The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Season 5 Episode 6 opens in 1985, with Midge doing a stand-up set about breaking up with her friend Susie, the longest relationship she’s ever had in her life.
In 1990, Susie and Midge still aren’t speaking. Giants in the entertainment industry gather to both roast and honor Susie for her esteemed career, and Midge isn’t expected to make it.
The “testi-roastial” reveals that Susie and Midge both got their big breaks, but almost no one at Susie’s big event knows why the two parted ways.
The roasters talk during the event and after (in a circle of gossip) about how Susie got here in her career. Rumors fly about how she stole Harry Drake’s clients as he was dying, but another remembers Susie as being the only one left who was loyal to Harry, who then signed over all his clients to her before his death.
They trade rumors about how Susie got even further involved in the mob, by having Frank and Nicky take revenge on Dinah’s abusive ex-boyfriend. Then Mike Carr shares how he and Susie became good friends after their rocky start, and Aaron Lebowitz remembers how she helped him get George Toledano rightfully fired from The Gordon Ford Show.
Conversation after the roast then shifts to how Joel ended up in prison. He found the books that detailed how much the mob made for every hundred dollars that Midge made. He wasn’t okay with the mob owning Midge, and decided to make a deal with Frank and Nicky himself. They agreed to let Midge loose to get in on the profits from Joel’s expanding club. Joel avoided charges for a while, but was eventually found out and took the fall to protect Archie. He went to prison, and Midge never deserted him.
The gossip moves to Midge’s wedding in 1973. When Midge realized she didn’t want to marry her fiancé (he couldn’t make her laugh), it was Susie who took care of canceling everything on Midge’s behalf.
But what the circle of gossiping men don’t know is why Midge and Susie broke up in the first place. So, Mike Carr joins in to enlighten them.
In 1985, Midge and her family were all in the synagogue when the FBI entered to arrest Joel. Midge initially had no idea what’s going on, but a letter from Joel explained everything. She was furious with Susie for keeping the full scale of her involvement with the mob from her, and livid that this involvement led Joel to make a deal for her own benefit.
Midge threw accusations against Susie that she pressured Midge into gigs she didn’t want all so Susie could pay off her own gambling debts, but Susie defended herself. She tried to call Midge her friend (for the first time in 25 years), but Midge wouldn’t have it. She said she would order an audit of Susie’s books. Susie responded by calling Midge ungrateful, and Midge said she’ll always remember Susie as being “small.” From that moment on, they were over.
To close out the “testi-roastial,” Susie gives her own remarks. Then, she’s surprised by a special video tribute from Midge Maisel.
Midge, filmed by Imogene, tells everyone that Susie made her what she is today. She thanks Susie. She remembers their fights, but also their good times. No one has ever made her laugh like Susie.
Lately, she’s been feeling nostalgic. “What do you say” she asks Susie, “we get together next time I’m back in town?
“Tits up, old friend,” she says to close out the video tribute. “And I hope to see you soon.”
The message makes Susie cry. She leaves the function before anyone, a card with Midge’s phone number in her hand. Outside the club, she smiles, turning over the card in her hands.
The Episode Review
Alex Borstein has won two Emmys for her performance as Susie, and I wouldn’t begrudge her a third. She carries herself differently as an older version of her character, more laid-back and self-assured. And yet there’s obviously something missing from her life, making her come across as unsatisfied and sad. That’s Midge, of course.
Then, there’s Borstein’s excellent performances in the varying accounts of her background. I like that we’re not given straight answers about how Susie came to be so successful; we have to pick and choose what we believe from these stories. To me, there’s a false sheen over some of these flashbacks. I choose to believe the stories where Susie shows compassion, like the rumor in which Harry signed over all his clients due to her kind loyalty. I don’t know that I even believe the record of Midge’s and Susie’s fight in the synagogue. Although Susie has a harsh, guarded quality to her, she always intentionally cares about people. The flashbacks that show that ring the truest.
Overall, I like this episode’s unique approach. It’s tough not to be able to see the ups and downs of Midge’s and Susie’s split for ourselves, however. I wish the season could have made a little more room to really hash out this particular conflict. Sometimes the time jumps in this season feel like quick ways to resolve hanging subplots, and that’s the case here as well. Still, l found the episode’s format a resoundingly clever and funny way to show how Susie broke into a male-dominated career. And that ending was deeply moving, with the spring in Susie’s step in anticipation of a reunion with Midge.
You can read our full season review for Marvelous Mrs Maisel season 5 here!
2 thoughts on “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Season 5 Episode 6 “The Testi-Roastial” Recap & Review”
This episode is a masterpiece, and this review isn’t giving it the credit it deserves.
Aaron Lebowitz remembers how she helped him get George Toledano rightfully fired from The Gordon Ford Show.
Mike Carr, not Aaron Lebowitz