[This story contains major spoilers for episode six of the fifth and final season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.]
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel season five, episode six, “The Testi-Roastial,” answered a few major questions that have been hanging over the fifth and final season of the Prime Video series since it premiered on April 14.
At the beginning of episode two, “It’s a Man, Man, Man, Man World,” Marvelous Mrs. Maisel teased that Midge (Rachel Brosnahan) and Susie (Alex Borstein) eventually have some sort of falling-out. Over the course of the following two episodes, tensions begin to rise between Susie and Joel (Michael Zegen), who discovers Susie’s involvement with mobsters Frank (Erik Palladino) and Nicky (John Scurti) may have an impact on Midge’s life and career down the line.
Episode six reveals that Joel confronts Susie in her office about her involvement with the mob, finds her books and discovers just how much of Midge’s career Frank and Nicky own: for every $100 Midge makes, she gets $50, Susie gets $15 and the mob got $30. In an effort to get his ex-wife out from under their thumb, Joel goes to Frank and Nicky and offers up himself, instead of Midge.
He explains to them that he owns a club in Chinatown and wants to expand to other parts of the city and the country. If they finance him, he can expand quicker, and they can use his clubs for all of their mob needs. “She’s the mother of my kids, and I want her clear of this,” Joel tells them, playing on the fact that they have kids and understand him wanting to keep Midge out of it. They agree, and eventually, it all comes crashing down.
“He skirted charges longer than anybody thought he could, had good lawyers, caught some breaks, but ultimately, they threw the book at him — hard — brought the whole thing tumbling down,” Will Sasso’s Carmine Streeto says around a table of who’s who in entertainment at a roast honoring Susie in 1990, which also featured appearances from Danny Strong and Sean Gunn.
“He took the full wrap, protected that partner of his, Archie Cleary [Joel Johnstone], made sure he was OK,” Sasso continues. “He supposedly stashed the money in Bermuda or somewhere for when he got out. Who knows? And Midge, well, she never deserted him.”
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter ahead of season five, Zegen opens up about why he thinks Joel made that sacrifice for Midge, explaining that he always wanted to protect her.
“He loves her,” Zegen says. “He’s always kind of looking for redemption because I guess he’s always trying to make up for what he did to her, and it’s sort of what he’s been doing, or what I think he’ll be doing for the rest of his life, kind of making up for that moment when he left her, which was really the biggest mistake of his life, as good as it turned out for everybody else and for himself.”
The actor continues, “He did it to protect her, and it’s completely admirable, and they have kids together, and he wanted to protect them, too. So, hopefully, the audience sees that.”
Elsewhere in the episode, an aged-up Mike Carr (Jason Ralph) says he knows what happened to Midge and Susie. “Susie told me one night when she was drunk,” he explains. “A year later, Midge told me the story one night, when she was drunk.”
In a 1985 flashback, Joel is arrested by the FBI for racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering during services at his family’s synagogue. He gives Midge a letter explaining everything, and when she confronts Susie about it, Susie tells her she didn’t know. Midge feels betrayed by her manager, who lied to her about being square with the mob, and the two argue about everything from Susie booking Midge at casinos to pay off her own gambling debts to how they were never really friends.
“Twenty-five years, you’ve known me. We’re friends,” Susie tells Midge in the flashback, to which she replies, “Friends? Boy, that’s convenient. The first time you call me a friend is when you’re caught.” Midge tells Susie she’s going to have a team audit her books and that she should leave the synagogue, before threatening to have her security team escort her out if she doesn’t.
“Fine. I got what I needed out of you,” Susie tells her. “Wish I could say the same,” Midge says. “You ungrateful c–t,” Susie says, to which Midge replies, “This is how I’m going to remember you Susie: small.”
Back in 1990, Midge sends in a video to Susie’s roast, extending an olive branch and telling Susie she’d like to meet up when she’s back in town if that’s something her former manager would be interested in doing. It is.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel airs Fridays on Prime Video.
Michael Zegen on Joel’s Sacrifice for Midge in ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’: “He Did It to Protect Her”