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Gilmore Girls: Seasons Three & Four

Don't worry. It's not all for them.
“Thank you, Mom: you are my guidepost for everything.”

In Season Four’s “The Incredible Sinking Lorelais” both Rory and Lorelai are at their lowest point: Rory is sick, and got a D on a paper. Lorelai is worried about money and stressed about opening a new inn. Worst of all, mother and daughter are playing a terrible game of phone tag just when they need each other the most.

Unable to connect with one another—and with Lane and Sookie busy with their own daughter/mother issues—Rory and Lorelai turn to Dean (now married) and Luke (on the cusp of a divorce). Rory can’t turn to Jess, because he has a tendency to drop in and out of her life while pretending he doesn’t know that doing so sends some very confusing signals. And Lorelai doesn’t turn to her boyfriend Jason “Digger” Stiles, because theirs is not that sort of relationship.

Dean is there for Rory, which has dramatic ramifications later in Season Four when they sleep together. She wants the stability of her mother, and winds up finding a different kind of stability—one that creates instability and confusion later on. Luke is there for Lorelai, just as she says that “every now and then, just for a moment I wish I had a partner, someone to pick up the slack, someone to wait for the cable guy, make me coffee in the morning.”

This is Luke’s greatest strength: he is there. Earlier in the season, Jess accused him of doing too much. Of giving so much that he creates a sense of guilt and obligation in the recipient. (Jess later thanks Luke for all he did for him.) But, by the end of Season Four, Luke has shown that he is a good—albeit gruff—guy. He can be Lorelai’s partner, he can look out for his family, he can look out for Rory.

In Seasons One and Two, I didn’t like Luke. I had the same problem with him that I have with Mr. Darcy. [Ducks, covers, gets hit with rotten fruit anyway.] Both Luke and Mr. Darcy are, at first, judgmental jerks. I’ve always thought that part of Jane Austen’s trick in Pride and Prejudice is to show that Elizabeth Bennet likes Darcy mostly because she feels like she has earned his approval. In the parlance of Pick-Up Artists and the Men’s Rights movement, both Luke and Mr. Darcy are aces at “negging.”

Then Luke went to Rory’s graduation in the Season Three finale, and he cried during her speech, and I finally got the appeal. (Put another way, I might say that Amy Sherman-Palladino finally made him more appealing.) By Episode 20 of Season Four, “Luke Can See Her Face,” Luke realizes the person he likes most in the world, the one with whom he wants to share the great moments and the worst, is Lorelai. And that makes me happy.

It seems to make Lorelai happy, too. Over the course of Seasons Three and Four, she experiences massive personal upheavals: the Independence Inn burns down, she decides to buy the Dragonfly with Sookie, her daughter leaves home, her parents separate. But she’s got one stable rock in the middle of it all, and she’s just as happy to be there for him when he needs her.

Seasons Three and Four see an equal amount of upheaval for Rory. After a lifetime of preparation for Harvard, Rory decides to go to Yale. Why? Family, proximity, money, feelings—all those tangibles and intangibles that affect our big decisions. Although Lorelai originally disliked the plan, worrying that Rory’s decision was too influenced by Richard and Emily, she eventually gets behind the idea and redecorates Rory’s room with Yale swag.

Rory’s love life in these seasons is equally dramatic. The arrival of Jess, a moody poetic soul incapable of expressing any emotion other than disdain, spells the end for Rory and Dean’s rekindled relationship. Things with Jess implode, replode, and just plod for a while. Dean, meanwhile, rebounds by getting married. Although she dislikes Jess as much as I do, Lorelai stood by Rory through it all.

Dean has gotten so tall he doesn't fit in the frame anymore.
The consistency of that relationship, especially Lorelai’s support for Rory’s independent decisions, makes the Season Four finale all the more heartbreaking. After the emotional whirlwind of Jess, Yale, college finals, being nineteen, and everything else, Rory sleeps with Dean. After the emotional whirlwind of opening the inn and kissing Luke (not to mention earlier drama with Christopher), Lorelai finds out that Rory and Dean have slept together—and Lorelai snaps.

