(The following story contains major spoilers for the first three episodes of The wonderful Mrs. Maisel Season Five.)
The wonderful Mrs. Maisel kicked off its final season with a new career opportunity for Midge, difficulties for the comedy’s core duo, and an emotional farewell.
Season five opens with a recording of now-PhD student Esther Maisel (Alexandra Socha) in therapy in 1981, discussing her complicated relationship with her mother, who is currently a successful comedienne. In between outbursts about how the world doesn’t revolve around Midge, Esther works on a molecular kinetic sequence to figure out how to use DNA mutations to alter the trajectory of disease.
Rachel Brosnahan feels it makes sense for the two women to disagree. “Midge has chosen a somewhat selfish profession,” says Brosnahan The Hollywood Reporter. “I think it’s inevitable that kids grow up to hate their parents to some degree. We only see them for a short time, so maybe there’s still hope as we move forward that Esther and Midge grow closer, but Esther was a weird kid, to be honest.
The actress, who plays the show’s title character, jokes that mothers and daughters often can’t make it through a lifetime without needing a little therapy at some point.
Twenty years earlier, Alex Borstein’s Susie Meyerson is startled awake when Rose Weissman (Marin Hinkle) calls her and tells her that Midge is incredibly sick after getting stuck in a snowstorm, which the audience saw at the end of season four. Despite the fact that making sick home calls isn’t exactly the remit of a talent manager, Susie heads to the Weissmans to check on her No. 1.
Midge is the GOAT. Midge is the original. They came to find each other,” says Borstein THR. “It was a happy coincidence that we found each other, and Susie has seen many people come through the gaslight. She has seen many acts. She has studied comedy all her life. And when she saw this, she knew, “That’s a rare diamond… and I have to do this.” So I think it was more than just getting a client to work or getting a percentage, it was about realizing her own dream through this person, with this person.
below, THR breaks down some of the key moments in the first three episodes of The wonderful Mrs. Maisel season five, featuring insights from de Brosnahan, Borstein, Michael Zegen, Luke Kirby, and co-showrunner Amy Sherman-Palladino.
In season four, the audience learned that Mei Lin was pregnant with Joel’s baby from Stephanie Hsu. At the beginning of the first episode of season five, “Go Forward”, Joel (Zegen) tells his parents that he and Mei are getting married and having a baby. Shortly after sharing the happy news with his family, Joel goes home and is surprised to see Mei standing in his living room. She reveals she is moving to Chicago for her medical residency, calls off the wedding and tells Joel that they are not having another baby, hinting that she had an abortion.
“May has always presented us with a little bit of weirdness when the generation right after Midge, like that generation going into the ’60s, of girls who started to take a step back – with the coming of the pill – kind of backed off a little bit and started after thinking about a little bit bigger picture instead of the immediacy of like, man, kids, this is the way, kinda (more) like what could be the way? Sherman-Palladino tells THR.
The creator explains that Midge was a trailblazer for her generation, which more or less stumbled upon her ambition, while Mei intended it.
“We wanted her to be a really smart, sharp and ambitious girl who wants to be a doctor at a time when there were just no female doctors,” she continues. “She also represented the kind of woman Joel would want to be with. Despite the fact that they weren’t working, Joel was attracted to Midge, in part because of that ambition and that focus that was there that neither of them could put their finger on.
Blessing, on the other hand, feels that Mei’s decision to choose herself in these ways was important to Joel’s journey. “I think it was just another case where he kind of got into the same patterns that he started in, where he was kind of stuck in a situation and he had to work his way out of it,” the actor says. THR. “This happened, it had nothing to do with him, but I think it was important to end that.”
Lenny and Midge say goodbye
Near the end of episode one, Midge runs into Lenny Bruce (Kirby) at the airport, and he tells her he’s going west for a while. The two often crack jokes and jokes in their conversations, but on the red carpet at JFK’s TWA, something is different. Their conversation seems more reserved and heavy. When Lenny apologizes for never calling her after their romantic moment at the end of season four, Midge cuts him off. “Oh no, we don’t.” Brosnahan credits their awkward conversation to embarrassment.
“I think Midge is so embarrassed at the end of season four when her hero and also someone she considers her fairy godfather of comedy called this man who uses his voice in a way she admires and actually wants to be her so hard on her shit and telling her she’s taking the wrong approach,” says Brosnahan. “It’s one of the few times in the series that we see Midge so humbled.”
The actress explains that she understands that the two have not seen each other since those fateful moments in the very blue room, and it soon dawns on Midge that he is leaving.
