“This is really happening?” asks Rose during the final moments of “Vote for Kennedy, Vote for Kennedy” and it’s a question the audience will ask too as Midge finally breaks through in the most brilliant way.
The penultimate episode of what has been a season of The Marvelous Mrs Maisel that to call it incredibly enjoyable would be a massive understatement, “Vote for Kennedy, Vote for Kennedy” is layered with comedy, drama and a sense of anticipation and build-up that pays off with one of the series’ most punch the air brilliant moments that will have you proud for our characters, laughing with them and just plain laughing.
After last week’s interesting sojourn into exploring the more selfish and unlikeable privileged side of Midge, it’s back to enjoying her antics somewhat guilt free as Susie books her to perform during a telethon for arthritis only to fall foul of Sophie Lennon (a brilliant Jane Lynch), a subplot set up during the tail end of last season and that has never completely gone away this season. It’s almost enough on its own to sustain an episode, especially given the wonderful sequence at the end when Midge completely owns her five minute slot right at the end of the broadcast that may prove to be a catalyst for even bigger things, but this being The Marvelous Mrs Maisel, there is a plethora of plot here courtesy of some fine writing from Daniel Palladino.
The main subplot that is really gaining traction as we head to the finale, and which is a much more interesting concoction than what’s going on with Joel (whose is starting to feel more and more like this series’ equivalent to Gilmore Girls‘ Chris and for anyone who has ever seen Gilmore Girls will know, that’s not a good thing), is Abe’s. Once again Tony Shalhoub and his exhausted comedic style gets a very fine work out, especially now that his job at Bell Labs is under threat and the government is looking into his background.
Midge’s routine in Someday…couldn’t help but leave one wondering if there would be repurcussions for mentioning her father’s work and the series has once again subtly hinted at future chaos to come. The reveal that Abe as involved in what’s only being described here as “activism” comes as a lovely gentle shock, indicating that Midge’s trait of being a touch non-conformist in some aspects of her life might come as a Weissman family trait (let’s not forget that Rose absconded to Paris at the start of the season, also).
The story strand involving Noah (Will Brill) and his CIA links could almost have destabilised the series, but it’s been great fun and a lovely bit of comedic high-jinks for the series to run with. The same could be said of this latest Abe twist; that we’re entering territory that the series should best avoid, but as always, and either this is down to the writing, Shalhoub’s performance or a brilliant combination of both, the series makes it work wonderfully and given the unpredictable nature of some of this season, it leaves one wondering where we’re going.
Especially since the series has opted not to make Midge’s trip into the world of comedy one in which she will be struggling for too much longer. Her stand up routine at the end of the telethon is similar to her routine at the end of “Mid-way to Mid-town” in which she takes something that places her at a disadvantage and owns it completely. The reactions of the television crew, the crowd and even Abe can’t help but leave one smiling, especially given that her routine itself is incredibly funny. Even that little moment of Abe fighting his urge to smile at her is an incredibly affecting moment and you won’t be able to help but smile too.
It comes at the end of a very funny episode, but one layered with much in the way of suspense; Sophie spends the episode as a clear antagonist; Susie’s attempts at trying to sway the broadcasters feel like it’s setting her and Midge up for a fall, and even her verbally violent outburst to Sophie is both punch the air brilliant because of how much she stands up for Midge, but also leaves us a little terrified at what the repercussions might be. It goes without saying, but there is always something brilliant about watching Alex Borstein go on a rant filled with swear words in the way this show asks her to do and the moment where she goes to town verbally on Sophie is one of the season’s very best moments.
It’s one of many crowning moments in an episode filled with them, and while the episode should be one to leave us with a sense of “mission: accomplished” for the characters, there is also a sense of some damage being done. Midge is furious for Susie going to Sophie and making things worse when they should be trying to let them blow over, and the episode’s final moment when Midge turns down a drink with Susie, still bitter at her actions, leaves things in an interesting way.
Then again, one of the most interesting and subtle things about the episode is how just how much damage is left in the wake of the actions of Midge and Susie; Susie may have jeopardised her working relationship with Midge, but Midge has severely compromised her father, with him, in turn, jeopardising both of his careers due to his severely negative attitude.
In contrast, we see Joel’s father Moishe (Kevin Pollack) give him a massive financial incentive to leave his father’s company so he won’t work himself into the ground; a noble gesture for sure, but one which still leaves one feeling that Joel is still being somewhat rewarded for bad behaviour (and just wait until you hear my somewhat bitter thoughts on certain scenes with him in the finale).
If anything, this might have been a great place to leave the series this year; there are celebration and victory, but it might all be coming at too much of a cost for the characters, but as always, it makes for a great episode and great television.
The Marvelous Mrs Maisel: Season 2 is now available on Amazon Prime.