Thursday, December 6, 2018

REVIEW: 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' - A Vacation to the Catskills is Absolutely Joyous in 'We're Going to the Catskills!'

Amazon's The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel - Episode 2.04 "We're Going to the Catskills!"

The Weissmans arrive in the Catskills for their annual summer trip and attempt to settle into familiar patterns. Whispers of Midge and Joel's separation cause Rose to poke around her daughter's love life. Susie must adjust her summer plans in an effort to keep her and Midge's career momentum going.

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.

"We're Going to the Catskills!" was written by Daniel Palladino and directed by Daniel Palladino

This show has done some absolutely fantastic location work this season. It's stunning to watch the entire family head to the Catskills here. It's a part of their annual tradition. They are all quickly falling back into their old routine. They are each having a blast here as well. It's so mesmerizing and joyful too. The production design of this show has always been so special. But here, it's just beautiful to see all of the details that bring out this very specific world that is so elite and niche but so absolutely overwhelming and astonishing as well. This is a world that Susie never could have imagined. She didn't think her star client would be going away for two months of the summer. To Midge though, that's just commonplace. She doesn't know people who just stay in the city during these months. She sees it as a welcome vacation from a difficult year that she has had. Sure, the things that have defined her personal strife are still defining to her here. In fact, her personal life is put even more under a microscope in this environment. It's a community geared towards family and the idea that marriage is forever. If a couple doesn't last that long, then they are a failure who need to be shamed for the rest of their lives. That's the mentality that Midge and Joel are walking into here. Everyone has so many questions and pity for what they are going through. Of course, it's all very judgmental as well. Joel and Midge are willing to have a little fun with it. They recognize the playfulness that comes from them appearing close even though the entire camp knows that they are getting a divorce. It continues to prove that they are a couple who love each other and will continue to respect each other moving forward. There is no animosity. Midge isn't keeping Joel from seeing his children. Sure, it's weird how Ethan and Esther continue to just disappear so quickly in these types of stories. The audience doesn't really have to think about them. In fact, the family is more than comfortable just leaving the baby in the car while they check in to their cottage. It's so unusual and perplexing. This is a world very familiar to them. They are riding high. And yet, there is the wind of change as well. Susie makes the trek up to the Catskills as well. She doesn't want her client to be on a break for two months. She wants to keep their momentum going. She wants Midge to continue succeeding. She proves to be more than accommodating by finding her own way of blending into this environment. It shows just how trusting and pleasant everyone in this world can be. It's a place that Susie may even like despite being constantly confused by it. She marvels at the nature with pure confusion as to who could ever choose to live this life for two months. But she is here for Midge and has some potential leads for her to follow.

Joel is here as well. He has a solid working relationship with the entire Weissman family again. However, he still feels like an outsider who can never be welcomed back in fully. Abe is more concerned about his former son-in-law seeing him in the romper he wears during his morning exercise. That's such an amusing sight as well. In fact, this is such a solid and funny episode for Abe as he is seen doing his stretches while constantly getting drunk during every night of events. Meanwhile, Joel eventually gets his own place to stay during his time in this community. But he's still searching for some kind of larger meaning. Things are going back to normal but they aren't quite the same either. He blew up his life and doesn't quite know what his future should be. He's working with his parents while getting along just fine with Midge. And yet, it still feels empty to him too. Rose projects that emptiness onto Midge as well. It's only in being confronted with the pity of this community that she starts questioning her daughter's dating life. She always saw that as something private and should only rarely be discussed. But now, she needs to know considering Midge is going out for long stretches during the night. Midge continues to lie about what she's doing too. She claims that she's had all of these lousy dates. But that's just another story she is telling in order to get her mother concerned and distracted. Of course, that leads to her being set up with a successful doctor, Benjamin, who wants to date a weird girl. Rose immediately thinks of Midge being perfect for this young man. However, it's not really something Midge is interested in at the moment. She's more disappointed that she can't compete in the annual swimsuit pageant. She still goes through the motions of this date. He's not all that charming at all. And yet, he still brings a new energy into the proceedings as well. Zachary Levi has a compelling presence in this role. He has meaningful interactions with both Midge and Joel. Benjamin may isolate himself from the world. But now, he seems primed to continue bumping into the lives that the main characters are living. He may even cause them to implode a little bit too.