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Scene Breakdown: Lorelai’s Fondest Memory of Her Father in Gilmore Girls’ “Fall”

Lorelai sharing her fondest memory of her father in Gilmore Girls "Fall"
©Netflix

The late Edward Hermann‘s Richard Gilmore is beautifully present throughout Gilmore Girls revival, and Lorelai’s phone call with her mother in “Fall” continues to be one of the best parts of the show’s short-lived return. Much of the strain between Emily and Lorelai Gilmore is due to the absence of communication in their lives, which is precisely why this scene is so powerful. 

For as much as the scene deals with Lorelai’s means of navigating through grief, it’s also a critical display of the fact that no two people experience heartbreak the same way. It authenticates that both Emily and Lorelai need to understand that these very differences are part of why they hadn’t been close before. It’s also a vital moment to showcase that grief isn’t linear, and you can’t control how or when it engulfs you.

I was 13 years old. It was my birthday. Royston Sinclair III had broken my heart in front of everyone. I had snuck into your closet that morning and took that green beaded top that was your mother’s…that you kept so carefully wrapped up in tissue paper in your cedar closet. I was never supposed to touch it, but I stole it. And I wore it to school with my Chemin de Fer sailor jeans. And I thought no one was as stylish as I was. Royston laughed, he said I was cheap. He said that the only reason he’d been my boyfriend was because he was mad at Angie Morgan and he wasn’t anymore. He called me loud and weird. And he said there was a rumor going around that I wasn’t actually a Gilmore..that…I was the gardener’s daughter and…you’d bought me because you couldn’t have children of your own. And I was crushed. And I ran out of class. And I ran out of school. And I went to the mall. And I was sitting in the food court, wishing I had some money to buy a pretzel because I was starving. And I looked up…and there was Dad..standing in front of me..at the mall. He never came to the mall. That day…he went to the mall…and he was furious. Why aren’t you in school?, he asked. Tell me right now, Lorelai. Why aren’t you in school? And I tried to think of something…some lie that would make sense, but I couldn’t. All I could think was that yesterday I had a boyfriend who loved me and today I didn’t and I started to cry. I just sat there like and idiot, bawling. And finally, after what seemed like forever, I managed to control myself a little bit. And I calmed down and I waited. I waited for him to yell at me…to punish me…to ground me forever…to tell me how disappointed he was in me. And nothing came. And finally I got up enough courage…to look up at him and he was standing there with a pretzel…a giant pretzel, covered with mustard. And he handed it to me and he said, let’s go.  And he took me to the movies. We saw Grease and An Unmarried Woman. Something for me and something for him, he’d said. He bought me popcorn and Red Hots and we sat in the dark and we watched. And then he took me home and he gave me a sweater to cover up the stolen top and he told you that he’d picked me up from school and taken me to the club for a soda. And that was it. We never discussed it again. That was the best birthday I ever had. I just thought you should know.

Gilmore Girls“Fall”

For as much as the scene deals with Lorelai’s means of navigating through grief, it’s also a critical display of the fact that no two people experience heartbreak the same way. It authenticates that both Emily and Lorelai need to understand that these very differences are part of why they hadn’t been close before. It’s also a vital moment to showcase that grief isn’t linear, and you can’t control how or when it engulfs you.

Lauren Graham‘s range on Gilmore Girls remains impeccable—no one else can keep the chatty, sarcastic, dry humor in motion like her while then baring it all in a single moment that breaks us. And in this scene, we watched Graham bring out a part of Lorelai that she’s locked away for decades. A part of her story that’s haunted and healed her. A memory she’s held onto with a fervor, unlike anything she’s experienced. 

She needed to revisit this part of her story to grieve—to truly feel the emptiness her father’s death left her with. Sometimes, death is sudden, and there’s no closure—there are no goodbyes. There’s no natural way to leave it behind and move forward without the loss staying with us.

But telling this story to her mother allows the two women to be reminded of Richard’s grace and profound adoration while giving them the means to move forward together.

And when Emily thanks her daughter, Kelly Bishop delivers the scene with the type of serene contentment we’ve yet to see from her on Gilmore Girls. For the first time in years, she and her daughter can share a moment that means the absolute world to them. The two of them sharing their emotions and navigating through loss as best they can is probably how Richard Gilmore would’ve wanted it all along.

So much of Gilmore Girls’ “Fall” is about doing what’s necessary to process the barriers that stop people from moving forward, and for Lorelai that was her inability to grieve, missing her father, and needing her mother to understand. Birthdays are especially tough when we’re kids and crappy things happen. For Lorelai, this birthday was a day for her to understand that she is, in fact, a Gilmore, and her father loved her with everything in him, which makes the loss that much harder to live with. And sharing this memory with her mother sweetens it even more because it allows them to carry it together.

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