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'Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life' recap: Fall -- and those last four words

Lauren Graham and Scott Patterson in "Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life."
Lauren Graham and Scott Patterson in "Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life." (Saeed Adyani / Netflix)

There was a lot of talk in the media, specifically online, about the fabled last four words of "Gilmore Girls," the long-discussed, almost mythical ending for the series. With creator Amy-Sherman Palladino's departure after Season 6, she never got the chance to end her series the way she had intended.

Amy got that chance with "Fall," and much like the rest of the 102-minute episode, those last four words can serve as a period, capping the entire series, or as an ellipsis, leaving the door open for more Gilmore stories in the future.

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Either way, "Fall" capped the "Gilmore" revival nicely, and pulled all of the heartstrings, and wrung every tear that it could out of viewers.

And me. I cried. A lot.

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The final episode opens with Lorelai on her "Wild" journey. She calls Luke from her hotel near the Pacific Crest Trail, and launches into a diatribe. "Basically, I've been alone for exactly 12 hours and I'm already nuts," she says.

The trail life isn't for Lorelai, which is hardly a shocking development. She encounters a few dozen other hikers, all also doing the "Wild" excursion. They differentiate themselves between the book and movie devotees to the Cheryl Strayed story, and the meta cameos continue, as Jason Ritter and Peter Krause show up as park rangers. Krause denies Lorelai entry to the trail because she has lost her permit, so it looks like Lorelai's journey to fix herself could be over before it begins.

In Lorelai's absence, Luke isn't doing so well. Jess visits to check up on him, and Luke admits to his nephew that things could be better. He explains how Lorelai went off to find herself, why she left, and what he thinks that all means. "It sounds like she's leaving you," Jess offers. Luke agrees.

Elsewhere in Stars Hollow, Rory finds herself kidnapped for a night of fun by the Life and Death Brigade, captained by Logan. They spend an evening "In omnia paratus"-ing it up at a tango club, before spending the night together at a bed and breakfast in Vermont.

Logan tells Rory that he doesn't like the way they left things, but when she asks if that means he still intends to marry Odette, he doesn't deny it. And with that, Rory knows that she has to seal their fate as a couple. They talk about their last night together, the next morning. "I wanted it to be special," Logan says. "It was a perfect night," Rory says. "Every ride has to end," she adds.

They kiss each other goodbye, and will be out of each others' lives for good now, right? But what about those last four words? In any event, Rory is off to write her book.

The cinematic feel of this final episode was never more evident than when Lorelai left the trail, and went in search of a coffee shop. Unable to find one, she steps off into the woods, intrigued. She steps onto a hill, overlooking a ravine.

There, in nature, she has an epiphany, remembering an instance of Richard being a good father to her. She calls Emily and regales her with the story she denied her at Richard's funeral, much to Emily's delight. "Thank you, Lorelai," she says, fighting back tears.

Lorelai returns home, and explains her hiking calamity to Luke. "I tried hiking. They wouldn't let me," she says. "But, see, I didn't actually go to hike. ... I wanted to figure something out," she says. Luke cuts her off, certain that she is about to leave him. "I don't care what anybody says. Needing space is never a good thing, ever," he declares. "This, right here, is all I will ever need."

He couldn''t be more wrong, though. "Luke! I think we should get married," Lorelai says. They agree, and they'll be married in just a few days. This was pretty perfectly done.

In Emily's world, all is well. She hilariously and profanely jettisons her membership in the DAR, feeling the need to spend her time in other ways. She and her new beau, Jack, have the makings of a good relationship, and she is finding fulfillment in other things as she moves on with the rest of her life, including taking a job as a very intense tour guide at a whaling museum on Nantucket, where she purchased a new home.

With Emily away, Rory settles into the old Gilmore mansion to work on her book, passing from room to room, and treating us to flashbacks of Richard, and Friday night dinners, and arguments, and family memories.

Speaking of memories, Lorelai finds a new potential location for her inn, one that would allow her to expand, and possibly be enough to convince Michel to stay. Lorelai needs to outbid Katy Perry for the property, though, and turns to Emily for help. She asks Emily to allow her to use the money Richard left Luke for his expansion for her own business expansion instead. Emily agrees, but there is a condition: That Luke and Lorelai visit her in Nantucket in the summers and for Christmas. "To the circle of life," Lorelai and her mother share a toast.

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Rory makes time for a visit to her dad before Lorelai and Luke's wedding, imploring him not to show up, but also doing some digging for her book, and for some clues on how she should handle her future child's relationship with his or her own absentee dad. "Always time for you," Christopher says, before shooing Rory away so that he can go back to work. People change, but some people never do, in the words of Future Islands.

Rory returns to her mom's home in time for the wedding festivities, and shows her the first three chapters of her book, "The Gilmore Girls." She offers Lorelai veto power over whether the manuscript sees the light of day, which Lorelai ultimately declines. "I'm not gonna read it," she says. "Just one note. Drop the 'the.' 'Gilmore Girls'. It's cleaner," she says.

In this episode's blatant fan service moments, Rory bumps into Dean, and Lorelai bumps into Sookie at the Dragonfly. Dean has moved to Scranton, Pa., and has children with his new wife, while Sookie is enjoying her time working on growing fruits and veggies on a farm upstate. It was nice to see Melissa McCarthy, and I was reminded of just how much she added to the original series. I guess Dean was OK, too.

As they go over last-minute wedding plans, Lorelai prods Luke for names to throw on the guest list. He finally mentions his old pal Kiefer Sutherland, which leads to Lorelai and Rory doing dueling, hilarious Jack Bauer impressions. Jess is in town for the wedding too, and we see him pining for Rory.

As Kirk, Petal and Paul Anka sleep in their living room the night before the wedding, Luke and Lorelai discuss their dueling flash mob plans. Ultimately, they decide to wake Rory, and head to the center of town to get married early.

The wedding scenes were beautiful, and nothing I can do to describe them will do them justice. I cried at how beautiful Lorelai was. I cried at the cutaway to Emily kissing Richard's portrait. I cried at Sam Phillips' performance of "Reflecting Light." This was as good as television can get.

In the final scene of the series, Rory and Lorelai deliver the last four words --

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"Mom?"

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"Yeah?"

"I'm pregnant."

If this was a goodbye, it was a beautiful farewell.

If this was merely a see you later, then I'll see you later, "Gilmore Girls."

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