What to Watch Verdict
Fraught dynamics and several unsettled characters leave plenty of loose ends to be tied up in the final two episodes of the season.
Getting to see another side of Lenny and Midge
Luke Kirby's delivery of "creatures of the night"
Addressing the darker side of Lenny Bruce's legacy
Very fun guest stars, including Kelly Bishop and Hari Nef
The themes of women not supporting women
Rose's meeting is well cast but some of the mob allegories are distracting
Sophie's career revival has happened very quickly, maybe too quickly
NOTE: This post contains SPOILERS for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel season 4 episode 6, "Maisel vs. Lennon: The Cut Contest."
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel doesn’t leave the audience guessing regarding the identity of the mystery person Midge (Rachel Brosnahan) jumped out of the cab to rescue at the end of episode 5. It's Lenny Bruce (Luke Kirby), who is appropriately disorientated when he wakes up in this strange Upper West Side apartment. Midge's apartment is chaotic at the best of times and on a hangover of this epic proportion, it's no wonder Lenny wants to flee as quickly as possible — even if he is being a "drama queen." He just needs to find his various possessions and get the hell out of this domestic scenario featuring kids running around and the offer of his pants getting pressed.
Midge's recent Lenny interactions have combined flirtation with advice, with the famous comic at his best during these moments. While they first bonded when they were both arrested in the pilot episode, Midge has been mostly privy to a version of Lenny Bruce who is messy but still a helpful mentor. In reality, Bruce’s substance abuse issues are a well-known part of his legacy and so far this series has only alluded to the darkness that would ultimately consume him. This isn’t a historically accurate depiction of Lenny Bruce, but Mrs. Maisel would be remiss to ignore this side of his journey.
This opening back and forth as Lenny switches from disorientated to defensive also adds another dimension to this pairing. The heat is still there but it is now clouded with a fury that Midge had to rescue him and a deep self-loathing bubbles beneath the surface. His anger at being brought into an environment that doesn’t mesh with his typical experience speaks volumes — Kirby’s dramatic delivery of “creatures of the night” should be applauded.
Midge is perplexed by this reaction and even more so by the revelation that he has a daughter (the real-life Kitty Bruce has spoken positively about Kirby’s portrayal of her father). This new found intimacy crosses a line for Lenny and is something he needs to run away from.
In classic Marvelous Mrs. Maisel fashion, this quarrel spills out onto the street and is interrupted by a stranger who claims he is a fan. That is until the comic doesn’t give him the response he wants so his plaudits turn to jeers.
Interactions between Midge and Lenny typically end with a pause rather than a full stop, as we never know when he will next appear. This one is equally unresolved.
This is not the only sparring match Midge experiences this week. After another negative article from L. Roy Dunham, Midge takes it upon herself to visit the report. Midge is horrified to discover L. Roy is a woman (Hari Nef) and that there is no such thing as female solidarity. L. Roy thinks she is doing Midge a favor by keeping her name in the press, meanwhile it is giving the writer enough material to score a better desk. "It’s tough being a woman in journalism," is her pragmatic response to Midge’s objections, and this speaks to the larger conversation in of the episode.
Women supporting, or rather, not supporting women is a theme that runs throughout continues when Midge meets up with her old rival Sophie Lennon (Jane Lynch). Sophie uses this notion of sisterhood to coax Midge into doing her a favor. Sophie doesn’t care about Midge, but she wants Susie to remain her manager and knows Midge is the key to making this happen.
After Sophie’s appearance on Gordon Ford, she has scored the NBC game show hosting gig she desired and her wealth has somehow been restored. She knows Midge is in debt and is living a lifestyle she cannot afford because she hired a private investigator to uncover her skeletons. The refrigerator is broken and Midge cannot make the repayments on the apartment — let alone all the bills stacking up in her neighborhood. She turned down $12,000 from Shy’s team, but cannot afford to say no to Sophie too.
Sophie offers Midge the warmup job on the game show. Unfortunately for the returning star, Midge is very good — too good. It turns into a joke-slinging battle with each punchline getting more personal than the one before it. It seems unlikely Midge will last longer than a day, so the Wolford will probably remain her main source of income.
Midge's impact at the burlesque club extends beyond the improvements made backstage, as Boise (Santino Fontana) is unhappy with the clientele his comic is attracting. The packed house is now awash with women ordering drinks that typically come with a small umbrella. Boise voices his objections, but the receipts don’t lie and there is no arguing against higher profits.
Susie once again proves her worth as a manager because she wants Midge to get a cut of the bar takings too. There are some issues with her new magician Aflie (Gideon Glick) but she also works her skills with this performer.
Business is still flourishing for Rose (Marin Hinkel) and she is thrilled when she gets invited to a luncheon for women who own small businesses. However, this is more of a shakedown than a supportive environment, as she is given a warning to her to cease her matchmaking activities.
Gilmore Girls matriarch Kelly Bishop reunites with Amy Sherman-Palladino as Benedetta, and the casting of this scene makes up for the over-the-top mafia-style conversation. If you think too hard about matchmakers threatening violence — they sent the “STOP” letter — it tips into ridiculous but it is always fun seeing Bishop’s command of Sherman-Palladino’s dialogue.
One other person concerned about her career is Mei (Stephanie Hsu), as her dream of becoming a doctor is in jeopardy. Meeting Joel’s (Michael Zegen) parents is no longer her biggest worry as she has discovered she is pregnant.
With only two episodes left to go this season, there isn’t much time to explore options or deal with the dangling loose threads.
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.