Jess Mariano will make his long awaited return to Stars Hollow on November 25. Though if you've been paying attention to Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life updates and news, you would know that already. That being said, please relish in this modicum of new Jess information given to us via an Instagram photo. It involves — you guessed it — duffel bags and garden gnomes. (No, you didn't guess it, did you? That would be pretty impressive.) A new image posted on the Gilmore Girls official Instagram page shows Jess' duffel bag on top of the counter at Luke's diner. The caption reads "Lock up your garden gnomes."
Unsurprisingly, this brings up some questions. First of all, can Jess not afford another duffel bag? That thing looks 20 years old. Can he at least afford a new name tag? I'm worried about him. And what does the caption ("Lock up your garden gnomes") mean? Af first glance it's a seemingly inconsequential, throw-away line, but, if you understand the mythos of Gilmore Girls, it points to something larger.
It forces us to really consider, after all these years, whether or not Jess Mariano would still be capable of stealing a garden gnome (as he, in Season 2, so famously did). In other words, would he still be up to his old tricks? Has Jess even changed at all?
It was Lane who so eloquently explained Jess's bad boy appeal when Rory conceded that Jess is "great one minute" and then the next, not so much. "It's part of why he's cute," Lane told her in "Raincoats and Recipes" before adding, "Every girl has to fall for a bad boy. It's the rule." And what better bad boy to fall for than the elusive, handsome Jess? The one who gets off the bus from New York and walks into Stars Hollow with a chip on his shoulder? The one who smokes, snatches beer from Lorelai's fridge, and, in the eyes of the townies, screams "trouble"?
When he steals a garden gnome from Babette, it's all but confirmed that the Kerouacian Jess will always be some kind of unpredictable. Always some kind of bad. But Rory, like a lot of the audience, embraced those errant ways. At least for a little, before he ditched Stars Hollow without any notice.
When Jess came back in Season 5 to declare his love for Rory and implore her to run away with him, she gave him the equivalent of a "hard pass." Was it because she still held a grudge over his sudden disappearance in Season 3? Or was it because she thought he would never change and that she needed something else?
Whatever it was, Jess has returned for seconds. (Or fourths, I guess?) As evidenced by this teaser image of Jess and Luke during the fall, Jess will make his mark in the final episode, if not all of them. (The fall episode will be the last Gilmore Girl revival episode.)
It's hard to tell if he's altered his ways from this image alone. (Though Luke does appear to be at upset which seems typical and indicative that Jess still gets under his skin.) But, consider the Jess we see in the revival trailer. A Jess that seems different, and not just in a his-hair-has-grown-out and he's older kind of way. Something else.
Though his appearance only lasts a few seconds, he does say one important thing to Rory: he offers his support. He tells her "You're still a contender" (a reference to On the Waterfront). If anything it shows that after all this time, and even after that heartbreaking rejection she gave him years ago and that time she kissed him to get back at her then-boyfriend, Logan, he still has her back. Maturity at its finest.
If Jess is still stealing garden gnomes, it wouldn't be because he's mad at the world anymore. It would be because he'd want to make Rory laugh. And that's not so bad, right?
Images: Warner Bros. TV; Netflix