Monday, January 4, 2016

REVIEW: 'Mozart in the Jungle' - Rodrigo Takes Hailey on a Mexican Adventure in 'How to Make God Laugh'

Amazon's Mozart in the Jungle - Episode 2.06 "How to Make God Laugh"

Rodrigo shows Hailey his Mexico and takes her to a performance of his childhood youth orchestra. Thomas and Gloria meet with Juan Luis Delgado, the richest man in Mexico. Cynthia gets a surprise visitor and ends up in an unexpected position. Maestro Rivera, Rodrigo's mentor, asks him to fulfill a promise.

This trip to Mexico has been a really strong creative decision this season on Mozart in the Jungle. It adds such a phenomenal layer to the show. It showcases Rodrigo in a world where he's comfortable but never allows him to escape the new home he has created for himself back in New York with the Symphony. It's also been a trip to remember for so many of the orchestra members. This destination has forced them to look deep inside themselves. They need to understand what they want. They feel the urge to act on these impulses which then leads to some wonderful and complicated consequences. It's been a fantastic arc for the show. Plus, it's been very beautiful to look at. The audience can tell that the creative team enjoyed traveling to this picturesque locale. And lastly, this location has allowed the various plots of the season to hit major breaking points without them feeling perfunctory or a requisite to getting to a much more important point in the future. This arc has been dynamic. And now, the orchestra will head back home in order to deal with all the repercussions.

This trip to Mexico was about so much more than just the performance for Rodrigo. Yes, he was glad to be able to perform for his mentor, Maestro Rivera, with this orchestra. But this time means so much more to him because he's home. He has constantly felt out of place in New York City. He's a man caught between two worlds and is too conflicted to pick a direction for his life. He has made the orchestra better. He has always been about the music and the passion with which the musicians play their instruments. But Mexico City is his real home. He knows the land, the culture and the language. Everyone else in the orchestra can go off to have a fun time. But this is an important time for Rodrigo as he is able to connect again with the place he came from.

Rodrigo doesn't want to spend the day adhering to a schedule, courting potential donors and signing autographs. He simply wants to experience his hometown again. It's rather simple for him to get out of all of these professional obligations. Thomas is more than capable of stepping in to help Gloria. In fact, he's the reason why the Symphony gets a massive donation. That's a major victory. But that doesn't interest Rodrigo. He simply wants to experience this world again - with Hailey by his side. He wants to show her a good time. He has taken away so much from this trip for her. He wants to give her something back. So, she's the one who sees this world with him. He is opening himself up to her in a way that makes him so vulnerable. He shows her the countryside. He shows her the town where his grandmother lives. He shows her the symphony where Rivera teaches. It's such a memorable journey for the two of them. It's something that they share. And that forces them together in a very intimate way.

Rodrigo has done so well in his life. And yet, that means nothing when he returns home. Fame hasn't changed his family. They are still the same as he left them. That's the way they like it too. They don't need him to provide for them or change their lives. They are happy with the way things are. Rodrigo wants to help them to thank them for everything they've done for him. But a washing machine isn't the happiness that they need. All they need is to see him again. That's what makes them happy. His grandmother knows him better than anyone else in the world. She knows that he can't be relied on to get the best fruit at the local market. This whole experience is eye-opening for Hailey. She appreciates the hospitality of Rodrigo's family. But his grandmother also has news for Hailey's future. She sees that Hailey and Rodrigo will share a powerful connections years from now that includes love, anger, music and kids. It's something that Rodrigo is hesitant to translate for Hailey. But that doesn't stop them from sharing a kiss later on in the night. It's one with passion as Hailey sees firsthand how much she has in common with Rodrigo. She has stepped into his world and has embraced it with open arms. She is no longer afraid to be intimate with him - even though it could cause a scandal with the symphony. She just wants to be with him in that moment. Unfortunately, his grandmother soon breaks things up because they're acting too impulsively.

Hailey is a part of another beautiful moment with Rodrigo as well. The next morning they visit Rivera at his school. They see how it's changed and how it's stayed the same. He is much more appreciative of the amenities that Rodrigo has provided for them. The kids even put on a performance for Rodrigo and Hailey as well. It's astonishing to see just how talented this orchestra is. Rodrigo even gets to conduct them. It's the most beautiful performance of the season so far. It has so much meaning to the characters as they are able to share this moment in order to create fantastic music. It's definitely a high for Rodrigo. However, this moment does not last. Rivera wants Rodrigo to replace him as the head of this symphony. It's something he always promised to do when he was younger. And now, Rivera needs him to do it because his body is slowing fading due to old age. But Rodrigo still feels the pull of the New York Symphony. That's where he has started his new home. He has made a commitment to the orchestra and wants to honor those friendships. It's a devastating blow to Rivera which makes him essentially turn his back on his protégé. It's heartbreaking for Rodrigo. He respects Rivera more than anyone else in the world. And now, he has been shunned by him. The only thing that can comfort him is a hug from Hailey. It's a moment where the rest of their dynamic isn't important. Hailey just needs to be there for him. She knows how devastating this moment is even though she doesn't catch all of the words. She is there for him at his most vulnerable. The two will return to New York as changed people. People who have shared this beautiful and heartbreaking moment. And two people who might want to build on this intimate connection.

Some more thoughts:
  • "How to Make God Laugh" was written by Stuart Blumberg & Adam Brooks and directed by Roman Coppola.
  • Nina actually shows up in Mexico City to spend the day with Cynthia. It's a relationship that Cynthia gets lost in. She blows off her plans with Bob just to spend more time with their union lawyer in bed. And yet, the two of them are eventually caught. But that was really coming to them once they decided to take Bob's reservations at the Mexican restaurant away from him without asking.
  • It's also slightly annoying how all Cynthia-centric stories are about sex. In that scene in the restaurant, I just took note of how Cynthia has slept with all three of the other characters (Nina, Bob and Thomas).
  • Gloria does secure a lot of money for the Symphony. But that does come somewhat at the expense of her relationship with Pavo. She wants to keep it a secret. She forces him to hide in the closet when Thomas needs to crash in her room. It's not something that Pavo likes all that much.
  • There have also been a lot of mentions in this Mexico arc about Rodrigo being a father. Is that on the horizon for him and Hailey?

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.