The Most Heartbreaking 'Full Circle' || Gilmore Girls Revival

Time has been a great friend to 'Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life'. While I won't say I've fallen in love with the new episodes, and I will never backtrack on my criticisms of issues with characterisations, casting, poor joke selection and general problems with adapting with a new age valuing intersectionality and diversity as the new norms - there were clear moments of strong writing.

The 'full circle' discussion has drawn varied opinions of the thousands (if not millions) of viewers - especially as the conversation evolved into, "Which boyfriend is Rory's Luke?" 

360 minutes of new footage seemed to whittle down - as the final four words took on a life of its own, embodying the 'full circle' which has defined our conversations. But, being me - I want to talk about the other full circle. I've made my peace with Rory's pregnancy and I've made my peace with the idea that there will be no more Gilmore Girls (even if I end up being proved wrong). 

But, I still found myself absolutely heartbroken at how Lorelai and Emily's relationship played out. With the series reeling from the loss of the ultimate pillar of the Gilmore family, Richard Gilmore (played by the irreplaceable Edward Herrmann) - all three Gilmore women's stories stemmed around the idea of healing and recovery.

For Rory, her recovery is focused on trying to do damage control on a faltering career - while showing a lack of resilience and self-awareness she initially exhibited in the original series and having it manifest itself into a lack of success. Her story is heightened by loss of her grandfather, a figure who represents her ultimate sanctuary in a home that brought Lorelai so much pain. Rory, after inspiration from Jess and a night to remember with the LDB, starts to see things clearly once more - especially when she gets to revisit her past in the Gilmore home, while attempting to set out her future once more.

For Lorelai, her relationship with Emily is still on shaky ground - as they continued to let their unresolved tension fester, climaxing to a distressing argument between the two in 'Winter'. Her relationship with Luke is stable, but becomes a source for concern - as Lorelai reels from the sudden loss of her father, potentially making the resalvagement of their relationship feel like a fresh memory - rather than something which occurred years earlier. Lorelai's mindset is completely shaken - subconsciously trying to deal with her greatest fears of being unvalued, unloved and being left behind - even when everything seems just fine - and doing it mostly in silence. It takes Lorelai a brief stint into nature before she lets herself see the world clearly once more, and can make legitimate steps towards repairing her romantic relationship and committing herself without fear of rejection.

Emily's story is the most poignant of all. For fifty years, Emily Gilmore had been married to the love of her life - a man that took care of her and loved her the moment she left her parent's home. He is Emily's other half as she immersed herself in her role as his wife - from running the DAR to organising ancy dinner functions. It's a life she once loved, but with Richard gone, Emily must find a way to recover and see the world on her own two feet. She initially tries to move on and date another man, before embarking on her own journey of self-discovery - an identity that is cultivated from her own choices, her own interests and a family she creates, not out of biology but because they 'bring her joy'. 

All three stories are told with varying levels of success - but I saw potential healing in Emily and Lorelai's relationship that I was subconsciously so invested in that I found myself shattered when it didn't happen exactly how I wanted it to.

In a series defined by Rory and Lorelai's friendship, as a direct result of the complexity of Emily and Lorelai - I became emotionally involved in the need for healing and acceptance in the revival. Emily and Lorelai have fought - ever since October 5, 2000 - over the idea of success by traditional vs. alternative means. Even in that famous kitchen scene, it was clear Lorelai hurt Emily immensely when she took a different path. It was clear that Lorelai doesn't see what could've been - instead, being proud of the home she has created for herself and her daughter, as she should be. There is a division between the two - arising from conflicting values, feeling abandoned, suffocated, etc - and it's never addressed fully throughout the series because neither were truly ready to put it all on the table. 

But here's the thing about death. It's ugly, painful, saddening and has the potential to catalyse a completely new event. Death makes you realise how short life is - how fleeting that feeling of stability and safety can be. It makes you remember how insignificant grudges can be, and how some fights just aren't worth the constant agony. It makes you reevaluate your sense of self.

Richard's death challenged Emily to reevaluate the biases that have made it nearly impossible to truly make amends with Lorelai. His death rattles the state of equilibrium, and as a result, Emily finds herself rejecting her misconceptions. In 'Winter', Emily takes a shot at Lorelai's relationship - insisting that the relationship between Lorelai and Luke isn't a real partnership because she's not married. She belittles it to a dressed-up roommate agreement. It's painful to watch, but it's who Emily is.

Her traditionalist values never appealed to her daughter - and neither learned to see eye-to-eye. As a result, Emily still expects Lorelai to fit into the mold of what she views as a true partnership. It's something she manages to overcome in one year - as she embraces her first job, and a family built - not out of DNA, but love and care. Sixteen years ago, Emily Gilmore would've frowned upon anyone with her status living an unconventional life. Even in 'Winter', her biases reveal themselves. Yet, she shifts her values by the time 'Fall' arrives - and ends up feeling happier having done so. 

Lorelai faces a different battle in the series - dealing with self-imposed secrecy, suppressed memories and an inability to repair due to her shutdown mode. By revealing her happiest moment with her father, she reveals one of her earliest memories of being unspeakably hurt. She was eleven years old, and she was told she wasn't enough. Lorelai Gilmore, who knew at a young age she wasn't like her parents, sought approval from her peers. And she didn't get that. She got judged, to the point she doesn't even tell this story to people - either because she doesn't remember it on a conscious level, or she really doesn't want to. Whilst Richard provided her with the ultimate perfect day, there's something painful to be said about an incredible day combined with a heartaching one. When she let those fears out in the open - to her mother - someone she had shut out for as long as she could remember, it felt like the tide was changing. 

And then, this happened.




This is the scene that drew the immediate attention of reviewers - the parallel moment unmistakeable to any human being who has watched 'Gilmore Girls' even just one time. It's the scene which initially had me asking: should the show have done more?

It's taken me an eon to realise my answer is 'no'. It was one of the healthiest conversations Emily and Lorelai have in recent memory. The scene doesn't even end here. It transcends the bounds of the parallel. It's precious, even. Emily, after having her conditions accepted, fully engages in the conversation.

"You look very happy," Emily says, smiling.

"I am. I really, really am." Lorelai responds.

It's a conversation they never could've had in the past - because Lorelai's scared Emily will turn a happy moment into a painful one, and Emily is usually too preoccupied in her schemes to see her daughter to really see her.

Even though the dialogue of 'Pilot' starts the same, it shifts into something different. There's an element of willingness, patience and unspoken understanding in both Emily and Lorelai's tones that distinctive from the original conversation between Richard and Lorelai.

In some ways, it reflects the theme of the 'full circle' through and through. It highlights the idea that the 'full circle' is an overarching theme - that it has dozens of layers and says many things beneath the surface. Maybe similarities are only skin-deep. Maybe the challenge is not picking apart the differences in a 'full circle'. The challenge is trying to understand what the impact of a 'full circle' is, and see if that story resonates.

Final Question: What did YOU think of the current conclusion to Emily and Lorelai's story?

Emily

X

P.S. I still find myself torn at Emily not being at the wedding. I understand the logistical reasons - bother in and out of the show - and I even understand the people who say marriage should be for the people getting married, as opposed to the audience. But I find myself still thinking about how much Emily Gilmore wants to be at the wedding - the intimate one. I guess we will have to see if I ever get over that. I hope you enjoyed reading! Direct message me at @tgwlover on Instagram or leave a comment below if you have thoughts!

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