Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Gilmore Girls: 'Partings' (6x22)

This episode was an interesting watch for a number of reasons, but before going into the actual stuff that happened I've got to comment on the ridiculousness of the episode promo. I can understand wanting people to watch the episode, and I will admit that I'd vaguely heard about the big plot twist online, but it's one thing to skim over some spoilers on a message board post, it's another to see the whole episode condensed into thirty seconds in the episode trailer. Some of the previous trailers had done an interesting job of misleading the audience, notably "I'm pregnant" from last week, but here there's no twist, we get everything except the last thirty seconds of the episode, and that kills a lot of the dramatic tension. It's the show's season finale, people are probably going to watch, there's no need to give away the entire episode, quite literally in this case.

So, that colored my viewing. Most of the stuff from the trailer was in the last fifteen minutes of the episode, so I was pretty much waiting for those. It's tough to watch this stuff, if you watch on DVD, a lot of the spoilers are out there, so it's tough to avoid them, but if you watch on actual TV, you get them in the promos. Even if I hadn't watched last week's promo, they replayed it right before the episode. Ridiculous stuff, WB, hopefully your spawn the CW will do a better job of keeping secrets with its promos.

Anyway, on to the episode itself. I think it's tough to objectively evaluate season finales, particulary when I knew this was the last Palladino episode. So, there's this impending sense of doom, I was checking the clock a lot, watching it tick down and wishing that this would end up being a two hour episode. I remember watching the final episode of Twin Peaks and just sitting there stunned at the end, wihsing that I could get just a little bit more, and I had a similar feeling here. The troubador stuff would have been a fun bit in any other episode, but here I desperately want to see more with Lorelai, and they're taking screentime that could be spent on that. So, the episode has the obligation of being not only good, it's got to the absouletly best hour of story that could be told. In that respect, it doesn't quite measure up, but those final fifteen minutes were brilliant.

The opening scene was striking, and I love the way it came back at the end. Lorelai is in such a funk by this point that she's barely even to wake up. The scene with Patti at her house was probably the best demonstration of this, she knows Luke is looking for her, but she's still avoiding him. This was also a nice example of melding the usual town comedy bits with the heavy drama. So, we get the typical Patti innuendos, but are more focused on the fact that she's covering for Lorelai, who is right there, but won't go to Luke.

From there, we head off to the lengthy Emily and Richard scene. The fact that Emily is trying to set Christopher up with someone implies that she does legitimately believe in Luke and Lorelai as a couple, and her talking last week wasn't implying that Lorelai should actually get together with Christopher. She's now trying to set Christopher up with Lorelai present. This scene had an odd dynamic, I feel like we'd seen the dinner table bit in a bunch of previous episodes, and doing this extended comedy riff felt a bit out of place in the context of the whole episode. Obviously, it was designed to set up what happens with Christopher and Lorelai later, but I think the seeds of that had been set up sufficiently in previous episodes, and we didn't need such an extended scene to do that.

So, before I head into the rest of the stuff with Lorelai, let me take a quick detour to go over the rest of the stuff. I really liked seeing Mary Lynn Raskjub guest on the show, and on the whole, I really did like the troubador bit. I don't think any of those scenes should be cut, it's just that I feel like we could have used a bit more with our core characters. This was an episode that demanded an extra ten or fifteen minutes.

At this point, Lorelai is a totally dominant character, and Rory is almost like Lane, existing off in her own little subplotverse. Side note, I would have liked to have seen Lane's take on the troubadors, though this certainly wasn't an episode that needed any additional material. Back in the show's early days, it was a pretty much even split between Lorelai and Rory, and it was their connection that was the show's main focus. After they had to split up in season four, Lorelai has gradually become the dominant character on the show. I don't think Rory has ever developed the complexity of Lorelai, I really enjoyed her 'Dark Rory' arc earlier this year but since then, she hasn't had much of anything to do.

So, her stuff here is pretty solid, but nothing that unexpected. The Mitchum scene was the high point, as he makes her aware of something she probably already knew, that Logan does need to grow up, and going to London coul be good for him. So, she agrees to make the personal sacrifice and spend some time without him. The scene where Rory breaks down crying as he's about to go was arguably her best acting in the show's whole run, her break into tears felt totally real and gave the scene a poignance that the events themselves did not automatically justify.

