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R29 Binge Club: Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life Recaps, Episodes 1-4

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Photo: Saeed Adyani/Netflix.
Pictured: Lorelai (Lauren Graham) and Rory (Alex Bledel) taking in the magic of the snow.
After nearly a decade the Gilmore Girls are officially back. We certainly have a lot of catching up to do. So make some coffee, coffee, coffee and prepare yourself for six hours of fast-talking fun with Lorelai, Rory and Emily Gilmore.

Episode 1: “Winter”

The first thing we hear Lorelai say in the revival is the first thing we ever heard Lorelai say while fixin' for some coffee: “Please, Luke. Please, please, please!” This trip down memory lane launches us into a montage of the show’s greatest auditory moments: “Copper boom!” Luke is all in. “Oy with the poodles already.” It’s not Carole King, but Sam Phillips’ la la la’s that lull us out of this nostalgic dream and back to Stars Hollow where, in 2016, the town seems especially crowded. People are taking selfies by the gazebo with their iPhones that weren’t even available the last time we visited the town.

Behind that selfie-taking couple sits Lorelai holding a Luke’s to-go coffee cup, taking in the beauty of the snow before Rory joins her. “That’s the way you look when you get off a plane?” Lorelai asks. “That’s how you say hello?" Rory responds. And we’re off to the races again.

Lorelai launches into a caffeine-fueled rant that proves she hasn’t lost it — and neither has creator/writer Amy Sherman-Palladino. We’re not even two minutes in and Lorelai’s already made an Anne Hathaway Les Mis joke and a Goop reference, as in: Rory has been “Gooped,” a verb meaning she’s been brainwashed by Gwyneth Paltrow and her $15,000 sex toys. The two haven’t seen each other in a while. “It feels like years,” Rory says, but as we already can see, it’s like riding a bike with these two.

Rory’s in town for one day before grabbing the red-eye to London for work and boy, do they have a lot to do. She needs a town tour — or, more accurately, we do — which includes a walk and talk that lets us know Al’s Pancake World won (again) for best Christmas decorations thanks to an eggplant Jesus. Taylor Doose wants the town to go full-on sewer instead of individual septic tanks. And Rory wants a phone that works in Stars Hollow. Lorelai just wants to stop walking because she’s hit her steps. Since when does she care about something silly like her health?

This walk through town gives us a brief look at all the Stars Hollowians we love. Miss Patty is still teaching dance. Lane is stressing out over Zack getting a promotion at a job where he has to wear a tie. “I tell him he looks like a young Leonard Cohen, but he actually just looks like his dad,” she tells Rory. Kirk has started a new ride-share company that he’s calling “Ooober.” He also has a pet pig named Petal, given to him by the town after he and Lulu said they were thinking of having a baby. “We figured it bought us a couple of years,” Lorelai explains to Rory.

Sherman-Palladino warned everyone that Stars Hollow will look a little different, but so far everything pretty much looks the same, including Lorelai’s house. Now it just includes Luke, who is excitedly waiting to see Rory, “the New Yorker writer.” “It was only one Talk Of The Town piece,” Rory explains, but it’s already clear she hasn’t been slacking in the years since she left to join some guy named Barack Obama on the presidential campaign trail. Luke is a proud dad, gushing over the piece, which is as sweet as those mini-doughnuts he does not want Rory eating before dinner.

Luckily, the two can camp out in Rory’s room, which is now full of the boxes that used to fill her Brooklyn apartment. This is Rory’s time to follow the story and not worry about where she calls home. Though, she is worried about where her underwear and her lucky outfit went. As Lorelai points out though, any outfit without underwear is likely a lucky outfit.

Rory needs this particular outfit that makes her feel like Diane Sawyer because she’s meeting with Conde Nast. But, first she has to figure out why Paul is here. You know, Paul, Rory’s boyfriend. Let’s talk about Paul for a second, shall we? He’s there for a dinner Rory invited him to but totally forgot about. He’s brought flowers and wears a sport coat and shares fun facts about Peru and he’s a rather awkward kisser. Let’s just call it like we see it, this guy is not right for her. Rory knows it, Lorelai knows it, we know it, but unfortunately, Paul doesn’t seem to know it yet. Paul is the Ann Hog of this series. “Who?” is all Lorelai can muster about the guy Rory’s been dating for two years. Two. Years.

