Eight episodes are simply not enough when it comes to season four of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” which aired on Amazon Prime Video Feb. 18. The third season ended with an epic cliffhanger: The protagonist and stand-up virtuoso Miriam “Midge” Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan) is fired from her largest gig yet — opening for world-famous singer Shy Baldwin (Leroy McClain) on his tour of the globe. As Shy’s entourage flies off, Midge remains stranded on an airport tarmac, disappointed and alone.
“REVENGE. Revenge. I want it. Ugh, do I want it. I need it. I crave it. I am completely consumed by the need for it. Revenge,” Midge says solemnly into the mic during the first episode’s opening scene.
Ever-chic, dressed in tight black pants and a sweater, Midge takes a drag from her cigarette and tells the audience of the Gaslight Cafe — her home turf for stand-up — of the humiliating experience that ensued on the tarmac when she found out she would no longer be going on tour with Shy Baldwin.
But, throughout the season, revenge does not seem to be what Midge is seeking.
Closure? Maybe. That’s what she gets after confronting Shy Baldwin in the powder room at his wedding. Love? Perhaps. Midge continues to navigate the turbid waters of being single in New York. Fans especially rejoiced at the return of fellow comedian and romantic interest Lenny Bruce (Luke Kirby).
Success, however, is what Midge strives for the most in this season. But that’s also where she faces her greatest challenges.
She is determined not to let the Shy Baldwin fiasco end her career. Throughout the season, Midge tries again and again to get her career back on track. Yet audiences, both on- and off-screen, suffer as they witness her repeated mistakes and failures. Midge adopts a self-righteous philosophy where she turns down gigs in which she is merely the opening act. She refuses to be anything but the headliner. This leads her to a less-than-desirable performance before Jackie Kennedy, a humiliating television appearance beside long-time nemesis Sophie Lennon (Jane Lynch) and a regular nighttime gig as an MC at a strip club.
Under the beautiful clothes, brilliant dialogue and breathtaking cinematography, the fourth season of the show conveys to audiences that what makes Midge so marvelous is that she is not marvelous at all. Despite her manager Susie Meyerson (Alex Borstein) admonishing her multiple times, Midge’s ego constantly gets in her way. She makes mistakes, both big and small. But regardless of the humiliation and constant reality checks, Midge keeps pushing and pursuing her passion for stand-up.
Likewise, the other characters in “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” discover their purposes and develop deeper ambitions. Midge’s mother, Rose Weissman (Marin Hinkle ’88), turns her knack for matchmaking into a career. Abe Weissman (Tony Shalhoub), Midge’s father, uses his love of journalism to reconnect not only with himself but also his family. Susie expands her talent managing business and pledges to represent “the ones who walk by, the ones you don’t see, the ones who never catch a break.”
The latest season of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” provides more than just aesthetically pleasing scenes and quippy one-liners — the stylistic flair for which creator Amy Sherman-Palladino has been known since “Gilmore Girls.” The season also challenges the characters and, in turn, the viewers, to embrace their imperfections and even use them as inspiration. Most importantly, the show reinforces the lesson that one must take risks — real risks where one inevitably fails — in order to truly succeed.