On Rory Gilmore's Home vs. Sanctuary || Gilmore Girls Revival

360 minutes of new 'Gilmore Girls' was released on November 25, 2016. This post will be dedicated to approximately 2 minutes of said revival.

Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life | Fall
After hitting a roadblock with her book writing plans (a fight with Lorelai), Rory puts it on hold and continues working on the Stars Hollow Gazette. That's until the Life & Death Brigade pay Rory a visit and offer her a night to remember. Is it completely over the top?Absolutely. But that's who they are. These guys are rich, rebellious individuals who never had to settle and become an adult because their lives are lined up regardless. These are people who are wealthy and entitled enough to buy tango bars because they hate the current music selection, and not go completely broke when they drunkenly purchase a hotel too. But there's a level of enjoyment Rory gets from the frivolous adventures because she has never been suffocated by the world Lorelai felt she was. While Lorelai could not uphold the expectations people had of a 'Gilmore Girl' and fell in love with Stars Hollow because it allowed her to be her true, quirky, flawed self - Rory got to enjoy money without the strings. She had to hang with the grandparents once a week? Not really a painful condition when she never felt the level of suffocation Lorelai did when she lived there (her three month stint does not count because that was a self-inflicted decision where Rory demanded independence whilst being entirely dependent). Without that level of resentment that Lorelai holds, Rory will embrace that world of wealth and privilege. She did that when she was 20, shifting away from small town life and writing in-depth exposes about the secret societies of Yale. She did that then, when someone validated her need to see beyond Stars Hollow, take risks she hasn't really allowed herself to consider and in the revival, Rory apparently still needs the push that world gives her. That world is where she feels free - where she can pretend her journalism career isn't hanging by a thread, where she can forget about her false insistence that she wants to be rootless when she's spent practically her entire life planning to avoid this feeling.

While Rory is hardly representative of responsibility in the revival, the LDB sequence is one of the only scenes where Rory is relaxed and has a clear state of mind. It's a reminder how often Rory needs a partner (even temporarily) to support her intentions, especially when her mother isn't that partner. It's even more fitting that Rory does not return to Stars Hollow to complete her book - but the Gilmore home in Hartford.

This two minute sequence scene is one of my favourite scenes in the revival, as it encapsulates so many great themes and even includes the famous la-la soundtrack!

It's a stunning piece of cinematography, watching the front room illuminate as Rory turns on the switches - a moment which sets up for scene of reminiscence and nostalgia, as Rory Gilmore uses this moment to literally take a walk down memory lane. Before that, however, we see Rory standing in front of the Richard Gilmore painting hanging over the living room. It's an insight into a theme that isn't weaved in the storyline very strongly - the impact Richard Gilmore's passing has had on Rory's life. Throughout the series, Richard Gilmore is strives for Rory to achieve what he believes Lorelai should've. It's an expectation which underpins his and Rory's relationship in a similar way to the underpinnings of Lorelai and Rory's relationship. The difference, however, is the fact Richard was there and supportive when Rory crumbles after dropping out of Yale. He was her pillar of strength while Lorelai took the 'tough love' parenting approach up a notch. He's not there to see her fail - however - and in some ways it can be considered a blessing, but an absolutely heartbreaking one. Richard and Rory's relationship is unparalleled in the original series - an insight into the relationship Lorelai and Richard could've had, but also one which transcends potential - as Richard, despite his best intentions, utterly adores Rory as his granddaughter and they respect each other in a way neither really expected. His absence clearly took a toll on Rory throughout the year of the lives we watch, but it's one that is underexplored - and slightly lessens the impact of an otherwise powerful scene as Rory seeks comfort in the former home of Richard Gilmore once more.

From there, we take a tour around the Gilmore home in its usual state (for the last time!), as Rory soaks in the many memories she has had in this home. At the dining room table, Rory stands in the door frame, as she replays a scene from 'Face-Off' (3.15) - where Rory and Lorelai frantically eat dinner to make it back for their dates before being called out by Emily because of their frustrating lack of subtlety. It's important to draw some attention to this scene as Rory's memory shows herself, Lorelai, Emily and Richard sitting at the table - whereas there is no moment all four sit at the table in the original scene, as either Emily or Richard leave to deal with mattress deliveries (ah Trix, you were certainly a character), door rings and phone calls. It's a comment on the fallibility of memories (especially as time passes), further highlights the power of memories and is a stronger indication of the presence Richard played in Rory's life.

