'Gilmore Girls' Season 7, Episode 22: Bon Voyage

'Gilmore Girls' Season 7, Episode 22: Bon Voyage

Directing and writing credits:
“Bon Voyage” is directed by Lee Shallat Chemel, written by David S. Rosenthal. I can officially say that even after a thoughtful revisit, this is my least favorite season of "Gilmore Girls." Although it's nice to see some characters experience real growth, the writing doesn't have the magic Palladino spark. Love them or hate them, Amy and Dan write dialogue that is immediately identifiable and unlike anything else on TV (notwithstanding the 2001 rumors that Amy Sherman-Palladino is Aaron Sorkin's pseudonym). Even worse than wrecking the lives of Sookie and Lane, S7 is just so fucking dull. Here's a short list of things I did not give a single shit about:

  • All plots related to Logan's vague internet company
  • Christopher and his brain injury
  • Richard's heart issues
  • Men in general
  • Anything Stars Hollow-related that doesn't involve Babette and/or Miss Patty

Oh, and thanks to the "Gilmore Girls" subreddit for unearthing this cringey interview with Rosenthal from 2001. I had no idea he was the type of bro douche who wrote an entire play about wanting to bang Heidi Klum. Barf.

Most batshit crazy outfit:
No shade to Christiane Amanpour as I know khaki is her signature color and I suspect these might be her real clothes, but I hate her jacket. It would probably look better if she wore it open with a tucked shirt underneath or maybe rolled up the sleeves. The long cut shortens her legs and the cuffed sleeve creates unnecessary volume in the arms which doesn't work with a fabric this stiff. And truthfully, no one, not even a foreign war correspondent, needs titty and hip pockets; however, if she feels they're necessary, who the fuck am I to say otherwise? Someone should introduce her to those dumb Fendi accessories that contain tiny pockets for no reason.

Lorelai continues her reign of terror with weird midsection choices. Instead of a giant belt, we get this red color blocking situation with a contrasting tie-waist. It's not hideously unflattering, I just don't care for it. It's like she fell asleep on the beach with only her stomach exposed and got a gnarly sunburn.

I would love to know what Amanpour thought of "AYitL." Based on her comments here, I suspect she was disappointed.

Other Lorelai low points include: her white zip-up anchor hoodie, the reemergence of her Forever 21 graduation necklace, and yet another bargain bin Anthropologie top. Rory rewears her short-sleeve green Juicy Couture track jacket for one final time. On a positive note, I've always liked her blue Friday night dinner dress from Erica Davies's Development line.

I sadly missed the chance to buy it on Poshmark for a pittance.

Most irritating Rory or Lorelai moment:
If Rory thinks for a single second that Lorelai is "fine" and not internally freaking the fuck out over her impending departure, she's been asleep at the wheel for twenty-two years. This feels like yet another character inaccuracy made to service the plot and I don't care for it. Mere episodes ago, Lorelai was hitting her hard with the whole "Don't move away, stay here with me forever" guilt trip. There's no way that bitch is instantly, believably chill in the face of a years-long separation from the daughter she's unhealthily enmeshed with. Rory should be smart enough (and secure enough in their relationship) to understand this.

I'm over Lorelai's immature "sign" nonsense when it comes to Luke. You want a sign? Try walking up to him and saying something like, "I'm still in love with you. I never stopped loving you and I want us to be together." See how he responds and there's your "sign." It takes all the guesswork out of what is a relatively straightforward scenario but requires a vulnerability she's rarely willing to exhibit. It's realistic for her character, just frustrating as hell to witness. The same goes for her whole schtick about Rory becoming "gum buddies" with Barack Obama. Considering this comment, I'm not surprised she routinely embarrasses herself around celebrities who stay at the inn.

Lorelai's hair and makeup almost make this meh Anthropologie top work.

Number of times Rory or Lorelai treat their BFF like shit:
For the first time ever, Rory and Lane have what feels like an honest conversation between two friends and not a wooden interaction written by ChatGPT. The emotional beats aren't exactly earned considering these two have shared zero meaningful scenes together during the college years; however, it's the finale, so I'll let it slide.

"I mean, I don't know what it's like to have a sister, but I feel like I do, you know? Minus those years at Yale when I barely saw you and was off living a totally different life. We'll never wake up one day as adults and realize we haven't talked in five years."

