Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Gilmore Girls: 'I Get a Sidekick Out of You' (6x19)

This season's primary focus has been long festering disagreements between characters, in which neither will budge to admit their fault and reconcile. In the first part of the season it was Lorelai and Rory, neither of whom would reach out to each other, and thus let their disagreement linger for much longer than it should. After they resolved things, new problems emerged, most notably Lorelai's issues with Luke.

Even though the two of them aren't actually together in the episode, their issues underline everything that occurs. For Lorelai, the happiness Lane has on her wedding day is cutting, magnifying her insecurities about the overall direction of her life. The opening comedy bit, with Mrs. Kim implying she'd be seen as a hooker, plays on this, and even though she jokes about it, you can tell that it really bothers Lorelai.

Even though things go bad later, the first chunk of the episode had some pretty funny stuff. The funniest line was definitely "Your daughter's about to see Richard Gere's penis," though the whole bachelor/bachelorette party bit was a bit too consciously quirky. I'm not a big fan of the characters in the town, and it's a bit odd that Lorelai would be in change of Lane's bachelorette party. But, she is the star of the show, so I guess you've just to accept it.

Throughout the whole run of the show, Christopher has been an omnipresent force in Lorelai's life, and the way he's been perceived has fluctuated. In season five he was used as a heel, placed between the true love between Luke and Lorelai. However, back in season two, you're set up to really like him, and when he finds out that Shari is pregnant, it's devestating. The episodes that closed the season were some of the series' best, and the loss that Lorelai had then, of the chance to finally form a "traditional" family clearly lingers.

This season, Christopher has been used as a contrast to Luke, who's been very evasive and avoidy in his relationship with Lorelai. Because Christopher has hurt her so many times before, he's very conscious of the fact that he needs to treat her well, and he's become a much more likable character as a result. if Lorelai does have some kind of breakdown with Luke, Christopher is likely the person she'd go to to talk about it.

At the wedding, Lorelai and Christopher are again put in the role of a couple, and the unspoken idea is that what Lane and Zach have is what Lorelai and Christopher should have had. Chris makes this clear when he says "They've still got time to mess it up," even the best relationship can be destroyed through a bad deed, or inaction.

And for Luke and Lorelai, it's that inaction that's dooming them. Last week, Emily yelled at Lorelai, telling her to talk to Luke about April, but she already knew she had to do this and hasn't. Neither her nor Luke will budge and that's destroying their relationship. When Lorelai finds out that Rory met April, it makes things even worse. The previous week, Emily made a concerted effort to reach out to the girl she thought was Luke's daughter, something that Lorelai never did, and Lorelai can't really criticize Rory for having contact with April, it's only Lorelai's issues that make it wrong.

So, all this bad stuff leads up to her disastrous toast. This was a really tough scene to watch, since she's so clearly saying stuff she shouldn't say, and you're just stuck there watching her fall deeper and deeper into her own problems, threatening to ruin Zach and Lane's happiness with her own issues. They don't seem to be bothered too much, but for Christopher and Rory, it's disturbing to see Lorelai like that.

At this point in her life, she's lost so many relationships, and there was the sense that Luke was the ultimate destination, the one guy who really loved her and with whom she had no problems. However, it's become clear that they do have some major issues, and if things don't work out with Luke, she feels like that's the final proof of her inadaquecy in building relationships.

In doing a long form series, you're bound to repeat certain plots. Lorelai couldn't get married to Max in season one, or to Christopher in season two, but because the Palladinos continually use marriage as a way to build the importance of storylines, you're bound to end up with a lot of broken engagements. So, rather than running from that, they use it as Lorelai's character flaw, it's not that the series structure won't allow her to be married, it's her own problems that cause this, and thus, the plotting is turned into a character flaw, and can then be interrogated within the narrative. So, a potential weakness is turned into a strength. It's the same thing that Joss Whedon did with season six of Buffy, where all the character flaws that were under the surface came to a head and caused major problems.

Lorelai's problems aren't quite on Buffy season six level yet, but there's definitely the possibility of things going there. She's got major issues, and seems unwilling to reach out to Luke to resolve them. I'm hoping that next week's episode picks up where this one ended and we get to see Christopher and Lorelai review the events of the wedding. If he's aware of just how bad things are with Luke, it could give Christopher hope that he could finally get together with Lorelai, and if Luke didn't work out, he'd certainly be her top option. As the toast shows us, Lorelai is clearly lonely and that could drive her back to Christopher.

Even though I'm really liking Lorelai's breakdown storyline I do find it odd how the entire narrative of the series has been altered this season. Everything seemed to be leading up to Luke and Lorelai getting together, the seeds of the relationship have been there since the beginning, and Luke's realization that he was in love with her at season four was one of the best moments of the series. So, what happened to change things for him?

On one level, it's the need to keep the series going, but within the world of the story, we've got something of a Nate/Brenda season five dynamic. Luke always knew he loved Lorelai, so he didn't allow any other relationships to progress, assuming that when he did get together with Lorelai, then he could settle down. However, like Nate, he got together with her and is now realizing that the problems might actually be with his own independence. He's not ready for a relationship, hence the use of April as a way to get out of committing to Lorelai.

I do think that we need to explore more from Luke's perspective. It's possible that he resents Lorelai for pushing him away during the Rory exile period, and is now punishing Lorelai for doing that. It's unclear what he's thinking, he must have some idea of what keeping April from Lorelai is doing.

I'm psyched to see the last three episodes. Things seem to be headed for a major meltdown and that's always interesting to watch.

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