What is hard to forget is Lorelai’s taste in TV, which includes Lifetime Original Movies that she watches to keep from having dirty bathroom dreams. This night, it’s actually Rory’s stress tap dancing that wakes her up. What is clear is Rory’s job is making her a bit jittery and the late-night coffee breaks aren’t helping. Lorelai is thinking about her mortality and wondering if she should go on a cruise. Rory asks exactly what we’re all thinking, Does this have to do with Richard? Lorelai isn’t ready to talk about it and all we get is a sheepish “maybe” and a toast to absent friends

With a shot of Luke’s new sign outlawing texting and man buns it’s a new day. One that reveals the diner has Wi-Fi and a new menu, complete with Rory’s New Yorker story, and that Luke lives with Lorelai. Over at the Dragonfly Inn, Michel is filling us in on his husband, who now, after five years, has decided he wants children. We also find out that their chef-less kitchen is hosting pop-ups. Lorelai isn’t happy about the food truck guy Roy Choi (played by real life food truck guy Roy Choi.) Lorelai likes what she likes, and what she likes is Sookie in the kitchen. Not April Bloomfield, not Alice Waters, and definitely not Anthony Bourdain, who had the gall to park in Sookie’s spot.

Sookie’s been gone a year now after saying she needed a “six month sabbatical” to clear her head, and Michel, for one, feels abandoned. Sookie’s up in the woods doing something Lorelai can’t really explain, but sounds very farm-to-table. Let’s put a pin in the Sookie talk though because Lorelai’s beloved jeep is in the shop and she needs to get to Hartford. Guess who needs an Ooober?

After all these years and maids, Lorelai still doesn’t want to deal with Emily alone, who is too happy to see Rory to nitpick Lorelai or her maid Berta, whose family is living with her. Emily, like everyone else, doesn’t remember Rory’s boyfriend, Egg or Paul or whatever his name is. Oh, and she also has a full wall portrait of Richard hanging in the sitting room. It’s to match his presence, Emily says, but Lorelai believes she gave the painter the wrong measurements, which leads us to the first fight of the revival. Cue all the Lord Of The Rings references and Emily storming out of the room. So no, Emily and Lorelai’s relationship is not exactly in a better place and there’s a reason why

We learn this in a flashback from Richard’s funeral four months earlier. It’s also where we see Jason Stiles and learn that Richard’s death was sudden, Lorelai’s happy, and she has no good memories to share about her dad. “You have nothing but contempt for this family,” Emily tells her in the kitchen after Lorelai shares a story of Richard leaving her in a steamer trunk. “You blow through life like a natural disaster knocking down everything and everyone in your path. I wonder if Luke knew what he was getting into with you.”
Photo: Saeed Adyani/Netflix.
Pictured: Lorelai and Rory stopping for a bite to eat at Luke's (Scott Patterson).
Here it seems as if Emily is speaking directly to all those fans who think Lorelai is actually the worst, even providing some ammo for that debate. Emily asks Lorelai if she ever discussed having children with Luke, but Emily answers for her: No, Lorelai Gilmore doesn’t care about anyone but herself. “God help you if she thinks you wronged her,” Emily says. “She will hold on to that grudge forever just waiting for that moment to get back at you.”

Then we’re back in Emily’s present day living room where Lorelai admits that was the last time they spoke. But tonight, with an Ooober-less Kirk at the table, the Gilmore girls will eat and talk about Rory’s Jack Kerouac lifestyle. Not even an awkward Luke — who’s the chauffeur, not a guest at this dinner — will keep Emily from wondering how a 32-year-old woman with a college degree could live such an Inside Llewyn Davis existence. Kudos on that reference, Emily. Rory doesn’t take this criticism to heart, but lets Emily know she’s busier than she’s ever been and knows what she’s doing. Do you really though, Rory?

From one smart daughter to another, we get our first mention of April, who is off at MIT and the only kid who still writes letters. It’s also the perfect segue for Lorelai to ask Luke if he ever wanted a “fresh kid.” It’s a question that seems a little late in the game for these two. Lorelai, admitting that the Twickham house (season 5) was the last time Luke and her talked about kids, certainly doesn’t give me any added confidence in their communication skills.

