Warning: This recap for the “Spring” episode of Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life contains spoilers.
In which the eldest Gilmore girls begin joint therapy, but it’s the youngest one who’s most in need of some serious time on a life coach couch.
Lorelai and Emily meet up at new therapist Claudia’s office, and things get off to a rocky start when Lorelai issues a blanket apology. Emily’s offended, and when Lorelai apologizes for the blanket apology, and then apologizes for apologizing for the blanket apology, she quickly spirals downward into a vicious circle of sorrys. Mother and daughter both want to know what notes Claudia is jotting into her book, but that’s all they agree on, except that they’ll return again next week at the same time for round two. In their second session, they share a mutual laugh about the voice of someone nicknamed “Trombone Sam,” but then the session devolves again into Emily bringing up old hurts about 16-year-old Lorelai running off with Rory, keeping her parents out of her life until she wanted to borrow money, etc. etc. Emily also accuses Lorelai of writing her a nasty letter years ago on her birthday, though Lorelai insists she never wrote such a letter. In what turns out to be their final session together, Emily goes off on Lorelai’s relationship with Luke, insisting that they’re just roommates who are unwilling to make the permanent commitment of marriage. It’s become clear that the joint therapy that began as a way to help Emily deal with her grief has become more about Lorelai’s life, and Emily seals that when she quits the joint sessions. She neglects to tell Lorelai or Claudia that, though, until Lorelai arrives for the next appointment. Since she’s there, she chats with Claudia herself, revealing more about how Richard died — it was quick, after a trip to the ICU, from which he never left. She also reveals the reason she and Luke have never married: she doesn’t do things the way her mother does.
Lorelai’s other big angst inducer: she’s worried Michel has become so frustrated with the lack of growth at the Dragonfly Inn that he’s going to leave soon.
Related: Ken Tucker Reviews “Spring”
Rory is back in London, where her book subject, Naomi Shropshire, is getting more difficult. Fretting over the need to tell “truth” in a biography, Naomi suggest she and Rory write her story as a children’s book instead. After a frantic phone call in which she’s freaking out about some guy who won’t return her calls and she accuses Rory of being unable to see humor or nuances, Rory’s next communication regarding Naomi comes from Naomi’s lawyer, who informs her their book deal is off, and that Naomi wants all the notes she took during their meetings (which mostly consist of Rory’s doodles of martini glasses and Hangman games).
Another buzzkill in London: she and Logan are eating at a fancy restaurant when Mitchum Huntzberger pops up at their table. He was unaware Logan and Rory are still in touch (let alone how in touch they are), which panics Rory that he sees them together, even though he offers to put in a call to someone at Conde Nast and make sure her oft-postponed meeting there finally goes through.
During an alumni event at Chilton, Rory talks to a class of current students and tells them how inspired she was by a music composition class she took at Chilton (Paris shares how she was inspired by Stalin). Afterwards, Headmaster Charleston has a catch-up chat with Rory and offers her a position on the Chilton faculty if she’ll get a Master’s degree. She declines, and he hints that he’s offering her the opportunity because she seems to be drifting.
And he is correct. She finally gets that meeting with Conde Nast, and she clicks with GQ editor Jim Nelson. But when Naomi nixes the book project, a desperate Rory offers to write a story on spec for GQ. When she actually delves into it — a story on why people are willing to wait in line for anything in New York — she realizes she has no good take on the topic. Also: she bonds with a group of people waiting in line at a comic book store, which includes a guy in a Wookiee suit with whom she has a one-night stand, prompting her to tell Lorelai about said Wookiee guy and about her affair with Logan.
On the heels of all that, Rory deigns to call Sandee Martin, the editor of website Sandee Says, who’s been asking her for months to come work for her. Rory, somewhat understandably after Sandee’s aggressive pursuit, assumes she already has the job, so she shows up with no ideas and very obviously without have really studied the site. Sandee, meanwhile, is in interview mode, and when the only idea Rory can muster up is a story on women who have regretful one-night stands with guys they meet at Comic Con-type events, Sandee fakes an emergency meeting request and blows Rory off. Rory reacts ungraciously to being rejected for a job she thought was beneath her.
“I’m flailing. I don’t have a plan or a list or a clue,” she tells Lorelai. “I’m just a big fat Wookiee-humping loser with no future.”
Lorelai offers a reality check: “Life has been pretty good to you so far… it was time for a few curveballs.”
