The Halfway House Cafe, where Lorelai tries (and fails) to get coffee after she tries (and fails) to do "Wild," is a real place in Santa Clarita, California. If it looks familiar, that's because it's been featured in thousands of commercials, movies, and TV shows, including the 1991 Cindy Crawford Pepsi ad, "Waitress" (2007), and "Caged Heat" (1974, mentioned by Lorelai here). Bob Dylan even painted its likeness as part of "The Beaten Path," his 2016 art show exhibition at the Halcyon Gallery. According to The Santa Clarita Valley Signal, the location opened as a trading post in 1906 before turning into a restaurant in 1931. The New York Times refers to it as, "a Kash Buk kind of place, a hangout for old test pilots and desert rats, where you can get a good steak sandwich and a beer." If I'm ever in the area, I'll brake for the huevos rancheros.
You probably also recognize the Sierra Pelona Motel, where Lorelai spills her guts to randos over boxed wine, from the Britney Spears classic, "Crossroads" (2002) and the Anjelica Huston/John Cusack/Annette Bening noir, "The Grifters" (1990). Before I go on any vacation, I always research what films/tv shows were shot in the area. This ensures I won't miss my chance to visit the Casino Arcade from "Harold and Maude" (1971) while in Santa Cruz, California, for example.
Most batshit crazy outfit:
I'm 98% sure this trellis of hideous hats came from Amy Sherman-Palladino's personal collection, which should be located and immolated. Even the world's sexiest widow can't get away with wearing a veiled bowler hat to her husband's funeral without looking like a supreme douche.
Lorelai's impromptu wedding look is somehow even more disastrous than what she originally planned to wear ten years ago. The Kate Spade dress alone is fine, but she's over-accessorized the shit out of it with a lace cardigan and white rose waist appliqué. Along with the dumb hat, her black and white stripe wedge heels with red straps add late-stage Michael Jackson vibes to the entire ensemble and her nicotine hair is back with a vengeance.
I need to know why the Life and Death Brigade, who are all in their mid-thirties, have suddenly embraced the steampunk aesthetic. I think ASP wanted yet another excuse to write off some of her hats as a tax deduction.
And finally, it looks like Luke has modeled his formalwear style after rapist-in-chief, Donald Trump.
There is nothing chicer than an older woman dressed in expensive, oversized loungewear. May we all look as unbothered as comfort queen Emily Gilmore enjoying an outdoor glass of wine in Nantucket.
She radiates HBIC energy at the "bullshit" DAR meeting in a very ahead-of-trend coordinating skirt suit. According to The Zoe Report, matching sets didn't really pop off until 2021 although they've been a staple for the society set since the 1950s. Eat your heart out, Jackie Kennedy.
Miss Celine deserves a shoutout for her distinct personal style, which always includes a turban, elbow-length gloves, small glasses worn on the tip of the nose, an oversized black smock coat, and statement jewelry. In a world of shitty fast fashion and rampant consumerism, uniform dressing is a highly underrated small rebellion and I salute a sustainable queen.
I'm into Rory's "Fall" outfits, which hearken back to the S4 Yale days of cozy knitwear, simple basics, and the occasional fugly collared shirt. Even Lorelai turns out a surprisingly decent horse girl homage with a houndstooth vest and the only acceptable hat the Palladinos have given us (Maisel aside).
Most irritating Rory or Lorelai moment:
Per usual, I'm focusing on minor shit in this section because almost everything they do is irritating. When I turned thirty, I looked back at my own Colin and Finn equivalents with regret over having ever wasted time fake laughing at their "jokes." I sure as shit didn't give a choked up speech about missing their alcoholic antics. Also, I gagged (and not in a good way) when she told Dean that he taught her "what safe feels like." Here's a pro-tip: If you associate safeness with fucking a married ex-boyfriend, pull up Psychology Today and find a qualified therapist STAT.
Lorelai spends approximately $1k on hiking equipment, never uses it, and places it near a dumpster with a "FREE" sign after her hillside revelation about... something. Only a person raised with money would be this cavalier about abandoning expensive, barely used items without first trying to return them (REI would have promptly issued a refund).
Updated character attribute that feels most realistic:
Luke would absolutely be the kind of guy who acts like he doesn't give a shit about the dog while simultaneously cooking him a specialized whole food diet. He tells Paul Anka, "It's stupid enough that I buy your own steak. It's even stupider that I cook it for you. And I'm not gonna blow on it so you can get it sooner." Then, of course, he immediately blows on it. Luke has been kowtowing to this dog's demands since the S6 rare plus steak incident, but this is another level of pet servitude (and tbh, it makes him approximately ten times hotter).
