Friday, May 5, 2023

REVIEW: 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' - Susie's Career Is Honored by Those Who Love and Fear Her in 'The Testi-Roastial'

Amazon's The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel - Episode 5.06 "The Testi-Roastial"

Susie is honored at the Friars Club.

"The Testi-Roastial" was written by Daniel Palladino and directed by Daniel Palladino

Midge and Susie are the central relationship of the series. Their partnership lasts longer than any other relationship they have ever had. It's a visceral experience when betrayal tears the two of them apart. In the immediate aftermath, Midge goes on stage to process. That has always been a reliable source for material before. She goes from one thought to the next. It's obvious she has a bit more maturity around the conversation in 1985. She recognizes how she has to cater her thoughts to the crowd. They need to laugh. She can't just say anything without suffering blowback. She's absolutely devastated though. And yes, it's riveting to see what caused a rift between the two. That divorce was teased earlier this season. They could no longer be named in each other's presence. That's how bad things became. This episode sets out to explain what happened and allow enough time to pass for them to mend fences. It's a tall order. So much of the story is ultimately just being explained to the audience. It's not living in the moment to experience every drastic action taken by the characters. Instead, it's all happening in the past tense. These are great stories about Susie's impressive career. People gather to roast and honor her. They are brutal while doing so. They are even more complex and vicious after the celebration. They share stories so freely. That's how infamous she has become. Susie has built a mystique around her. People admire how tenacious she is in advocating for her clients. She flipped the script on managers being owned by the mob. She used those connections to protect the people she loved. And yet, she failed to protect her loved ones from the mob. Midge couldn't see that. She believed Susie's debts to Frank and Nicky became square despite her horrendous performance at the expo. Those two always took a piece of what Susie's clients brought in. Joel sees stardom in Midge's future. As such, he's willing to sacrifice everything to protect her. He believed Susie operated the same way. Instead, he took ownership over this deal with the mob. That forever doomed his life. It ensured he could only prosper for so long. His luck was destined to run out eventually. Midge still proclaims her love for him. That's shared through her actions. She visits him in prison. She remains an engaged component of his life. She's also so confused about what love actually means. She compares every relationship to her marriage to Joel. She sees that as the high point despite how it ended. That's easy for her to understand. It's more difficult to grapple with her bond with Susie as the true great love story of her life. She compares everything else to that. Everything pales in comparison because of this bond they formed. It lasted for decades. It stings when that trust is broken. Nothing is ever completely insurmountable though.

One would suspect Susie to be furious when Midge pops up in a video during this event. Everyone in the room knew Midge couldn't be mentioned. They had to carefully negotiate what could be done simply with the hope Susie would attend. She wields so much influence. Everyone caters to her whims. Midge challenges her. Mike appreciates Susie breaking into George's office to steal the evidence that gets him fired. One can surmise how that action directly benefits Midge. George made the rule saying no one who works on the show can be on the show. Susie forms a connection with Mike in pursuit of that goal for Midge. She is always advocating for her client. She has always showcased that energy. She kept things from her clients too. People knew about her bad habits. They simply never believed they would compromise her ability to do the job. Midge fears she continually does casino gigs because of Susie's debts. She blames Susie for Joel's arrest because she knew about the deal he struck. Midge was blissfully kept in the dark. Instead, she was allowed to embark on extravagant destination weddings only to get cold feet before walking down the aisle. She never had to worry about the cost of her career. People compromised their happiness in service to her. That's humbling. Midge views it as a sign of true friendship. Susie always hated that word in describing her relationship with Midge. They are client and manager. Lines shouldn't be crossed. They always were. Susie would come running to do anything for Midge. That trust was broken. Midge's career thrived. People went along for the ride. No one ever truly explored the sacrifices made. Midge only realized it too late. It takes years for her to arrive at the necessary perspective to be willing to talk with Susie again. They both prospered in their careers. However, the power of the storytelling comes from how their friendship is shaped. So much information comes flying at the audience. It produces some notable cameos from Sean Gunn, Danny Strong and Darren Criss. Susie's terror is always on display. Her vulnerability is as well especially as she stays with Harry Drake on his deathbed. That's transformational for her career too. Of course, it's daunting to realize how this hourlong foray into the future will impact the pace of the storytelling when it returns to the early 1960s. That seems inevitable because the audience still doesn't know how Midge produced her groundbreaking moment on The Gordon Ford Show. That's destined to change everything. It comes from Midge's talent and Susie's machinations behind-the-scenes. And yet, the future that comes because of that is already known. Part of it has been shared from Midge's perspective. This hour devotes the attention to Susie's side of things. People share their understanding of events as momentary bystanders. However, so much more occurs that's incredibly personal and intimate for the players involved. The frills are nice. The power of Midge and Susie coming together after years apart is communicated effectively because of the weight of this relationship. It informs everything for the two of them even when they aren't constantly by each other's side blazing new trails in the industry.