The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Season 5 Episodes 1-3 kick off the show’s final season with a mixed bag. What does work works incredibly well. Unfortunately, there are already more than a few missteps as the series prepares for Midge’s (Rachel Brosnahan) final curtain call. The glitz and glamour are turned up to the maximum, and the stage is set for the this season to be the most chaotic of the series.
Immediately, the flashbacks are delightful. Flashbacks are hard to do. More often than not, they’re unnecessary. However, here flashbacks are used as hilarious and poignant tools to essentially work backwards. In a way, it’s incredibly vindicating to watch poor Esther have to reckon with the chaotic mess her family has always been. It makes perfect sense that Esther would be so psychologically broken and cannot move forward until she makes sense of the impact her mother, in particular, has had on her life.
The Maisel family drama also makes perfect sense. Shirley (Caroline Aaron) and Moishe (Kevin Pollak) have always been the definition of disarray. The only question is how they’ve managed to stay together for this long. It’s realistic to expect that two characters like this, so set in their respective ways, would struggle in the wake of Moishe’s massive heart attack. Medical emergencies always have a way of providing a kind of clarity. Clearly, this is a turning point for the Maisels.
Unfortunately, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Season 5 Episodes 1-3 marks the end of Mei (Stephanie Hsu). Of course, Hsu now being a mega-star, in a practical sense, it wouldn’t make sense for her to remain in this role. There was a lot of potential in this character. The series could have explored what her conversion to Judaism would have looked like, and could have spotlighted the Asian-Jewish experience. She and Joel (Michael Zegen) could have forged a whole new life together. Unfortunately, Mei is on her own path. While it would have been great to continue to follow her and all she could have become, viewers will have to be satisfied with imagining a happy ending.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel handles the character of Lenny Bruce (Luke Kirby) with a lot of care. His very brief appearance in these first three episodes is so deliciously sweet. This is the right choice, showing increasingly brief glimpses of this character. Of course, the real man on which this character is based lived a terribly tragic life and met an equally tragic end. Allowing the character to be shown as the distillation of a troubled but beautiful soul is a touching tribute to Bruce’s legacy.
The show has a lot of opportunities to show the inner workings of a writers’ room on a talk show in this time period. Unfortunately, the series seems intent on mocking those who have chosen writing as a profession. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel could have constructed a commentary on the realities of being a woman in this environment. Instead, everything is treated as a big joke and Midge is simply putting in time until she becomes a megastar. There could be more of a focus on the journey rather than the destination.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel starts its final season off with a mix of compelling vignettes and more of the problems that have been with this series from the very beginning. The first three episodes do set the stage for what can be expected for the remainder of the season, both good and bad. The door is certainly open for further character development. Everyone is maybe headed to their own version of a happy enough ending.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel streams Fridays on Prime Video.