Of course, that was before Sandee Says said, “No, thanks” to Rory. She ends the episode by storming into Lorelai’s house, and announcing she’s moving back home.
He gets a call from his sister, Liz, and her husband T.J., who are still together, but who have accidentally joined a “vegetable cult” to which they are committed for six million years. They thought they were signing on for a veggie co-op.
He’s also got Gilmore family issues. Emily invites him to dinner, where she reveals that Richard willed him money to finally franchise Luke’s Diner, as Richard had encouraged him to do years earlier. Luke’s taken aback, of course. Emily says the gesture was to help ensure Lorelai’s future, but Luke has never wanted to franchise the diner. That doesn’t stop Emily and her real estate agent from showing up at Luke’s a few days later, ready to take him on a tour of buildings that might be suitable for the next Luke’s outpost. It’s during the tour that Emily mentions she quit her joint therapy with Lorelai, something Luke was not aware of. When he asks Lorelai later how her therapy session with Emily went that day, she lies and tells him it was the same as usual.
She’s still grieving, of course, but not so much that her entire “Spring” isn’t spent stirring the stew of Luke and Lorelai’s lives (see above).
Elsewhere in Stars Hollow (and beyond):
* One of the longest ongoing mysteries of the series – where has Mr. Kim been all these years? – is solved: we see Mr. Kim for the first time! He waves at Lane and Rory at the town food festival… and then that’s the last we see of him or hear about him.
* Mrs. Kim is grooming a group of young Koreans to form a choir, but their musical skills are thus far sorely lacking.
* Lorelai runs into Jackson at the food festival, where he’s manning his farm market booth. She asks him about Sookie, and he says she was going to come home, but is still busy with Dan Barber at Blue Hill Farm.
* A town meeting agenda includes Taylor’s plan to paint the fire hydrants different colors, according to the aesthetic of the street corner they’re on. He’s also in a tizzy that a movie is filming in Woodbury, which is where the A-listers (including Daniel Radcliffe, Matthew McConaughey, Cate Blanchett, Jessica Chastain, and Jack Black) are staying, while Stars Hollow is getting the film’s B-list performers staying at the Dragonfly. Finally, Taylor really wants to host the town’s first gay pride parade, but there are only three gay citizens in town, and Hank from Woodbury — Taylor’s longtime nemesis — won’t lend Stars Hollow any of his town’s gay citizenry. “We lent them our riding mowers one year, why can’t they lend us their gays?” book store owner Andrew asks.
Gypsy, meanwhile asks Taylor if there’s anyone, anyone at all, he might be leaving off the list of gay Stars Hollow residents. As several townsfolk lean forward to hear his answer, he says no. “Well, there you go,” Gypsy says, answering, apparently, another of the ongoing questions in the series.
And Babette reveals the town has a secret bar.
* Lorelai likes her sammie, but she fires Rachael Ray, the latest famous chef to attempt to run a pop-up eatery in Sookie’s Dragonfly kitchen.
* At the Black and White and Read Bookstore, Lulu and Kirk are hosting movie night, which includes the debut of A Second Film by Kirk, a short film about Petal the pig getting run over by a car. It’s his follow-up to I Love Your Daughter, which won the Good Try Award at the Lake Chappaqua Film Festival.
* If there was any doubt about how well Paris is doing financially, it’s cleared up here when she mentions having donated $100,000 to Chilton’s capital improvement plan. She also lives in a five-story Manhattan townhouse (which doesn’t have an elevator, causing she and Doyle to lose a nanny because of that wicked stair climb).
* Sweet crossover: Lauren Graham’s Parenthood daughter, Mae Whitman, plays Marcie, a young woman waiting in line for crodough cakes with Lorelai and Rory. “Hey kid,” Lorelai calls out to Marcie to give her one of the crodough cakes she has secretly procured.
Questions: We Got a Few
* Why did Lorelai lie to Luke about the therapy session?
* Do we believe that Mitchum Huntzberger really doesn’t know Rory and Logan are having an affair? They seem to go out to restaurants a lot, so they’re not being too covert. Also, he was pretty stealth in the way he snuck up on them at their table… who else thinks he might totally know, and is offering to help Rory get into Conde Nast in the hopes of keeping her in the States and away from Logan (and his French heiress fiancé, Odette) in London?
* Claudia the therapist just started smoking again… not a coincidence that it happened right after her sessions with Lorelai and Emily began, right?
