Sunday, December 9, 2018

REVIEW: 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' - Midge Makes Huge Decisions Without Thinking Them Through in 'All Alone'

Amazon's The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel - Episode 2.10 "All Alone"

Midge and Rose begin planning for Midge's future as Benjamin attempts to impress Abe. Joel stresses over his next move, while Abe is presented with some big decisions of his own. Susie tries to smooth things over for Midge.

In 2018, it makes no sense to provide full-length reviews of each individual episode for shows released all at once on the streaming services. Sure, there are some shows out there that value the power of the episode. They do make a point in differentiating each episode to ensure it's not just one big slog to the finish. However, the ability to watch the entire season at one's own viewing pace has largely changed the way we consume and discuss these shows. So, some brief summary thoughts are really all that's actually necessary with these seasons. As such, here are my latest thoughts on the next episode of Amazon's The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.

"All Alone" was written by Amy Sherman-Palladino and directed by Amy Sherman-Palladino

This entire series has fundamentally been about balancing what these characters want for their lives and what is expected of them by their families and society. Midge wants a career in comedy but worried that it would distract from the plans that her parents had for her. Her separation from Joel was already startling enough in that regard. She didn't want to disappoint them again. However, the audience should now question if she only got serious with Benjamin in order to appease her parents after she committed more fully to her comedy career. Rose is more concerned about whether her daughter will have another wedding. When her psychic talks about what she sees of Midge's future, Rose reads into the situation details that are clearly pointing in a very different direction. Moreover, she continues to tell Midge what is and isn't acceptable during a second wedding. Things have to be different this time around. They can't be the same as the first wedding because that ended in complete disaster and everyone knows it. As such, things have to be more intimate and less extravagant because the family has less to brag about. It's still a huge celebration that Midge has found a man who loves her and wants to marry her. And yet, it's also clear that she is rushing into this in order to appease her parents. She wishes to ease Benjamin's fears about being good enough for Abe. He is required to answer so many questions because Abe wishes to be more thorough the second time around. Benjamin doesn't even have a proposal for Midge here. It's just expected that the two of them will get married. Meanwhile, the show actually flashes back to the moment when Joel popped the question to Midge. He didn't ask permission from Abe. Midge doesn't care either. Sure, she enjoys dragging out her answer for as long as possible. But it's still a sweeping and grand story that the two of them can tell in order to entertain their friends. That's not the case when it comes to Benjamin and Midge. She is never really given the opportunity to say no. She was never planning on doing so. She does genuinely like the guy. She wants this relationship to work. He has seen her perform and supports her career. He has never felt this way about a woman before. He is ready to make this commitment. However, all of this punctuates how Midge is never going to have a normal life again because she has chosen an unconventional path for herself. The plans that she made are now gone because of her comedy pursuits. Those plans may seem absolutely frivolous. She wants to celebrate the birth of Imogene's third baby but can only understand that she won't have a third child before she turns 30. That's what she wanted. And now, it won't happen. She is investing in her career and that apparently comes with a great deal of sacrifice. However, there is also a difference between the sacrifices she is forced to make and the ones that she chooses to do so anyway.

Midge is once again given a huge opportunity to advance her career. It's clear that more people were watching her telethon performance than she initially suspected. Plus, there is no immediate tension between her and Susie. They are both willing to celebrate after Midge gets the news that Shy Baldwin wants her to open for him on his tour. It's a fantastic offer too. It may even excite her mother because she is also a huge fan of Shy's music. But Midge has to weigh that excitement with the disappointment that comes from having to delay the wedding. Abe only decides to approve this marriage after Midge accepts this offer and goes out shopping for new outfits to wear across the country and in Europe. The reaction he gets from her isn't what he was expecting. It also comes at a time when his life is in turmoil. He no longer wants to work at Bell Labs or teach at Columbia. Rose has to point out to him that the school technically owns their apartment. As such, their entire life together could be destroyed because he no longer feels happy and challenged by his work. Rose started off feeling so confident about everything that was happening. And then, she is utterly destroyed by the choices that her family is making without her weighing in on those decisions. It's all just pure instinct for them as well. Abe does assemble this meeting at Bell Labs to say there isn't a problem. But he is preparing for a fight too by calling a lawyer. Meanwhile, Midge accepts this offer from Shy without even thinking about it. It's a six month touring schedule. It means having to basically abandon her life in New York. That means leaving her family and Benjamin behind. She didn't even think about them when making this decision. She just saw a great opportunity for herself. That proves that she can be an incredibly selfish character. It also comes at a time when Susie is summoned to Sophie Lennon's house with an offer to become her manager as well. Susie doesn't have the same reaction as Midge. She doesn't just respond by instinct. Of course, she doesn't make a decision either. She is choosing to keep this to herself for the moment. She celebrates with Midge and is proud of being able to go on tour together. But this secret decision could become destructive as well. Plus, all of this concludes with Midge being afraid that she will end up all alone. That's the mentality forced onto her by Lenny Bruce's latest set. She appears as his moral support for this televised appearance. He doesn't really need it. He's great. He too is incredibly self-destructive though. All of this essentially fuels Midge's decision to show up at Joel's place with the desire to spend the night with someone who truly loves her. That's a shocking moment to end the season. Sure, it could seem repetitive as well. That's the risk whenever it comes to Joel because he has been yearning after Midge all season long. And now, he seems to get her once more. But it too will be an incredibly fleeting moment. He will have to care for the children for awhile. Midge is moving on to stardom. Joel will be chasing his dreams too by opening a club. It's just unclear if the creation of this complicated mess will be worth it for Midge in addition to the fame she'll receive.