I’m a little late with this, as I was catching up for and then catching my breath from Christmas. I hope everyone had a beautiful and loving holiday, whatever and however you celebrated. Now we’re all relaxed and ready to go to review the second half of this season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, starting with the fifth and sixth episodes…
“Midnight at the Concord”
Benjamin and Lenny
Not K-I-S-S-I-N-G. I’ll leave that to the slash fic. Rather, Benjamin and Lenny are both perfect for Midge for different reasons, and this episode illustrated that beautifully, whether it meant to or not.
Benjamin is from the world Midge inhabited before she became a comic. He’s initially set up with her through her mother’s contacts in the society of the Catskills, and their first real date is at a prestigious Broadway play. He’s a match her parents would approve of. However, like Midge at this point of her life, he’s not fully comfortable with that lifestyle. He longs for the “weirdness” that Midge exposes him to-Lenny Bruce’s standup routine and the eccentricity of the Stage Deli, improvised riffs and badly kept secrets. He appreciates the complex woman Midge is. He’s Joel 2.0, in other words, complete with a charisma upgrade and a fix to the crippling insecurity bugs in the system. Let us play Zachary Levi’s soft, under his breath delivery of “Weird” in the Stage Deli another hundred times.
Lenny, meanwhile, is solely from the world of comedy. He didn’t know the Midge that came before the up-and-coming female comic he’s come to respect and admire in her own right. It’s not a coincidence that their relationship progress has run parallel to Midge’s comedic progress. He’s the embodiment of that world for Midge; her bringing Benjamin to Lenny’s show was her testing Benjamin to see if he could understand and accept that part of her. Lenny’s approval of Benjamin- their flirtatious conversation about what he will mean to the career she’s building and Lenny’s mouthed “He’s gorgeous!” was a highlight of this entire season-acts as a seal of approval from the world of comedy itself. It’s a fascinating dynamic that I hope the creators are creating consciously.
I’m not usually one to suggest this in response to love triangles, but is a threesome an option?
The Long-Awaited Discovery
Whenever there’s a secret embedded into a series from the beginning, there’s a lot riding on how that secret reveals itself. If done poorly, it can tarnish entire scenes (entire seasons!) that have come before. Luckily, this was not the case here. Abe’s discovery of Midge’s comedy is close to perfect, much of it thanks to Tony Shalhoub’s performance. The knife’s edge between the feelings of tragedy and hilarity the audience is meant to feel is maintained through him. I expect the juxtaposition of his solemn demeanor as he declares he’s taking Midge home then putting his beachcomber hat back on to be on his Emmy reel next year. The only complaint I have is that I wish they had tracked exactly how Abe got to the Concord a little more explicitly. Making it as abrupt as they did, while ultimately effective, cheapens it just a tad.
The Revlon Plot Device
It’s a minor complaint, but Midge getting her job back at the Revlon counter after having just been chastised as a coat check girl was such a transparent plot device to get Midge back to the city. We didn’t even see her work.
I appreciate the levity that Susie brings to this episode, but really all it does is draw attention to the underutilization of Susie’s character. It’s a problem they continue to have as they struggle to significantly establish Susie separate from Midge. They’ve undoubtedly made strides with that this season, but every few episodes, such as this one, they still have a pitfall.
“Let’s Face the Music and Dance”
I enjoyed Noah in the first season, but feared that he would be a one-and-done character. A character that would have no bearing on the plot, but would cameo occasionally just to round out the family. I am so glad to be proven wrong. I love that he’s always ready to go to bat against Joel to defend Midge, despite knowing that Joel could kick his ass. I love how respectful and affectionate he is with Astrid, who, let’s face it, is coo coo bananas. I love that you would never think that he’d be a successful CIA agent, but you can tell he is by how his face goes carefully blank in the meeting between Abe and his Bell Labs superiors. Don’t disregard Noah, guys. He’s an important man in the Weissman family journey too.
Susie’s Fan Club
This is what I mean when I say that Susie tends to be used to her utmost potential when she’s interacting with people other than Midge. Her scenes with the Steiner staff are great every time, perhaps because both Susie and the staff perceive each other as equals. They’re the family, albeit temporary, that Susie never had. Well, besides Chester. No one likes Chester, but on the other hand, doesn’t every family have a Chester?
Lost Character Development
If found, please call Abe Weissman. It sucks that Abe reverts back to keeping things from Rose, when she deliberately said in Paris that she fears returning to New York will mean returning to being treated like she’s gonna shatter. It’s in character that Abe would want to seize some control in a situation where he has none, but man. What a bummer. Especially since it appears it will never be addressed in those terms.
The Racist Soiree
Just…why? I understand that it’s the ‘50s and it’s very likely shows such as this were actually performed, but there’s no reason it had to be written in. It could’ve been any kind of show for the intention of the scene to remain intact. Is it meant to serve as a reminder of how racist the time period was? To what purpose? Regardless, I don’t know what I trust AS-P with this material.
Astrid has bumped up a whole level on the crazy meter since we last saw her. Has someone invented the chill pill to give to her yet?
[“Do you really think you can go back to making Jell-O molds again?”] “Uh, I don’t know. I make a hell of a Jell-O mold.” – Midge in response to Lenny’s question (“Midnight at the Concord”)
“I’ve been paging you nonstop to the point where they finally figured out something was up and put a lock on the microphone. And then, as I was crouching in the bushes outside your family’s house, I thought ‘Wait a minute, what’s a real shit move someone like Miriam Maisel could pull?’ She could up and desert me here and go back to the city she never should’ve left in the first place…So I called B. Asshole, where you work, and tried to get some info out of the brain trust at the switchboard, but there was so much buzzing in their heads. So then, as a Hail fucking Mary, I call your house, and what ho!…What fucking ho!”-Susie to Midge (“Midnight at the Concord”)
“I don’t think I’ve ever said the word ‘sex’ in front of my father, because my father looks like what you’d think a Columbia professor would look like. Lots of brown and tweed and plaid and a scowl of intellectual superiority because he is intellectually superior. He is very smart. My mother once told me that she pictured having sex with his mind on their wedding night so she didn’t have to think about his penis.” – Midge on stage in front of her father (“Midnight at the Concord”)
“The rabbi was going to cancel when he saw it was just me, but I cried really hard, so he stayed. So, yay.”-Astrid (“Let’s Face the Music and Dance”)
“Sorry, I know that would have been kind of neat to say, ‘You know how to find me,’ then walk away like in a movie, but the logistics were off.” – Benjamin to Midge (“Let’s Face the Music and Dance”)
“I guess it’s time we dance with someone else.” Joel, talking metaphorically to Midge (“Let’s Face the Music and Dance”)
Thank you for reading. Please tip a waiter and enjoy some veal. I will be here next week trying to figure out the good, bad, and indifferent of the next two episodes. I’m The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel reviewer. Thank you! Goodnight!