‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’ says goodbye in a stupendous series finale
For five seasons, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel teased us with an ending that promises Midge Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan) would eventually become famous. And although this final season gives away her future in its first episode, the series finale delivers on explaining exactly how her stardom began.
There’s an inescapable gap that appears in your life when you finish an incredible story, but there’s also a sort of catharsis to those endings, if done right. This feeling simultaneously pulls at your heartstrings while releasing endorphins that make it hard to stop smiling. This occurrence feels all the more rare and worth treasuring in a time when TV shows get canceled before their arc has concluded, or somehow fumble the entire final season, or vanish completely from the streaming landscape.
Lucky for us, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel‘s series finale, “Four Minutes,” delivers with an ending that doesn’t just make you smile; it makes sure to respect all the characters we’ve spent years getting to know — and love.
Susie finally comes out to The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.
Credit: Philippe Antonello/Prime Video
For years now, the audience has been in on the secret that Susie (Alex Borstein) is queer. Or at least, we really hoped she was. Whether it’s about how she rejects the femme fashion standards for a more masc appearance or her devotion to Midge that we may have read a little too much into, the internet is chock-full of queer Susie fanfics. In Season 4, episode 4, “Interesting People on Christopher Street,” this collective idea finally becomes canon when Midge takes Susie to a lesbian bar in an effort to coax the secret out of her — but to no avail! Finally, in Season 5’s conclusion, we get introduced to Susie’s ex-girlfriend, Hedy (Nina Arianda), in a plot that eventually gets Midge her spot on the Gordon Ford show.
When Hedy gets introduced in Season 5, episode 4, “Susan,” an episode where Midge snags the lead spot in a musical, it’s game over for straight Susie. The two of them having an argument on a busy sidewalk in New York, where Hedy insists on catching up so they can move past their sordid past, puts a period on the biggest question we ever had about Susie Myerson.
But while that episode gives us the queer connection Susie seemed primed for all along, it’s the finale that enables her to fully come out to Midge. Seeing them sitting in that diner, after Midge has bailed Susie out of jail, as the long-closeted lesbian finally shares exactly who Hedy is to her — it brought my queer little heart so much joy!
Not only is it incredible to see Susie finally open up to Midge, but this scene cements something else that the audience has always been in on, to a point: Susie loves Midge, maybe more than she once loved Hedy. The episode ends with the two of them on the phone, watching Jeopardy! together decades later, making it clear that they were meant for each other all along, even if just platonically.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel brings the whole family back together.
Credit: Phillippe Antonello/Prime Video
Throughout the series, Midge Maisel has struggled to balance life and work. She’s worked tirelessly to be a comedian, which her parents never understood and for which her in-laws never believed she had the skills. Her relationship with husband-turned-ex Joel (Michael Zegen) was strained by the fact that her career began by blasting him on stage, in an art form he desperately admired. And on top of that, the men in her life never stay in her life. There was the slow-burn romance with Lenny Bruce (Luke Kirby) that never led to a relationship, and the almost-perfect Dr. Benjamin Ettenberg (Zachary Levi) that made Midge realize she didn’t have time for a relationship if she wanted to take being a star seriously. But by the finale, (mostly) everyone comes ’round to support her.
For years, Abe Weissman (Tony Shalhoub) has never taken his daughter Midge seriously. This season, it’s made clear that he’s been saving all his time and attention for her son Ethan, because according to the giant book of Weissman males (a ridiculously hilarious plot point that explained every firstborn Weissman male is a genius), Ethan is the one with true potential. It isn’t until Season 5 makes it clear that Esther is the real technical genius that Abe realizes Midge has more to offer than being a housewife. This realization, made in an Emmy-worthy performance by Shalhoub in episode 8, finally gets him where he’s always needed to be.
And so, in the finale, Abe makes a conscientious effort to do what he can to support Midge. When his daughter calls him up with news that she’s going to be on TV, he drops everything to make sure he can be there. But there’s no way he’s going to a taping of Midge’s first TV performance without Rose (Marin Hinkle)! This leads to what feels like a love letter to the elder Weissmans, where Rose is stubbornly sure that she isn’t invited to the show, only to be bombarded by call after call telling her she is invited, followed by an incredible sequence of the Weissmans trying to hail a cab that is as theatrical as it is hysterical. After years of ignoring or mocking her dreams to be a comedian, Midge’s whole family shows up to support her — with some signature kerfuffle along the way — cementing how much they’ve all grown.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel gives Lenny Bruce a loving sendoff.
Credit: Phillippe Antonello/Prime Video
And then there’s Lenny Bruce. The incomparable, devastatingly handsome, hilarious, and down-on-his-luck comedian. A lot of us once hoped there’d be a thing between him and Midge, but this season proves that Midge is too incredible for any man to handle. However, there couldn’t have been a Marvelous Mrs. Maisel finale without Lenny Bruce, because he was the one that showed her how much you can love standup. For her, he’s the blueprint. Getting arrested for his comedy, like she was the very first time she got on stage, never stopped him, it only drove him. But he still loved it! He’s her guiding light, getting her into the right rooms and teaching her how to sign an autograph like a real star (illegibly).
From episode one to now, Lenny has always meant the world to Midge Maisel, so it’s only natural he’d be a part of this final curtain call. While in real life Lenny Bruce’s story ended with a drug overdose in his Hollywood home in 1966, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel honors his legacy with a sweet yet silly farewell.
Midge Maisel is finally a star.
Credit: Philippe Antonello/Prime Video
Sure, Susie’s favor is what gets Midge on the Gordon Ford show — much to Gordon’s (Reid Scott) chagrin —but it’s Midge Maisel’s chutzpah that puts her on the map. After being relegated to a “human interest piece,” where Gordon only asks Midge misogynistic questions of what it’s like to be a woman in the writer’s room, she does the very same thing that started her career: She gets up on a stage and talks about shit that no one wants her to talk about.
The series really goes full circle when she pulls this stunt, managing to remind us all why we love Midge Maisel so much. She’s hilarious, and she doesn’t follow the rules. When put into circumstances that don’t align with who she is, or when she’s forced to conform to what society thinks of her, Midge takes these opportunities for a chance to swing back, instead of being knocked down.
Her final four minutes of standup is a reflection on how she started this career, and how despite being a mother, she’s never been defined by that. Just like in the series, her kids make brief appearances in her television debut, but Midge reminds us that she is not just a mother, she’s a woman who defies expectations. Someone who opens doors no one wants her near, whose gumption and ambition drive her, not her motherhood. I love that she mentions her kids, only to forget their names, because honestly their names barely even matter in the series.
And at the very end, when Midge gets to sit on that couch and Gordon finally introduces the audience to “the magnificent, the magical, the marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” we get the moment we’ve been waiting years for. This woman, once relegated to being a housewife with a great brisket, brushed the dirt off her meticulously planned outfit when life knocked her to the ground and, like Abe realized, emerged stronger than ever. By doing so, she helped everyone around her question the cards that life dealt them, inspired them to not play by society’s rules, and ultimately to become the very best versions of themselves. And no matter how big of a star she may become, that is something to marvel at.
How to watch: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is now streaming on Prime Video. (opens in a new tab)