So, back to Lorelai. I think something like the psychiatrist scene was a long time coming. I've mentioned this before in relation to this show, but when a show runs for a long time, you're inevitably going to repeat plot lines, you can either choose to ignore that, or use it as the basis for the characters' flaws. Once they have these flaws, it's logical to make them self examine. So, here we find out exactly how Lorelai feels about Luke, she thought he was the one, and this may have created a distance in all her other relationships. If he's the one, the ultimate destination, it's logical that she would fall into depression when things aren't working out. If things don't work out with Luke, is she destined to live the rest of her life alone?

The scene with Luke was great, the culmination of everything this season has been leading to. Lorelai finally lets him know how she was feeling and he remains unable to see how much she's hurting. Lorelai's desperation reaches its culmination here, everything she's been wanting to say spills out, but it's too much for Luke to take all at once and he freezes up. One could certainly say that Lorelai may have been too aggressive in springing all her problems on Luke at once, particularly after avoiding him for so long. But, at the same time, Luke is pretty stupid here, particularly in letting her go when she's so clearly angry. During that long lingering shot on the band, I was hoping to see Luke at least attempting to pursue her. However, there was nothing.

And that leads us to the final moments. The previews pretty much spoiled this, but it's still an interesting development. The final scene shows Lorelai still looking dazed and out of it. So, it's not like she's recognized that Christopher is the one and decided to be with him, her justification is just what she says, that shecan't be alone tonight. This season has spent a lot of time flirting with the idea of Christopher and Lorelai has a couple, be it through Lorelai taking care of Gigi, or attending the wedding together. So, I feel like Lorelai and Christopher could easily work as a couple, something that's been aided by the fact that we've barely seen her with Luke in the second half of the season. So, we've lost track of the basis of their relationship.

It wouldn't be that tough to reverse things. Certainly, last year's business with Christopher and Richard and Emily made him into quite the villain, but the agenda last year was different. That was when the goal was to make Luke and Lorelai into a working couple. Even as things were going bad with Rory, Luke was the rock for Lorelai, and she likely would have suffered much more during that time if Luke wasn't there for her. Lorelai's biggest problem now is that she has no one to turn to, and that's plunged her into this extreme depression.

While I've generally loved the way things went this season, I do find the way Luke has been portrayed to be inconsistent with what he'd done in previous years and even earlier this year. The Luke of season five would have done anything to help Lorelai, and the guy who said "Yes" to her marriage proposal a few seconds after she asked him would not have been so wishy washy here. The obvious explanation for the change is the demands of being a father. But the business with Lorelai and the party seemed to resolve that issue, and he saw a way that the two of them could work as a couple.

The way I read his response here is that he doesn't want to do something rash that could lead Anna to believe that he'd be an inappropriate influence on April. Running off and getting married on a whim coul be read like that, and I think that's what he's trying to articulate when he's talking to Lorelai. However, he ends up sounding like he's just trying to come up with an excuse. Thinking of April's feelings isn't really a valid excuse, considering the fact that she really likes Lorelai. Luke has been manuvered into a difficult place, and the fact that we've barely seen his point of view has made it difficult to sympathize with him. However, he has been the one reaching out to Lorelai, while she ran away from him. It's a bit inconsistent to not be there at all for many days, then all of a sudden ask to get married.

But, Luke is pretty stupid not to see how much Lorelai is hurting, all season this is true, but now she comes right out and says it, and he still can't get it. He has to get over the idea that April and Lorelai are seperate parts of his life, that will doom any potential relationship. His bristling at the fact that Lorelai went to see Anna is ridiculous because she did it to help him.

I guess my biggest gripe with the arc is that I wish we could have seen more of what Luke was going through. That would make it easier to understand the character's changes. Lorelai's arc this year was wonderful, really well executed and culminates in a logical low point for her.

