Sunday, January 3, 2016

REVIEW: 'Mozart in the Jungle' - The Orchestra Performs in Front of Rodrigo's Former Maestro in 'Regresso Del Rey'

Amazon's Mozart in the Jungle - Episode 2.05 "Regresso Del Rey"

Hailey has more work than she planned on during the orchestra's Latin America tour. When a stolen violin threatens the tour's final concert in front of Rodrigo's former maestro and a potential major donor, Rodrigo has to call in an old friend. An adventure through Mexico City's underworld ensues.

The season has been building to the Symphony's Latin America tour. It's something that has kept Rodrigo very excited and focused on his work. He wants the orchestra to be the best they can possibly be because they will be performing for his mentor, Maestro Rivera. He really wants to impress him. He ascribes his success to his former maestro. He wants to show him just how far he has come and just how accomplished he is. That has made him tough with the orchestra while also constantly keeping his playful side as well. Rodrigo is so excited to be back in Mexico City. He feels much more at home here. He is able to speak his native tongue frequently. This episode has more subtitles than any previous one. And yet, that comfortability adds to the excitement of "Regresso Del Rey" - a dazzling episode because of its exotic locale.

It's somewhat annoying that a contrivance pops up in the first few moments that forces Hailey to once again become Rodrigo's assistant - on top of practicing for the upcoming performances. Mike's passport has expired because he hasn't used it since he was eleven. That was a cheap joke in order to get Hailey back prominently in Rodrigo's orbit instead of taking in the scenery with Cynthia and Bob. It's not something she's incapable of doing. She's just annoyed that she has to do all of this work to keep Rodrigo in line when that is no longer her job. She is officially a member of the Symphony during this tour. She's the second oboe. That's a huge accomplishment for her. But instead, she spends most of the time ringing Rodrigo in and looking after him when he gets food poisoning. And yet, that's only a very minor detail of this episode that spans so much of this tour.

Rodrigo instead spends most of his time worrying about the performance in Mexico City as well as trying to help Warren recover his prized violin when it's stolen. That leads to an adventure in the city that is quite invigorating and thrilling. Rodrigo calls in his old friend, Manuel, who should be able to track down the instrument without Warren needing to file a police report. Rodrigo and Manuel have such an immediate rapport. It's very different from Rodrigo's bond with Thomas - even though Rodrigo refers to both friends as his hermanos. Rodrigo and Manuel have known each other for a long time and playfully tease and insult one another. All of it is done with passion and love as the three men go on quite the journey throughout the city. It's an adventure that takes them to a strip club and to a crime lord. But the journey is much more exciting because of how far removed Rodrigo is from this lifestyle. He's caught between two worlds - Mexico City and New York City. He has left home and gotten famous. And now, he no longer quite fits in the world that used to be so familiar and comforting to him.

But the stolen violin story also builds to one major revelation in the end. Warren made the whole thing up just so he could make a claim with his insurance. It's a powerful scene where Rodrigo gets the truth out of Warren. So far, this season hasn't done a great job at showing the severity of the tension between the orchestra union and the Symphony board. It's a story that's largely been dominated by Cynthia and Nina's flirtation. Here though, it has this intensity to it that does feel meaningful and genuine. The orchestra is Warren's career and passion. He loves his prized violin. But he's also very worried about the future and how he'll be able to support his family should the union go on strike. That's not something he can financially support right now. He was forced into doing this desperate thing because he felt like he didn't have a choice. That showcases just how severe this situation really is as it's bound to get even more intense in the future.

Rodrigo's handling of the Warren situation also says a whole lot about his character and his own stance on this complicated legal negotiation. This job is always about creating the best music possible for him. He doesn't always want to think about the union rules or the company's need to promote the Symphony. He just wants to create beautiful music. But in this moment, he has to be aware of the bigger picture and see the desperate man in front of him. He is faced with a choice. He caught Warren in this lie. But he doesn't react with anger. He is firm but also compassionate. He understands this man. He is aware of what led to Warren doing this in the first place. He can't condone these actions. But he doesn't want to punish him unfairly either. He's there for Warren in the most appropriate way. It's the best reaction Warren could have hoped for - even though the future is still uncertain for him and his family.

And lastly, Rodrigo is able to perform for his former maestro in this episode. The orchestra is able to come together for this performance which goes off without a hitch. Rodrigo dedicates the show to Maestro Rivera. But there's also the fear throughout the performance that the maestro didn't show up. He's not in the seat that Rodrigo had reserved for him - which also angers the donor Gloria is currently courting. But Rodrigo's maestro did show up. That's so gratifying but Rodrigo also wants an honest critique from his mentor. Rivera does have some very critical things to say. None of which Rodrigo can argue with. In just a few moments, the show is able to communicate just how strong this relationship is. It showcases exactly how and why Rodrigo is the way that he is. That should become even more fascinating as the rest of the season develops.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Regresso Del Rey" was written by Adam Brooks and directed by Roman Coppola.
  • That Mike passport mess was such an infuriating detail. Mike has proven to be competent this season. So why is he so foolish when it comes to this regard? It's such a plot driven moment that's really awkward.
  • As soon as Rodrigo said his taco had mystery meat, it was pretty apparent that he was going to get sick. That didn't really effect him too much though. It just added more to Hailey's plate.
  • It seems Gloria has gotten really close to Pavo as they are caught together in her room overlooking the plaza where Cynthia, Hailey and Bob are.
  • Gloria really does deserving some loving too considering she's really awkward in her handling of this potential new donor for the Symphony. That whole thing is a mess that may or may not come together during the meeting the next morning.
  • A car chase scene isn't something that necessarily fits into the tone of this show. And yet, that sequence really wasn't that bothersome. In fact, it was quite fun to see how equipped Rodrigo is at stealing a car.
  • An explanation really wasn't necessary as to why Thomas wasn't with the Symphony. He's no longer with them in an official capacity. But he is coming to Mexico in order to help close the deal with the donor.

As noted in previous reviews from this series, every episodic review was written without having seen any succeeding episodes. Similarly, it would be much appreciated if in the comments section, the conversation would only revolve around the show up to this point in its run.