Friday, April 28, 2023

REVIEW: 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' - Midge Faces Federal Charges as Susie Advocates for Her Clients in 'The Pirate Queen'

Amazon's The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel - Episode 5.05 "The Pirate Queen"

Midge lands in hot water after a corporate gig goes south.

"The Pirate Queen" was written by Isaac Oliver and directed by Scott Ellis

Midge and Joel will always remain drawn to each other no matter where they are in their lives. That's been true throughout the series. It's also on display in 1987 where Joel happens to be in jail. He's apparently serving a sentence for some kind of white collar crime. He's not worried about anything that could possibly happen to him. It's a rather peaceful sentence aided by Midge visiting him every month. That proves how constant this connection will always be. It's frustrating to a certain extent because it's a path the show has pursued many times already. In 1961, Midge and Joel even kiss once more. That's a familiar plot beat. One that indicates how the show may not have much creativity left within this personal dynamic. That's in sharp contrast to everything else happening. That stands out. Joel is concerned about Midge because of Susie's ties to Frank and Nicky. She was defeated as a performer and that almost cost Susie everything. Months have now passed and Midge appears just as oblivious as ever. She doesn't see the strain on her career because of these mob connections. She only sees the best in Susie. It's easy to see why. Susie is an incredible manager. She will fight for her clients no matter what. Midge is just one of many now. She demands the most attention. However, she has stability in her career. She has a day job. That's how she brings in a paycheck. She doesn't have to take other gigs. She wants to keep performing onstage to keep her craft fresh. She sees the power in honing that skillset. It's something she's compelled to do even though it only creates a hassle for Susie and Dinah. That's only a slight inconvenience. The more pressing concern is trying to get a producer to hire their comic for an acting job. Dinah and Maggie are running the phones all the time just to get an answer. That persistence is admirable. Susie becomes the talk of the town because of the lengths she will go to. She understands where producers go during their personal time. She invades that privacy to force this conversation. She admits that it's not in her financial interest to push this hard. It's what she does because it's where the inspiration lies within her clients. That matters to her. Sure, she is more than fine laughing at their expense. She is annoyed by the eccentricities of her clients. Midge needs constant attention. Alfie has bought a llama in Las Vegas. Susie still remains determined to make them each stars. All of that is possible with the right gig. All it takes is that breakout moment for them to hit an upward trajectory. Susie experiences that herself. That's inspiring. Midge doesn't like to talk about Susie in the future. And yet, Susie's influence as the best manager Midge ever had always looms over her career. She can't live in that denial forever. That's what creates that delectable tension for wherever that story is heading.

Of course, the season is in no rush to actually detail Midge's journey from The Gordon Ford Show to her life and career in 1987. Something happens during her time as a staff writer that catapults her to fame. That's a crucial element of her story. As such, the audience is patiently waiting. She has become a part of this environment now. She relies on her fellow writers to help with various aspects of her life. She jokes with them too. It's no longer an alienating environment. Gordon still flirts with her. He's desperate to take her out on a date. She's determined to perform on the show. That remains her goal. She was distraught over that being impossible for a moment. She too remains persistent. That's endearing to a certain extent. That's a case of Midge's denial actually being fruitful. It's supported by the career that awaits her. But again, the story is all about slowly accepting Midge in this environment. The dysfunction happens elsewhere. The Weissman household is thrown for a loop when Janusz announces Zelda will no longer have to work. He will provide for her. That comes after all the family does for Zelda's wedding. This is the rare moment where she is celebrated. She has gone everywhere with this family. They've depended on her for a long time. Abe and Rose can't function without all she does for them. That's not a concern for Midge even though it disrupts the childcare she depends on. That's just not a big consequence. Instead, she's off for her next gig. The perception comes that her impressing corporate executives on a boat party will force her to gain more visibility on the show. She accepts a job Gordon doesn't want to do. George brought in a new sponsor. Midge has experience with the diaper products. Gordon sees it all as beneath him. It's not fitting of the top show in the country. Midge celebrates that designation while enjoying the fun of the boat as well. Again, she exudes confidence when it comes to performing. She is a stellar comedian. The conversation quickly turns to the possibility of her praising this product on-air so Gordon doesn't have to. And then, everything shifts when Midge simply leaps to the defense of a waitress. She's being harassed. Midge toys with him like she does in so many of her interactions. It ultimately leads to her being labeled as a criminal facing federal charges as a pirate. It's completely absurd. Susie and Gordon get a laugh out of the situation. It's embarrassing for Midge. It doesn't change her position on the show. Gordon and Mike see George's influence. They delight in his misery instead. This situation can be managed. They have the legal team to do so. Midge has earned that respect. She wants the people in the office to know she has achieved everything on her own merits. She rejects Gordon's advances because that would produce a different narrative. It's still enough to drive the story for multiple episodes. As such, the narrative doesn't completely escape that impulse. It shows more awareness from Midge even though her perspective largely doesn't change throughout the scope of her life. That's true both within her family and in her career. That's certain even though it makes for a more stubborn depiction of characters across long-form storytelling.