The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Season Premiere Review: Hello Goodbye

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She's back for one last kick at the can!

On The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Season 5 Episode 1, we get a series of heartfelt goodbyes and a glimpse at the future. It's a bittersweet beginning to the end of one of television's most delightful comedies.

Warning: This review contains spoilers for Episodes 1 - 3 of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Season 5.

Midge & Lenny - The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

The first episode is aptly titled because we "go forward" in time to 1981. Alexandra Socha is uncanny as the grown-up version of Midge's daughter, Esther.

She was so convincing that initially, I wondered if they had done visual effects or computer trickery on Rachel Brosnahan. Did Socha win a Midge Maisel impersonation contest? She's a marvel!

Midge on the phone - The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Season 5 Episode 1

Poor Esther is neurotic and brilliant, which makes complete sense. We don't get to spend too much time with her here, but just enough to get an idea of how much Midge has affected her daughter.

Midge has taken her billboard vision to heart. Frostcrotch and hypothermia have humbled her (as well as that conversation with Lenny at Carnegie Hall in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Season 4 Episode 8).

Midge is now open to whatever it takes to "go forward."

Angry Mike - The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Season 5 Episode 1

Several three-episode arcs begin here, one being Susie and Mike's back-and-forth.

The fact that it's an enemies-to-friends arc that isn't romantic is kind of refreshing, and it's great to see more depth to Jason Ralph's character.

I'm intrigued about what's next for these two if he can help her on her way to superstardom (which we have learned happens).

Did you know the day after Thanksgiving is the busiest day for plumbers?

Miriam "Midge" Maisel

At Thanksgiving, we get the news that Moishe and Shirley are divorcing, or so they say.

The family dynamic between the Maisels and the Weissmans has always been strained but dutiful. Dropping this bombshell into the mix feels like a way to keep Moishe and Shirley relevant.

Joel bombs - The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Season 5 Episode 1

Stephanie Hsu has really blown up since The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Season 4. (In case you missed it, she was deservedly nominated for an Oscar for Everything Everywhere All At Once).

Mei's fate was left unresolved, but it wrapped up perfunctorily here. It's doubtful she'll be back. Joel should probably try to be alone for a while, run his club, and be a father to his children.

Does this leave the door open for him and Midge to get back together? Let's hope they don't. We know it won't end well. They're better as friends with history.

It's tough for Joel to get this news right after his parents' divorce announcement, especially since they just made him tell them he's getting married and having a baby.

Archie & Joel - The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Season 5 Episode 3

Michael Zegen gets us some sympathy for Joel but then blows it all when he gets drunk and starts hitting on all the women at his club and talking about Midge's tits on stage.

Joel leaves poor Archie (Joel Johnstone) to pick up the pieces more than once. It's uncomfortable and reminds us what we don't like about Joel.

It feels fitting that Joel's daughter becomes a doctor, just like Mei (assuming Mei achieved her dreams, which I hope she did/does).

The now more gracious Midge does Susie a good turn and takes Alfie to the airport. Gideon Glick has always been so weird and delightful as the young magician Alfie.

Susie - The Marvelous Mrs Maisel - The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Season 5 Episode 1

He said he thought I was very talented and that I could be bigger than Houdini, which is ridiculous. I’m already bigger than Houdini. Houdini was a very tiny man. That’s why he fit so easily in a box.

Alfie

Hopefully, this isn't the last we see of him, though the conversation hinted that he was considering getting a different manager.

He's absent for the two subsequent episodes, and we have yet to see any of Susie's other clients like James (Jay Will), who featured prominently in the last two episodes of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Season 4.

By coincidence, Midge sees not only her parents at the airport (who give her the cold shoulder) but also her friend, mentor, and one-time lover Lenny Bruce.

This seems like a real goodbye, and it's played delicately and note-perfectly by Rachel Brosnahan and Luke Kirby. There is so much subtext that we can feel it as the audience, hoping they will say more but knowing they won't.

Miriam "Midge" Maisel: I’m not gonna blow it.
Lenny Bruce: I’m going to hold you to that.

This is as bittersweet as it gets. Given what we know of the real Lenny Bruce, things will not end well.

Midge in Red - The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Season 5 Episode 2

It's difficult to say how far the "main" timeline in this season will take us and how much time we'll spend in the 1980s, so the odds of seeing Lenny again aren't great.

