What to Watch Verdict
Some solid moments, but there are a lot of loose ends to address in the season 4 finale.
Tension between Susie and Midge is an interesting development
Marin Hinkle's performance of Rose mimicking Midge's stand-up set
The conflicting careers conversation between Midge and Rose
The curious Lenny on TV moment
Some of Susie's mishaps are not particularly funny
The matchmaker mafia storyline
Note: this post contains spoilers for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel season 4 episode 7, "Ethan… Esther… Chaim."
What does Midge Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan) want? The fourth (and penultimate) season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel has thrown many challenges Midge’s way, which include her precarious financial situation and taking on a new role as an emcee at an illegal strip club.
The Wolford has given her the freedom to perform without compromising her integrity, however, it also makes it impossible for Susie (Alex Borstein) to do her job effectively. She cannot send bookers for late-night talk shows like Gordon Ford (Reid Scott) to this particular venue on the off chance it might get raided by the cops. Now, Midge is taking on gigs without even telling Susie and this points to another potential rift as her manager continues to split her focus between clients.
Magician Alfie (Gideon Glick) is Susie's other pet project. After last week’s false start he showcases his talents at the legendary Greenwich Village Cherry Lane Theatre. Susie might be floundering with Midge and the stack of paperwork on her desk — don’t even get me started on her inability to put pants on in the morning — but she once again proves her worth as a manager. Not only is the place packed, but Alfie puts on a blistering performance (and I say this as someone who is not fond of magic acts).
Alfie is the star of the show, but Midge’s mother Rose (Marin Hinkle) steals the spotlight when she is hypnotized. First, she spills some home truths about her family, but it is when he asks her to act out her daughter’s job that things get spicy.
Unbeknown to Midge, Rose went to the Wolford and saw her entire act and she repeats the whole thing to this crowd of mostly strangers. The performance Rose witnessed included a lot of missives about her relationship with Abe (Tony Shalhoub), as well as riffs on her-then teenage son’s fantasies; what a time for Midge’s brother Noah (Will Brill) and his wife Astrid (Justine Lupe) to make their first appearance of the season. The routine Rose repeats is far from family-friendly — particularly to the Weismann clan.
Pushing aside the fact Rose can remember this entire act on an unconscious level, it is a scene that showcases Hinkle’s uncanny portrayal of this standup set. It is as hilarious as it is uncomfortable. The more Midge and her family sink lower into their seats, the louder my laughter got. When Rose snaps back to reality she is dumbstruck by the audience's reaction as she can’t remember any of it.
Outside the theatre, Midge confronts her mother about her secret trip to the Wolford. This conversation about their conflicting careers is something I wish this season had investigated further. Instead, we get the mafia-type matchmaker syndicate making threats — which is still impossible to take seriously. Midge telling her mom to not give up is in contrast to Rose imploring her daughter to stop. Hopefully, this push-pull dynamic will warrant further examination.
Midge doesn’t want to give up the Wolford even if it isn’t the big leagues. While a late-night booker isn’t going to come to see her perform it doesn’t mean she can’t score an exciting gig. Bailing out burlesque dancer Gloria (Kayli Carter) earlier this season is how Midge came to the Wolford. The Gloria connection came through again as she gets Midge an opportunity to perform at a JFK presidential luncheon being hosted by Jackie Kennedy (Hilary Maiberger). This is a huge opportunity, but it's surprising Midge doesn’t tell Susie about this exciting news.
The latter points to Midge’s independent streak, as well as Susie’s preoccupation. Susie tries to fire her secretary Dinah (Alfie Fuller) because of how chaotic she is. However, instead of following through with this task, Susie ends up picking up another standup act that Dinah discovered, which points to one of Dinah's many skills.
It's probably a good thing Midge didn’t tell Susie about the luncheon because she ends up reducing the soon-to-be first lady to tears with a mistress anecdote.
Midge has been rather lacking in the love department this season other than one bad date and whatever is going on with Lenny (Luke Kirby), but she finally meets a guy she likes — guest star Milo Ventimiglia, but it's little more than a cameo.
After weeks of flirting (shown through a montage), Midge went for coffee with this charming guy but when the coffee place is shut she goes to his apartment for a cup of Joe. Instead of coffee, they fall into bed and before she knows it his furious wife arrives home. Midge loses her lucky dress — which Dinah gets back — but gains a great new standup anecdote. However, it's one that hits too close to home for Jackie.
Midge has also been the scorned wife, though she is on good terms with Joel (Michael Zegen) now. Still, she is somewhat taken back when he tells her that Mei (Stephanie Hsu) is pregnant. So much so that she takes up Frank’s (Erik Palladino) offer to do some background on Joel’s girlfriend, which is a low move from Midge.
Considering how much of Mei’s future is discussed — including an inevitable wedding — it is frustrating Hsu isn’t even present. Who is to say she even wants to follow through with the pregnancy? Joel does finally decide to tell his father about Mei and the episode ends with Moishe (Kevin Pollak) experiencing a serious medical emergency.
Heading into the finale there are a lot of loose ends to tie up, including Midge’s rather curious expression when she saw Lenny on Gordon Ford’s talk show discussing his forthcoming Carnegie Hall date. The desire on her face is impossible to ignore but is this directed toward the career he has or something romantic? Or why not both? Either way, Midge’s path to success has a few more hurdles to leap and only one more episode of the season to go.
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.