The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel has returned for its fifth and final season, after an uneven yet still charming fourth iteration, which left us with a slightly hopeful ending—Miriam ‘Midge’ Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan) staring up at a snowy billboard featuring ‘The Gordon Ford Show’. For my first impression of this season, I watched the first four episodes, which followed on directly from the events of that singularly beautiful fourth season finale—the episode that almost made up for a season of frustrating decisions from our main character.
Every season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel has an angle, usually a new location like the Catskills or Paris, and various elaborate side stories. It’s an intense, over-the-top, apparently budget-less show, which is a joy to consume. But the angle, or quirk, for season five feels a step too far.
For this show, the stakes—which are what keep you hooked in that binge-watching spiral—were always based around Midge becoming a successful comic; they had us in constant anticipation for the day she would get her big break. But for some reason, in this season, the creators decided to add flash-forward scenes to Midge’s future, completely removing the mystery and the tension. These scenes, featuring an older version of Midge and often her children as adults, give everything away. Although this new angle may have been added to inject the show with fresh intrigue and the excitement of a new time period, it just feels out of place.
However, the rest of the show, set in the 60s like usual, has that same Maisel magic. The dialogue is just as quick and witty, and the costumes and scenery are just as vibrant and delicious. Like previous seasons, the scenes featuring Midge’s parents, Abe and Rose, are the most enjoyable part. With Tony Shalhoub and Marin Hinkle’s perfect chemistry making their interactions hilarious and wonderfully timed, like the scene where they awkwardly avoid each other in the kitchen and both attempt to lie—just brilliant.
Midge’s story, although more on track than it was in the previous season, still lacks oomph. After so many seasons of back and forth with her career, it feels a bit repetitive to see her once again struggling in a new environment and making ridiculous mistakes, no matter how realistic this is for the industry. However, Alex Borstein, as Susie, is flawless once again, bringing depth and emotion to a character who could have been a punchline. Her season five story, complete with corruption, stalking television producers, nervous magicians, missing teeth, and even some romance, is far more interesting than Midge’s at this point. And every line she speaks is golden.
In these first four episodes, there’s a lot going on. Even though part of the show’s charm is the huge cast of characters, some of the plotlines have begun to feel a bit unnecessary, like the ones with Joel (Michael Zegen) and his family—although they are still amusing. It’s almost like the array of subplots are trying to distract viewers from Midge’s meandering storyline. And these other stories are getting more and more far-fetched, including absurdities like mob boss matchmakers and extended garbage-themed musical numbers.
For a final season, there’s a lot that needs to be wrangled and resolved in order for the series to reach a satisfying conclusion. Let’s hope that Maisel magic comes through in the end.
TWO AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
The first three episodes of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel season five are streaming on Amazon Prime Video from April 14, with episodes 4-9 releasing every Friday from then on.