‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’ series finale reveals the fates of Midge and Susie
The following post contains spoilers for the series finale of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”
After five seasons and 20 Emmy Awards thus far – including Best Comedy Series in 2018 – “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” has come to an end with a series finale that left fans and critics satisfied.
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So much happened in the episode, titled “Four Minutes,” including the final appearances by Emmy winner Luke Kirby as Lenny Bruce, the last “tits up” between Midge (Emmy winner Rachel Brosnahan) and Susie (two-time Emmy winner Alex Borstein), and the revelation of how the show’s lead character landed her titular adjective.
Following a season of fits and starts as Midge tries to work her way onto a broadcast of “The Gordon Ford Show,” she’s finally given a chance – but not in the way she had hoped. Rather than allow Midge to do her stand-up act for the late-night show’s audience – including numerous members of Midge’s extended family – Ford (scene-stealer Reid Scott) relegates her appearance to a mere interview segment. The patronizing conversation – Ford refers to Midge as his resident “lady writer” – feels like a dead-end for our heroine until she takes matters into her own hands.
“I’m thinking about doing something, Susie – something reckless that could go very badly for both of us. It could ruin us. Definitely me, but you by extension,” Midge says during an impromptu commercial break that Ford threw to out of obstinacy. She plans to hijack the broadcast with her routine – the four minutes that give the series finale its title. The gambit works and puts Midge on course to reach the levels of stardom previously revealed during the season’s glimpses at the future.
“You started your career by standing on a stage that no one told you to get up on, saying a bunch of shit that no one wanted you to say,” Susie says in response, referencing the show’s beloved pilot. “So, tits up.” It’s the last time either Borstein or Brosnahan says the show’s catchphrase.
“Alex and I couldn’t even look at each other that day,” Brosnahan told Variety about the scene in an interview published Friday. “We shot that scene on the last day. We came in for rehearsal early in the morning, and we literally couldn’t look at each other. I was looking at Alex’s forehead and she was looking at my chin or something. We just blocked it out for the crew, and tried to save it for when we had to shoot that final piece together.”
“We were both sobbing,” Borstein said of the moment in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. “We couldn’t look each other in the eyes during rehearsal. I had to look at her forehead and she was looking at my chin. We were half-dressed and literally couldn’t look each other in the eyes. Alex has never been the crier, but she’s been really weepy since that last day.”
Midge’s standup is a smashing success, of course, so much so that even Ford is won over after being so stubborn and unhelpful. Her appearance on “The Gordon Ford Show” ends with Midge on Ford’s couch not as a writer but as a comic and budding star. “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” Ford says as he introduces her to the audience.
“One of the greatest gifts that [creator] Amy [Sherman-Palladino] gave to me was to let me choose what the last moment we shot would be. So, the very last shot we did was of Midge on the couch when Gordon Ford says, ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,’” Brosnahan told Variety. “It was very emotional.”
“When he delivers that final line and says ‘the marvelous Mrs. Maisel,’ I was really nervous, but I loved it, and it was an honor to be able to give her that name,” Scott told Vulture in an interview published after the finale. “They knew what the end moment of this entire series was from the pilot. It was always going to end with that moment, onstage, with a Johnny Carson–esque character giving Midge her name. Until then, she’s just Mrs. Maisel. Getting to bestow that moniker on her was a very emotional moment to act. It was a satisfying moment for me, and it felt right.”
Midge’s success on “The Gordon Ford Show” jumpstarts her career. But the series doesn’t end with that triumph and instead bounces forward in time to 2005, where Midge and Susie are still friends despite their old age. In what amounts to an epilogue, Midge (living in New York) and Susie (now in Los Angeles) watch an episode of “Jeopardy!” together that they had each recorded onto a VHS tape. The show ends with the old friends on the phone together, chatting and laughing.
“I think everyone’s dead at that point, except for Midge and Susie,” Brosnahan told Entertainment Weekly about the scene. (Yes, even Joel, played by Michael Zegen, has died.) “Those two broads are like cockroaches. They’re never gonna die. They get stepped on over and over and over again, and they got a thick exoskeleton.”
Asked in her interview about the final moments for Midge and Susie, Borstein told Entertainment Weekly, “I think it makes sense. They were laser-focused. They burned bridges. In a different day and age, Miriam’s future would’ve been very different. If it had not been the 50s when she started out, I think it would’ve been very different. Her kids’ reaction to who she was and how much she desired to make her way in the world would not have been an issue today. Even 10 years later. The kids would’ve been much more at ease with the tremendous want that lived inside of their mother. I found it very believable and a very well-written arc for these characters on what they went through. There’s a world where it could have ended differently, but I do think this is the most fitting.”
Season 5 of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” has been widely hailed as a creative return to form for the Amazon Prime Video series (its Metacritic score is the highest for “Maisel” since Season 2). In keeping with its past Emmy Awards success, the final season of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” is expected to land multiple nominations, including Best Comedy Actress for Brosnahan, Best Comedy Supporting Actress for Borstein, Best Comedy Supporting Actor for four-time winner and past “Maisel” Emmy winner Tony Shalhoub, and Best Comedy Guest Actor for past winner Kirby. In a just world, Scott should also receive significant attention for playing Ford. All seasons of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” have been nominated for Best Comedy Series – including its 2018 win for the first season – so Season 5 should land among those nominees as well.
“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” is streaming on Amazon Prime Video.
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