'Gilmore Girls': The 16 Episodes to (Re)Watch Before Netflix's Revival

9:45 AM 6/17/2016

by Kate Stanhope

The WB/Photofest

Few die-hard Gilmore Girls fans need an excuse to dive back into the beloved family dramedy and binge-watch old episodes, but this summer, they have one. With the Netflix revival set to debut sometime later this year – no premiere has yet been announced – now is the perfect time for both longtime fans and new viewers to catch up on the biggest hours from the show's original seven seasons to properly relive all the biggest romances, breakups, family arguments and Friday night dinners that changed the show.

  • "Pilot"

    Season 1

    First things first, let's just say it: This pilot is a little rough. The banter isn't quite up to speed, Lorelai (Lauren Graham) and Rory (Alexis Bledel) argue too much and Luke's formal attire (no ball cap, a buttoned down shirt) is just bizarre. This is like watching The Simpsons when it was just a roughly animated sketch on The Tracy Ullman Show. The characters' edges and quirks haven't quite been figured out yet. However, this still sets up all the major need-to-know points like Lorelai's long estrangement from Richard (Edward Herrmann) and Emily (Kelly Bishop), Rory's move from Stars Hollow High to Chilton and also shows Rory and Dean's first meeting.

  • "Christopher Returns"

    Season 1

    The episode, as the title so implies, centers on the proper introduction of Rory's father, and Lorelai's on-and-off love interest, Christopher (David Sutcliffe). After channeling his inner James Dean and arriving at the Gilmore house late at night on his motorcycle at the end of the episode prior, Mr. Deadbeat Dad 2001 gets a proper introduction to the zany town that is Stars Hollow, as do the viewers, who learn that Al's Pancake World does not serve pancakes, among other factoids. The episode also features a crucial Friday Night Dinner, in which Christopher's dreadful parents slam Lorelai for ruining their son's life before Richard comes to her defense and kicks them out – a true turning point in Lorelai's newly re-ignited relationship with her parents.

  • "Love, Daisies and Troubadours"

    Season 1

    After being unable to find the words – no, really – to tell Dean (Jared Padalecki) she loves him, Rory is finally able to express her love for him in the season one finale. In one of the least romantic engagements in all of TV history, Max (Scott Cohen) originally proposes marriage to Lorelai over the phone in the midst of an argument. However, when she chastises him for his lack of showmanship – "there should be a thousand yellow daisies," she tells him – he makes up for it by sending, yup, a thousand yellow daisies to her. In hindsight, this season finale pales in comparison to the heightened plot twists, blow-ups and romance to come in later seasons, but the sight of Lorelai sitting in shock and awe among a thousand yellow daisies is an image treasured by all true Gilmore Girls fans.

  • "Nick & Nora/Sid & Nancy"

    Season 2

    It's hard to imagine Gilmore Girls before the eternal Jess or Dean debate, but indeed, Milo Ventimiglia's leather jacket-clad troublemaker didn't come to town until several episodes into the second season. He wastes no time making an impression (trying to take beer from Lorelai's fridge, stealing Babette's gnome), subsequently causing the normally cool-headed Luke to push him into a lake. However, he leaves the biggest mark on Rory, who is instantly intrigued by his intelligence and manages to find a softer side of Jess not readily accessible to the outside world. Dean never stood a chance.

  • "I Can't Get Started"

    Season 2

    Gilmore Girls became known for its epic season enders that manager to wrap up old storylines while simultaneously blowing everything up for the season to come and it all started with season two. No offense to the best chef in town, but Sookie's (Melissa McCarthy) wedding seems like small potatoes compared to Rory and Jess' pre-ceremony lip lock after he returns to town. The biggest seismic shift of all is Lorelai and Christopher's brief reconciliation before he learns that his ex Sherry (Madchen Amick) is pregnant and opts to get back together with her so that – and here's the gut punch – he doesn’t miss 

  • "They Shoot Gilmores, Don't They?"

    Season 3

    This might be peak Gilmore Girls thanks to the hour's perfect blend of small town shenanigans – Lorelai enters a 24-hour dance content to try and dethrone repeat winner Kirk (Sean Gunn) – and soapy drama as Dean breaks up with Rory midway through the contest because of her poorly hidden affection for Jess. There are few more heartbreaking moments in the series than Kirk running triumphantly around the gym with his trophy to the Rocky theme song while Lorelai stands in the middle confusingly consoling a crying Rory. Don't cry too hard for her though, she started dating Jess the very next episode. 

  • "Say Goodnight, Gracie"

    Season 3

    Sure, the season three ender is a stellar episode thanks to Rory's tear jerker of a valedictorian speech, but this is really when things fall apart, and come together, ahead of season four. A Yale-bound Rory finally learns that the truth, i.e. that Jess has flunked out of school and can't take her to prom and the episode ends with him fleeing town, and their relationship, for good in favor of sunny California skies. And on top of that, Dean tells Rory he's engaged. But Lorelai and Sookie get good news when Fran Weston dies, and their dream inn becomes available to purchase in the wake of the fire at their now-former job.

  • "Ted Koppel's Big Night Out"

    Season 4

    Skipping this far into season four may feel strange, but the transition from high school to college was rough on both Rory and the show, so this is a protective mechanism at its finest. During a lavish tailgate for the Yale-Harvard football game, Rory introduces her family to her awkward new college friend Marty (Wayne Wilcox), aka "Naked Guy" and Emily is incensed to discover that Richard has been having lunch with his former flame Pennilyn Lott for years without telling her. The episode kicks off new romances for Paris (Liza Weil), with the much older Professor Fleming (Michael York), and Lorelai, with her father's business partner Jason Stiles (Chris Eigeman).

