Sometimes it’s hard to know whether or not being a part of the binge-watching and streaming generation actually helps or hinders the enjoyment of television. After the events of “Midnight at the Concorde“, the temptation to go right into “Let’s Face the Music and Dance” is too hard to resist.
A week’s wait would have been torture, but alas nowadays we can go straight into the next episode. If it had been a week, the wait would have been worth it for sure.
Written and directed by Daniel Palladino, the episode picks up mere seconds after we left Midge, Susie and Abe as they headed back to the Steiner Mountain Resort and the results are as brilliant, funny and intense as you would expect with great work from everyone in front of and behind the camera.
Marking the last episode of this season’s arc that has taken the characters to the resort, at first it may have given one pause for concern that we were out of the characters’ usual home of New York, and the episodes did end up coming and going from the resort in a way that made one think about why it was such a big deal that they were heading away, but the eventual results have been great. It may have ended up being a contrived way to do it, but the eventual destination for the series to leave for the Catskills has been to throw a major spanner in the works by having Abe discover Midge’s stand up secret.
Parental figures in an Amy Sherman-Palladino series’ are always the most intriguing. While her series’ are frequently filtered through younger lead female characters, such as Midge and Susie or Lorelai and Rory, much of the drama on many of her series are based on those characters’ relationship with their immediate family, specifically their parents.
One of the best things about Gilmore Girls was how much of the drama, comedy and one-liners came about because of those Friday night dinners. Similarly, with Midge, a lot of the highlights of here series are because of Abe and Rose, their back and forth and the drama that stems from how they react to Midge and her life.
There has always been a ticking time bomb waiting to go off in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel because Midge has kept her stand up a secret and this being Amy Sherman Palladino, we’ve just known that the results of that discovery were going to be good for the viewers if not for the characters. Instead of going nuclear right away, the series chooses to pace itself with “Let’s Face the Music and Dance” and is all the better for it.
Instead of blowing up right away, the episode spends time with Abe slowly simmering away on a slow boil, and while no major explosion ever happens, the episode still throws many curveballs at the patriarch of the Weissman clan as he learns that not only that Midge has been keeping secrets but his son Noah (Will Brill) has been as well.
The latter plot strand may threaten to feel like some sort of appendage to everything else that may not go anywhere, but it actually just heightens the comedy and drama and allows Tony Shalhoub to once again throw in a brilliant range of comedy and drama that says so much with so little and yet with that simmering boil about to explode without exploding thing that makes his performance such an unmitigated joy.
The scene itself where he finds out about Noah’s secret government work from his fellow employees at Bell Labs, complete with comical use of a buzzer sound is one of the funniest scenes of the entire series, and shows once again how the Palladino’s have the ability to craft scenes that can range from the humorously surreal to incredibly insightful and full of character drama very quickly and intelligently.
With this being Daniel Palladino, the comedy has that surreal, very silly touch to it that makes it an absolute joy; from the search party that had been sent out for Susie, to Noah being referred to by Abe as “Son X”, to the final scene with its touching dance number that sees Midge and Joel walk away from each other to pursue either new relationships, “Let’s Face the Music and Dance” has a sense of new beginnings for Midge, Joel and Abe.
There is a new slate of storytelling that has opened up here with Midge’s secret now being revealed to Abe and a new set of suspense. Will Rose find out accidentally too, or will Midge reveal all herself?
It’s a mark of a great series when it leaves you this eager to find out and hit the next episode option right away.