Clunkiest pop culture reference:
I'm perplexed by the Life and Death Brigade's "Across the Universe" ripoff. The Palladinos were probably jonesing to include a Beatles montage in the revival but had already exhausted their "good" ideas on "Stars Hollow: The Musical." Instead of scrapping the concept entirely like people with self-respect, they decided to do a shot for shot ripoff of the 2007 musical. Julie Taymor should have sent them a cease and desist letter. They even used the exact same song!
I hate everything involving "Wild," the dumbass "Wizard of Oz" scene, and mention of Dean's Sméagol impression that we don't get to see. I do, however, love that Emily watches "Jerry Maguire" (1996) on Starz and finds it "delightful." Kelly Bishop gleefully exclaiming, "Show me the money!" will live rent free in my head forever.
Cutest callback to the original series:
Along with the funeral scene in "Winter," I found Rory's walk through the empty Gilmore mansion legitimately impactful. It could have easily come off as maudlin, but worked well due to Edward Herrmann's immense talent in the original series. His presence is so strong throughout "AYitL" that it feels right to see and hear him onscreen, even if it's just via flashback — to "Face-Off" and "Love and War and Snow."
The conversation between Rory and Christopher is one of the reboot's weirdest. The dialogue is less like a real conversation and more like, "Here are your updates on their relationship, audience." The foreshadowing of Rory's pregnancy, and presumably her own decision to become a Lorelai-esque single parent, is likewise stilted. When watching for the first time, it feels totally out of left field for Rory to bluntly ask, "How did you feel about Mom raising me alone?" The question is valid, I just don't buy that in her moment of crisis — which crystallizes after the pregnancy reveal — Rory would look for advice from the deadbeat dad she hasn't properly spoken to in years.
Dumbest plot contrivance:
Lorelai goes to California in hopes of a Cheryl Strayed-style hiking epiphany and somehow has one despite never entering the woods. This would be fine if the context for her revelation went beyond one nice anecdote about Richard that she shares with her mother and a campfire conversation with randos about how Luke is a "good guy." Maybe she realizes life is short, plenty of men suck, and she should be appreciative of what she has? Wasting forty-five minutes on this "book or movie" bullshit is unforgivable when the rationale is hazy. If there's no payoff at the end of the journey, then what the fuck is the point? The Palladinos' work would improve tenfold if they were forced to ask themselves these questions more often.
Favorite song of the episode:
Sam Phillips' "Reflecting Light" gets me every time, especially when paired with an excess of twinkle lights. I could have done without the tunnel of hats, awkward dancing, and cut-ins of Berta's children, but I'm trying to appreciate the small moments.
Luke Danes wig watch:
I can only assume John Travolta in "Swordfish" was the inspiration for Luke's hairline. I could see him from four hundred yards away and still know that none of the hair in the front is growing from his scalp.
I'm likewise stunned by Lorelai's high half ponytail secured by a metallic ribbon.
I understand that the Palladinos wanted to take this series "full freakin' circle," I just wish they had come up with better ideas to fill the space between Richard's funeral and Rory's pregnancy announcement. If they wanted to end "AYitL" with another strong single mom on the horizon, they should have structured the season around the generational divide between each of the Gilmore girls, a theme that's always been present but never fully developed.
With Rory now the same age as her mom in S1 and Lorelai creeping toward grandma status, there's something to be said about the way they each handle different phases of life. The cliffhanger ending (which I'll talk about later) could have felt deserved if the season had been a cohesive deep dive into the characters without bullshit interruptions like "Stars Hollow: The Musical." By trying to cram everything into six hours, time that could have been spent developing meaningful internal conflict is squandered on plots that don't serve the larger story. Wasting time on townie shenanigans is more forgivable when there are twenty-two episodes per season, less so with a limited series playing ten years of catchup. I feel the same way about "Susan," the fourth episode in the (otherwise excellent) final season of "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel." If you're going to flash forward twenty-seven years over nine episodes, scrap Midge's garbage gig. No one will miss it.
