Here's How Richard's Death Was Handled On “Gilmore Girls”

1. Since the Gilmore Girls revival was announced in Jan. 2016, fans have been wondering how the show would deal with the death of the beloved Edward Herrmann and, as a result, the heavily-felt absence of his character Richard, the Gilmore family patriarch.

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2. And, as it turns out (SPOILER ALERT), the plot of the revival is quite heavily influenced by Herrmann’s death: Richard’s passing is what fuels so much of where the Gilmore women are in their lives when we catch up with them.

3. The show picks up four months after Richard’s death, when Rory, Lorelai, and Emily are reunited for the first time since the funeral.

4. We also see a flashback to said funeral — and learn that Lorelai and her mother haven’t talked at all in the months since.

5. In a drunken moment, Lorelai told a dark story at her father’s wake that led to a blow-up, no-holds-barred fight with her mother, which dredged up all of their issues over the years.

Emily: “You never do anything unless it’s what you want to do. You never have. You blow through life like a natural disaster, knocking down everything and everyone in your path.”

6. And as the revival goes on, it’s clear that all three women are feeling unmoored by Richard’s death in their own ways — but the two feeling especially lost in its aftermath are Lorelai and Emily.

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7. Emily is struggling with losing her husband and partner of 50 years. As she says at one point, “Half of me is gone.”

8. And Lorelai is struggling with losing her father, especially given the complicated relationship she’s always had with her parents.

Lorelai: “I’m just stressed out and thinking about my mortality lately”

Rory: “Do you think it’s because of grandpa?”

Lorelai: “I don’t know. Maybe. I miss him.”

10. Emily even starts going to therapy to deal with the grief, and tricks Lorelai into going with her. But when Emily quits, Lorelai sticks with it.

11. Lorelai never overtly vocalizes that it’s grief over Richard’s death that she’s dealing with, but it’s clear throughout the episodes that it’s weighing heavily on her…

12. And it becomes especially clear when, at the end of Episode Three, “Summer,” she announces to Luke that she’s going on a hiking journey inspired by Wild — a book all about grappling with the death of a parent.

13. Though she ends up not being prepared to actually hike the Pacific Crest Trail a la Cheryl Strayed in the book, she comes to a revelation while on her trip and calls her mother to tell her the story she wishes she’d told at her father’s wake.

You can read (and sob through) her entire monologue here:

I was 13 years old. It was my birthday. And Royston Sinclair III had broken my heart in front of everyone. I’d 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. But Royston laughed. He said I was cheap. He said 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, ‘cause 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 an 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 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 his sweater to cover up the stolen top. And he told you 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. It was the best birthday I ever had. I just thought you should know.

15. Emily thanks Lorelai for her story. She also moves to Nantucket, and takes up a position giving harpooning presentations at the local whaling museum.

16. It was a tear-filled ride, and one thing’s for sure: Gilmore Girls honored Richard — and Edward Herrmann — with all its heart.

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