The writers are doing their best to tie up all the loose ends, but with so many characters, can it be done in nine episodes without feeling like fanservice and still provide an engaging, forward-moving narrative?

I’m tired of people mocking me for thinking about how a dress works in different situations.

Miriam "Midge" Maisel

The chance encounters continue on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Season 5 Episode 2.

Midge just keeps running into her former lovers unexpectedly (and there aren't even that many of them).

The handsome man she met at Riverside Park in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Season 4 Episode 7, who we learned is named Sylvio (and played by Milo Ventimiglia), and he explains that he's not such a bad guy.

At the Subway Station - tall - The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Season 5 Episode 2

We get closure, but surely Sylvio is not endgame, so did we really need this? It was a cute and playful scene, and it is Milo Ventimiglia, but it was one of those loose ends that didn't feel like it needed this much of a wrap-up.

The talented ensemble cast grows even larger when Midge joins the writers' room at The Gordon Ford Show.

It's reminiscent of Neil Simon's Laughter On The 23rd Floor, his dramatization of his time working at Sid Caesar's Your Show Of Shows.

It's got a very "write-what-you-know" vibe. Midge is once again struggling as a talented woman in a man's world. It feels like a great excuse to use all the jokes that Amy Sherman-Palladino has in her notebook that haven't been used yet!

(Also, that was a clever reference to the episode's title in the opening sequence).

Gordon Ford on ice - The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Season 5 Episode 3

There are no complaints about the caliber of the cast. It's one of this show's greatest strengths.

The Gordon Ford writers -- Michael Cyril Creighton (this man is in everything), Eddie Kaye Thomas (from American Pie!), Austin Basis, Josh Grisetti, and Lucas Kavner -- have great chemistry and feel like they've been together for years.

My little Broadway-loving heart is always happy to see people like Annie Golden and Alexander Gemignani popping up in bit parts.

Speaking of Alexander Gemignani, who plays Janusz, it's so nice to see Zelda finding love. It would have been great to have a Zelda-centric plotline (we still have six episodes, maybe we'll get one).

One of the most maddening aspects of the Weissmans is their self-centeredness.

Needs of the family - The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Season 5 Episode 2

Yes, this is where a lot of the humor comes from, but the fact that Midge and her parents have no idea who is watching Ethan and Esther -- well, it's no wonder those kids have issues well into adulthood.

There was so much cringe on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Season 5 Episode 3. It was sometimes painful to watch between Abe, Moishe and Shirley, and Midge's on-air groan.

Abe is getting to be a bit much.

The Penelope scene in Episode 2 was awkward, but at least he came off as in the right. He received unwanted sexual attention and was understandably rattled. He had to share the incident with his wife because it was eating him up.

Abe Weissman: Nothing sexual happens before 7 in the evening, 6:30 at the earliest. Never at 1:42 in the afternoon on a Monday.
Gabe: I am learning a lot about you today.

Rose & Abe - The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Season 5 Episode 1

It's difficult to watch because the man is clearly neurodivergent and undiagnosed, so we have to watch him struggle to fit into this world he hasn't got the tools to process.

Maybe he'll get the help he needs by the end of the season. The whole Carol Channing correction thing felt over the top.

Miriam "Midge" Maisel: Does anyone really read corrections?
Abe Weissman: Of course they do. I start every paper reading the corrections, that’s how you know who the idiots are.

The way Abe explained his worldview on fear to Ethan is the kind of conversation that scars a child for life.

Episode 3 gave us more Ethan than we've seen in this entire series.

The focus on the kids is appreciated because they are often an afterthought. What kind of adults does having a mother like Midge produce? And a family like this?

Abe's advice - The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Season 5 Episode 3

These people are so unbelievably neurotic, and we do like them because we can laugh at them, but it doesn't always feel funny anymore.

Miriam "Midge" Maisel: They act like they’ve never seen a Jewish mother before.
Ethan Maisel: Well, it’s Israel, Mama, helicopters suddenly appearing in the sky make people very nervous.

It's nice to see Ethan doing so well as an adult, picking vegetables in Israel, and engaged to a strong woman.

The Moishe/Shirley arc comes to a head with so much cringe it hurts.

Shirley and Moishe manage to embarrass both Joel and Midge at the club. Joel still treats his parents with respect, though, which speaks to the strength of his character and how he has matured since Season 1.

