There is a lot of art in “Look, She Made a Hat” and a lot to love. The seventh episode from season two of Amazon’s comedy series The Marvelous. Mrs Maisel, directed by Jamie Babbit (who directed many of Gilmore Girls best episodes, and with a script by Amy Sherman-Palladin), initially feels as if it’s going to be a stop-gap episode, before having another change of narrative gears descend upon the series in its final moments.
With a year having passed since the “Pilot“, this episode takes the time to do something of a one-eighty in terms of where the series has come from since those opening moments of the very first episode, back when the series was at the mercy of an audience who would be deciding its eventual destination. There were lovely little reminders throughout of where we were when we first met Midge, her family, her husband and way of life, with the moment of her reveal at the end being another change to her life in what has been many since we first saw her utter the words “we got the rabbi”.
With Abe discovering her secret in “Midnight at the Concorde“, and the emotional reverberations of that discovery then leading into further drama and comedy in “Let’s Face the Music and Dance“, the question at the heart of the series was: How long it would be before others discovered Midge’s secret, either accidentally or by Midge herself revealing the secret?
The show didn’t wait in the end. It went right for the drama and comedy in what may very well be one of the best episodes of the season in terms of comedic value. For anyone who has ever watched Gilmore Girls, dinner scenes and parental strife are two things that go hand in hand. They can either be incredibly dramatic and emotional, or incredibly funny. Here we get the latter with a final set piece dinner sequence that borders on farcical and is all the better for it.
“Look She Made a Hat” features scenes and moments that almost feel as if they’re playing out in their own little genre. The scenes involving Midge and Benjamin (Zachary Levi) feel like a sophisticated romantic comedy that could have starred Audrey Hepburn and James Stewart in the fifties; the scenes where Midge and Declan discuss the pursuit and their art feel like a lovely period indie film about the perils of pursuing one’s artistic talent and then the final stretch where dinner with the Rabbi turns into a brilliant piece of farcical comedy.
It’s light and fun and brilliant. The episode really ought to be a messy one given the tonal twists and turns here, but Amy’s script and Jamie Babbit’s direction keeps things brilliantly cohesive, with every scene, every moment and every performance being a highlight in itself. Rachel Brosnahan’s scenes with Rufus Sewell offer a differing character dynamic and portrayal of one’s pursuit of their art. The tone sometimes threatens to be a little nihilistic, but the portrayal of Declan is kept just the right side of brooding by Sewell, who brings some of that British thespian charm of his. The scenes he shares with Brosnahan have an interesting spark that feels like a brilliant world of their own; with brilliant direction from Babbit when it comes to Declan’s work and the off-camera reveal of his masterpiece.
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The episode may have varying tones, but this is the work of a female and writer and a female director delivering great work and brilliant thematic comedy that can go from sophisticated to farcical, from deep to broad, in a brilliant manner. Even in the midst of the interesting dynamics going on, we’re finally given a chance to see Susie’s family, in scenes that play like a brilliant opposite to what we see from Midge when she is with hers
Class has always been an interesting element that has hung over Midge and Susie; they are truly from two different worlds and here we see those differences laid bare, even more so when Susie joins dinner at the Weissman’s where Midge declares her intent to everyone that she’s going into comedy. It’s that final scene that is the true icing on the cake, with great work from every member of the cast, brilliant direction and writing that is superb, all of which simply confirms the series as one of the best on television right now.