Senior year meant some surprising changes for the Gilmore girls, as both Lorelai (Lauren Graham) and Rory (Alexis Bledel) wrestled with their pasts in order to figure out what the heck they were going to do with their futures. In the wake of finding out that her relationship with Rory's dad was not to be rekindled, Lorelai endured a variety of suitors as she attempted to keep her life on an evil keel--not easy when her former flame's girlfriend was pregnant (and clueless), her former fiancé shows up unexpectedly, and her beloved inn suffers some unforeseen damage. If it was minor drama for Lorelai, it was full-fledged soap opera for Rory, who broke up with longtime boyfriend Dean (Jared Padalecki) in the wake of her attraction to the moody bad-boy Jess (Milo Ventimiglia), only to find her new relationship fraught with difficulties. Add to that the pressure of getting into college (Harvard or Yale?) and stressful senior class politics at the snooty Chilton private school, and it's a wonder she still had time to crack wise at breakneck speed with her mom and the rest of Stars Hollow.
The center of the third season of Gilmore Girls was the Rory-Dean-Jess triangle, which played out with surprising sensitivity and not a bit of sadness; it all came to a head in the episode "They Shoot Gilmores, Don't They?" in which Rory and Lorelai's quest to win a dance marathon ends in tears and break-ups. The year's teen drama did have a tendency to put the adults on the back burner, but the luminous Graham made the most of her character's dilemmas, whether gauging her growing attraction to diner owner Luke (Scott Patterson) or wrestling with her parents' continuous meddling. While it is hard to pinpoint a specific compelling story arc for this season, that doesn't mean it wasn't filled with the charm, smarts, and rapid-fire dialogue that made Gilmore Girls one of the brightest shows on television. Stellar supporting turns from Liza Weil as Paris, Rory's friend and nemesis by turns, and a pre-O.C. Adam Brody, as a band member who falls for Rory's best friend Lane (Keiko Agena), also punctuated the drama of the season with great comedy. --Mark Englehart
Gilmore Girls: The Complete Thi