Though it may be forced, this crumb of affection is more than Lorelai ever gives Sookie, her last-minute errand bitch. When Rory's surprise going away party is revealed, Lorelai is truly shocked that Sookie didn't orchestrate the entire thing, just made all the desserts. She probably still put in a solid ten hours of work, which is small potatoes considering her usual labors.

I wonder if Luke has PTSD from the time he pinch-hit for bedrest Sookie at the Dragonfly.

Best literary or pop culture references:
Adorably, Nick Walker's website features the clip from this episode where Babette confesses her fandom to Luke. She says,

"He's just terrific — always dead on and so charming. Of course, I've always had a thing for meteorologists. They're kinda like astronauts crossed with fortune tellers, very intriguing."

How many times do we think Babette and Morey have fucked while watching Nick Walker on The Weather Channel from their jungle?

Stars Hollow weirdness:
Finally, after being pushed to the brink by Taylor Doose for the umpteenth time, the townies make the rational choice to ignore him completely when he tries to hinder Rory's party planning with talk of permits. If they can't get their graduation reenactment, they're going to party their asses off at a bon voyage bash. In typical Taylor fashion, he shows up to the party he tried ruining and makes himself the brief center of attention by using a birthing/womb metaphor that rivals Kirk's "nightie" sash in grossness. Morey supplies the tunes, Sookie fulfills everyone's pie requests, and Kirk resumes his position at the turntables. As Lulu notes, "He's really good at scratching." Maybe cat Kirk taught him the ropes.

Kirk collects his mother's social security checks while her body mummifies in a rocking chair.

Sharpest insult or one-liner:
This finale is all nostalgia and no sass. It's a good episode that does what it needs to, the lines just aren't that memorable. The best we get is this stoner comeback from Zack at the town meeting:

Taylor: You people are violating town ordinances left and right. This is highly irregular.
Zack: Dude, you're who's highly irregular.

This made me think of "Coral Palms Pt. I," from S4 of "Brooklyn Nine-Nine." Desperate to become assistant manager at The Fun Zone, Holt/Greg can't seem to convince his manager, Taylor (Jorma Taccone), that he isn't a Rasta. In some alternate dimension, Zack exists in this Florida hellscape as Taylor's estranged brother, Isaac, rival manager of a competing arcade.

If anyone belongs in "America's stinky butt" with this guy, it's Zack.

Books mentioned/books Rory is reading:
Christiane Amanpour reads Vali Nasr's "The Shia Revival: How Conflicts within Islam Will Shape the Future" (2006) while waiting for her taxi at the Dragonfly. Taylor invokes Henry Martyn Robert's "Robert's Rules of Order" (1876), which was likewise name-dropped in "You've Been Gilmored." Throughout the series, the production designers should have featured more previously referenced books in the background as little Easter eggs for their nerd viewers. I loved seeing "The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath" (1982) make yet another appearance as Rory unpacks her shit from Yale. This book was in at least three other episodes: "Double Date" (S1E12), "Richard in Stars Hollow" (S2E12), and "So... Good Talk" (S5E16).

I don't know what these women love more: "The Godfather" or Sylvia Plath.

The only other title I can identify on Rory's shelf is Gaston Leroux's "The Phantom of the Opera" (1909). It was a grave mistake not to include "Anna Karenina," "Howl," and "Dead Souls."

Best song of the episode:
Rory and Lane listen to "The Neutral" and "Pink Steam," two songs from Sonic Youth's "Rather Ripped" during their heartfelt porch conversation. I wonder if Rory has read any Dodie Bellamy, the author who inspired the latter, Thurston Moore-penned tune. This feels like a throwback to the S6 finale where Kim, Thurston, and their daughter, Coco, play "What a Waste," another song from the same album.

Also, I'm like 80% sure a brand new la-la drops in the scene where Lorelai silently cries while watching Rory sleep,

It may have taken me five years, four months, and twenty-five days, but we've finally reached the end of this "Gilmore Girls" project. By this point, I would guess that I've written no less than 300k words, many of them on how unfortunate the early aughts were for tits. Was it a wise use of my time? Who can say. If not for the readers and commenters (who were 95% articulate and respectful), I probably would have dropped off somewhere around S5. Thanks to everyone who said positive things and encouraged me to keep going.