I’m having the best time with my new friends, Whatsisname and Whatsername. They’re from Somewhere, and they came here to celebrate Something.

Shirley Maisel

Susie skating - The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Season 5 Episode 3

Overall the Button Club scenes aren't that compelling. It takes too much focus away from Midge and Susie. This world is already huge.

It's not that Joel and Archie aren't enjoyable; it's just what they are doing doesn't seem to affect the story at large.

Moishe Maisel: They’re planning a very sensitive covert mission. They can’t think with you galloping in and out like you’re pulling a carriage around Central Park.
Shirley Maisel: If I’m a horse, then you’re an ass!

However, the end of the Moishe and Shirley arc was genuinely touching. We see how much they love Joel when he tells them the truth about Mei and the baby. Everything else strips away, and they become caring parents.

When Moishe welcomed his wife back into bed after she cried over the booties, we knew that this was probably the end of their ideas for divorce. Despite their constant squabbling, they're in this together.

Maybe it's just there to remind us of one of the main underlying themes of the entire series, one that is strongly apparent in these three episodes -- parents are going to fuck up their kids, no matter what. The question is just how much. 

Susie Myerson: She just said the kids can go fuck themselves.
Rose Weissman: What?
Abe Weissman: No, they certainly can not.

Susie at work - The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Season 5 Episode 2

This flash-forward future intro device for each episode is fun. It's a useful tease to keep our interest piqued.

Episode 2 gave us a lot of information about Midge and Susie's future, so much so that it almost diminishes Midge's struggles on The Gordon Ford Show.

We know she makes it big, but will we ever see her achieve that success, or will it all just be in these stolen glimpses?

A big part of Midge's appeal is her scrappiness, her ability to rise above the challenges, a "how will she get out of this one?" When we know she will achieve all her dreams, it decreases the stakes of the 1961 plotline.

Midge & Gordon - The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Season 5 Episode 3

Reid Scott has got the market cornered playing handsome assholes, and his Gordon Ford is right up there with the rest of them.

What's in store for Gordon and Midge? She rightly turned down his advances, and he still seemed to respect her. As long as she remains on his staff, she'll get where she needs to go and maintain the respect of the other writers.

Susie got an idea after seeing a photo of Gordon with his wife -- what could that be?

We got a hasty goodbye to a few members of the Matchmaker Mafia. Benedetta (Kelly Bishop) is in prison, so it's clear Nicky and Frank got involved.

Molly died offscreen, Gitta is presumably gone to Argentina and no word about Miss Em.

Rose makes a call - The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Season 5 Episode 2

Rose had got her work cut out for her. The Matchmaker Mafia was always a fun side plot, but it has gotten dark. Rose is playing with fire, though she's on top of things now.

We know Susie survives, but I don't see this ending well. Could something happen to Rose, and Midge somehow blames Susie for her part in it?

This world is expansive, and there are so many genuinely great characters. At this point, though, it feels like too many, which might be why it doesn't feel like that much has happened in three hours.

We've had no Imogene, no Sophie Lennon, no James (and very little Dinah), no Boise, or much at the Wolford. It makes sense to lose some significant players (Mei, Lenny), but now there are many new ones.

Dinah's side-eye - The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Season 5 Episode 3

Having so many different locales with rich ensembles (like the Village Voice, Susie's clients, the Gordon Ford writers, the Wolford, etc.) means to cover everyone, the plots get to spread a bit thin.

New York is huge, and I wouldn't give up anyone, but it feels unfocused sometimes. At least everyone has something to do.

How much of Midge's success will we get to see? Will there be an episode later in the season that jumps ahead into the future and stays there permanently? How will it end?

What did you think of this three-episode premiere? Do you feel satisfied with where the characters are at?

Who do you want to see more of? Which plotlines or characters could you do without? Let us know in the comments!

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Mary Littlejohn Mary Littlejohn is a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She loves television, cinema, and theatre (especially musicals!), particularly when it champions inclusivity, diversity, and social justice. Follow her on Twitter.

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The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Season 5 Episode 1 Quotes

Susie Myerson: She just said the kids can go fuck themselves.
Rose Weissman: What?
Abe Weissman: No, they certainly can not.

Did you know the day after Thanksgiving is the busiest day for plumbers?

Miriam "Midge" Maisel