Directing and writing credits:
“Hay Bale Maze” is directed by Stephen Clancy and written by Rebecca Kirshner. Clancy was last seen on S6's "You've Been Gilmored," the one where Richard screams, "I LOVE SHRIMP. WHO ELSE LOVES SHRIMP?" This is Kirshner's tenth and final writing credit of the series. Her previous episode, "I'm a Kayak, Hear Me Roar," features Paris and Doyle's hippie, yoga-performing, "cosmic goof" alter egos that thankfully never reappear.

Most batshit crazy outfit:
Michel tells Sookie he's a "man of refine and renown," but dude is wearing a 3-button suit with every button fastened, so 🙄 The only person I've seen make this look work is Leonardo DiCaprio in "Romeo + Juliet" (1996).

Having a kid means enduring years (decades?) of hideous presents that you must deem "fab-u-lous" instead of visibly gagging. Between this bracelet and the Target-sponsored home renovation, April has taken Luke's bland aesthetic and infused it with a heavy dose of "Live, Laugh, Love." If "AYitL" gets another season, there should be a crossover episode where she nominates him for "Queer Eye."

Wasn't the haunted mask (displayed proudly on the back wall) enough torture for one year?

Most irritating Rory or Lorelai moment:
Rory's overly cutesy scab-nose story gives me minor second-hand embarrassment. Falling off a bike is a routine kid occurrence, but she frames it in a way that suggests it's something special. Logan is enamored with the whole charade, which makes me feel like a bitch for zoning out during my husband's tour of his youthful Scranton haunts. I guess I'm the bad person for not giving a shit about the building where he took freshman year calculus.

Lorelai bluntly asks Logan about his business deal gone awry, then judges his responses as if she's the most fiscally responsible person in the world. Did she forget about the time when she was a full-ass adult and couldn't afford to fix her porch because of her exorbitant onion ring budget? Logan is only twenty-five, has an Ivy League degree, and comes from eons of generational wealth. Even factoring in several more Vegas cocaine benders, he's going to be fine. And if he isn't, Rory can figure out how she wants to deal with it.

Please, Logan ... tell me more about the dot-com renaissance.

Number of times Rory or Lorelai treat their BFF like shit:
I hope Rory asked Paris if she's cool with Logan crashing at their apartment while he gets his life together. I, too, would be irate if my roommate's boyfriend drank one of my five milks and started getting his mail at our address apropos of nothing.

Lorelai complains about Logan to Sookie, who doesn't mind. Eighty percent of their friendship consists of Lorelai bitching about someone and/or demanding Sookie perform free labor without notice. The other twenty percent is Jackson drama (child demands, vasectomy lies, his inbred family of nitwits).

Best literary or pop culture references:
There's no way Paris would still want to fuck Jake Gyllenhaal after Taylor Swift's "Red" album! And don't get me started on Orlando Bloom, apple cider vinegar and brain octane oil evangelist. I know Paris is now a diehard yogi, but I don't see her embracing pseudoscience unless she falls down and smacks her little head on the pavement (yes, I stole that line from Miranda Priestly).

These two stay together forever and I won't hear otherwise.

Stars Hollow weirdness:
Taylor cons the town into spending the entire Spring Fling budget on a hay bale maze because it was apparently his childhood dream to visit one. As Michel says, "Don't they have lives? Don't they have televisions and elliptical machines? What kind of weirdo wants to walk around in a maze of hay?" It turns out, everyone does because the entire town fucking loves it. Luke is initially pissed when he sees hay bales piling up in front of his diner, but he and Zack work out a system for delivering orders amidst the chaos. I respect Kirshner's writing, but the Luke/Taylor scene should have gone more like this:

Luke Taylor, what the hell are you doing?
Taylor: Now, take it easy, Luke.
Luke: I am taking it easy, Taylor.
Taylor: No, you're not. The veins in your neck are starting to pop out at me.
Luke: I'm going to make the veins in your neck pop out. [Reveals his bracelet.] I have turquoise power coursing through my veins. The power of the Navajos, Taylor! I'll crush you like a bug.

Logan's interest in this squabble makes him more likable.

