Thursday, May 11, 2006

Gilmore Girls - Season Six

So the current season of Gilmore Girls, and the last on the WB, has ended, and it seems that many a viewer and on-line fan is none too happy with the storyline, either from the majority of the season itself, really, or most certainly the season finale. For just one example, Alan Sepinwall, over at What's Alan Watching?, provides his problems with the finale in a very good post here, but I've read many other complaints from disgusted GG fans in the past day or two, especially from the nearly incensed message board fans over at Television without Pity.

So--what happened? Spoilers lie ahead, so if you don't care to know (I'm thinking of you, Lefty) how this season ended before you get to it, click away now.


Season six featured a few prominent storylines that arced throughout the year. To wit:

To set the stage for the beginning of the season--at the end of season five, Rory left school and went to live with her grandparents after her rich boyfriend's publisher father shattered her confidence and her long-term ambitions after an internship at one of his papers, telling her that she "didn't have it" to succeed as a journalist. Some self-destructive behavior later (stealing a boat), and after a heated mother-daughter confrontation over Rory's future, Rory and Lorelai were estranged. When a despondent Lorelai told Luke about what had happened, she was inspired by his instinctive need to help and protect her, and his obvious love for Rory, to propose. He accepted. Instantly.

So season seven then went through the following long-term stories:

Rory stayed out of school and out-of-touch with her mother for a while before her triumphant return--to school, family, and overachieving--about a third of the way through the year.

Luke discovered that he'd unknowingly fathered a daughter thirteen or so years previous. After deciding that he needed to be in his daughter's life, that he couldn't accept knowing about her and not getting to know her, Luke put off telling Lorelai about her. And even after she found out about the daughter, Luke made a concsious decision to keep Lorelai from meeting her.

As a result of the daughter stuff, L&L postponed their wedding.

Rory broke up with boyfriend Logan briefly, then got back together with him. This repeated once.

Rory really knew she loved Logan after he almost died.

The whole daughter issue conitinued to drive wedges between L&L, as Luke felt he needed to be there for his new daughter and Lorelai felt more and more pushed out.

This set up the season finale, in which a distressed Lorelai gave Luke an ultimatum--let's elope or it's over. He didn't respond well, so she left.

. . . Which set up our final shot of the season: a clearly miserable, crushed Lorelai in bed "the morning after" with Rory's father, Christopher.

Now, the problem so many have had with this season rests on pretty much two complaints, both centered around how L&L were supposedly "Acting out of character":

1) That Luke would never have kept his daughter (April) a secret, or been so blind as to how he was pushing Lorelai away by keeping her from April.

2) That Lorelai would never have accepted being pushed out and would have addressed the issues long before they came to the head they came to.

I, as you may have surmised, disagree. The Luke that's been built up over the past five and a half years was very single-minded, a bit obtuse about others' emotions, and very traditional regarding family. In fact, in seasons two and three he was suddenly put in charge of his nephew, Jess, a sullen, angry teenager, and felt that he completely blew the job--Jess ran away and didn't finish high school. So, that upon finding out he was a father he might freak a bit--and also get protective about introducing the dynamic, sure-to-be-loved, much-more-fun-than-he Lorelai to his new daughter--strikes me as very much in-character. In short, Luke's always been obtuse. This wasn't new.

As for Lorelai, as she herself said in the finale, she had never been in love before befoe falling in love with Luke. The notion that she would keep quiet about things that were upsetting her, for fear of losing him, struck me as true. ESPECIALLY since she lost her daughter for a time just months before for speaking her mind, and would naturally be nervous about upsetting amd maybe losing the only other person she loved. And ESPECIALLY ESPECIALLY since she already lost him once before, in season five, when her mother drove them apart. And remember--the Sherman-Palladinos went out of their way in that mini-arc to hammer home how devastated she was to lose him; the crying, grieving, destroyed Lorelai was someone we hadn't seen before. Her reticence to stir up trouble, especially around such a fraught topic--the man had discovered that he had a daughter--seemed real.

Now, about that final moment. What's interesting about it to me is that a year and a half ago the writers told us it would happen. Or rather, Rory did. "If you come back into her life you'll ruin what she has with Luke," said Rory to her father. He didn't listen, and here we are. Very effective foreshadowing. That being said, the moment worked for me because of the very clear pain and near-terror Graham showed us in that final shot. This is a woman who has always had real problems with relationships, who has always been bad at dealing with men, who has screwed up completely and knows it. She's not happy, and she knows (and I would say, knew while she was doing it) that sex with Christopher was wrong, wrong, wrong. This is what people do. They make real bad mistakes, many times consciously. The moment was heartbreaking, and sad, and not happy, but out-of-character? I don't think so.

And now we wait until next year. I still think the series will end with a happy and wed, and pregnant, Luke and Lorelai looking to their bright futire. It's just going ot be some hard work to get there. I'm very, very curious to see how David Rosenfield, the new show runner, handles next season.

Until Whenever


Reel Fanatic said...

Mr. Rosenfeld does indeed have a tall order in front of him, but I think he will do just fine .... Given so many sad finales, I too think we we will ultimately end up with a fat, happy Lorelai marrying Luke, and Rory marrying Logan

Tosy And Cosh said...

It's the reports that Rosenthal is, well, nuts, that have me worried. . .