Friday, December 7, 2018

REVIEW: 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' - Midge's Life Completely Implodes During Her Latest Set in 'Midnight at the Concord'

Amazon's The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel - Episode 2.05 "Midnight at the Concord"

Summer season at Steiner Mountain Resort continues as Moishe and Shirley join the group, disturbing Abe's peace. Susie tries to ward off a new friend while keeping a low profile at the resort. Midge jumps at the opportunity to redeem herself at B. Altman.

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.

"Midnight at the Concord" was written by Amy Sherman-Palladino and directed by Amy Sherman-Palladino

This is such a remarkable and pivotal episode for so many characters. It represents a significant change for a number of reasons too. At first, it seems like the biggest difference in Midge's life is returning to the Revlon counter at B. Altman. That's the excuse that she needs to further flesh out her dynamic with Benjamin. They didn't have a great first date at the Catskills. He's leaving to go back to the city because he is bored with his time here and doesn't need to relax like the rest of his family and their socialite friends. The car ride back to the city is so stiff and awkward as well. It's a ride filled with silence. The only thing breaking up the monotony is the news. Benjamin even teases Midge by turning to some music just to get her attention for a moment. When the news goes out though, that's when things start to thaw between them. Midge just decides to put on her comedy persona and entertain him. It's not an act or a routine she has practiced a lot. This is her just speaking candidly while discussing the types of stories she has just heard. It allows the time to quickly go by. In fact, this return to the city has absolutely nothing to do with B. Altman. That is just Midge's day job after all. She has been stuck as a switchboard operator while disrupting the lives of her friends in that environment. But her life is bound to go on to bigger and better things than regaining the trust of her boss at this job. Instead, the focus is primarily on this burgeoning connection with Benjamin. He is still deciding whether or not he likes her. At the Catskills, he didn't because she was simply another woman his mother was trying to set him up with who didn't want to pursue this relationship any more than he did. The only thing truly defining what he is looking for in a woman is someone who is weird. Midge is that. Everyone in her life knows that. She has followed the untraditional path even though she enjoys a fair amount of routine with her family. But she piques Benjamin's interest here. The play that they see on Broadway is a complete bust. And yet, Midge fortunately knows where Lenny Bruce happens to be performing. That too breaks the ice for the two of them. It allows them to simply enjoy each other's company. On paper, Benjamin is absolutely perfect for someone in Midge's position. She is lucky to land a doctor as her husband. But she's also lucky because he supports her career choice. She sees the value in telling him the truth right away. She doesn't want to keep that a secret any longer. He even notes that it's not a well-kept secret because so many people who know her have seen her perform. Those just aren't people in her personal life who matter to her. Sure, getting the good booth at the restaurant is important. But a potential relationship that could lead to marriage is even more important. As such, she opens up to Benjamin. She overshares but that's also a key point of her personality. All of this is left open for more to occur. This is actually a date that goes well.

Moreover, Midge returns to the Catskills for a huge gig. Susie has been working tirelessly trying to find some work for her client in upstate New York. This is such a foreign place for her. She doesn't know where to find leads or if any of them are actually credible. And yet, she manages to pull in a huge opportunity. It just means that Midge has to quickly travel back to the resort she was just at. Again, she is fortunate enough that her brother and sister-in-law also happen to be traveling there. They don't have any questions about dropping her off at the Concord. They just assume that she has a fancy date. They hope that she is seeing a nice guy. And yes, she is doing that. But that's an opportunity back in the city. In the Catskills, she's pursuing her career. She is terrified of the size of this room and the pressure put on by the owner for her to be funny or he won't pay. She needs to go out on the stage and absolutely kill it. Once again, it's clear that she is such a powerful comedian when she is just delivering a stream of consciousness monologue. That's what defines her set during this appearance. The pressure is on and she completely delivers. She proves that she is funny with her routine. She doesn't have to have a funny look in order to gain the approval of the audience. She tells jokes that play so very well to the people in this room. It shows the absolute cleverness of the craft that jokes about food can be absolutely hysterical. Midge understands the Catskills so well. She is so filthy though. She has this whole idea of how the set is going to go. And then, she sees her father in the crowd. That's such a devastating revelation. It makes the audience fear that all of this is about to be destroyed for Midge. She wanted to carefully plan when she would reveal her new self to her family. She kept delaying that conversation. Susie never pressured her to make it happen. She always just assumed that it had already happened. It didn't though. And now, Abe is out in the audience listening to his daughter talk about sex to a crowd full of people. He doesn't say an entire word at all. However, Tony Shalhoub's performance is so towering because Abe is so completely devastated. The illusion of his daughter has been destroyed. He doesn't know who she is anymore. He takes her back to the city once more as if she and Susie are children who need to be punished because of what they did out in public. That's the way that this hour closes. And yet, Midge was absolutely fantastic on stage. She lost her footing for a little bit. She sped up her delivery as she was trying to rationalize all of this to her father. But it was still just as brilliant and funny. The owner wants her back for more shows. This is the kind of break she needed. It just means there will be so much personal fallout for Midge to deal with now that Abe knows the truth.