* Has Headmaster Charleston rewritten history? During his chat with Rory, he tells her, “I’ve always though the world of you… all of us here have.” Puh-huh! Remember when the Chilton busybodies forced Rory to interact socially with her classmates more, lest, as Charleston and his cohorts threatened, Rory not get a recommendation for Harvard? Remember how that ended: with Lorelai being called to pick up Rory in the middle of the night in Charleston’s office after her pals had broken in as part of a secret society initiation?
And while we’re picking nits, Charleston also tells Rory, “You were always internally stronger than everyone else.” What?! Does he not remember her freakout when the deer hit her car and she was too late to take the Shakespeare test? And he must not have heard about how she melted like Jell-O salad on an Arizona sidewalk in college, blowing up her whole future and dropping out of Yale because of one review by Mitchum.
It all begs the bigger question: are we supposed to just sum it up as Charleston being clueless, or is this really how the writers see Rory, as this wonderful, admirable, strong character? Because we’d argue she hasn’t been that for a long time, certainly not at the point we catch up with her in A Year in the Life.
* “Crodough cakes,” what Rory and Lorelai were waiting in line for at the Monique Aswell Bakery, really just looked like giant glazed doughnuts, right? Kinda like the ones from Randy’s Donuts in Los Angeles?
Gilmore Gift of Gab
“My big bazookas are intruding on you?” — Emily, to Lorelai, after Lorelai says Emily has pulled out the big bazookas (her grief over Richard’s death) to guilt Lorelai into continuing therapy.
“Do you want to take this inside? We’re outside, so we can only take this inside.” — Petal the pig owner Kirk, confronting the perpetrator of “pig genocide,” the roaster of a hog on a spit at the town food festival.
“Develop a creamy filling, and I’m all yours.” — Lorelai sounding unintentionally dirty while responding to Taylor’s accusation that she’s not paying attention to him at the town meeting because she’s enjoying her bag of profiteroles.
“What’s the point of living if we’re never going to bag Jennifer Lawrence?” — Michel, explaining to Lorelai that their lack of amenities is going to continue to prevent them from drawing A-list celebs to the Dragonfly.
“Michel is for me what Paris is for you… my angry friend.” — Lorelai to Rory.
“What’s up his ass?” — Paris to Rory when Mr. Sanders, her old AP Physics teacher at Chilton, runs when he sees her at the school.
“Booty buddies.” — Emily’s attempt at putting a slang term on Lorelai and Luke’s relationship, because, as she says, “anything more permanent would terrify” Lorelai.
“Liz Taylor just rose from her grave to say, ‘Whuuuut?'” — Lorelai, when Emily says marriage is permanent.
“Sorry, did I accidentally step into 2003?” — Francie, upon witnessing Paris’s epic meltdown about Doyle, Tristan, her children, her career, her general insecurities, and Francie, in the Chilton bathroom. P.S. If anyone deserves any sort of awards recognition for A Year in the Life, it is Liza Weil as Paris. She, even more than the titular girls, hasn’t lost a step in dishing out that signature GG rapid-fire dialogue, and her physical comedy is on point. Best overall moment of the miniseries so far: Paris keeping others out of the Chilton bathroom door with her stiletto-ed foot.
“Blow my colon!” — Paris’s version of a curse word/phrase.
“Get the hell away from me!” — Lorelai says those were Richard’s last words, to the nurses in the ICU.
“Call her ‘Mom.’” — Ida the real estate agent, to Luke, about Emily. Luke and Emily both shake their heads.
“Mom at 16… hot in Outlander, but elsewhere…” — Lorelai, offering one reason for why she’s never had a one-night stand.
“Did he leave the outfit on?” — Lorelai, to Rory, about her fling with the dude in the Wookiee costume.
* Kirk was frequently Taylor’s assistant in organizing town events in the original series, be it the Winter Carnival or the ill-fated Easter egg hunt, and the duo are partnered up again for the Spring International Food Festival. Sadly, Kirk has not been able to insure participation by all 195 countries around the globe, for various reasons. “Guam had a last-minute parent-teacher conference, Kazakhstan had car trouble… Bangladesh’s kid has an earache, Chad has acid reflux, Brazil’s niece had a soccer game, Turks and Caicos got foot fungus, and Singapore’s just being a d–k,” he reports to Taylor.