It’s then that Luke tells Lorelai, “Well, nobody gets to have everything they want in life. All in all, I think I did pretty good.” Luke isn’t sad to admit that, but yet, there is something sad about it and Lorelai knows it. You can see it on her face. Or, maybe it’s that there’s something very adult about that statement. The Gilmores have grown up and even in the magical Stars Hollow dreams don’t always come true. Sometimes you have to settle for pretty good. I feel kind of sad even writing that.

With babies on the brain Lorelai and Luke go shopping for surrogates, since he doesn’t want to adopt. (“I don’t want to go to Bangladesh for a baby. I don’t want to go to Woodbury for a light bulb.”) It’s clear Emily’s words have struck a nerve and Lorelai is now trying to overcompensate for all the things she believes Luke didn’t have because of her. This includes a baby and a picture window.

The trip to find a surrogate leads us to Paris Geller. She has her name on the door at Dynasty Makers, the largest surrogacy clinic in the Western hemisphere. Paris is still Paris, but now she’s in charge of people’s babies and for Lorelai, she’s not going to let any “bottle service bimbo” carry her child — or Neil Patrick Harris’ for that matter. Luke is just really uncomfortable with this whole thing and gives the whole baby thing a very fertile “no.”

In jolly ol’ London, Rory is having a much more positive lunch with a fellow journalist Naomi Shropshire (ER’s Alex Kingston), who is looking for someone to help her write her memoir. Rory comes out of this meeting excited and ready to tell the world, but for now she’s spilling her guts to Logan Huntzberger. Gone are the turtlenecks of his college days. This Logan is way more chic with no suit of armor in sight. The kiss they share is intriguing, could it be that she’s secretly dating her ex without her mom knowing?

Rory sent some boxes there, hinting it’s pretty serious. But she also questions if it’s okay to look in his closet in case there’s some other woman’s stuff there too. These two are back to their early college days of just dating, no strings attached. “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas,” Rory says in a way that almost makes me believe her. Almost.
Back at Luke’s the Wi-Fi password has been changed (again), but turns out that ever-changing Wi-Fi password is bogus. We should have known Luke didn’t want people checking their Facebook in his diner. It’s Taylor who lets the cat out of the bag and wins Luke over in the process. Their truce may be in the name of a town septic tank, but it’s still kind of sweet. What’s not so sweet is Paris letting us know Doyle and her have called it quits because he’s now a screenwriter who wears jeans and flies out to the coast. “As if this isn’t a coast,” Paris says before making it clear she’s going to kill him in court despite him being the father of her kids. Yes, plural.

Rory is now at Lane’s, which looks a lot like Sookie’s place except with drums. Rory’s going through her boxes to find that lucky outfit of hers. An hour and 15 minutes into the episode and still no sign of it. But, we’ve found Brian, Gil and Zack, who looks like a real dad.

Oh, and Rory is definitely not telling Lorelai about Logan, but she is trying to get her mom to talk to Emily after a fight. “Have you ever imagined a grandma without a grandpa?” Rory asks. In the span of that quick chat, Rory’s Conde Nast meeting gets rescheduled and Paul, oh Paul, is trying to get in contact with her. Let’s all hope she breaks up with him before spring.

Lorelai takes Rory’s advice and goes to visit a jean-wearing Emily, who seems to be having an everything must go sale. Emily is taking a page from Marie Kondo’s book and decluttering. She’s letting go of anything that doesn’t bring her joy, which, turns out, is nearly everything she owns. After taking off those jeans, what Lorelai really wants is for Emily to mourn, really mourn. “I don’t know how to do this,” Emily says. “Live my life.”

What we’re quickly learning is none of the Gilmores do right now. Lorelai is with Luke, who she’s not married to. Despite telling her mom she’s practically married, Emily says they’re just “roommates” and couldn’t possibly understand losing a husband of 50 years. Lorelai lets that one go and encourages her mom to go to therapy. It’s a sincere ask and part of Lorelai’s attempt to be better. She’s learning to compromise, which let’s face it, she’s very bad at. She’s still passive aggressively trying to keep the surrogate talk going despite Luke saying no. This is as surprising as hearing Kirk’s Ooober business got a cease and desist from Uber, which it did.

The nicest thing to come out of this rather harsh winter is Emily thanking Lorelai for getting her into therapy. For the very first time Emily took Lorelai’s advice and that is the only explanation for her unknowingly agreeing to go to therapy with her mother. This should be, um, fun?

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