I started writing these recaps because I desperately missed the days of Television Without Pity when writers mixed bitchiness, quality criticism, and fandom. Snark is different when it comes from a place of love and not an unabashed desire to shit all over something in an attempt to disparage those who enjoy it. I hope these recaps reminded you of the days when the internet was more like a network of niche communities exchanging ideas and less like whatever is currently happening on TikTok. Please enjoy this final installment in my magnum opus!*

Let's begin with this A+ meme from Tofuminati.

It's not realistic to me that Christiane Amanpour, Jane Pauley, Harry Belafonte, and Marisa Tomei would ever willingly choose to stay at the Dragonfly Inn, no matter its alleged twenty-six Zagat rating. There's no way Sookie's food is legendary enough to combat the world's bitchiest concierge and the creepy, hoarder grandma living room. It's one step up from LaDawn's bed and breakfast, ten steps down from the anonymity of a hotel chain in a larger city. Regardless, kudos to Mara Casey and Jami Rodofsky for finally securing Amanpour as a guest star after seven years of trying. She's perfectly blasé about Rory's accomplishments, reminding her of the small fish/big pond nature of post-grad life: "Your mother says that you've graduated Yale, editor of the Yale Daily News — that's not bad." Rory walks away with Amanpour's card and perhaps a renewed motivation to make it as a journalist, despite recent setbacks.

Lorelai and Rory's canceled rollercoaster trip is reminiscent of their elaborately planned pre-Yale week in S4 that never comes to fruition because of the "I wrote the date down wrong" snafu. There's no time for pizza at John's or amusement park shenanigans when the next step awaits. Arriving late to Friday night dinner, Rory announces that Hugo Gray has offered her a job covering the Barack Obama campaign trail for his online magazine. Lorelai is effusively enthusiastic about the opportunity, even though it means Rory will have to leave for Sioux City, Iowa in three days. When Emily worries about the grueling nature of the job, Lorelai assures her that Rory can handle it. Even Richard is excited about all of the contacts she'll make, reminding her that trash salary is fine at the beginning of a career (for someone with a trust fund). The saddest moment is when everyone simultaneously realizes that this dinner is the last they'll all have together in who knows how long.

The next day at the diner, Lorelai breaks the news about Rory's new job and the reenactment graduation cancellation. Sorry, Luke! Maybe Caesar can come up with a creative way to sell an assload of burgers and hot dogs. For once, Luke intuits how bummed the whole town is and how much everyone, especially Lorelai, needs this party for closure. With Sookie's help, he organizes a last-minute going away surprise party that requires even more effort when rain enters the forecast. The man spends all night sewing tarps and raincoats together to create a tent that probably could have just been rented from a local vendor but 🤷🏼‍♀️ it's a kind gesture nonetheless.

Conveniently, this display of emotional intelligence comes right on the heels of Lorelai telling Rory how she thinks she's done with Luke because, "I need someone who can feel, you know? Show me how he feels. He can't do that." Well, guess what, Lorelai ... he totally can when it's the series finale and the writers are determined to give everyone a happy ending after a grueling season of nonsense. I actually appreciate the lack of preamble to their reconciliation. Lorelai thanks Luke for the party, face full of tenderness, and he stammers, "I just ... like to see you happy." It's a simple statement that feels romantic only because of this man's historically stunted nature. The only other time he's been this demonstrative is when he first confessed his feelings for Lorelai at the soft opening of the Dragonfly.

This scene makes me cry every time. I blame The Mighty Lemon Drops.

When I turn the critical part of my brain off, there's something tremendously sweet about Luke's clumsy statement. As he's looking at Lorelai, it's like his eyes are saying, "This is the best I can do right now and I hope it's enough." Luke is and always has been an acts of service man. He's never been good at saying how he feels, but has always shown up for Lorelai in ways both small and large. He was there for both of Richard's hospital stints, Mimi's broken heart, several minor catastrophes — creepy men bidding on Lorelai's basket, transporting and disposing of Rory's mattress, feelings of inadequacy — and daily caffeine fixes. He knows he fucked up by shutting her out upon April's arrival. He apologized to her in "Hay Bale Maze" and now this public display feels like a return to his roots ... a different way of saying "I am all in." Instead of waiting ten years to get married, they should have found a nice city hall on the Obama campaign trail and eloped with Rory as their witness.

