Warning: Spoilers are ahead for Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life episode “Summer.” If you haven’t watched it yet, get back into Luke’s Diner and have more coffee; come back when you’re ready.
Rory’s back in Stars Hollow… except she’s not really back. She’s moved into her old room once again, but she bristled at the idea anyone would consider her a failure who came back home because she had nowhere else to go. Okay, Rory. You keep on being a little delusional. Rory and Lorelai spent a portion of the warm season hanging out at the Stars Hollow pool complaining about the heat and having two kids carry around their supplies for them. I can get behind both of those activities.
With Rory stressing out over finding work and realizing her situation with Logan is a terrible one, she’s floundering. Her actions remind me of when she decided to quit Yale for a brief amount of time, which led to her losing it and feeling like a failure. In short, she’s in a tough spot. Her fears of having hit her peak were personified by The Thirtysomething Gang: a group of other young adults who’ve returned home because the real world “spit them out like a stale piece of gum,” as Babette put it. I can see what they were going for by including the group, but they were referenced and mentioned so frequently I felt like I was missing out on some big gag.
Rory eventually found a bit of a purpose by becoming the editor of the Stars Hollow Gazette and thereby saving the publication. She has a fondness for the old paper; she even subscribed to it when she was away at college. Even though it didn’t pay, the gig at least gave her some drive. The gazette offices were spectacularly outdated and dusty, and though it was a simple joke, I like how longtime employee Esther was constantly filing paperwork.
While Rory put the paper back into rotation, Taylor got down to business and announced a new effort to get visitors to Stars Hollow in the summer. A musical! I liked the nod to the Lazy Hazy Crazy Days of Summer, but I would have preferred it to be the only festival on the books. Taylor decided to go big with the new Stars Hollow musical. He held intense auditions and then had the actors perform a preview for a small group, including Lorelai. Sutton Foster played the lead actor in the play exploring the history of Stars Hollow. At first, I was charmed by the big helping of quirk. That trait is, after all, a big part of Gilmore Girls (you’ve met Kirk, right?) But the musical went on and on.
Of the test group, Lorelai was the only one who recognized the musical for the garbage fire it was. As the singing continued for an inexplicably long period of time, I became baffled about why so many precious minutes of my Gilmore Girls revival were being spent on this sequence. They could have done the intro, maybe cut back now and again to show Lorelai’s discomfort, and then wrapped with a big, moving number. The finale did make me tear up, and it made Lorelai assess her life and come to a Realization.
Elsewhere in Stars Hollow, the second of Rory’s ghosts of boyfriends past came to pay a visit: Jess. Remember when he shook her out of her rut after she dropped out of Yale? He got to knock a little sense into her again. Given how each of them was in high school, it’s a flip in roles that Jess became the more practical of the two. He told her she should write a book about something she knew well, a topic only she could write about: the story of Rory and her mom. You could tell the idea immediately sparked for Rory. I would have liked to see more scenes between Rory and Jess, but this short and sweet one was enough. But dude. Just think of how much shit Jess could have given her about Logan.
Rory decided to communicate this grand idea to her mother when they went to the cemetery with Emily to view the latest headstone for Richard. Since Emily Gilmore is a perfectionist, there’s no way there could be the slightest flaw in Richard’s tombstone. Frankly, I’m surprised she didn’t erect the biggest monument in the cemetery for him. Lorelai was in a compromised state given the graveyard setting, recently finding out about Michel leaving the Dragonfly because he needed more, and the whole ordeal of the musical. Rory’s announcement about the book was too much and resulted in a mega blowout between the two of them. I get Lorelai’s hesitation. It’s the opposite of comfortable to have one’s private life put on the page. However, she might have taken the news differently on any other day. Rory chose the worst possible time.
Briefly, I need to say Emily’s journey has been poignant and heartbreaking. There are little statements about how she’s changed. For example, she doesn’t know what’s in the food Berta’s making, but she eats it without questioning, whereas she used to control and dictate every aspect of the menu. Then there’s the more obvious changes like her sleeping until noon and keeping a TV and eating in the sitting room. She’s going through quite the overhaul.
All of Lorelai’s emotions culminated in a decision to head into the wild… like the book Wild. Luke’s bewildered reaction in which he pointed out all the nature involved in a hike on the Pacific Crest Trail was everything. Lorelai and outdoors aren’t two things that go together. Even with his yelling, he reacted more calmly than I would have to the news. But it wasn’t enough to keep Lorelai from heading off to figure things out her own way.
I’m dying to know what other people thought of “Summer.” Tell me all your opinions in the comments or come talk to me on Twitter.
Kelly Bishop on the joys and pains of reuniting for Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life