Friday, February 18, 2022

REVIEW: 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' - Midge and Abe Commiserate Over Their Love of the Arts in 'Billy Jones and the Orgy Lamps'

Amazon's The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel - Episode 4.02 "Billy Jones and the Orgy Lamps"

Midge has Abe and Rose over for dinner. Shirley tries to find Joel a new wife. An unexpected cab ride leads to new opportunities.

"Billy Jones and the Orgy Lamps" was written by Daniel Palladino and directed by Daniel Palladino

Midge wants a fresh, new life yet everything is frustratingly the same. The show projects that quality as well. Part of it is done purposefully. A lot of this episode is suppose to mirror the idea that Midge and Susie are starting over. They are back at square one when it comes to making big careers for themselves. Elements of this episode even mirror events from the series premiere. Midge is arrested for soliciting prostitution. She no longer freaks out in a jail cell the same way she did several years ago. But she still has a love for comedy and no venues that want to see her perform. Meanwhile, Susie has two clients who are driving her crazy. Harry Drake insists that Susie hasn't lost everything. In fact, people in the business admire her for what she accomplished with Sophie Lennon. Sure, Broadway investors are threatening to sue because the show shut down after opening night. But Susie successfully got Sophie on Broadway. That was a major accomplishment. One that should prove her hustle and willingness to support her clients' big dreams. She's not a great manager. Harry is at least willing to give her some advice. She doesn't truly need to break up with Sophie. Her career is essentially over which requires no real work to manage. Meanwhile, Midge just has to get back onstage. She simply has to return to the rhythms of the business. Putting in that hard work will pay off once more. Of course, Midge feels old and doesn't want to endure all of that again. She certainly still has the skillset. That's on display when she's negotiating the tabs she has open upon returning to her apartment in Manhattan. She's still finding that not everything is easy. She is still compared to her life with Joel. In fact, this apartment offers only memories of their time together. She still loves it. However, it may all be the show running around in circles. It loves putting this architecture and design on display. Midge gives her parents a tour. She invites them to stay with her. She knows it's for the best. They all do. It just requires a creative story. One that dimensions Midge's accomplishments. But Abe and Rose are the ones excited about their careers at the moment. Midge only has the troubles comedy brings to her.

All of this is a depressing headspace for Midge. It showcases how it isn't easy for her to just go out and become a headliner. She stated that as her ambition. It's something she is going to work towards. It's not going to simply be an opportunity that falls in her lap. She would like it to be. The world isn't that easy or simple though. The show can sometimes make it that way. It's rather amused by the idea of people rearranging the same concepts believing it better suites them. Change is a constant but nothing ever ultimately changes. It's not until Midge decides to do a good deed. Then, she's brought into a new world. Inspiration seemingly strikes her once more while she's backstage at the strip club. She cringes at the bad attempts at stand-up. She did the exact same thing when she was actually in a comedy club watching her fellow performers do their acts. She was saying their jokes just like Joel did way back when she believed her husband could pursue this profession. That too is a callback to the life Midge yearned for. Now, she is the one being a hack. It's disruptive. It's a key character reversal. One that should inspire someone to kick her out of this rut. And yet, it's here to last. She only briefly appears onstage. Even when she does, it's an offense to the people trying to make this business work. Midge believes she can revolutionize the way comedy is delivered to the people. It's all just a dream. One where she is left to drink her sorrows away with her father after a late night of adventures and getting into the same trouble as she was when she was starting out. That final scene is still inspired. It's father and daughter commiserating over their love of the arts despite its lack of financial stability. Abe feels like he finally belongs somewhere and is surrounded by people who enjoy his company. Midge had that adoration once as well. Now, she's fighting for anything to repair her reputation. Part of it is the sting of Shy's betrayal. Everything he now does in public is a slap in the face of what she perceived that friendship to be. She was a success. She now fears that she is ruined. She isn't. She still has a good life. It's just one of making creative stories to appease the neighbors. It remains chaotic. That was never going to change. It can just be frustrating to remain in that mindset after four seasons. It doesn't immediately present as something new and exciting. And so, the overall narrative of the season is still reaching for inspiration. Hopefully, it finds it alongside Midge. She can still do wonders onstage if she is simply given the spotlight to prevail. That's true both in her reality and in the show's appeal to the audience no matter where Midge is performing.