The party itself is what you would expect for a Stars Hollow bash. Everyone is overwhelmingly happy for Rory and excited to celebrate her in a way that most people never experience in real life. I hope she treasures this dumb fucking town that unconditionally loves her in spite of her milquetoast personality. Richard and Emily even show up to the party, irritated by the last minute invitation per usual, but beaming with pride for both Lorelai and Rory. Emily, who had been trying to manufacture a reason to keep Friday night dinners in Rory's absence, is relieved when Lorelai reveals she'll still be there (albeit, in spandex and a tube top). Again, it's a little too neat a resolution to their complicated relationship, but fuck it ... I only want soft and fuzzy shit in my "Gilmore Girls" finale.

In typical WASP fashion, Emily gets disgusted when Richard expresses his feelings.

The morning of the big move, Lorelai flits around, spewing off last-minute wisdom that is mostly useless until Rory stops her in her tracks and says, "Mom … You've given me everything I need." It's another one of those manipulative scenes that always makes me cry even though Lorelai is kind of a shitty, self-involved mom sometimes. I maintain that she's done enough damage to send Rory into an early thirties anxiety spiral (which we see in "AYitL"); however, her feelings of love and pride are undeniable. If she's done her job well enough, Rory will go off and live her own life, having independent adventures and making decisions that don't have her mother at the forefront. It's the end of an era for both women and what better way for them to celebrate it than with one final breakfast at Luke's?

In a shot that mirrors the pilot, the camera pulls away from the diner, framing the girls for one final time in Stars Hollow's signature twinkle lights. It's a fitting end to a series that is significantly more dysfunctional than its cozy exterior initially suggests, which in some ways, is what makes it great. When I return to Stars Hollow in thirty years (I need a long break from these people), maybe I'll see things differently. Depending on how severely I've addled my brain with recreational drugs, perhaps I'll be Team Emily and Richard on my next watch 😆 Only time will tell.

*I plan to write about "AYitL," it just might be a few months before I get to it. Sign up for emails if you want to be notified when a new recap is live.

Random observations:

  • While watching "Poker Face," my husband had the brilliant idea that Natasha Lyonne should play Babette if a "Gilmore Girls" prequel ever happens. Mara Casey and Jami Rudofsky — if this is in the works, I imagine she's your no-brainer first choice.
  • I'm ashamed it took this many watches for me to realize that creepy masks have apparently been de rigueur in Stars Hollow since S1:
That pink, spiky-haired mask has been a permanent fixture in Rory's room.
  • I wonder if Rory and Lorelai's rollercoaster trip included a stop at Kennywood Park. Thinking about the second drop on the Phantom's Revenge makes me queasy to this day. I haven't ridden the Boulder Dash, but can confirm the Millennium Force and Cyclone are a fun time. Or... they were when I was younger and not terrified of a neck and/or back injury.
  • Lorelai's Sandra Day O'Connor cough syrup hallucinations remind me of the time I did mushrooms and couldn't remember my own name and kept internally repeating "Pat Sajak."
  • Not only is Perfume Genius a "Gilmore Girls" fan, he perfectly describes the everlasting appeal of this show:
  • Even Christiane Amanpour is carrying a Marc Jacobs bag. Did Brenda Maben have some kind of blood oath with them?
  • When was Emily at the Ballantyne Resort? Her original reservation was thwarted by Mia in "Gilmore Girls Only."
  • Luke's OG busboy (played by Robert Lee) finally gets to speak! He says two inconsequential lines.
  • Lorelai gives sound advice about avoiding shorts on a hot bus in the middle of summer. Nothing is worse than standing up on public transit and realizing your thighs are not only stuck to the seat, but imprinted with some kind of unfortunate pattern. It's worse than swamp ass.
  • I wonder which orange sweater Rory has been lusting over. I can't remember Lorelai ever wearing one, so maybe it's something we've only seen on Rory.
  • Liz is more realistic as a successful psychic than a jewelry maker. Meth head vibe aside, she's the only person in Luke's life who calls him out on his Lorelai bullshit. Dress her up in some of Miss Patty's flowing scarves and she'll be spitting truths to every townie with money to spare.
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