Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life - Winter
By Felix Quinonez Jr.
December 6, 2016
Unfortunately, what follows is a silly, superfluous surrogacy story line that just doesn't hold a candle to what immediately preceded it. In a way it is a plausible outcome from the fight Lorelai had with Emily. But it's still hard to believe that in nine years, Lorelai and Luke never bothered to have a serious talk about children. Luckily, the story line gets dropped very quickly.
The only great thing about it is that it reintroduces the always great Paris Geller. Paris (Liza Weil), with her stylish haircut, is a live wire who easily steals the show. In a great touch, audiences hear her before they see her, and it's clear that Weil still has it.
From there, it's off to London to find Rory working on a book proposal. Unfortunately, this comes in a close second behind the surrogacy plot as the least interesting story line of the episode. There is also a very well-staged scene in which it first appears as if Rory is talking to someone on speakerphone until Logan (Matt Czuchry) walks out of a room. Not much is revealed about what has happened between them since Rory turned down his marriage proposal at the end of Season 7, but it is a bit disheartening to see that they have a “what happens in Vegas” arrangement that bears a striking similarity to their situation in college. It didn't work for Rory then and it seems a bit regressive to find her doing this again. But the show doesn't linger on them for long. It just raises questions that will, presumably, be answered in later episodes.
But the episode instead ends with Lorelai and Emily in a scene that is the flip side to their previous blowout. Where their last encounter was all fireworks and rage, here they share a reconciliatory meeting filled with remorse and melancholy. It also sets up Lorelai and Emily's upcoming therapy sessions that will no doubt play a major role in at least the next episode.
And just like that, the first chapter comes to a close. There was certainly a lot of ground to cover and a lot of faces to reintroduce, so it's no surprise that the episode would hit some snags. But the cameos were generally pleasant all around even if some were executed better than others. (The Hep Alien rehearsal was particularly delightful.)
Although the performances were strong all around, it's Lauren Graham and Kelly Bishop who stand out. It's great to see that the chemistry is still there. And there is something poignant about how the passage of time has informed their performances. Graham has given her portrayal a more pointed edge. And in a particular scene she fires potential cooks for her inn with a ferocity that would have made Emily blush. It calls to mind how merciless Emily could be with her maids. And it fits with the episode's theme of things coming full circle.
It's also great to see how they chose to honor Edward Kirk Herrmann's death. His winning, understated performance as Richard always added a sense of gravitas and warmth to the show. And it makes sense that his passing would loom largely over the show's return. His death acts as an overarching thread that ties the story lines together and adds a sense of melancholy to the events.
The first episode wasn't perfect by any means, but for the most part it was a delightful treat. There's a sense, particularly in the first act, that the show is still finding its footing. And while understandable, it seems that they went a bit overboard with the fan service cameos. By the end, things seem to more or less fall into place, and there is reason to hope that the upcoming episodes will build on the seeds planted here.