearing gorilla masks and Georgian costume, and surprise, surprise, it’s Colin, Finn, and Robert, with Logan creeping up on them. What follows is the five of them running down the street, Beatles-style, to the tune of “With A Little Help From My Friends,” then indulging in some relatively mild Life and Death Brigade antics, like hitting golf balls off of roofs and careening down the road to a Hernando’s Hideaway-type club. They even watch Kirk’s second film in the town square. It seems like a simple bracing-up, but the next morning, after spending the night with Logan, Rory says goodbye to him and the others. It’s a good thing it’s an almost word-for-word takeoff on the goodbye scene from The Wizard of Oz, or it would just be too sad. “I think your days of rescuing me are over.” Rory tells Logan, who is still marrying Odette. Rory has finally seen the writing on the wall, and she’s done being the girl on the side.
At the same time, Lorelai has said goodbye to the idea of hiking the Pacific Crest, as she can’t find her permit. Bribing the park ranger doesn’t work, so she heads into town for some coffee, and ends up seeing the writing on her wall, too. Long story short, Lorelai rushes home and tells Luke it’s time to get married, which he’s more than ready for.
Lorelai and Rory aren’t the only ones who make major life changes. Emily finds she just can’t stay in the home she lived in with Richard, and buys a house in Nantucket that overlooks the ocean. It’s almost like her own private Hyannisport. She also rather forcefully says goodbye to the DAR, calling it all B.S. (except that she doesn’t censor it). “This is all dead to me, anyhow. It died with Richard.”
With that, she walks out of her old life and into a new one, where she clearly feels free and happy. Emily has a new beau, Jack, a stable household staff (even if she can’t understand a word they say), and a new calling in life. After a visit to the Nantucket Whaling Museum, Emily becomes a docent there, and she rocks it. The last time we see her, she’s lacing up her Keds and giving an animated talk on harpooning to a rapt audience, complete with visual aids. Being a docent myself, I was tickled pink. You go, Emily.
One person who isn’t saying goodbye is Michel. With Emily’s help, Lorelai buys a former old folks home from a group of poker-playing nuns, and bingo–the Dragonfly has an annex. We also finally get to see Sookie back in her own kitchen at the Inn, where she’s been making enough wedding cakes to sugar up a small country.
For her part, Rory has been writing the book on her life (aptly titled The Gilmore Girls), and presents the first three chapters to Lorelai to get her blessing. Lorelai not only does so, but tells Rory to drop the “The.”
“It’s cleaner,” she says. Cute, Amy. Real cute. That’s what’s commonly known as “navel-gazing.” 🙂
On to the wedding. Having waited so long, Lorelai and Luke find that even a wedding in a few days is too far away for them. The night before the big event, they dig up Reverend Skinner and get married in the gazebo, with Rory, Michel, and Lane looking on, but not before they take in Kirk’s transformation of the town square. Uncharacteristically for Kirk, everything is magical. It’s gauzy and twinkle-light-y and there are ballet dancers floating around. Absolutely perfect.
The gazebo is where Lorelai and Rory end up sitting the next morning, just as they were in the first few minutes of “Winter”, just taking everything in. Rory is finally at peace with herself and looking forward to the future, even when Paul pulls a Russell Brand and breaks up with her via text message. Rory regrets the way she treated Paul, but Lorelai reminds her, “It needs to fit.”
Indeed. Of Rory’s boyfriends, Jess is the only guy who’s available (Dean is married with kids, by the way). Jess tells Luke that he’s way over Rory, but we see him looking in the window at her before he leaves her house, which suggests otherwise. I don’t know about you, but I’m good with that. I am now firmly Team Jess.
Back to the gazebo. It’s clear during the latter third of “Fall” that Rory’s been tight-lipped about something, and since it’s the time to wrap things up, this happens:
In typical Amy Sherman-Palladino style, we have just enough time to see Lorelai’s jaw drop before “Fall” cuts to the ending credits.
Full. Freaking. Circle.
The next obvious question is, “Who’s the baby daddy?” and the equally obvious answer is Logan. Wookie Guy sure ain’t it, because Rory would’ve shown by now.
Will there be any more visits to Stars Hollow? Doubt it. I enjoyed going back there immensely, and I wouldn’t be against another go-round, but more than that, I feel like the show has run its course. It’s ended up exactly where it’s supposed to, with the characters in good places, and that’s awesome. An ending that’s open to interpretation is vastly preferable to drawing out a story until it dies a slow, painful death.
It’s a cliché that you can’t go home again, but A Year In the Life comes pretty darned close. It’s not perfectly neat and tidy by any means. Neither is real life, for that matter. If nothing else, Life allows Gilmore fans closure, and Amy Sherman-Palladino a chance to tie up the show the way she wanted. Enough is as good as a feast, people.
And yes, I will be buying the DVDs this time.