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'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' season 4 episode 2 review: 'Billy Jones and the Orgy Lamps'

Midge hits some obstacles when she moves back to her old neighborhood.

Alex Borstein and Rachel Brosnahan in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
(Image: © Christopher Saunders/Prime Video)

Our Verdict

'Mrs. Maisel' season 4's second episode, offers more organic challenges than the premiere and the end is particularly satisfying.

For

  • - The father/daughter conversation in the final scene
  • - References to 'The Twilight Zone'
  • - The stand-up comic rarely wallows in her self-pity and has already found a solution

Against

  • - Midge sometimes tips into insufferable
  • - The references to mental health are a tad too blunt

This post contains spoilers for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel season 4 episode 2, "Billy Jones and the Orgy Lamps."

Midge Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan) likes to feel in control, but early in season 4 she is unmoored. Her comedy career is floundering after Shy Baldwin (LeRoy McClain) fired her from his European tour. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel season 4 premiere explored the immediate fallout of this setback and episode 2, "Billy Jones and the Orgy Lamps," continues Midge's attempts to find her way. 

Moving back into her old Upper West Side apartment is part of this plan, however, she faces several financial obstacles and it is going to take more than a persuasive argument to stock her fridge. Thankfully, even though Midge feels adrift, this episode successfully moves the story forward with some nods to the past.

Marin Hinkle and Tony Shalhoub in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Marin Hinkle and Tony Shalhoub in 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' (Image credit: K.C. Bailey/Prime Video)

The return to the lavish abode is compared to an episode of Abe’s (Tony Shalhoub) favorite TV show, The Twilight Zone, because it is both familiar and surreal. The furniture is the same, which gives the impression of turning the clock back to the previous decade, but Midge has made a few updates in a bid to exorcise the memories of her failed marriage. 

In true Marvelous Mrs. Maisel fashion, this comes with some drawbacks as every room was perfectly decorated and Midge doesn’t want to alter the ideal layout. The bedroom — in which Joel (Michael Zegen) broke up with her — is the only room she dramatically rearranges. However, after consistently walking into furniture she moves it back.

There are some significant changes, even if the decor is the same. Midge asks her parents to move into the guest room, which they protest at first until they come up with a cover story to avoid admitting they are living in an apartment owned by their daughter. It is this kind of farcical conversation that is a hallmark of the series and in this case adds to Midge’s exasperation. It isn’t long before she regrets this invitation as her parents' quirks quickly reveal themselves. 

Meanwhile, Joel is dealing with his own overbearing mother who has set him up on a date with a heavily pregnant woman, and he rightly wants to flee this scene. Keeping the formerly married couple on a platonic playing field is a smart choice even if Midge is encountering roadblocks due to her single status.  

Midge’s mood sours when her plan to reopen all of her tabs at various businesses in the neighborhood hits a snag in the dairy department. Joel’s name was on the old account and instead of being able to continue this line of credit, she needs to open a new one in her name. But Midge is currently cash poor and had intended on juggling her tabs until she had enough money. 

“It’s a f***ing man’s world, sweetie,” Midge tells her toddler daughter (who innocently replies, “okay”) after the scheme backfires. Combined with a phone call to Susie (Alex Borstein) about the milk obstacle, the theatrical nature of the dialogue makes it feel like Midge isn't anywhere near rock bottom, reducing the stakes of this predicament. 

Susie, meanwhile, has fixed her financial issue for now and Midge still has no idea her manager “borrowed” her money. Enough people know (including Joel), so this will no doubt come back to bite her. The same goes for her insurance scam. Susie’s sister Tessie (Emily Bergl) not only slept with their insurance agent but she is now working for the company. Tessie is also openly talking about their scheme, which is unwise even if they are now in possession of the cash. 

Rachel Brosnahan in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Rachel Brosnahan in 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' (Image credit: Christopher Saunders/Prime Video)

Susie is not only trying to find a solution to Midge’s career blip, she is also trying to ditch her one other client. Sophie Lennon (Jane Lynch) is currently in a psychiatric facility and the dialogue is rather blunt when discussing her mental health. All Susie wants is for Sophie to sign a release, but when the performer acquiesces her signature reads “Lucille F***ing Ball.” 

Suffice to say, Susie isn’t getting out of this one easily. Instead of spending too much time worrying about this she gets Midge back into the comedy spirit by taking her to a familiar venue. Unfortunately, they are fully booked. Midge still puts on a performance though, much to headliner Billy Jones’ horror — she parrots his jokes better than he can deliver. It's a classic Midge Maisel takedown

The outing ends, however, with her being taken to jail for solicitation after a beat cop hears her offering a passersby a good time in exchange for cash. She is joking but the police officer chooses to take her literally. 

Midge uses the captive audience sharing the cell (who can’t leave if they want to) to riff on her night. It's here Midge walks the line between endearing and grating. If you are already enamored, then no doubt this will come across as charming, but she is in danger of becoming insufferable in her privilege.

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel season 4 Tony Shalhoub Rachel Brosnahan

Tony Shalhoub and Rachel Brosnahan in 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' (Image credit: Amazon Studios)

Much to Susie’s chagrin, Midge does bail out a fellow young woman who has also been accused of solicitation. While the cab fare to their new acquaintance’s place of work is costly, there is a fortuitous element. Amid the burlesque dancers and showgirls, Midge gets an inspired look on her face as she watches the terrible comedian on stage. No, she is not impressed by his stale humor, instead she has found a potential venue. You can't always go home, but sometimes there is room for a new venture. 

When Midge arrives back at her apartment she shares a lovely moment with Abe that is in contrast to the chaotic morning. Now working as a critic at the Village Voice, Abe and Midge now share common ground in pursuing the arts. While the snappy back-and-forth is a Marvelous Mrs. Maisel signature, this quieter scene between father and daughter toasting their career choices is a reminder it is capable of dialing it back — and it's all the better for doing so. 

Emma Fraser spends most of her time writing about TV, fashion, and costume design; Dana Scully is the reason she loves a pantsuit. Words can also be found at Vulture, Elle, Primetimer, Collider, Little White Lies, Observer, and Girls on Tops. Emma has a Master’s in Film and Television, started a (defunct) blog that mainly focused on Mad Men in 2010, and has been getting paid to write about TV since 2015. It goes back way further as she got her big start making observations in her diary about My So-Called Life’s Angela Chase (and her style) at 14.