For as much as I bitch about the Palladinos, I have great respect for their work and truly believe "Maisel" will stand the test of time even better than the first five seasons of "Gilmore Girls." When Amy and Dan get it right, they're some of the best character-driven storytellers on television; when they get it wrong, they're obnoxious theater kids singing an off-key version of "Sunrise, Sunset" at the school talent show while everyone cringes. "AYitL" is the ultimate embarrassing showtune and revisiting it has been an extreme test of my commitment to the completionist nature of this rewatch project. Once my final word is typed, I'm erasing the revival from my brain a la "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind." I'm not sure how the vision got so fucked. Maybe their hearts weren't in it but the money was too good or limited actor availability necessitated a rushed writing process. Most likely, they were preoccupied with "Maisel," which premiered one year later.
"Fall," the least hostile episode of the revival, gives viewers the long-awaited wedding between Luke and Lorelai. Unfortunately, it's hard to summon fuzzy feelings for a union between two stunted people who still don't know how surrogacy works in 2016. I hate the writerly convention of marriage and/or babies as a silver bullet for every relationship problem. If these two idiots have made little progress since their S6 breakup, what is a piece of paper going to solve? It might prevent Emily from snidely referring to Luke as Lorelai's "partner," but I'm confident she'll find an even more effective way to push buttons post-ceremony (unless she starts smoking weed when Massachusetts legalizes it). Their biggest issue, lack of communication, is not something that can be fixed without concerted effort. A legal formality isn't going to magically ameliorate their money weirdness and absent zsa zsa zsu.
At the start of the episode, Lorelai is in California, preparing to hike the Pacific Crest Trail because "Eat, Pray, Love" wasn't in the production budget. Her first attempt — in cargo pants and puppy dog beanie — is thwarted by Mr. Melanie Lynskey (Jason Ritter), who sends all the Cheryl Strayed/Reese Witherspoon devotees back to the motel with a warning of inclement weather. That night, everyone sits around an outdoor fire, sharing midlife crisis lamentations. When it's Lorelai's turn, she describes feeling like "the whole world is moving, and I'm standing completely still," which is what she should have told Luke and Claudia, not this group of randos worshiping at the shrine of Hello Sunshine. The whole "Wild" subplot is a ploy to build tension in Luke and Lorelai's relationship before the inevitable wedding. There's no other reason for her to ominously leave Stars Hollow without so much as a half-baked explanation of her emotional state. "It's never or now" is a fortune cookie sentiment, not a reasonable parting line before certain death.
The morning after her campfire speech, Lorelai, now in skinny jeans, sets out for hiking attempt number two only to realize that her trail permit is buried in her overstuffed backpack. Park ranger Nate Fisher (Peter Krause), ever the stickler for rules, refuses to grant her permitless entry despite numerous efforts at charming him into submission. Isn't it cool that communing with nature is more difficult than buying a gun? I love America!
There's a running joke about how ill-prepared all of the women are that is very "Aww, isn't incompetence cute?" Carol (Laurel Moglen), the wilderness-savvy thru-hiker/possum puncher (and the elder Gilmores' former maid), is the only one likely to emerge from the forest unscathed. Allie (Stacey Oristano), Tracey (Julanne Chidi Hill), and Ms. Lean Cuisine are destined to show up on the local news, tearfully warning other book/movie fans that dysentery exists beyond the Oregon Trail.
With her plans ruined once again, Lorelai rents a car (why), and tries to grab a coffee at the Halfway House Cafe. When that doesn't work, she walks up a hill, calls Emily, and tells her a nice story about Richard that dissolves the tension between them and provides clarity on her life in general. Isn't it swell when characters have sudden insight apropos of nothing? Why commit to therapy when you can look out at a beautiful vista and put an existential crisis to bed in two minutes?
The phone call is supposed to be a heart-wrenching olive branch, an admission of shared love for a complicated man who wasn't always very considerate but occasionally exhibited a modicum of sensitivity. I wish Lorelai had taken some accountability and explained to Emily why she had such a difficult time summoning a nice story about Richard at his wake. Widow Emily seems more receptive to criticism and had Lorelai been upfront with her, there might have been a cathartic, sincere validation of her feelings. Considering their history, her hesitancy is unsurprising; sharing this story likely pushes the bounds of her sentimental threshold. It's a scene that could have worked if the acting and events preceding hadn't been so lackluster.
When Lorelai returns to Stars Hollow early, Luke freaks out over what he assumes is an impending breakup. It's a nice display of vulnerability that shows he's as clueless about her mental state as the viewer. He's desperate for her to stay and determined to give her whatever it is she needs, which apparently is marriage, not committing to therapy, trying medication, eating a vegetable, cutting down on caffeine, and/or incorporating exercise into her routine. The whole "Wild" charade and its subsequent aftermath is a convoluted way to land at this very obvious destination and honestly, I'm not sure if the phone call with Emily is even connected to this matrimonial desire. None of the disparate threads come together cleanly, which leaves me feeling lukewarm about an event that's been years in the making.