Sharpest insult or one-liner:
Where do we think Michel picked up the phrase, "I'm Audi 5000"? The only place I've heard it used is "Reality Bites" (1994), although I remember people saying "I'm outtie" a la "Clueless" (1995) IRL. The internet tells me it refers to the mid-1980s car model that was found to have "unintended acceleration" and that the originator is LL Cool J. He featured the car, which is now on view at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, on the cover of his 1987 album, "Bigger and Deffer." I can't imagine Michel coming into contact with any of these sources, so I must conclude that at one point in time, the phrase was so ubiquitous that even his prim French ass was aware of it. Regardless, it's an excellent comeback to someone snottily claiming "whatever" is outdated.

Loser, loser, double loser, as if, whatever get the picture, duhhhh.

Books mentioned/books Rory is reading:
April is back in Stars Hollow and she brought a shit ton of books with her, including Brian Greene's "The Elegant Universe" (1999) and "The Fabric of the Cosmos" (2003), Evan Harris Walker's "The Physics of Consciousness" (2000), Dennis Michael McInerney's "Big Theories Revisited" (2004), and Herman Melville's "Moby-Dick" (1851). When Luke jokingly asks if she raided the New Mexico State Library, Louise Erdrich's "Love Medicine" (1984) is also mentioned. We (thankfully) don't see much of her this season, but it's official: this dweeb is now the most literary character on "Gilmore Girls."

Best song of the episode:
The show should score more big emotional moments to diegetic Grant Lee Phillips. After Lorelai and Luke apologize to each other, we get a nice crane shot of the entire maze as "Raise the Spirit" plays. This is probably my second favorite troubadour moment, right behind the time he plays "Mona Lisa Smile" at the Firelight Festival.

The maze is a metaphor for life, get it? 🙄

This is one of my favorite episodes of the season, mainly because it feels like the start of something new instead of a weaksauce continuation of the Palladino's S6 fixations. It took the writers fourteen episodes to resolve the Christopher debacle and now that it's in the rearview mirror, Lorelai can move forward and figure out what she actually wants. The same goes for Rory, who spent most of the season treading water and is now moving forward into the next phase of life. The only thing it's missing is Emily Gilmore and her devastatingly succinct one-liners. Surely the writers could have given us one scene with her and Paris as a little treat for making it through S7's most dumpster fire-y plot lines.

After two years of dating, Logan finally makes a pilgrimage to the land of twinkle lights just in time for the Spring Fling Festival. Since losing millions of dollars on fake Facebook and cutting ties with Mitchum, he's been trying to think of the right idea that will catapult him out of Rory and Paris's apartment and back on top of the tech bro pyramid. Lorelai, who usually excels at bringing fake enthusiasm to any social situation, listens to Logan talk about his career with nary more than an occasional "hmm." In an attempt to hide her disgust for him, she flits around at warp speed, babbling about guest towels and new Thai menus. This woman has clearly taken so much cocaine that it's fueling an amount of frenetic activity that requires more cocaine, yet leaves no room for cocaine. Lorelai gives Adrian Pimento a run for his money in "Hay Bale Maze."

This is the face of someone who was up until 2AM circling colonial butter churning events in the local paper.

Rory is too busy worrying about the Providence Journal Bulletin job to pick up on the tension between Lorelai and Logan. Despite Paris's tough love warning, Rory doesn't choke at the interview and ends up having a great conversation with the editor, Kate Hessel, about her one true love, Seymour Hersh. Her youthful optimism makes me feel like a bitter old hag. Rory is thrilled to debrief on the phone with Lorelai, reveling at how adult she feels reading the newspaper on the train in her new suit. While in SH, she's anxiously awaiting a call from Kate with news of whether or not she got an offer. Once the call comes in with positive news, it becomes a back-and-forth over what's more important: stability or chasing dreams in the form of the Reston Fellowship.

Lorelai is triggered over Logan's "screw the 401k" advice as if Rory doesn't have a building at Yale named after her. Lorelai wants Rory to seek financial independence and avoid Logan's "cowabunga, dude" mentality, but neither option she's contemplating is irresponsible. As we see via the later pro/con list (a Rory staple), it's not a decision she takes lightly. Her tryst with married Dean and boat theft aside, she's not an impulsive person. Lorelai should trust her to make an informed choice sans boyfriend influence.

Is this why Rory's posture is so bad?