This season, like Buffy's sixth, was by far the show's darkest, and also its most criticized. In light of this, Buffy and The Sopranos, the sixth season seems to be all about malaise and depression, exhaustion with life. I guess by this point, the characters have been through so much bad stuff, they're bound to get worn down by it. For Lorelai, this entire season has seen her at odds with the two people she cares most about, and that's exhausted her. Lauren Graham has owned this year, doing by far her best work in the show's whole run.

This episode has the odd feeling of being simultaneously a cliffhanger finale leaving you wondering what's going to happen next, and a series finale, because we'll never know what the characters' creators intended to have happen next. The Palladinos leave the show with everything in meltdown and a completely open slate for next season. There's definitely enough drama here to start a season off with, and that'll probably be helpful to David Rosenthal. Of course, any resolution is going to bother a lot of people, so it's not going to be easy.

Everything really depends on whether they choose to bring David Sutcliffe on as a regular. He's certainly more important to the show than a lot of people in the opening credits, so I would say give him the bump up. Regardless of whether he and Lorelai end up together, having him around would be a good idea. If Michel has to go to do this, we'll go on somehow. Considering Luke's reaction to the fact that Christopher left Lorelai a phone message was pretty intense, he's probably not going to be happy to find out that they slept together, and considering the state of their relationship, that might be the final break for the two of them. If Luke does find out, Lorelai will either have to reach out to him, or they'll be done.

They could easily do a sort of mutual assured destruction arc where Lorelai embarks on a relationship with Christopher, while Luke begins one with Anna, all the while still in love with each other, a messed up quadrangle of affection. I'd love to see Sherilynn Fenn come on as a regular as well. There's a lot of potential, but I can't shake the feeling that Gilmore Girls without the Palladinos is going to feel like fanfic.

It's basically wide open now. If Rosenthal wants to return the show to its roots, he could have Lorelai regret what she did, get back with Luke and then focus on the joyous adventures of Stars Hollow. Or, he could throw everyone into even more messed up situations than they were in before. If he follows the path of Buffy, season seven will lighten things up, but if the show's meant to run indefinitely, things could fall further into chaos. I think his greatest challenge will be reconciling the darkness of the stuff with Luke and Lorelai with the goofy stuff with the town. Even the Palladinos have been having some trouble with it lately, and considering what happened here, it's not going to get any easier.

There's talk of having the Palladinos come back to write the finale, but once Rosenthal takes over and commences his own plots, that will mark the end of the show as we know it. So, it's not like the Palladinos could just step back in and try to resolve everything that's been done. Unless there was some kind of jump into the future episode that's a more general show wrapup than a tieup for specific plot threads, it's pretty much over for the Palladinos. I think they created a fantastic show, one that has only gotten better as it's gone on. I may be in the minority, but I would consider seasons five and six easily the high point of the series.

I suppose that's my personal taste, I do enjoy the dramatic breakdowns rather than generally humorous stuff. It's the same with Buffy, the darker the show got, the better it got. With such strong, developed characters, it's a lot easier to relate to their emotional traumas. I think everyone did great work this season, and Lorelai's meltdown arc leant things a poignancy and power that the show never had before. It's been a fantastic journey, and I only wish the Palladinos could stay on to see it through. I'll still be watching next season, but it won't be the same.

Related Posts
Gilmore Girls: Driving Miss Gilmore (6x21) (5/3/2006)
Gilmore Girls: Super Cool Party People (6x20) (4/27/2006)
Gilmore Girls: I Get a Sidekick Out of You (6x19) (4/20/2006)


Reel Fanatic said...

Interesting stuff ... I agree that the promo was totally too revealing, and I would have found the band stuff to be much more funny with fewer bands, but overall a great finale

marria said...

Gilmore Girls TV Show is one of my favorite shows and I love to watch its every episode. In this both main characters are really good and they perform very well.

charley said...

What a wonderful show. I like the storyline of Gilmore Girls. Its each dialogue is very significant. Love this show very much.

Anonymous said...

Gilmore Girls is a lovely show. I like the bonding of mother and daughter in this entire show. Beautiful concept. said...

It won't truly have success, I believe this way.

Annie said...

Hi my mom and I have been watching this show on Netflix for a few months and we have one episode left until season seven! Eeek! I never want Gilmore Girls to be over... Anyway, you're a very good reviewer/writer; I hope to read more of your writing.