“I think they both realize that whatever was going on with their relationship, their friendship, some chapter is coming to an end, and that’s very sad for her and also for him, I think,” she says. “That scene is so beautifully written and so surprising to come so early in the season.”
Kirby, on the other hand, thinks the weight of their conversation stems more from everything Lenny was going through at the time — historically and on the show.
“His life has become the subject of lawsuits,” says Kirby THR. “I think what we’re playing with in that scene is he’s starting to feel a little more worn out than he already felt. … I think now, partly because of what Lenny went through in his relationship with divorce, but also just what happened to him in terms of the courts, his life really got bogged down with some heavy stuff.
Midge becomes a writer for ‘The Gordon Ford Show’
Elsewhere in the episode, Susie goes to great lengths to please Mike Carr (Jason Ralph), the talent booker The Gordon Ford Show, to put Midge on the show as a comedian. She storms onto the set while a show is being filmed. She follows Mike and his children to a Christmas tree farm. And when neither works, she goes around him straight to Gordon Ford (Reid Scott) and convinces him to put Midge on his writing staff, after he tells her that Midge isn’t the right comic for his audience.
Borstein explains that Susie goes so far as to have Midge do more than just try to get her client’s career off the ground.
“It’s sink or swim for Susie. She has no family at home,” she says. ‘There’s no Abe. There is no daddy. There is no mother. There is no one who will be a safety net or someone to fall back on. So to her, Midge’s success is her success. They really are the same person as far as Susie sees it that way. If she doesn’t eat, I don’t eat, and she believes in her.”
The Emmy nominee also shares that she feels like the back and forth she and Mike are in is something Susie enjoys.
“I think that chatter was like the old Saturday morning cartoons of the Wolf and the Chicken Hawk popping up and chiming on the time clock, and they’re totally friendly,” says Borstein. “As soon as the whistle blows, they start chasing each other and barking, and at the end of the day, they cluck and shake hands, and I think it was sort of a sport for her and Mike Carr.”
Midge and Susie have a fight
In the first few minutes of episode two, “It’s a Man, Man, Man, Man World,” a flash forward shows Midge sitting with 60 minutes’ Mike Wallace and discusses several of her career successes: 18 consecutive sold-out nights at the Copacabana, an infamous show at Carnegie Hall, performing alongside Bob Hope at USO shows, and more. Wallace then moves on to pointing out Midge’s four marriages and multiple relationships with men, before focusing on the one relationship that lasted longer than any of the others: her 25-year friendship with Susie, which is currently over.
“What happened, Mike, is that two people in show business tried to befriend them,” Midge tells the correspondent.
More details about their falling out are not provided, but Borstein and Brosnahan think it makes sense.
“It’s really fun to watch these two people who you know are deeply in love with each other on some level, see them go out and fight and have issues. It’s reassuring in a way,’ says Borstein. Brosnahan echoes that sentiment, adding, “It feels very real that even the greatest love stories have very high highs and very low lows, and it was so surprising to us when we read it, and five seasons in a series to still be being able to be surprised when you’re a part of it feels exciting, and so I can only imagine how exciting it can feel for audiences back home.
The “handsome man” returns
Milo Ventimiglia made a cameo appearance in The wonderful Mrs. Maisel‘s fourth season as a man runs into Midge in the park for a while each day before going home with him, only to be surprised when his supposed wife comes home lying naked in his bed.
In the second episode of season five, Midge goes to 30 Rock for her first day as a writer on The Gordon Ford Show and runs into Ventimiglia’s Handsome Man, whose name the audience learns is actually Silvio. He chases her through subways, up and down subway stations, and into the streets, before she finally lets him say a word. his wife, but they were divorced and she only came by to drop off the dog. He apologized and they agreed to maybe see each other again in the park someday.
Brosnahan says it was fun filming with Ventimiglia again, but she wasn’t sure he’d be able to come back this season because he’s booked and busy in Los Angeles. (Ventimiglia currently stars on ABC’s The company you maintain.)
“I could never have seen that as the reunion,” she says with a laugh. “But it was so much fun shooting all that stuff in the subway on this old beautiful train. I mean it was madness. It was also 1000 degrees there in all those wool coats, but the trains were so beautiful. I can’t believe the city of New York allowed us to do that. The kind of sliding door comedy between all those train cars was great. And Milo is so good. He is a consummate professional. It’s also nice to be able to work with someone who grew up in the Sherman-Palladino universe.”