It wouldn’t be an Amy Sherman-Palladino series if there weren’t a handful of musical numbers worked in, and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’s latest episode, “Susan,” delivers a healthy dose of musical entertainment. The first three episodes of the series’ fifth and final season broke from tradition with their unexpected glimpses into Midge’s (Rachel Brosnahan) future, but there is neither hide nor hair of anything resembling predestination, which is actually a welcome relief. For now, at least.
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After the merriment of Episode 3, everyone at the Gordon Ford Show is nursing killer hangovers the following morning, except for Midge who was wise not to imbibe. Though teetotaling didn’t save her from locking lips with Gordon Ford (Reid Scott) and the aftermath of that comes into focus at the top of the episode. Midge makes it quite clear that she’s not interested in becoming the other woman, nor is she looking to be the employee that’s messing around with her boss. While Gordon does jest about firing her to solve the latter issue, he doesn’t actually put her into any uncomfortable positions. It’s hard to tell if he respects her too much, or if he’s just smart enough to pursue something that could hurt the show. While Midge has definitely faced her fair share of sexism throughout the series, she hasn’t had to face this form of sexism just yet, and it’s a welcome relief that the script didn’t push the matter further.
Midge’s role within the Gordon Ford Show is a sort of loose subplot throughout “Susan.” When a comic vanishes right before the show is due to go on air, Midge learns the hard way that Susie’s (Alex Borstein) clever ploy to get her on the show via the writer’s room will never happen. It may be a smart rule to have—especially when you’re surrounded by creatives looking for their big break—but no one that works for the show is allowed to be on the show, which really puts the kibosh on Midge’s own plans for her career.
Susie’s mobster-sized issue continues well into Season 5, with Frank (Erik Palladino) and Nicky (John Scurti) rearing their heads again and this time, they’re looking for a little musical tit-for-tat. They’re putting on an Our Town-ish variety act to push some sort of something, and when their garbage man calls out sick, they look to Susie to enlist Midge to fill the gap. Which is rather ironic, considering Midge’s inability to fill in for the missing comic on the Gordon Ford Show. Luckily, their garbage show is far from trashy, as it pays homage to all the beloved city and town-based musicals that are contemporary to The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’s setting. But it is still far from anything that Midge wants to be involved with.
With Mei (Stephanie Hsu) fully out of the picture now, Joel (Michael Zegen) doesn’t have a lot to do in this episode. However, it does appear that “Susan” is setting up a new plotline for him, as he takes issue with the musical favor that Midge is being forced to do in order to keep Susie out of trouble with the mob. Over the last two seasons, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel has been working overtime to make the audience like Joel again—a common trick employed by Sherman-Palladino, without fail—and it seems like it’s happening again. Joel may be a terrible fit for Midge, but it is nice to see him embracing his role as their kids’ father and even pulling out the protective ex act.
Like with Joel, Season 5 still seems to be figuring out what it wants to do with Abe (Tony Shalhoub) and Rose Weissman (Marin Hinkle) this time around. Of course, Abe is still working as a critic for The Village Green, though his holier-than-thou attitude about his criticism seems to be causing a little friction between him and his wife. Abe is looking for deeper meanings within the works he is reviewing, while Rose is simply enjoying the play for what it is—not for whatever hidden meaning it could possess. All of this comes to a head when Rose decides to take the bull by the horns and ask the playwright what the play is really about and, much to the chagrin of Abe, Rose is right. Their little tiff is cut short when they run home and stumble upon Zelda (Matilda Szydagis) being proposed to by her mysterious new beau. This will surely change things up in the Weissman household: for better and for worse.
The episode’s title comes into focus towards the end of the episode and, as one might be able to guess, it is directly related to Susie. There were clues in the previous episodes that Susie may have a history with someone connected to the Gordon Ford Show, though the reveal definitely adds a layer of intrigue to Susie’s story and potential roadblocks for Midge’s future at the show. As always, Susie’s temper is a force to be reckoned with, particularly whenever there are old emotions lurking just beneath the surface.
All in all, the fourth episode of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’s final season is jam-packed with musical numbers, double entendres, dashed dreams, and maybe a glimmer of hope for where things might be headed for Midge—flashforwards, notwithstanding. It will be interesting to see whether something blossoms between Midge and Gordon, especially when he is very much her type. For a season that is allegedly set on propelling Midge to whatever the next stage of her career is… it hasn’t gotten there yet.
New episodes of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Season 5 are available to stream on Prime Video every Friday.