Friday, March 4, 2022

REVIEW: 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' - Midge's Morals Are Tested at Shy's Wedding in 'How to Chew Quietly and Influence People'

Amazon's The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel - Episode 4.05 "How to Chew Quietly and Influence People"

Susie hones her managerial style. Rose's professional skills land her an incredible opportunity. Midge and Susie take advantage of some high society perks.

"How to Chew Quietly and Influence People" was written by Kate Fodor and directed by Scott Ellis

Midge and Sophie imploded their careers. They were told they would never work again. That's not an easy position for Susie to be in. They are her two clients with no other prospects beyond a lackluster magician crashing on her couch. She has worked hard on their behalf. Her career is given the illusion of getting brighter. She has office space. She is hiring a secretary. She even has the connections to get her clients on talk shows. Susie is impressive. She listens to her clients. She is wildly out of her depth in a couple of areas. She doesn't know how to hire people. She simply respects the dedication the last candidate shows. That's what ultimately gets her hired even though Susie doesn't know her name. She needs someone who understands her business and personality flaws. That's not easy to describe in an interview. It has to be a lived in dynamic. Even then, it can fluctuate from time to time. Midge and Susie attend Shy Baldwin's wedding mostly out of spite. Part of it is curiosity towards the life they could have been living. Their lives weren't the only ones transformed by the events of the prior season. They are simply the characters the narrative kept following. Moreover, Midge and Sophie still have opportunities to succeed. They can make comebacks that ring true to what they want to do. Sophie was so afraid that she might actually be good on Broadway. She sabotaged herself instead of taking that risk. She was paralyzed by fear. She can talk about that eloquently. In fact, this one interview is all it takes to get people on her side once more. Even Abe and Rose are laughing along. That's impressive. They have respect for comedians when they want it. They don't for Midge's career. She continually makes it difficult on them as well. Rose sees it as an embarrassment that her daughter is working at a strip club. That doesn't equate good comedy. It should not be what Midge aspires for in this business. Rose's career is blooming. She is professional and determined to make her matchmaking skills a success for every client who hires her. She's frustrated by her daughter. It's an empathetic declaration. The audience can be confused by Midge's position too. The show clearly loves showcasing period appropriate performances by the various strippers. And then, it can relax into the comfort of Midge's comedy. It has already showcased her worth on a mic. As such, time doesn't need to be spent too frequently with her onstage. Instead, the tension comes from what's going on behind-the-scenes.

Midge is privileged. It doesn't dramatically alter anything for her. It simply showcases how she has the ability to stand by her morals even when offered money that could change her life and boost Susie's profile. That doesn't matter to her. She got the opportunity to apologize to Shy. That's what she wanted most from this night. She notes how this extravagant celebration feels empty without the people who filled up Shy's tour. Everything has changed as a result of Midge's performance. That gave the agents complete control over Shy's image. He's isolated more than ever before. He is certainly willing to make his new wife's life happy. He will do anything to support her. This isn't a relationship he wants. He can't have that. Instead, it's treated as a dirty little secret that must be concealed no matter what. Midge has to be paid to keep quiet. She stands by her morals as a friend. They are no longer close. She doesn't want that kind of relationship anymore. It can never go back to what it once was even though Shy misses her cooking. She knows what she did was wrong. It was an active choice on her part. She may not have realized the repercussions of her actions right away. She can't say she would have gotten on the airplane and apologize though. Given everything that happened after, she is sorry now. That's what she needs to say. That's all she truly needs from this night. Of course, the story continues to pull her into more. She seemingly can't escape it. That's curious too. It's not strange or unwelcome. This season is in desperate need of momentum. It didn't have to be Shy to create that sense of personal agency for Midge. However, that's what has ultimately occurred. She sees how lonely Shy is. She recognizes the absence of Reggie especially. Shy's manager and best friend has been forced out. He isn't allowed to have any space to be himself. That's horrifying. Midge must keep her distance to ensure she doesn't get hurt again. That has already happened. She has too much stress in her life to go down that path again. And yet, that may still be the end result. Sure, the narrative doesn't actually reveal who she sees on the street and jumps out of a taxi to catch. It only thematically makes sense if it was someone of value seen in this episode. That may not explain or justify the cliffhanger ending of it all. It's a more obvious way to get the audience invested in the next episode instead of trusting the easy charm of the dialogue. It's another issue of structuring. That remains a consistent complaint of the season even in an episode that is more secure with its character dynamics.