Now, before I launch into my reasoning, if you've been a fan of Gilmore girls, you probably have the same rage over certain writing choices that came in later seasons. So, for the sake of all our sanity, let's disregard those painful moments where character assassination took place at the hands of ASP (Amy Sherman Palladino) and later, David Rosenthal, he of the Compartmentalizing! Luke phase.
Let's ignore Pod! Luke and get to the crux of Mr. Lucas Danes, the man, the myth, the legend.
In The Beginning....
How many cups have you had this morning?
Five, but yours is better.
You have a problem.
Yes, I do.
A little later, his disposition is summed up with one simple statement while serving Lorelai and Rory. No 'Thank you, come again.' No 'Can I get you anything else?' Only....
Not very likable. Not the kind of guy our sparkly heroine should fall for. Right?
Let's take a closer look at that question.
And ASP said, "Let There Be Chemistry!"
Well, good old Butch Danes is the living embodiment of the show-don't-tell rule. And, in time, Miss Gilmore starts to realize this, just a little bit. And Mr. Danes does start to show his softer side. A little. Sometimes.
In fact, Lorelai has to remind Luke, in Dead Uncles and Vegetables, that he does have that softer side.
That ain’t me, is it?
What are you talking about?
What Taylor said about me being like Louie, a loner, never being married and stuff. I mean, I am getting crankier as I get older, he’s not so far off.
You are not your uncle. I mean, would Louie ever build someone a chuppah, or help fix things around someone’s house without being asked, or make a special coffee cake with balloons for a girl’s sixteenth birthday?
Rory told you about that?
Yes. And would Louie have taken in his sister’s kid without hesitating and without asking for anything in return?
No one would’ve trusted Louie with their kid. He probably would’ve forgotten to feed him or something.
You get my point?
Yeah, I get it.
And let's not forget one very special $30,000 loan when one very particular heroine-in-distress needed it most.
Love Is A Many-Splendored Thing
You know what they say.
No, what do they say?
Never, ever date a guy who owns a single bed. It means he's not open to a commitment.
It says there's no room in this life for anybody but me.
No, it says there's no room in this bed for anyone but me.
Okay, see, that's not a whole lot better.
This discussion is now over.
Luke, as long as you’re in that apartment, you’re gonna have a single bed. Don’t you want the possibility of more? Come on Luke, it’s time. Make a move, take a shot, entertain the possibility of a non-unabomber existence. What do you say?
And here-in lies the major problem. That obstacle our Mr. Danes must overcome to achieve his happily-ever-after. His issue? Himself. He's Commitment-phobe! Luke.
Let's analyze the history we've been given over time: Luke's mother died when he was a child. His father, when he was barely out of high-school. His crazy, drug-addled sister got pregnant and ran off with a dead-beat, and never had much use for Luke, unless she found herself a few months' behind in rent payments. His first real love had a habit of running away whenever their relationship started to look like it might be heading into 'for keeps' territory. His extended family is loony and disinterested in his life, to the point of ignoring his pleas of attending his Uncle Louie's funeral. He helplessly watches his troubled nephew walk out of his life, leaving him to feel like a total failure as a mentor. He clings to his diner and an old, unfinished boat, simply because they belonged to his beloved father. And the woman he secretly loves? She's oblivious, or pretends to be oblivious, to every hint he leaves regarding his heart's true feelings.
This boy is dealing with some serious abandonment issues.
His solution(s)? He buys property on a whim. He repaints his diner just to be close to the girl he can never have. He finally ditches The Anywhere-But-Here Girl because his heart just isn't in it anymore. He gets married to somebody, anybody, just because she says 'yes'. He clings to a simple blue hat, because she gave it to him, and that matters to him.
Healthy? No way. But good story-telling. We like boys with demons, don't we?