I wouldn't be gung-ho about marrying someone who left me in the lurch while they ate freeze-dried meatballs in a sad motel room. Thankfully, Luke is a simple man who skirts past the insanity, through the pink curtains, and onto the twinkle light-bedecked gazebo where unheard vows are exchanged. I know I'm supposed to care (and maybe I would if there had been a Steely Dan flash mob), but I just can't get it up for these characters anymore. When the storytelling supports it, I'm all about dysfunctional, problematic assholes getting their happy ending (see: "You're the Worst"). In the case of Luke and Lorelai, the Palladinos slap-dashed everything together without landing on a compelling reason for their lack of synchronicity. I need more than a vague midlife crisis and will-they-won't-they redux to keep me invested and this revival fails to build intrigue. It feels too much like S7 ideas that have been slightly adjusted to account for a lengthier passing of time.
The Dragonfly drama is likewise been there, done that, don't care. It's another plot used to amplify Lorelai's unease and, like all of her other money troubles, is resolved with generational wealth. Per usual, there are strings attached: she and Luke must spend three weeks in Nantucket with Emily each year in order to secure the diner franchise inheritance for the annex. If all goes well with "those Blackstone pricks," they won't even have to share a house with her while on the island, so it's a minor request. Maybe she'll even let them call it "Vagina House."
Much like their S6 estrangement, Rory and Lorelai have separate storylines for most of "Fall." While Lorelai monitors the Sierra Pelona Motel ice machine, Rory has a discount Spirit Halloween experience with the Life and Death Brigade. Paying homage to the beloved "You Jump, I Jump, Jack," is a good idea in theory only. Past the age of twenty-five, getting drunk and hitting golf balls off the roof is a cry for help. The guys I ran cross country with in college remind me of a low rent version of the LDB. To give you some context, they once got in trouble for shitting on each other in the locker room. I can't recall the exact details, only that one guy was paid money to let another guy shit on his chest in front of everyone. It was horrifyingly funny at the time, but I can't see anyone laughing about it now. Actually, that's a lie... I'd still laugh about it. Jackass foreverrrrr! In omnia paratus!
My favorite parts of the sequence are the animatronic talking crow, which feels like a nod to "A Tale of Poes and Fire," and the Doose's Market shopping spree where Logan knocks over a tray of Baby Bottle Pops, a prop likely left over from the OG series. The whole thing makes me feel sad about the ephemeral nature of life. Even if this montage of debauchery were better executed, it would still feel like a futile attempt to recapture the lost magic of youth. Seeing these dudes (and Rory) pull the same immature stunts in their thirties is a strong reminder of the passage of time. For those of us who have been watching this show on repeat off and on for decades, it's especially disconcerting. I didn't expect to be hit in the face with my own mortality while figures wearing gorilla masks emerged from a manufactured fog, but that's exactly what happened.
These characters that have had their youth preserved c/o Netflix are suddenly older, yet somehow exactly the same. Instead of conjuring comforting Stars Hollow coziness, they remind us that nostalgia is a bitch. They're doing the things they've always done but it feels wrong, at least in part because we're watching with more cynical adult eyes that don't associate their actions with specific times in our own lives. I was in college during my peak "GG" fandom. I remember lying in bed, stoned, with my BFF during our senior year and watching the umbrella jump scene. That friend now lives far away and I rarely see her. Our lives are completely different and I'm not sure we'll ever feel like we did when we were young and spending all of our free time together. It's a special period mainly because of its fleeting nature. That's the issue with all of these reboots: even when they deliver, they still can't give the people what they want because they can't turn back time.
At The King's Head Inn, Rory and Logan's farewell fuck spawns the next chapter of this circuitous story by creating another little Lorelai (a safe assumption). I imagine they'll call her Lolly. There's something realistic about watching Rory become Lorelai 2.0, but I wouldn't say it's satisfying or enjoyable. She'll publish the book, have the baby, move back to Stars Hollow, and enjoy her cemented local celebrity status as princess of Luke's Diner and published author. Logan becomes Christopher, Jess becomes Luke, Lane becomes Sookie, and the cycle repeats itself until we all lose our damn minds.
