Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Gilmore Girls - 'That's What You Get Folks, For Makin' Whoopie' (7x02)

Much like last week, this episode has some really good scenes, and some pretty inexplicable plot developments. It's difficult to say how things would be different with the Palladinos, but there's clearly some stuff here that they would never have done, and with that, the show loses some of what made it so unique.

From a directorial standpoint, the closeups are jarring. I never really noticed it before, but they almost never did closeups during the Palladino years, so they really stand out here. The scene I'm thinking of most is with Rory/Lane at the end. Similar closeups are used during the Lorelai/Luke confrontations, but they felt more organic, as a contrast to the wide shots used to show their distance. However, there was no particular reason for them in the later scene so they just felt odd.

One thing I did like here was having Luke come to terms with how his actions last year screwed things up with Lorelai. We get a better understanding of his point of view, and even if the stuff with Liz and TJ went on a bit long, it worked well to build his character.

His interactions with Lorelai were also well done. The first meeting in the street was not realistic, but it fit find within the show's world. Staging the final confrontation at a supermarket off set, out of the Stars Hollow world, worked well to take us out of the comfort zone of Stars Hollow. The coldness of the aisles fit well with the rocky exteriors they presented to each other. Luke may say that he and Lorelai never were meant to work, but it's pretty clear he's using that as justification for the break up, it's not what he actually feels.

The other stuff that works pretty well is Lorelai's continuing attempt to deal with her emotional issues. I like the fight with Rory, though I think that Rory may be a bit out of line in insisting that Lorelai talk to her about the breakup. Rory makes the whole thing about her, ignoring her mom's pain.

I think the most difficult thing for Rosenthal while writing this must be trying to maintain the show's quirky tone without being self conscious about it. The whole Asian thing is something that the Palladinos might have done, but I don't know if they'd have gone so far with it. The scene had some good bits, but it felt a bit like someone told him, this show is about Lorelai and Rory doing wacky things, and that means he's got to fit in one such moment in each episode. It feels like an attempt to return to the style of earlier seasons, and that kind of wackiness feels a bit odd when it's surrounded by such emotionally heavy stuff. Last year, Lorelai used humor as a mask to hide her feelings, here it's totally disconnected from the emotional center of the show.

The error in this episode is a much bigger one, and that's Lane's pregnancy. This basically kills the character as she was, it's a totally nonsensical choice. For one, pregnancy storylines have been done so many times before, I don't think there's that much fresh terrain. But more importantly, the whole point of Lane is that she's rebelling against the conservative idea of women that her mother clings to. So, it makes no sense to make her pregnant after having sex one time. I would have rather seen her continue with the band and try to work out being married and in the band together. The impression I got from this episode is that we're going to see her and Zach in conflict, I wouldn't be surprised if the storyline ended with her returning to her mom's to raise the child.

All of the character's forward momentum in previous years is undone in this one action, and it's a bit ridiculous to suggest that Rory's few words at the end of the episode are enough to make her excited to go through with it. Considering the fact that she works part time at the diner and Zach doesn't seem to have a job, it could be very difficult to raise a child. I seriously question that editorial decision, it feels totally arbitrary and will likely lead only to bad things.

So, this episode did some things right, but made a few really big errors. I think there's a lot of potential in having Lorelai and Christopher try to make it work as a couple, and I'm hoping they'll at least sample that direction. And hopefully the elder Gilmores will turn up in the next episode.

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