Netflix's 'Gilmore Girls' Revival Ends with the Perfect Shock
Warning: Spoilers for all four episodes of Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life to follow. Read no further if you haven't watched through "Fall."
As a Gilmore Girls obsessive for 16 years and counting, I was a little nervous about Netflix's glossy update to the long-ago canceled network series. I'd been burned by revivals before (*cough* Arrested Development), and the motormouthed rhythms of the original show may have been lightning in a bottle. So you can imagine my happy surprise upon finding that Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life was actually... great.
Series creator Amy Sherman-Palladino admitted shortly after departing Gilmore Girls' final season that she'd had a plan for the show's final four words, which would be shared between our girls Rory and Lorelai. When Netflix brought Sherman-Palladino back on board for their revival, she assured fans that those four words would be deployed as she'd planned back in '07 -- and wow, were they stunning. Let's break down how things ended this time around:
Gilmore Girls has a lot in common with The Lion King
Throughout the final chapter of Netflix's four-episode Year in the Life, "Fall," characters wax poetic about the circle of life, a concept we'll surely see broken down further in Disney's forthcoming live-action remake (though the cast here has way better hair).
After Lorelai spends months trying to figure out how to keep Michel from moving on past her Dragonfly Inn, she realizes it's time to expand the business, and asks Emily for a loan to buy a new property in Stars Hollow -- using the money her late father Richard had left Luke to franchise his diner. Emily being Emily, she agrees to the arrangement with one caveat: Luke and Lorelai must spend three weeks a year at her new house in Nantucket. It's a money-lending compromise pretty similar to the one that launched the series back in 2000, when Lorelai's loan for Rory's private-school tuition came at the expense of Friday night dinners with Emily and Richard.
"To the circle of life," Lorelai toasts with her mother. History repeats itself.
But wait! There's more...
No, "the circle of life" wasn't the four words we were left with. Instead:
Rory: I'm pregnant.
Rory's series-ending revelation blindsided me and made beautifully perfect sense after an immediate "Fall" rewatch. Like most fictional writers, our reformed journalist spends "Spring" and "Fall" working on a memoir to retell the events of the series we've just watched. That Rory was writing "The Gilmore Girls" as a thinly veiled novel -- upon her literary ex Jess's suggestion -- felt so on-the-nose, it was almost corny. But this was always a show about mothers and daughters, a vital relationship we explored across four generations and 16 years. It's inevitable that the Gilmore line will continue beyond Rory, and nodding to the next generation was the perfect way to acknowledge that life goes on, regardless of seasons or networks.
So who's the daddy?
Fans have already developed a smattering of theories on Rory's baby's parentage, running from ridiculous to plausible. Could she have joined Paris's team of apple-cheeked surrogates? (Come on, Rory's trust fund can't have run out yet.) Did she do it with Paul, her ghost of a boyfriend throughout the new episodes? (Paul's forgettableness was a funny running gag, but it seems doubtful that a text-message dumper would harbor enough passion to inseminate an absent partner.) Or did Rory finally hook up with Jess after those "Summer" whiskeys? (We fans have been praying to see that happen for decades, and for it to happen off-camera would be the ultimate betrayal.)
So it had to be Logan. Rory's still-infatuated ex is the Gilmore circle of life incarnate. Not to get all Freudian, but Logan is just a blond version of Rory's father, Christopher, which is pretty much the only reason she'd hang around such a duplicitous dude for so long. Throughout "Winter," "Spring," and "Summer," Rory hooks up with her rich college ex -- who's engaged to be married to another woman -- despite the fact that she has a partner of her own and knows Logan is bad news. Lorelai spent several seasons doing a similar dance with Christopher. Plus, both Logan and Christopher share a boneheaded but good-natured charm that's amplified by family fortune. On paper, they're great protectors, but when the going gets tough, they offer up some money and go running.
Rory's climactic last meeting with her father underscored that dynamic. Upon first viewing, Rory's confrontation with Christopher plays out like a responsible journalist and still-scorned daughter trying to make sense of her absent father's regrettable decisions. But if you watch it after learning of Rory's new baggage, the scene reads like she's trying to make sense of something else: how her own reckless and entitled ex-partner will react to the news of her pregnancy, and a meditation on whether Rory will want to raise a child on her own.
As a series postscript, Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life pulled off a sneaky hat-trick: leaving us with more questions about its characters' future than it filled in the blanks of the past nine years. After spending six new hours in Stars Hollow, I trust that our beloved friends and townies will be OK (except poor Lane, who got the short shrift yet again). But there's one score we absolutely must have settled: that baby had better be a freaking girl. The last thing Rory needs is to have to change her book title.
Sign up here for our daily Thrillist email, and get your fix of the best in food/drink/fun.