One downside to staying at someone's house is walking into the kitchen for a pre-bed glass of water and inciting yet another hypocritical lecture about privilege. It baffles me that Lorelai has never once considered the parallels between her and Logan. Both grew up wealthy, disappointed/embarrassed their parents, and abandoned everything in favor of building a life on their own terms.

Logan: I just spat out a whole place setting of sterling silver Royal Danish. I left my dad's company, I left that world because I have my own values.
Lorelai: I understand that.
Logan: I thought you would because that's what you did. You left the world of privilege to do things your way.
Lorelai: I guess I never thought of it that way.

How the fuck not, bitch? Does she think poors have casual private plane money? Lorelai "abandoned" her birthright privilege to open an inn, which she was only able to do because her parents covered Rory's expensive high school and college, gave her $75k randomly, and paid to fix her termite porch, along with countless other handouts. Lorelai's attitude reminds me of Lily Allen crying on the Internet about how the nepo babies have it rough because children of celebrities are often "starved" of "stability and love." Like yes, sure ... and so are plenty of normal people who don't also have family wealth and connections. But I digress! Logan comes off as an emotionally vulnerable adult whereas Lorelai sounds like a jackass.

The next day at the hay bale maze, Rory and Logan chat about factoring each other into their decision-making. Because Logan's career is up in the air, he tells Rory he'll factor her into his plans depending on what happens. At the entrance to the maze, she decides to turn down the ProJo in pursuit of the fellowship. This conversation is an improvement over the time he left the country without a single word about their status, but it's still weird for them to wait until plans are already in motion before discussing the future. The dialogue in this show often does a bad job of creating a world more complex than what we see on screen, which makes the characters feel frustratingly two-dimensional. The writing should suggest that Rory and Logan share thoughts and feelings with each other outside of what is explicitly shown.

After almost an entire year of petty bullshit, Luke and Lorelai honestly assess the dissolution of their relationship. She apologizes for fucking Christopher and is like, "I don't know why I didn't say this before." Because you're the world's least healthy person, Lorelai! That's why. Luke takes his apology even further by not only admitting wrongdoing but analyzing its root cause. Is he back to angrily buying therapy tapes? There's no other explanation for this random bout of self-awareness. As Luke watches Lorelai walk away, parting for the first time in a while on solid terms, their romantic reconciliation feels inevitable.

It's the power of the turquoise again ... compelling Luke to find his inner Dax Shepard.

Random observations:

  • Are we sure Michel didn't start the Birds Aren't Real movement? "Why on earth would you watch a bird ... when we all know they're robot spies for the government, watching you?"
  • Becoming an adult is admitting that you are probably lactose intolerant and will pay the price for going HAM on dairy. Doyle will learn to embrace Lactaid after the first time he shits his pants at work and has to creep to the bathroom, using his attaché case to hide the stain.
  • The Huntzbergers aren't cool enough to have work by a surrealist painter (Magritte) hanging in their foyer. TBH, even Velázquez is a stretch (although he was a slave owner, so they probably liked that). I believe they'd buy art for the investment, but they would only display pieces by people like Renoir, Rembrandt, Manet, etc.
Can you picture this next to some tacky, gilded bullshit?
  • In the show's millionth reference to "The Godfather," Rory calls Taylor "the Mayor of Stars Hollow and Don Corleone all wrapped up into one."
  • During April's little book monologue, my husband turned to me and asked, "Why do all the good ones get abducted?"
  • Zack and Logan previously met at Rory's twenty-first birthday party. Considering that interaction, I half-expected Zack to greet him with, "So, you're like, not as rich anymore, huh?"
  • Logan seems more like a boxer briefs guy to me, but maybe the CW didn't want his junk on display.
  • This coat isn't even remotely "That Girl." Ann Marie would never. Her blue coat — likely this one) — would make Hildy Johnson gag, but ok, the navy trench coat is a smidge "All the President's Men."
If only her beloved tapestry coat were seasonally appropriate.
  • There's no way a person of Luke’s disposition would have chosen Zack over no employee. Maybe dad mode has softened him.
  • This scene would have been better with Lorelai in the corner, silently smoking a cigarette as Logan enters the kitchen.
I'm surprised the Palladinos never did a film noir tribute episode of "GG."