He Can See Her Face
It was at Luke's, it was at lunch, it was a very busy day, the place was packed, and this person ... This person comes tearing into the place in a caffeine frenzy ... I was with a customer. She interrupts me, wild-eyed, begging for coffee, so I tell her to wait her turn. Then she starts following me around, talking a mile a minute, saying God knows what. So finally I turn to her, and I tell her she's being annoying -- sit down, shut up, I'll get to her when I get to her ... She asked me what my birthday was. I wouldn't tell her. She wouldn't stop talking. I gave in. I told her my birthday. Then she opened up the newspaper to the horoscope page, wrote something down, tore it out, handed it to me ... So I'm looking at this piece of paper in my hand, and under "Scorpio," she had written, "you will meet an annoying woman today. Give her coffee and she'll go away." I gave her coffee ... She told me to hold on to that horoscope, put it in my wallet, and carry it around with me - one day it would bring me luck.
Well, man, I will say anything for a cup of coffee ... I can't believe you kept this. You kept this in your wallet? You kept this in your wallet.
Lorelai, this thing we're doing here -- me, you -- I just want you to know I'm in. I am all in.
Talk about laying it all on the line, there. Way to go, Honesty Pays! Luke. You wear that heart of yours on your tight, well-defined, sexily tattooed bicep. Err, sleeve. SLEEVE.
And They Lived...
And, here is where we need to stick to the essence of Luke, because we all know that things started going a little wonky with T.P.T.B. in terms of giving the viewers what they wanted. We got the famous "Want them together? Fine, we'll put them together. But we're going to make it suck for you!"
No. I'm not bitter. Not at all.
So let's get back to Grass Roots! Luke.
After years and years of pining. Luke got the girl. He finally got to love the love of his life. Sort of. Before we start debating the inception of Pod! Luke, let's look at the basic drama.
You're a bit of a loner. You're not good with people. You have a lot of history that kind of justifies that, because for the most part, your experience is this: When you love someone, they have a nasty habit of leaving. So when you get another shot at love, you try, good grief, you try to make it work. But you find yourself faced with a mine-field of barriers to your happily-ever-after. Some are legit. Some are probably there of your own making. But they exist, on one level or the other. And they keep adding up until you feel like you're drowning under their weight.
Luke has some serious issues barring him from enjoying his Big Score: Lorelai's drama with her daughter. Potential in-laws who thought he was inferior scum, and had no qualms about telling him so. A ne'er-do-well asshat of a baby daddy in Christopher, a constant specter in the relationship. An entire town that treated their relationship like a bomb ready to go off at any given time. A girlfriend who found reason not to marry him, even though she was the one who proposed.
So what's Emotionally Embattled! Luke to do? Well, he does what he does best. He shuts down. He tunes out the world. He stops fighting.
He loses faith in love.
Oh, and he finds out he has a daughter.
<insert groans, catcalls, boos, and other appropriate anti-April sentiment here.>
Which leads to more insecurity, shutting down, and pushing away.
Okay, okay. Pod! Luke was a dick. But underneath the shitty writing, there was one organic truth:
Our (anti-)hero was floundering. He was lost. He couldn't find the path. He was drowning in bad juju. And when he finally managed to come up for air, to catch sight of the horizon, to reach out for help, he was greeted with ... a ex-fiancee (by just hours) who slept with him. Christopher. A tremendous source of fear and insecurity for old Luke.
Luke had his bitterness. And his rage. And his glorious punching-of-the-asshat moment.
But it was all bittersweet, because he lost everything that mattered to him.
Almost. Because, bad choices on the part of T.P.T.B or not, the one thing happened that every hero has to experience to make things right for him.
The light-bulb moment.
Redemption. Growth. Perspective. Clarity.Call it what you will. But it was the moment of understanding of everything he'd done wrong, and being sorry for it.
Eventually, Luke realized where his heart was. With Lorelai. And even if they couldn't be together, the underlying reality was this: He loved her. And he wanted her to have a good life. Even if it wasn't with him.
The boy grew up. And he finally put his demons to rest.
Now Do They Live Happily Ever After?
Luke Danes, the anti-hero took a different tack. He went for... drumroll, please....
A few simple gestures of honest love. He put that damn blue hat back on his head. He organized a proper send-off for a girl he loved like his own daughter. He showed 'em how he felt. He didn't need to use the words. His actions spoke louder than any words.
Well, except for that one string of words that made us all weak in the knees.