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Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Season 5 Sticks the Ending: Review

The Pitch: The fifth and final season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on Amazon Prime doesn’t begin the way viewers might expect — we’ve become accustomed to a black screen, laughter fading in, and our titular character onstage. Instead, from the get-go, the show establishes that this last outing will be a bit of a departure from what we’ve seen the past few seasons.

Instead, Season 5 starts with a time jump; we’re quite far in the future, and, rather than spoil who the viewer gets to spend the first few minutes with, it’s perhaps better to just encourage anticipation for some rapid-fire dialogue and a pitch-perfect young actress. In other words, it’s a great Amy-Sherman Palladino cold open.

This final season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel spends quite a bit of its time jumping between years — we find out pretty early on what becomes of rising comedienne Midge (Rachel Brosnahan, sharp and luminous in a way that recalls the earliest, buzziest episodes of the show), her scheming manager Susie (Alex Borstein), husband/ex-husband/lover Joel (Michael Zegen), father Abe (Tony Shalhoub), mother Rose (Marin Hinkle), and the colorful cast of characters in their dreamy version of New York City. Somehow, though, this structure doesn’t diminish the tension or anticipation we feel from watching these events unfold. Instead, this season spends its time establishing a road map and filling in the gaps along the way — and the journey is a worthy last ride for Midge and the show.

Where You Lead: Amy Sherman-Palladino is a very good writer, and she and her husband, Daniel Palladino, make an undeniably good creative team. They have their trademarks as writers and directors, and that’s largely because fast-talking dialogue, whimsical set pieces, and familial drama are all places where they excel. While Sherman-Palladino seems to love her characters — as she should, she’s created some fantastic figures throughout the years — to that point, she also has a proclivity for loving them so much that she is hesitant to force them to experience consequences for their actions. Remember the exact point that Rory Gilmore felt like an unsympathetic monster? Answers may vary.

That was a problem that plagued Season 4 of Maisel: Midge had genuinely messed up at the end of Season 3, but she and Susie proceeded as though they had been dealt a bad hand, acting as if the problem boiled down to the fact that Midge was a woman, rather than the fact that she had nearly outed a closeted Black man onstage at The Apollo — erasing the nuance that had been thoughtfully constructed throughout the season. Thankfully, the course correction here avoids making that same mistake again. Midge struggles, and the narrative of Season 5 shows almost all the core characters experiencing fallout in some form or another for any less-than-heroic actions.

Cut to Commercial: Another wise shake-up was removing Midge from the cycle we’ve seen throughout previous seasons, one that revolved around being on the road, playing bigger and bigger stages, and essentially moving the audience through vignettes of our central comedienne either killing or flopping. Instead, Season 5 puts her in business with Gordon Ford (Reid Scott, great and only slightly softer than he is in Dan Egan mode), and a refreshing slate of side characters and adventures.

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Prime Video)

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