[Warning! This story contains spoilers from the final episode of Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life! Read at your own risk!]
There was a lot riding on the final four words of Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. For the decade between when Amy Sherman-Palladino left the series she created and the arrival of Netflix's four new chapters, the final words were discussed so often that they reached near legendary status. They were treated by some members of the media like they held the answer to life, the universe and everything (which is not true because The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy already told us that was 42).
It didn't seem possible that the words planned a decade ago would be able to live up to to the high expectations created by years of build up. This led fans to be cautious, as if Sherman-Palladino would troll us by delivering a closing statement about the virtues of pizza-flavored Pop Tarts or something that held equally little emotional value. Instead, what we received was an exchange between mother and daughter that effectively allowed the series to come full circle in a not entirely surprising but oddly fitting manner.
The final words were spoken the morning after Lorelai's romantic middle-of-the-night wedding to Luke (Scott Patterson), and although Lorelai appeared surprised by Rory's confession -- after all, the father is most likely Rory's ex-boyfriend Logan (Matt Czuchry), and he's engaged to another woman -- it was a rather appropriate ending to a series about the often complicated relationships between mothers and daughters and one that also captured the cyclical nature of life.
That Rory, who is a younger version of Lorelai right down to the name, would follow in her mother's footsteps in this particular arena is not entirely surprising given the way the show has always painted her as a miniature version of Lorelai. But the situation is less than ideal because of how we reached this destination and because despite repeated attempts to rub the shine off her angelic features over the years, Rory was still painted as a sensible planner. That is not to say there weren't plenty of instances in which the younger Lorelai proved she wasn't as perfect as everyone wanted her to be -- when she blew off school to visit Jess (Milo Ventimiglia) in New York and missed Lorelai's graduation, when she slept with Dean (Jared Padalecki) while he was still married to Lindsay and when she stole a yacht and dropped out of Yale are all good examples of this -- but for better or worse her halo, however dull and damaged, remained.
Now in the wake of Rory's unplanned pregnancy we have to consider what it means that she's followed Lorelai down the path to single motherhood. Knowing that this was apparently the end point Sherman-Palladino had always planned for Rory makes this a bit complicated, especially since Rory is a decade older than she was in the series finale and 16 years older than Lorelai was when she had Rory. But even if we'd like to think Rory is smart enough to use birth control, there's also something oddly comforting about the circular nature of life and storytelling. Their story is not really a cautionary tale, after all; Lorelai found her best friend in Rory and has few regrets about her life, at least where her daughter is concerned. It's the subject of the book Rory is writing and the fact that Lorelai eventually relented and agreed to let Rory write their story is evidence of this.
The fact that Rory is likely going down this path with Logan, however, is where things start to get problematic and where some fans will likely and rightfully take issue. Rory and Logan's affair throughout A Year in the Life marks the second time Rory has been involved with a man who should be off limits. Sleeping with Dean all those years ago is considered by many to be one of Rory's lowest moments, and the fact that she's no wiser and doesn't mind being the other woman again until Logan suggests she stay in a hotel during her next visit to London is likely to enrage many fans. And it should. It was careless and wrong and Rory should know better. That she was also involved with Paul, even if he was so unmemorable she kept forgetting about him, highlighted how truly selfish Rory is capable of being. But the affair, much like Rory's one-night stand with a Wookiee in "Spring," is meant to highlight how little control she has over her life these days. It's also meant to show that, like Lorelai, she can't quit her own version of Christopher (David Sutcliffe). So was it necessary to go there? Well, in the interest of painting Rory in the likeness of her mother, probably. But it doesn't make it any less frustrating to watch.
The series has always framed Rory and Logan's relationship within the context that Logan was a lot like her father, a wealthy man with an immature streak but who was a good guy beneath his inability to be the man she needed. And it's true that Rory and Logan's relationship didn't fail because they didn't love one another; it failed because they were never on the same page at the same time. And try as he might, Logan couldn't fix Rory in "Fall" because he didn't know how to fix her. The epic night he planned for her with Colin, Finn and Robert was one of the true highlights of the revival, but it was also a farewell to that chapter of Rory's life. As sad as that is to consider, it is also what opened the door open for Rory to move on and find her path, and maybe even find her own Luke. And although A Year in the Life didn't offer a truly definitive answer as to who that man may be, it was at least heavily implied that Jess was still in love with her.
Although some fans will likely be unhappy at the larger implication -- much like the final four words, the subject of which of Rory's boyfriends was best suited for her became a popular topic of discussion in the years since the show went off the air in 2007 -- Rory's happy ending possibly being with Jess would make sense, and not just because he's Luke's nephew and would thus continue to play into the mirroring of Rory and Lorelai's lives. It's because Jess has always understood Rory on a level that neither Logan nor Dean could. It went beyond a mutual love of literature, overlapping musical tastes, similar sense of humor or even natural chemistry. It was about the roles they played in each other's lives.
As even Jess would admit, he made a lot of really poor decisions during his youth that put his relationship with Rory in jeopardy. But he also pushed her out of her comfort zone and pushed her to be better, much like how she pushed him to be a better person simply by believing in him when no one else did. His return in the show's sixth season revealed that he had not only matured and removed the chip from his shoulder, but he had actually grown into the man she always knew he could be. But if that's not enough to convince unhappy fans that Jess is the right man for Rory, consider this: Despite the fact that he hasn't been a regular fixture in Rory's life since high school, he has now twice done what no one -- not even Lorelai -- could do, which is right the sinking ship that is Rory Gilmore's life.
When Jess arrived to deliver a copy of the book he couldn't have written without Rory in Season 6, he also successfully convinced her to reenroll at Yale and thus reconcile with Lorelai. Now he has steered a similarly aimless Rory toward the right path once again. His suggestion that she write a book about her life with her mother (yes, it's titled Gilmore Girls) may feel a little silly or on-the-nose, but Jess found his purpose through writing and continues to work in publishing so the suggestion is not out of line. It'a also representative of what first drew them to each other. The importance of that bond should not be underestimated.
From Rory and Lorelai to Logan and Christopher and Jess and Luke, the "follow where you lead" aspect of the show's main theme was everywhere in Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. But the similarities between Lorelai and Rory have always been clear; with the exception of the former's love of books and her dedication to her studies, she is and has always been her mother's daughter. Yes, maybe the parallels between the two became a little complicated and confusing here, and maybe Rory's conversation with Christopher regarding Lorelai's decision to raise Rory by herself was a little awkward (though definitely enlightening in hindsight), but Gilmore Girls has always been a series about family, both biological and the one you create for yourself, and Rory's pregnancy and the possibility that she'll one day have her own happy ending with her own Luke completes this story. If this is really the end and thus the true "final four words," there's very little to complain about. Life isn't perfect and rarely turns out the way we imagined, but it's still pretty darn great in the grand scheme of things.
All four episodes of Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life are currently streaming on Netflix.