Sometimes an unwelcome return is the most welcoming of all.
Just when Star Hollow is getting too comfortable for its own good, "Gilmore Girls" throws a delightful curve ball with the return of Milo Ventimiglia as Jess.
Jess is only back in town to claim his car, but his two-episode stint (beginning Feb. 3) sets the town on its ear.
Rory, his ex, wants the chance to tell him off and walk away. Lorelai goes on the defense and just wants her daughter's pain to hit the bricks.
Luke, Jess's long-suffering uncle, sees his nephew as his greatest failure.
To say Jess has issues with nearly everyone is an understatement. His character's drama factor has tentacles that wrap around almost the entire cast.
Even better, casual viewers of the "Girls" can appreciate the revelations as much as longtime fans.
Ventimiglia's darker turn has been the yin to the show's yang, grounding "Girls' " idyllic tone in a reality closer to our world.
Such developments also keep "Girls" from lapsing into the grind of a feel-good soap opera. The show is a marriage of highly tuned writing with a cast ready to handle the task. This separates "Girls" from other primetime dramas.
It's not a soap opera. It's a slice of life.
In the more-than-capable hands of Ventimiglia, Jess is not just the show's token "bad boy." He's a complex troubled soul, who remains lost in a sea of functioning folks around him.
He's the seemingly heartless cad who dared break the heart of heroine Rory (the excellent Alexis Bledel), but he is also something more. He's tittering on a lost cause, begging to be saved from himself.
Those who love him most have stopped giving him chances to change. So, off he goes on his path of self-destruction. This time, they are wiping their hands of him.
Television rarely gets this kind of meaty character to explore, a dark cloud wrapped around a white knight. "Girls" had an excellent opportunity for two seasons to plow into Jess's mind. The WB messed up the chance to forge ahead with a spin-off.
And on a network that appears to be valuing looks over style, the WB has the best of both worlds with Ventimiglia, a young talent who can handle the emotional range to make a character like Jess compelling.
The WB should be begging him to do more for them. Instead, we get these two episodes.
That's their loss and ours, too.
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