Rory's daughter grows up similarly privileged and with even higher expectations placed upon her. As Rory moves deeper into parenthood, maybe she'll recognize some of the fucked up choices her mom made and have a newfound disgust for her that she combats just like Lorelai did with Emily. Unaddressed generational trauma abounds, no one goes to therapy, rinse and repeat. I'm sure this new iteration is in the works over at Netflix because everyone loves money.
I like the theory that Rory's book mirrors the original series, which is why everything is so romanticized compared to the marginally grittier "A Year in the Life." I also wouldn't put it past the Palladinos to come out with a prequel set in the 80s, following young Lorelai during her early days at the Independence Inn. Either way, I don't see this series ending anytime soon unless their Amazon deal prevents a continuation (and I hope it has). The thought of "GG" without Edward Herrmann and Kelly Bishop is inconceivable. (Not that she's dead, but the woman is seventy-nine years old and I don't see a spin-off coming together within the next few years.)
Speaking of Emily, her trajectory is the only one I care about. Finally, after many years of being a prim and proper society lady, she's doing her own thing and telling anyone who stands in the way to get bent. She drinks sherry every afternoon, snaps up Nantucket properties with reckless abandon, uses Jack when she needs him and discards him when she doesn't, and opens herself up to new experiences and relationship dynamics. She's grown in a way that feels realistic for someone who has been hit by the finality of death and instead of crumbling, uses it as an opportunity for an exciting new chapter. If/when tragedy strikes, I hope to take it in stride like our bullshit queen. Had her arc not included Berta, it would have been damn near perfect.
- Along with Keds, these are the other potential "Fall" sponsors: Franzia, Coca-Cola, Vita Coco, KIND, Little Debbie, POND’S. Post (Honey Bunches of Oats and Fruity Pebbles), Minute Rice, Quaker Oats, and Hershey (Mounds, ICE BREAKERS). I would love to know how much Kellogg (Pop-Tarts) money they've received over the years.
- Times I was reminded of the OG series: the Euell Gibbons pine tree reference, Hello Kitty, Lorelai using her bag of trail mix as a pillow ("squirrel food"), Lorelai making wedding plans without consulting Luke, Emily's love of showtunes, sperm whale candles, Chris wanting to buy Lorelai an exorbitant wedding gift even though any involvement from him has consistently ruined her life, the idea that Kirk is going to wander into the Gilmore house and find everyone naked, and this framed photo from "Rory's Birthday Parties." What am I missing, Saul?
- Colin seems more likely to play Limp Bizkit than Rosemary Clooney at his newly acquired tango club.
- This exchange sounds like it belongs in "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel":
Lorelai, on Rory's book: "If I don't like it, I'll just sue your ass."
Rory: Wow. It's... it's good publicity. Sue me either way?
- This is one wink/nod I enjoy:
Luke, when Lorelai suggests they'll break a glass during the wedding ceremony: We're not Jewish.
Lorelai: Aren't we?
- Matt Czuchry looks even more ripped than his days on "The Good Wife."
- The Mr. Toad's Wild Ride line made me realize that duhhhh, that Palladinos are Disney adults.
- Richard Gilmore would never choose to see "An Unmarried Woman," but I love that they selected a movie with Kelly Bishop.
- Casting Julie Berman AKA Lulu Spencer from "General Hospital" as Equinox instructor Serena/Renford's fourth wife is 👩🍳💋
- I'm so happy we all got to hear Kelly Bishop say the words, "pre-colonial douche." It almost made this horrible revival worthwhile.
- My husband, a born and bred Scrantonian, confirms it is the only logical place for adult Dean to live.
- In honor of Miss Celine, I will be replacing all mentions of "tits" with "Deanna Durbins" even though I don't really understand the connection.
- Luke's comment about Donald Sutherland's jowls hits different now that we know he and Kiefer are pals.
- Thank you, Netflix, for finally allowing Michel to call Sookie a bitch. Their longstanding faux disdain for each other was incomplete without it.
- I bet they couldn't get Melissa McCarthy for the scene, but it was bizarre for Michel and Lane to be at the wedding ceremony with Sookie MIA.
- Paul finally breaks up with Rory which is good because she's a garbage person who deserves to be alone forever.
- Thank you so much for reading these "Gilmore Girls" recaps and chatting with me in the comments. I'm not sure what (if anything) is next, but I promise not to disappear completely. For now, I'll leave you with this picture of Petal and Paul Anka snuggling.