Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Why "Gilmore Girls - A Year In The Life" Cannot Be The End [Spoilers]

Today, I completed the final episode of the four part Gilmore Girls revival, A Year in The Life, and to say I have thoughts would be an understatement. I should say from the outset - I am not a long time GG fan, I haven’t waited nearly a decade to see this continuation, indeed I completed my first run through of the original series a little over a week ago. I should also say that despite the much maligning that original series’ finale has taken over the years, I actually think it was a perfectly decent ending, tying the show up nicely. So what of this revival and its finale?

Lets start, perhaps paradoxically, at the end. The last four words, fabled for so long in the Gilmore Girls fandom. The four words Amy Sherman-Palladino had meant to end with all those years ago that finally came full circle here:

Rory: Mom?
Lorelai: Yeah?
Rory: I’m pregnant. 

Do I believe this was always going to be the end? Yes I’m inclined to say so, but the finale of season 7 under Palladino, with Rory at just 21 years old would have been drastically different than the finale of this special, all these years later, and so the lead in to those last 4 words would be drastically different too - you’d set it up more, with a full season behind it, really hitting the situation home before the 4 words fall.

It would be a denouement, a final revelation, not a cut to black cliffhanger. I would picture her finding out about her pregnancy early in the finale or even an episode or two earlier, telling the father, and then, together, announcing it to Lorelai, as the music swells and the pair hug eachother, all smiles.

No, what we had at the end of A Year in The Life was decidedly not about ending the show, but about giving Netflix and the Palladino’s a back door into a seemingly inevitable full Season 8.

There is just too much open ended about it - we know the baby could be Logan’s, we see her sleep with him, but clearly, between Logan, Jess, Paul and even Wookie-One-Night-Stand-Guy there are options. This isn’t just a “You get to imagine what happens to the characters next” situation, this is a legitimate cliffhanger, and one which needs examining.

If fans were left unsatisfied by the original finale, at least it could be said to have tied everything up, the party at the end seeing everyone get their happily ever after moment. This had none of that. 30 seconds earlier it did, just letting the Gilmore Girls enjoy the first moments of Lorelai’s finally happy married life. But the final 30 seconds, and those final four words in this context cut deeper. They force you to cry out for the next four words, and the next four lines, and everything which follows them.

A Year in the Life was far from a disappointment though. At its best was the final redemption between Lorelai and Emily. We got a glimpse to it in the original finale, as Lorelai found a way to engineer the continuation of Friday Night Dinner, but this four parter took it one step further. As both of the Gilmore matriarchs tried (and often failed) to come to terms with the loss of Richard, they found solace in each other.

First in therapy, then in the last conversation we see between them as Lorelai belatedly shares her memory of Richard, its a moment with overwhelming power, and one which left me in total tears.

To see how far these two have come from the start of the series is remarkable. Its a troubled relationship, but one which has clearly taken both women to their limits and back again, in their quest to come together. They love each other deeply, and always have. 

They will never be firm bosom buddies in the way Rory and Lorelai are, but the fact they have been able to come to this point is wonderful.

On Emily, Kelly Bishop puts on a tour de force performance throughout the revival. The loss of Edward Herrmann to the show was always going to be a tough one, especially for Emily, who had almost exclusively appeared along side Richard in the original series - their stories permanently linked.

To see Mrs Richard Gilmore find her place in the world, to learn how to be Emily Gilmore again, was beautiful. Her grief at the funeral/wake ; her spur of the moment selling then reversal of all the goods in her home; and then finally the decision to quit the D.A.R and sell the Gilmore mansion, these are all evolutions of the character we know and love, making her a more rounded character, a fuller person. Bishop was a master throughout and every time she was on screen she stole the scene out from under everyone else.

I am genuinely excited to see that relationship flourish more than any other the show has to offer as it moves forward, assuming it does - that and I long for more Lane, something drastically missing during A Year in The Life.

The revival as a whole felt like a snapshot, a view back into the lives of these characters, but as I’ve said, it didn’t feel like an end. I long to see where we go from here, with a full season. I get it that with scheduling getting all these characters back full time is difficult. I get it that we will lose Sookie, but thats not a reason to drop the entire show, especially when its reaching such an intriguing point. 4 episodes was always going to be a big ask to get everything lined up. It had to drop a number of the characters down to single scenes, with little room for growth. A full season would allow these characters to flourish, but also to answer the questions at the heart of A Year in the Life’s finale.

We need to find out whether Jess or Logan (the two presumably viable options) is the father, and indeed where Rory’s heart lies, none of which has been resolved yet.

My partner (who is a long time fan of the show), refers to Logan as Rory’s Christopher, and Jess as her Luke, and I’m inclined to agree. Jess is the right man for Rory (to use Lorelai’s logic from the final scene: he fits). It would be especially interesting seeing that play out if Logan turned out to be the father, while Rory’s true affection lay with Jess - it really would be a full circle finish, both for Rory’s book, and the show, a mirror reflection between the two Gilmore Girls, but with Lorelai showing the acceptance for Rory’s decisions that her own mother couldn't at the time. 

Only with one more season can we wrap the show up properly, once and for all. So lets get it done, and soon. Lets get Season 8 recorded and onto Netflix soon.