Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life: The 'Summer' of Their Discontent

Kimberly Roots
TVLine.com

Warning: This recap will tell you what happens in the Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life‘s third episode, “Summer.” If you don’t want to know, click elsewhere.

Sure, it’s “Summer,” but does anyone else feel a chill in the air?

Because even though Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life‘s third episode takes place during the warmest months of the year, its fourth act has a chilling effect on the Rory-Lorelai relationship.

Rory ends things with Logan and finds her professional groove… only to be derailed by her mother. And Lorelai finally confronts the fact that her relationship with Luke — and, let’s be honest, her relationship with herself — is long overdue for some serious examination; things are so bad, she needs time alone in the woods to sort it all out.

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Lorelai? In the woods? And the catalyst for her realization was a ballad from Taylor’s bizarre/beloved Stars Hollow: The Musical? Yeah, that’s how low our girls are as the revival’s third installment comes to a close. But there’s also Jess! And Carole King! And ABBA! (And if you need to catch up, check out recaps of Episode 1 here and Episode 2 here.)

I have a feeling it’s all going to be OK by the time “Fall” finishes. (And just in case you were wondering, I’m recapping these episodes immediately after I watch each one, so I’m no more in the know at the end of each installment than you are.)

So without further ado, here are the highlights of “Summer.”

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‘I’M NOT BACK!’ | Rory and Lorelai sit in lounge chairs at the Stars Hollow municipal pool, fully dressed and kvetching about the heat. They’re also in agreement about the undesirability of dunking one’s self in pool water. And when just about everyone who passes by welcomes Rory back to town, the younger Gilmore staunchly replies, “I’m not back!”

But guess who is? Luke’s daughter, April, who’s every bit as annoying as you remember her. She’s a 22-year-old, nose-ringed wannabe revolutionary who recently graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and lies about meeting Noam Chomsky. Sample dialogue: “I only watch German silent films.” Don’t bother rolling your eyes, because Lorelai’s already doing it for you. (With love!)

Luke and Lorelai later discuss April’s proposed trip to Germany later in the summer. She wants to kick in to help him pay for it, but he refuses. “April’s mine. I got it,” he says, all gruff and weird and Luke-like.

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ALL THE NEWS THAT’S FIT TO PRINT | If Rory seems a little on edge, it’s because she’s still no closer to a job, and now Logan’s French fiancée has moved into his apartment — meaning that when Rory visits, she’ll have to hang out at a hotel like the side piece that she is. At town meeting, Babette tells her to cheer up: She can join the 30-Something Gang. “It’s a group of kids, all your age. They’ve been to college, then out in the real world, and it spit ’em out like a stale piece of gum and now they’re back in their old rooms, like you!” she shouts. And look, Bunheads‘ Bailey De Young is one of the gang!

Rory, of course, thinks this is an abhorrent idea. She needs purpose. She needs a project. So when Taylor announces that the Stars Hollow Gazette is closing after almost 90 years in print, Rory steps up and says she’ll serve as editor. The paper’s staff consists of two elderly employees and its technology hasn’t been updated since the 1980s, and she literally has to deliver her first edition by hand, but it’s something to do.

One night while Rory’s at the office, Michel and Lorelai get a drink at the town’s secret bar at his request. What she feared is coming to pass: He’s leaving the Dragonfly for a job in New York, and they’re both really sad about it. (Side note: It surprises me that I am, too.) It’s also nice to see Yanic Truesdale get to play something a little deeper than Michel’s usual sniffy insults. Lorelai cries a bit during the meeting, then heads over to Rory’s to share the sad news. That’s when they both realize that Rory has yet to break up with her easily forgettable boyfriend, Paul. “Let’s have another round tonight,” Rory says, pulling a bottle of booze out of her desk. (#Hamilton!)

ANOTHER OPENING, ANOTHER SHOW | And if you liked that Hamilton reference, you’ll probably love Stars Hollow: The Musical, aka an original production Taylor thinks will raise some money for the town. The musical includes the requisite Lin-Manuel Miranda-inspired rap. There is a very puzzling opening number that hints at domestic violence. Smash‘s Christian Borle and Younger‘s Sutton Foster play the actors cast in the lead roles. There are dancing pilgrims. There’s an encore set to ABBA’s “Waterloo.” And Lorelai hates all of it. But she’s the only one. The rest of the production’s advisory board, which includes Carole King’s Sophie, thinks the musical is aces. The small white way, here we come!

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JESS FTW! | Did I mention that Liz and T.J. have joined a vegetable cult? Because they have, and when Jess comes to town to talk to Luke about it, he stops by the Gazette to gently usher some sense into Rory’s pretty head. We learn that they haven’t seen each other in four years; sooner than you might think, the conversation turns to how crappy Rory’s life is at the moment. “This is a rut,” he assures her. “It’s only temporary.” Then he suggests that she write a book about her and her mom — “It’s a cool story” — and they share a fond farewell before he saunters out of the office to meet Luke. Oh Rory, of all your former men, you couldn’t have gotten into a repeat romantic entanglement with this one?

THE STORY OF MY LIFE | All of this brings us to the unveiling of Richard’s fifth headstone (thanks to Emily’s perfectionism), an event attended by Rory, Lorelai, Emily and Emily’s new “friend” Jack. Rory is sure that the two are romantically involved — and she is very upset by this idea — but Emily definitively states that she’s “not moving on” from Richard. And it’s in this emotionally charged atmosphere that Emily mentions looking at real estate with Luke… which she quickly and smugly notes is news to her daughter.

So Lorelai is already spinning by the time Rory meets them at the cemetery. And when Rory announces that she’s found her professional purpose in authoring a nonfiction book about her mom and herself, Lorelai flat-out rejects the idea. “No, I don’t want you to write that,” Lorelai tells her shocked kid. “I went through this effort for many, many years making sure people only knew what I wanted them to know. Now you’re going to lay it all out in a book?”

Rory says her mom is overreacting and refuses to give in. “I’m sorry. I have to,” she says. “Without this, it’s grad school or groveling for jobs I don’t want.” And when Lorelai gets all haughty and do-what-you-have-to-do, Rory shuts that down, too. “No, that’s not how you and I work. We don’t do the passive-aggressive thing. That’s how you and your mother work. You’re supposed to be on my side.” Then she takes off.

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INTO THE WOODS | Rory makes tracks for Lane’s, where she keeps “accidentally” calling Logan until he calls back wondering what the heck is going on. The conversation doesn’t go well. “So that’s it. We’re breaking up. Except we can’t break up, because we’re nothing,” Rory says, crying and then hanging up. Lane says it best as she comforts her friend: “This adult stuff is hard, isn’t it?”

Things aren’t going much better for Lorelai. She argued with Luke at the diner about everything they didn’t tell each other — he doesn’t believe she’s going to therapy by herself, but he stops short of accusing her of anything specific — and got pulled into a rehearsal of an additional song for the musical on the way home. (I defy anyone to not question his or her life choices just a little after listening to Foster sing the lyrics “It’s never or now.”)

When they finally see each other again at the house, she’s got news. “I’m going away, and I might be gone a while,” she says, on the verge of tears. He doesn’t understand. “I’m going to do Wild,” she explains, referencing the Cheryl Strayed memoir we saw her reading at the pool at the start of the episode. After a bit of back and forth where he reminds her that Wild takes place in the outdoors and that means she’ll have to do a lot of hiking and being among nature, he can’t figure out why she wants to go alone. “Because,” she says, crying, “it’s never or now.”

Now it’s your turn. Grade “Summer” via the poll below, then hit the comments to expand upon your thoughts. 

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