Rory embraces the nostalgia associated with the scene, takes comfort in the presence of Richard Gilmore - even in complete silence because that was always enough before. Richard Gilmore holds on to Rory when she cries over everything falling apart in 'A House is not A Home' (5.22) and that sentiment recurs throughout the sequence.

This memory isn't a standout in any form - but it's an encapsulation of the turbulent nature of the Gilmore home, and this moment is enough to send viewers back to the original series, and what they felt when they originally started watching. It likely has a similar impact on Rory, who has spent so long trying to find herself across countries and with writing opportunities, only to return to a place which gave her so many chances, but never truly expected her to leave it. Stars Hollow was once Rory's home, and maybe it will be permanently again - but the Gilmore home is her sanctuary.

"Emily, I beg of you, cheese!" -Richard Gilmore
When Rory enters the kitchen, we hear dialogue from 'Love and War and Snow' (1.08). In that episode, a snowstorm leads to a cancellation of Friday Night Dinners so Rory spends her first night alone at the grandparents'. An almost dinner-less night is saved by Rory when she 'whips up' a prepackaged pizza, with parmesan cheese. That episode explores the relationship between Rory and her grandparents - as their doubts over Rory's food choices are overridden by Rory's 'please' and they find themselves pleasantly surprised. It's a lovely moment where you feel the love Richard and Emily have towards Rory, but also shows their willingness to be more open about listening to perspectives they disagree with because they've missed the first 16 years of their grandchild's life simply by insisting they always knew better than Lorelai. Rory uses this moment to bring out the photo album she finds at the Gilmore home, clearly intrigued by the world Lorelai grew up in. It seems like a journalism instinct, a need to gather both sides of the story to learn more about her history and the story behind the grandparents she may have been too afraid to ask earlier. While Richard and Emily are happy to share some fond memories (the banter between Emily and Richard is fabulous), the sweetness of the moment shatters instantly when Rory lands on a certain picture. In the photo, Lorelai is posing i the dress she was supposed to wear to her Coming Out Ball. It's a sensitive topic, obviously, as Lorelai's pregnancy with Rory led them to cancel the event - something which Richard and Emily haven't truly gotten over, as the moment was the first step of Lorelai not living up to her potential. Rory is a beloved member of the Gilmore family, but the burden she has to do better is rooted in the very harsh fact that Rory technically took away Lorelai's chances. While we expect some other event could've catalysed Lorelai's escape, the conflict that Rory - the 'perfect' daughter who at age 16, seems to be on the way to achieving so much is the reason Lorelai didn't - creates inherent tension. It's important to acknowledge the context behind this scene in the revival, as this context is what highlights the notion of sanctuary vs. home I mentioned earlier; 

Hartford will never be home for her, simply because the history in that house goes beyond who Rory is, and is about what Rory meant for Lorelai. It is, however, sanctuary. In 'P.S. I Lo...' (1.20), Rory runs here when she feels coddled and everyone is making assumptions about how she feels. She returns multiple times throughout the series, whether it's to reinstate dinners or deal with the upheaval associated with her decision to drop out. Sanctuary is the place Rory goes when she most needs it, a place she may not fully belong to through no fault of her own, but a place which gives her comfort or the push she needs to make it.

The scene closes with Rory re-entering Richard Gilmore's study, a memory of Richard clearly strong in her mind as we see him vividly, and for a moment, forget he's gone. When she goes to sit at the table, the room is barely lit up, only a shadowed version of Rory visible and the painting of Rory (2.10) sitting above her. It's a lovely parallel, a full circle of sorts - as Rory takes her place in room she's been present in for at least 16 years. The portrait of Richard Gilmore in the living commands attention, but the image of Rory is more restrained. It's a presence she upholds throughout the series. Her strength exists, but it takes Rory finding her momentum to truly embrace her independence and her abilities. Sitting below that image, she's literally pulling strength from that painting. 

There's just one question. With Emily choosing to sell the house, because it no longer feels like home - where's Rory's sanctuary? Home is a safety net for Rory. It's where she can when she has nothing left, but I don't feel it empowers Rory in the same way it does Lorelai. Stars Hollow is her beginning, her upbringing, her home - but Rory doesn't fit in Stars Hollow in the same way Lorelai does. Her experiences have been about seeing the world - getting to take advantage of her privilege to find happiness with travel, but somewhere to settle when she needs to. Without that, Rory will constantly be searching for sanctuary. The question is: is her sanctuary going to be a new place, or will it be a new person? Will it be the experience of being a mother which motivates her like it did Lorelai? What do you think?!



Emily

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