‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’ Review: Episodes 2×09 & 2×10

It’s finally time for my last review of this season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and, boy, is there a lot to discuss. Let’s get to it!

“Vote for Kennedy, Vote for Kennedy”

The Good

Abe’s Apathy

Tony Shalhoub is never funnier than when Abe is just done with everything, and in this episode that sentiment reaches its peak. The sardonically blank manner in which he observes that the cracker he just bit was “loud” once again solidified his place as the second funniest character on this show.

Shy Baldwin

The appearance of Shy Baldwin marked the first time that I had to Google a character to learn whether or not they were a historical figure. I assumed that he must have been, based on the cinematography surrounding his song and the way Midge fawned over him. Everything seemed to be done with the prediction that the viewer would swoon over him as well, so I thought that was entrenched in historical fondness. It turns out that’s not the case. Shy Baldwin comes straight from Amy Sherman-Palladino’s imagination. His charm can only be attested to Leroy McClain’s endearing performance.

Midge on Late Night

Midge makes the last five minutes of the telethon count by giving her best act of the season. She’s bubbly, confident, and completely off-the-cuff. She’s “ballsy,” not just for going political against the rules, but for refusing to let the fact that she’s going on when everyone’s likely asleep mean that she’s wasting her own time. If Rachel Brosnahan’s stint on Saturday Night Live is as funny as she is in this scene, then she will give SNL the jolt that it so desperately needs.

The Bad

Adding Insult to the Injury of Misogyny

This isn’t a criticism of the episode so much as a criticism of 1950s society, but it’s frankly infuriating how Columbia has to keep “very poor teachers”-like Abe has sadly proven himself to be-because of tenure. All the while, Columbia has been established to be severely lacking in female professors, women that would undoubtedly go above and beyond to fill those positions. It sucks when our escapist fiction comes a little too close to our bitter reality.

Repetitive Unfunny Beats

This is a classic Daniel Palladino blunder. In many of the scripts he writes, he repeats a joke over and over again, presumably in the belief that the repetition will make said joke funnier each time. Nine times out of ten, he is egregiously incorrect. The joke of the people in the control room getting pissed whenever Midge and/or Susie walked in uninvited is one of those nine.

The Indifferent

NOT3 Instead of NOTP

The scene between Susie, Midge, and Benjamin at The Gaslight was entirely cringeworthy. I don’t quite grasp what Amy Sherman-Palladino intended to convey with that scene. What came across was that Susie was insecure about her place in Midge’s life alongside Benjamin, which seems like an odd one-off beat to have. However, Midge and Benjamin are incredibly cute as they plan the rest of their night together, which slides the scene from “Bad” to “Indifferent.”

“All Alone”

The Good

A Blonde Moment (In Time)

It’s easy to forget sometimes that Midge and Joel were functional fools in love, once upon a time. I doubt there’s a girl in the world that wouldn’t want a guy who was eager to twirl her in the middle of the street to the tune of “Shall We Dance?,” under the metatextually appropriate rose colored lighting. We can forgive Midge for that. Maybe dying her hair brunette is what jinxed their marriage.

Benjamin and Midge’s Curtain Call?

Benjamin and Midge had so much potential, and this episode reminds us of that one more time before pulling the rug out from under us. He is willing to jump through whatever arbitrary hoops necessary to earn Midge’s hand in marriage. Midge is so excited to accept up until Shy Baldwin’s offer. It’s a match made in heaven… for another life.

I hope this won’t be the last we see of Zachary Levi’s Benjamin.

Papa Bear

Have I exhausted all possible alleys of expressing my love for Abe and Lenny? Well, let’s find out because that’s what these next two sections are about.

Upon first glance, Abe may appear to be a man who takes his work more seriously than anything else in his life. However, this season has deconstructed that interpretation. We began the season with him stepping up to the plate to defend his marriage, and we end the season with him stepping up to the plate to defend both his daughter and his own broken self-image.

I don’t know what Abe is planning with Midge’s civil rights lawyer from last season, but it’s the storyline they’ve teased that I’m most excited to find out about.

You Are Lovely, Lenny Bruce

Someone please protect him. Lenny is so obviously calling out for help in the only ways he feels comfortable doing and everyone is either too enveloped in their own idea of who he is (the general public) or their own problems (Midge) to recognize it. I hate that we already know how his story ends. He deserves better.

