Friday, March 4, 2022

REVIEW: 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' - Jealousy Grows Between Midge and Sophie Again in 'Maisel vs. Lennon: The Cut Contest'

Amazon's The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel - Episode 4.06 "Maisel vs. Lennon: The Cut Contest"

Word of Midge's act is spreading. Imogene gets a new job and a new name. Sophie just wants to help.

"Maisel vs. Lennon: The Cut Contest" was written by Amy Sherman-Palladino & Daniel Palladino and directed by Amy Sherman-Palladino

Midge has a consistent gig where she can do whatever she wants. She has complete ownership over her performances at the strip club. That's what she wanted after being dropped from Shy Baldwin's tour. She saw magic in a situation most people would ignore. She knew this place had potential. She made it functional. Boise got his act together as a manager because of what Midge demanded. The other performers respect what she has done. Her efforts have improved their lives. Meanwhile, the owners of this illegal business are happy that profits are up. They don't care that the atmosphere and clientele has changed. They are doing better now than ever before. It's all because of Midge. She demanded that this place change. It did exactly that. It catered to her every wish. And now, she can negotiate a contract. She has the freedom to do whatever she wants in this space. Sure, the narrative demands that she be generous at all times. She is giving to the other performers. It's all to articulate how this gig is better than anything else she has ever had. She gets to be the star. That highlights her ego. She enjoys that. That makes it incredibly disruptive when she takes a different job because the money is so much better. Her performing at a strip club can only take her so far. She is accustomed to a certain life. All of her hard work has still left her in debt. Sophie has all the details too. She can blackmail her to ensure Susie returns as her manager. That's all she wants. She sees Susie as the best. Midge is the only way to get her. All her previous gifts and appeals haven't worked. Midge is special. She isn't Susie's only client. She sees greatness in Alfie's future as well. He demands a little nurturing. Susie can book him at Joel's club. She knows he can deliver with the proper showcase. That doesn't occur. In fact, this episode is all about people wasting opportunities because of their insecurities. Alfie doesn't drink to cope. He complains to Susie. She knows how to handle the situation because she went through it before with Sophie. She learned and evolved from that experience. She doesn't want to go back there again. She already set Sophie up with the job she wanted. That's all she had to do. They had a deal. Sophie refuses to let that be the end. She has the influence once more to actually destroy lives. Midge is targeted. She is a funny comic. No one reputable can see her perform. Susie knows she is just as deserving of performing on late night television. She simply can't get her there. Instead, Midge may be standing in her own way.

The narrative balances all of this with showcasing how Midge is generous and nurturing to those she cares about. Lenny is the reason why she got out of the taxi in the middle of the street. The show doesn't exactly earn that moment. It was a tease from the prior episode that had nothing to do with what was central to that plot. And here, Lenny is only a pivotal character for a few scenes. It shares how he and Midge are still learning new details about each other. It's scary too. It's not being set up as something more consequential for the season. It's simply yet another run-in between two comics who respect each other. Midge doesn't want Lenny to hurt himself. She can only give so much because he pushes her and her kindness away. This is a tough business after all. That's on perfect display in the showdown between Midge and Sophie. Neither one of them wants to step aside or even share the spotlight. They see this as their opportunity to be relevant. Sophie invited Midge onto this show with the expectation that they would never actually interact. Instead, she gets jealous of the laughs Midge gets from the crowd. Meanwhile, Midge takes this job mostly because of how her parents react to Sophie's humor. They love the show. It takes priority above all else on Thursday nights. It's appointment viewing for them even though it's brand new. Midge doesn't understand it. Nor does she appreciate her parents turning against her. This feels like a personal betrayal. Her parents arn't supporting her with something that matters. Midge feels swallowed up by criticism and people telling her she doesn't belong in this space. She's not the only woman who feels that way. That too is her privilege peaking out. It once again shows her inability to see the world from someone else's perspective. She continues to be entitled in that way. The show also refuses to see that as solely negative. It wants a picture perfect character at the center. She is rough around the edges but she knows exactly what she wants. This is learned behavior from her parents. They flourish in their new professions. And yet, they struggle to see any comparison to the newfound strife they suffer with what their daughter is also dealing with. Of course, it's difficult to be as invested in these stories as with what's happening with Midge. That's true despite how stagnant she has been all season. It's likely she will get a triumphant showcase by the finale. The journey getting there has been very circular. It's been a peculiar creative decision. One that can still be terrific as is seen in the conclusion of this episode. More missteps have happened along the way too.