One of the strongest themes throughout The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (especially this final season) has been the relationships between parents and children.
There were plenty of poignant moments, some indications of growing up, and the recognition of arrested development.
Is Midge finally growing and changing? It's admittedly late in the proceedings, but maybe that's one of the things that the show has been building to. She's finally being taken seriously; she's getting new and exciting opportunities and losing them through no fault of her own.
Midge is maturing. She is clearly talented and tenacious, remaining confident but getting better at knowing how to play the cards she's been dealt. She could have laid into Pete, but she didn't. She even stuck up for James, even though it hurt like hell.
It "tits up," as always -- project confidence and trust that there will be a place for her, a trailblazer, and she will make her mark.
Rose Weissman: Your face still has traces of my face in it, so it’s almost the same face.
Miriam "Midge" Maisel: That’s a weird way of saying you’ve had work done.
The bombshell drop in the 1973 flash-forward came near the end, strongly implying that Rose is dying. Midge has always known that as strong as she is, her mother has always been fragile.
As insufferable as a Rose is, it will be tough to know we -- and Midge -- will lose her. Marin Hinkle is a formidable actress, hiding so well under an often unlikeable character.
Midge's loyalty to her imperfect mother is one that you often see with entertainers who make it big -- if nothing else, they will look after their parents as best they can. Midge is no exception.
It wasn't until Zelda left that Midge realized she might also have to parent her mother and father, as well as Ethan and Esther.
A pink toilet is still a toilet, except it’s fun!Miriam "Midge" Maisel
I cannot expose unmarried women to nude wood floors. It would feel like a brothel.Rose Weissman
Janusz finally said what we were all thinking. The entitlement and incompetence of the Weissmans are staggering. As frustrating as it is for Janusz, it's that much harder on Zelda. She has not only been taking care of these adults but raising the kids.
It's not fair on Ethan, Esther, or Zelda to just cut off that relationship completely -- it's clear she adored them. The kids didn't have much of a relationship with their parents (or grandparents), but at least they had a mother figure in Zelda.
It's always fun to have Astrid (Justine Lupe) back. Knowing what we know about the Weissman children's upbringing, Noah is remarkably put together. However, though Midge and Noah are pleasant with each other, there's no warmth there.
Sometimes brothers and sisters are too different, despite being raised in the same house. This may end up being Ethan and Esther's fate, possibly even little Chaim and his future younger sibling.
There's a strange irony that Abe is so obsessed with his grandson's intelligence, yet his own wife cannot even boil a kettle. It's the trap of intellectualism over functional life skills.
Zelda has done everything in her power to ensure their survival (the book, the advice), but the Weissmans simply can't fathom doing something for themselves.
Abe later freaks out over Ethan's "happiness," failing to connect his own feelings to Zelda's frustration with his incompetence.
Colin Keane is a sweet little Ethan with his mother's comedic timing. He's happy to cluck like a chicken, wear glitter on his face, and march in a circle. Why not let children be children and not put so much pressure on them?
Grandpa! Glitter sticks to your face!Ethan Maisel
Arden Myrin is fantastic as teacher Mrs. Moyers, all sweetness and poise even when delivering devastating information.
Ethan seems much more well-adjusted as an adult than his brilliant sister, Esther. There has been so much focus on young Ethan that Esther has been largely ignored, and now she is exhibiting the "Weissman genius" signs.
Adult Esther mentioned a kinship with her grandfather early in the season; it seems this is where that special relationship will begin, as he recognizes that precociousness in her and will clearly nurture it.
Ethan moves as far away from his family as he can (Israel!) and does simple, honest work while creating a new family of his own -- Chava and little Rose. Overall, he does seem happier than Esther.
I was a tenured professor at Columbia University. I worked at Bell Labs. I have twelve patents pending. That is my grandson. He is a Weissman. There is no possible way he’s happy.Abe Weissman
One interesting thing to note is that we have yet to see Moishe and Shirley in any flash-forwards.
Their attitude towards the tickets, getting to watch Danny of Gordon Ford was a funny bit but served as another reminder of how they see Midge, not as a successful person on her own, just as a part of their family, mother to their grandchildren, former daughter-in-law.
They couldn't fathom that she was successful, working in television. It goes to show trailblazing the female comedians of Midge's era were and what they were up against.
(At least Moishe and Shirley can function without domestic help, unlike Abe and Rose).
Though we didn't get much of Sutton Foster, she embodied the 1960's sitcom wife perfectly. It was a nice nod to the season 1 episode "Mrs. X at the Gaslight" which featured Foster's cover of "I Enjoy Being A Girl."
Hank Azaria, as Danny Stevens, had a much heftier role.
While he leaned slightly into the caricature of the comedians of the era, he balanced out with some real humanity in his interview with Gordon, his appraisal of Midge's talents, and the surprise end credits sequence.
She will have whatever Shirley Temple drank right after Judy Garland got The Wizard Of Oz.Danny Stevens
Danny brought the parent-child theme full circle, with stories about his mother's tough life and a song about how much he loved his (television) daughter.
Gordon Ford might be projecting a little. Midge turned him down, and now he realizes that she might actually be something extraordinary.
So, he has to downplay it, and dig in his heels, because though he did give her a chance, he probably gave her the job partly in the hopes of romancing her.
This is very serious. If this gets out, every working woman will want to get paid just as much as a man to do the exact same job, and our entire civilization will collapse.Miriam "Midge" Maisel
Gordon's anger at Danny is not just annoyance at him poaching her right in front of him. It's likely also because Danny recognized her talent immediately while Gordon was blinded by it based on his feelings for her. He has to neg Midge to justify his feelings.
Maybe after this and her failure with Jack Paar, Gordon will finally put Midge on his show. It feels like that is what we're working towards. She's already broken into the big-time behind the scenes, but having her face on television will elevate her exposure.
And maybe, just maybe, Hedy will come into play again. We can't just bypass her and Susie's history as a red herring. Surely she will have some significance in the endgame.
Again, one of this season's most welcome surprises and fun arcs has been the progression of Mike and Susie's relationship.
They started out hating each other, but Susie persisted. She listened to him, he warmed to her, and she helped him get George fired.
Now they are poker buddies (and as we saw in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Season 5 Episode 6, they are affectionate friends even into the early 1990s).
It was great how Mike attempted to do Susie -- and Midge -- a solid in the Jack Paar opportunity. Mike was not likable when we first met him, but Jason Ralph has turned him into a nuanced, complex (if slightly dark) character.
Two episodes remain. What will they hold?
Susie and Midge will have to reconnect in the 1990s and make amends -- and if we're lucky, we'll get some Imogene (Bailey De Young) in there. In 1961, something's got to give with Midge and Gordon Ford. Hopefully, we'll learn the fates of the show's major players.
While it looks like it will never be anything less than bittersweet from here on out, there will still be laughter amidst the tears because that's what this show does best.
How did you feel about this episode? Did it make you rethink your relationship with your parents (or children)? Share your thoughts in the comments.
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.