Luke Kirby gives his best performances to date in this episode. I was awed by how adeptly he switched between and blended the depressed man and the outlandish comic, even more so when I saw a gifset comparing Luke Kirby’s “All Alone” production to that of the real Lenny Bruce on the Steve Allen show. They are identical, from the hand gestures to the head turns. Kirby needs to be involved in more awards discussions surrounding this series.

The Bad

Joel’s Jealousy

Joel is back to acting like a hypocritical, whiny pissbaby. He may have a right to be mad initially, when he thought that Midge was purposefully introducing the kids to Benjamin without his okay, but once Midge explained the situation he should have promptly calmed down. Especially since he not only introduced a girlfriend of his to Ethan without getting the okay from Midge, but also had Ethan sleep in the same apartment for a night as said girlfriend. Does the name Penny Pan ring a bell, Joel? How quickly we forget.

Joel isn’t only jealous of Midge’s romantic entanglements either. He’s also jealous of her ability to pursue and succeed in her dreams. The scene of Joel and Archie hitting baseballs-the latter complaining about the very existence of his wife and three kids while the former spitefully spits that his wife isn’t “the only one who gets a dream”-could easily have been pulled from any hypermasculine sitcom from the past thirty years.

Which leads me to…

The Ending

Continuing from the previous section, if they wanted this ending to be at all successful, then they should have at least written Joel as likable as he admittedly has been for most of this season. The flashback at the beginning earned him a few brownie points, but it’s still a flashback and it’s the present that needs to be reckoned with. The viewer has no desire to see Midge back with Joel, especially in the immediate aftermath of how he’s acted towards her within this same episode. It’s a Lorelai/Christopher move made ten times worse by its own distinct set of circumstances.

However, the Gilmore Girls comparison that sprung to mind when I first watched this scene was not Lorelai/Christopher, but rather Rory/Logan. In the “Summer” episode of the Gilmore Girls revival, there was a phone call between Rory and Logan that felt like a natural, satisfying closure to their relationship. Rory had realized how unhealthily dependent she’d come to be on Logan, and was seizing back her agency by ending their affair. It was the perfect final scene for them. Until it wasn’t. In the following episode, “Fall,” Logan reappeared in Stars Hollow to give his relationship with Rory one last hurrah. The significance of that empowering scene was fizzled.

Amy Sherman-Palladino has unknowingly fallen into the same pitfall again here. The scene in “Let’s Face the Music and Dance,” where Joel and Midge agree that it’s time they both dance with someone else, was also a powerful climax that has become nullified in hindsight. It does a disservice to her characters, every time.

Let us pray that this one doesn’t lead to an unwanted pregnancy, the way it did for Rory and Logan.

The Indifferent

The Midge/Susie/Sophie Love Triangle

It’s difficult for me to feel invested in the tension building between Midge and Susie because I don’t see any stakes attached to it. Regardless of how Midge feels about Susie becoming Sophie’s manager behind her back, we know that by the end of the season at the latest they’ll have made up and be a team again. As Rachel Brosnahan and Alex Borstein have taken to reminding us, this show is a “womance” between their two characters. Sophie doesn’t stand a chance.

Best Lines:

  • “You break a leg tonight, Midge. And thanks for the spritz. A little summertime in the fall.”-Shy Baldwin (“Vote for Kennedy, Vote for Kennedy”)
  • “I’m not gonna make my client apologize for what is going to make her a star.”-Susie (“Vote for Kennedy, Vote for Kennedy”)
  • “If you ever threaten my daughter again, I will punch you right in the nose. It won’t hurt. I’m not strong. But, at the very least, you will be embarrassed that you got punched in the nose by a not-strong mathematician.”-Abe (“All Alone”)
  • “First time I took my son Ethan for a playdate with other kids, he was so nervous that I promised to stand outside the whole time in case he wanted to leave. He didn’t. It rained. Want me to come stand outside your playdate?”-Midge to Lenny (“All Alone”)
  • “You are lovely.”- Lenny, in reply to the previous quote (“All Alone”)

I think they want me to wrap it up. Thank you for reading, everybody. I’m The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel reviewer. It’s been a pleasure. ‘Til next time. Good night.

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