  • "Tick, Tick, Tick, Boom!"

    Season 4

    Sure, it's easy to fast-forward through a lot of early season four episodes, but the second half had several irons on the fire in advance of the jaw-dropping season finale. After learning that Dean has dropped out of school to work more and save up for his wife's dream townhouse, Rory shares her displeasure at Doose's loudly and is overheard by Lindsay (Arielle Kebbel), who tells Dean he can no longer talk to her. He goes against her wishes and tells Rory he wants to be friends anyways. In one of the more explosive Friday night dinners, Lorelai meets Jason's parents right before his father tells Richard he's suing him and outs Lorelai and Jason as a couple. The episode ends with Richard agreeing to push out Jason and go back to his firm to avoid the lawsuit. Suffice it to say, Jason didn't last much longer.

  • "Raincoats and Recipes"

    Season 4

    Lorelai and Luke kiss for the first time! Rory loses her virginity to Dean! Emily and Richard confirm their separation! It's amazing how many monumental moments the writers jam packed into 42 minutes of television. Once Luke and Lorelai shared their first, and second, kiss on the porch of the newly opened Dragonfly Inn, there was no going back for the former will-they-won't-they-couple. Rory's decision to sleep with Dean despite his still being married to Lindsay brought on the first of the mother-daughter's two major quarrels during the show's seven-season run. (We'll get to the second one in a bit.)

  • "Norman Mailer, I'm Pregnant!"

    Season 5

    Anyone else detecting a major pattern between big episodes of the series and those containing exclamation points in the title? Although this skips over a very sweet first date between Lorelai and Luke, in which he tells her he's "all in," most viewers basically already knew that after his years and years of secret pining. The episode is more notable for Rory's deep dive into the world of mystery man Logan (Matt Czuchry) and his secret society, as well as the sudden return of Christopher, who becomes a single dad after Sherry abandons him and baby Gigi to run away to Paris. The episode ends with Rory coldly telling Christopher to stay away from Lorelai so as not to ruin her relationship with Luke, which proves important in…

  • "Wedding Bell Blues"

    Season 5

    Emily and Richard (finally!) reunite and celebrate the occasion by throwing a lavish vow renewal ceremony. Ever the manipulative one, Emily uses her special day to squeeze Christopher in between Lorelai and Luke and break them up for good. Now officially no longer with Dean, Rory makes the first move with Logan, but unfortunately their passionate kissing is so very awkwardly interrupted by Lorelai, and Luke, and a drunk Christopher. After Christopher tells Lorelai he was sent by her mother to break her up from Luke, she cuts off all ties with her mother and Luke leaves, breaking up with her in the following episode. 

  • "A House Is Not a Home"

    Season 5

    At this point, Rory and Logan are in a committed relationship, but this time around, it's his father causing all the trouble. The episode opens with Lorelai picking Rory up from jail, where she was put after being arrested for trying to steal a yacht. Wait, what? Rory's klepto episode is brought on by newspaper magnate Mitchum Huntzberger (Gregg Henry), who tells Rory in the previous episode that she doesn't have what it takes to be a journalist. Rory tells Lorelai she doesn’t want to go back to school, and when Lorelai tries to enlist her parents to help change Rory's mind, they instead agree to let Rory take time off and move into their pool house. As if that wasn't eventful enough, the episode ends with Lorelai proposing to Luke.

  • "The Prodigal Daughter Returns"

    Season 6

    After nearly half a season of estrangement – a lifetime in Gilmore Girls years – Lorelai and Rory reconcile. The latter re-enrolls at Yale thanks to a well-timed visit from Jess and a huge argument with Emily in the episode prior. But while her relationship with Rory is just coming back together, Lorelai's relationship with Luke is on the verge of falling apart after they get into a huge fight about Christopher and after Luke discovers he's the father of a teenage girl (Vanessa Marano) he never knew about it. Worst of all, he decides not to tell Lorelai about the bombshell, creating huge ramifications for their relationship for the rest of the season.

  • "Partings"

    Season 6

    For those who really want to be technical about it, this might as well be true blue original series finale of Gilmore Girls. This was the last episode from creator Amy Sherman-Palladino and her husband and frequent writer/director Daniel Palladino before they departed the series over a financial dispute. Sherman-Palladino has said that while the events of season seven will have occurred in the revival, they don't conflict heavily with her planned story arcs, so everything after this point is taken with a big grain of salt. As the husband-and-wife team left it, Rory bids an emotional farewell to a recently graduated Logan as he heads off to London to follow his father's orders. Meanwhile, Lorelai walks away from her relationship with Luke after he refuses to elope, and subsequently wakes up in Christopher's bed. 

  • "Unto the Breach"

    Season 7

    To a certain extent, it feels wrong, very, very wrong to include a season seven episode on this list, but seeing as Logan and Christopher will both be in the revival in some capacity, their season seven storylines must be addressed. The penultimate episode centers on Rory's graduation party, which sets the scene for Christopher and Lorelai's first sighting since their messy divorce – yes, they got married, it's a thing, let's move on – and Logan's very public to proposal to Rory. She turns it down the next day moments after receiving her diploma and Logan promptly rejects her backup offer to continue their long-distance relationship.

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