Did Rory deserve it? Yes and no: she slept with a married man. Did Lorelai say the right things? Yes and no: what she said was accurate, but she should have waited and said them more gently. The rift between the two is the cliffhanger on which Season Four ends, and it is an uncomfortable one. We saw how miserable Lorelai and Rory are without each other for just a few days in “The Incredible Sinking Lorelais.” What would it mean if they don’t reconcile for longer?

Highlights from Season Three and Four:

• Best Boyfriend: Wow. I don’t even know what to say: The Luke/Lorelai thing has barely started, Dean is married, Jess is too teenagerish for my liking, Jason “Digger” Stiles is all wrong…I’m voting for Marty, the random guy at Yale who seems to have a crush on Rory.

• Best Relationship: Liz and TJ.

• Creepiest Relationship: Paris and Asher Fleming, the professor who is old enough to be close friends with Rory’s grandfather.

• Best Subplot: Mrs. Kim and Lane. Oh, how they struggle in the background!

• Saddest Subplot: The gradual implosion of Emily and Richard’s marriage. I'll talk more about them in the next review.

• Best Stars Hollow Semi-Regular: Kirk.

• Best Yale Semi-Regular: Danny Strong as Rory’s editor at the school paper.

• Worst Moment: Lorelai and Rory’s fight at the end of Season Four.

• Best Episode: “They Shoot Gilmores, Don’t They?” AKA: the Dance Marathon episode, and the one where Rory and Dean break up.

Four out of four Stars Hollows.

Josie Kafka is a full-time cat servant and part-time rogue demon hunter. (What's a rogue demon?)


  1. I'm happy to know that I'm not the only one who doesn't like Jess. I just don't get why that moody teen cliché is so popular.

  2. I love "They Shoot Gilmores, Don't They." One of my favorite episodes.

    Jess is not for me either, Mark. He felt exactly like someone they chose because they wanted to have Rory rebel and move away from Dean. Ditto with having Dean get married -- I just couldn't believe it. Of course, I have an extremely long viewing relationship with Jared Padalecki, so I'm biased.

    Don't know why, but I never liked Kirk. It was like they were doing a clinically correct job of making him wacky. I remember liking him only a couple of times during the run of the series.

  3. Jess is awful. There's nothing remotely appealing about him. And I liked Milo Ventimiglia in Heroes. I like Luke throughout so far though, he's always there for Lorelai.

    It's funny, when I watch Supernatural I'm a Dean girl and when I watch Gilmore Girls... I'm a Dean girl! It must be the name ;)

  4. LOL. I'm so glad I'm not the only one who feels this way. I likewise am biased that Dean is played by Jared Padalecki. In fact, that's what initially got me to watch the Gilmore Girls on Netflix.

    But ignoring the fact that Dean is played by Sam, er, Jared, I don't think Dean and Rory should be together because I think Rory is a bad influence on Dean. Hear me out. Up until season 4, Dean is shown as a nice, kind, decent guy. When he and Rory start dating everybody in town loved him. Then he wants to get more serious than she's ready for so she kinda breaks up with him and cheats on him with Jess (Friends quote alert: WE WERE ON A BREAK!) While she is away at college, he gets married and seems to be reasonably happy until Rory hints that she's interested in getting back together (not because she's so in love with him, but because she misses the emotional stability he represents). They sleep together, both equally to blame as they are both equally aware of his marital status. Dean ends up divorced, moves back home with his family, and he and Rory continue to see each other until Rory decides being with him is too inconvenient and she's ready to move on.

    At this point Dean drops from the series because Padalecki was cast in Supernatural (hallelujah!) but I would like to think he would have continued to be the emotionally steady person he'd always been when he wasn't around Rory. However, for the rest of the series, Rory continues to be an unstable mess, getting arrested for stealing, temporarily dropping out of school, and generally making questionable decision. Dean only made bad decisions when he was in Rory's sphere of influence, but Rory continually made them regardless of her interaction or lack thereof with Dean (or Jess or Logan).


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