The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’s fourth season opens with a single word dripping from the lips of its heroine: “revenge.” “The Vengeful Mrs. Maisel” isn’t as catchy a title for Prime Video’s hit comedy, but the series is headed in a direction that could see the titular character dish out some misguided comeuppance. Let’s just hope that series creators Amy Sherman-Palladino and Dan Palladino (of Gilmore Girls fame) have a little less vengeance planned for the weeks ahead.
Season 3 ended with Midge (Rachel Brosnahan) being fired from renowned singer Shy Baldwin’s (Leroy McClain) tour on the night she was supposed to fly to Europe with the tour crew. Shy’s manager Reggie (Sterling K. Brown) was furious that Midge’s most recent standup set nearly outed Shy—who, in public, pretends to be one of America’s biggest ladies’ men. Midge’s indiscretion nearly put Shy’s career on the line, and Reggie can’t take that risk again.
Season 4’s opener “Rumble on the Wonder Wheel” is arguably the angriest episode of the series. Midge’s firing (though not its circumstances) has already made the papers, and she’s chided by fellow comedians about how humiliating it must be for her big break to blow up in her face. Midge repeatedly defends herself: she was instructed by Reggie to incorporate stories about Shy into her comedic act; she was fired for following instructions; she will become the most successful comedienne ever and make Reggie wish he was sorry for firing her. Revenge, revenge, revenge! But she’s missed the point entirely.
Midge seems undisturbed that her act nearly outed a closeted Black man in 1960s America. Midge didn’t mean to do this, but the defense of her intentions blinds her from seeing how her words impact other people. It’s hard to say if Midge will become more remorseful throughout the season—Prime Video is staggering its release rather than all at once, as in previous years—but Episodes 1 and 2 place her desire for spiteful success at the center.
“Rumble at the Wonder Wheel” gets its name from a hilarious scene at Coney Island in which Midge’s parents, in-laws, and ex-husband each learn startling news about each other. Episode 2, “Billy Jones and the Orgy Lamps,” features the hilariously specific comment about Nordic relatives since Betty Draper quipped about them in Mad Men. A Gilmore Girls alum makes a surprise appearance—and it’s not who you think it is! (As previously announced, Kelly Bishop and Milo Ventimiglia, both fan favorites from Gilmore Girls, will appear later in the season.)
There’s still much to marvel at in the show—again, it’s Marvelous in the title, not Vengeful. Stephanie Hsu is a standout as Joel’s (Michael Zegen) comically cryptic new girlfriend. Donna Zakowska’s costumes continue to be some of the perkiest and most color-coordinated outfits on modern television. Brosnahan and Alex Borstein (as Midge’s manager, Susie) are as Lucy and Ethel-like as ever with their banter and comedic timing.
Where will Midge go from here, now that she has to climb back to the top? It’s hard to say. Hopefully, there’s some introspection down the line. In Episode 2, she holds a drink in to toast in the name of making art, so let’s toast to character growth, too.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel drops two episodes every Friday on Prime Video.