* Luke bought Lorelai’s basket and Jess bought Rory’s basket at the Bid on a Basket auction in the original series. In honor of that moment in their pre-romance, Lorelai outbids herself to spend $30 on the picnic basket of Stars Hollow resident Cassie. She tells Cassie the basket was good, even though she knows Cassie hoped someone else would bid on her treats.
* Rory is having an affair with the engaged-to-someone else Logan after she dumped him when he proposed to her… just like how she had an affair with then-married Dean after she dumped him to be with Jess. Just sayin’…
* Michel is upset that the Dragonfly is behind the times in terms of amenities, including the fact that there’s no spa. If only Lorelai had listened to Emily: in the series finale, Emily tried to talk Lorelai into adding a spa to the Inn, as “destination spas” were all the rage.
* Lorelai has a dream in which Paul Anka the dog appears to her as Paul Anka the singer, who makes a cameo appearance, just as he did in the “He’s Slippin’ ‘Em Bread… Dig?” episode of the original series.
* Remember Kirk’s topical T-shirt biz, the ones where “Babette Ate Oatmeal” and “Rory’s Going to Yale” were printed in white text on black tees? During the Black and White and Read Bookstore movie night, Morey is wearing one that says “A Film by Kirk.”
* During their Chilton return, we learn Paris is still sweating Tristan Dugray after all these years, and she still has a grudge against Francie, who tried to destroy Paris and her friendship with Rory back in high school. Paris is still paranoid, in fact, that Rory and Francie may be in cahoots (and later asks if Rory is sleeping with Doyle), despite that fact, as Francie points out, that Paris’s many accomplishments include being an MD, an attorney, an expert on neoclassical architecture, and a certified dental technician.
You’ve Been Gilmore-d:
* Guest stars in “Spring”: Broadway star Kerry Butler as therapist Claudia; The Affair and Bunheads star Julia Goldani Telles as Sandee Says editor Sandee Martin; funny guy and Gilmore Girls superfan Jason Mantzoukas as lawyer Robert Castellanos; Rachael Ray as herself; Scandal’s Dan Bucatinsky as GQ editor Jim Nelson; Emily Bergl as Francie; Anton Narinskiy — not Chad Michael Murray — as Tristan Degray; and TVLine editor Michael Ausiello as a guy eating a salad while others wait in a line without knowing what they’re waiting for.
* Music in “Spring”: “Pick Yourself Up” by Fred Astaire and Johnny Green.
* Pop culture references in “Spring”: Penn and Teller, Alanis Morissette, “Ironic,” Kofi Annan, Harrods, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Willy Loman, Escalus, Liza Minnelli, Liza With a Z, Blue Bloods, Law & Order, Vine, Jennifer Lawrence, Brexit, Thompson Twins, Skrillex, Lena Dunham, Rachael Ray, 92nd Street Y, Mickey Rourke, Color Me Mine, Edith Wharton, Winston Churchill, the “zombie” McDonald’s in NYC, Millennium Falcon, The Ivy, Fiddler on the Roof, Microsoft Surface, Huffington Post, Bazooka comics, Eraserhead, Slate, The Atlantic, David Foster Wallace, Consider the Lobster, Nick Cave, Radiohead, Stalin, The Art of War, Blake Shelton, cronuts, Dominique Ansel Bakery (changed to Monique Aswell), Get Shorty, LinkedIn, Confucius, Dorothy Parker, Tribeca, Fiji water, Queen Latifah, A History of Violence, Viggo Mortensen, Taco Terrie, Poppy Corn, Shopkins, Cloud Atlas, NY1, Pat Kiernan, Scarface, Donut Pub, Peter Pan donuts, Vesuvio, The Washington Post, and Red Bull.
* The food they ate in “Spring”: Swedish meatballs, Peruvian salted papas, Indonesian rice porridge, profiteroles, a Rachael Ray sammie, chicken scaloppini, linguine with meatballs, hangar steak (for Paul Anka), French fries, crodough cakes, and PJ Clarke’s burgers.
* Stars Hollow celebrations in “Spring”: The Stars Hollow Spring International Food Festival, a town meeting at Miss Patty’s, and Taylor’s failed attempt to organize a gay pride parade.
* Gilmore creator Amy Sherman-Palladino’s husband, Dan Palladino, is the writer and director of “Spring.”
* Jim Nelson, as not played by Dan Bucatinsky, is really the editor of GQ.
Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life is streaming on Netflix.