Saturday, December 7, 2019

REVIEW: 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' - Midge and Joel Grow Closer When He Sees Her Perform in Las Vegas in 'Hands!'

Amazon's The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel - Episode 3.04 "Hands!"

Joel visits Midge in Vegas. Rose and Abe struggle as they adjust to their new life. Susie scores a big win for her new client.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of Amazon's The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.

"Hands!" was written by Daniel Palladino and directed by Daniel Palladino

Forces are actively conspiring to keep Midge and Joel together as a romantic couple. Yes, it absolutely is a twisted joke that they accidentally get married in Las Vegas right after they got a divorce. However, it also follows a pattern of the show only wanting to define the two of them together in that context. They have to remain in each other's lives because of the children. They have to maintain some kind of relationship. The show is only really interested in the romantic angle though. That is unfortunate and incredibly limiting. It makes it feel like the story is going around in circles. It's as if the show keeps repeating the argument that Midge and Joel belong together. The narrative has certainly presented ample evidence for why that shouldn't be the case at all. However, it has also featured numerous characters who tell them that they deserve each other. Meanwhile, they themselves have fallen into the attraction and connection again on numerous occasions. It still feels like the safe and easy thing to do. Midge is better defined elsewhere. Her career is vastly more interesting than anything going on in her romantic life. Of course, Joel suffers because he's simply not an engaging or funny character. The show always gives him meaty material to do. However, he also argues that this marriage is a mistake because he has started something new. That's not entirely true at all. Yes, he and Mei have been heavily flirting. Archie and her Chinese goons stare awkwardly when they dance here. It hasn't evolved beyond that though. It's still in the awkward beginning of seeing where things might go. Plus, they are more than comfortable with illegal activities. They are active in embracing those choices. Those influences are around Midge as well. She is mostly oblivious to them though. It has to be laid out to her as blunt as possible that Archie is a mobster in Las Vegas. However, he is completely in love with her and her skills as a comedian. Meanwhile, Susie is the one who actually sees him beating a guy who has gone against him. As such, she is further afraid of saying anything out of turn even though payroll has shorted what Midge is expected to make for performing. It's a legitimate issue that should be fixed immediately. Archie is accommodating to that. Susie is just forever terrified. She has handled herself around thugs before. She befriended a couple when they were suppose to be sending her a menacing message last season. And now, her awkwardness is used to sell the comedy. She is allowed to escape this crazy world and return to New York with all of its eccentricities. Sophie is a demanding client as well. And yet, Susie is able to put together a package for a Broadway production that may be enticing to producers. She may not see any of the profits from it. But it further showcases her skills as a manager. She has the hustle to make big moves and earn the approval of her clients. That's the energy she brings to the proceedings. But now, she also has to worry that Midge will make terrible mistakes the moment she leaves. It shouldn't be a big deal that Susie leaves Midge alone on this tour for a few days. Midge is more than capable of taking care of herself and acting responsibly. Instead, she invites Joel out to see her perform. It ends with them getting drunk and married once more. Again, it's a twisted joke played for the comedy of the situation. The audience is suppose to be laughing at the mistakes the characters are making. That same energy is applied to Rose and Abe living with Moishe and Shirley, who have very different routines. It's hard to see any of it as genuine though. It highlights the odd and fun colors of this world. But it no longer has the grounded emotions that have defined so much of the prior stories. Instead, it's crazy things happening to keep things exciting and intense. It may inevitably end in Midge and Joel getting another divorce and facing the shame from everyone they tell about what happened. But that may be a little pointless in the grand scheme of things. It could be a distraction from the true purpose of Midge really coming into her own as a performer onstage. That can be a huge character flaw but it's treated as a joke instead of an actual obstacle to overcome and stand by that decision.