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The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel's Season 5 Time Jumps Are Worth The Wait

This article contains spoilers for Season 5, Episodes 1-3 of "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel."

For its first four seasons, "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" kept viewers planted firmly in the late 1950s and early '60s, following Miriam "Midge" Maisel's (Rachel Brosnahan) trek through the thorny branches of show business. Season 5, which started with a three-episode drop on April 14, kicks off with a jump forward to 1981 to show Midge's daughter Esther (Alexandra Socha), now 23, in a therapy session complaining about her mother's late-night phone calls and outsized presence in her life. 

Throughout the rest of Season 5, the show remains mostly in its primary timeline, but takes a few more visits to the '80s and '90s to give glimpses into the lives of adult Esther and Ethan (Ben Rosenfield), as well as the ultimate fates of Midge, her agent Susie Meyerson (Alex Borstein), her ex-husband Joel (Michael Zegen), and the rest of the show's beloved main characters. 

Some outcomes are triumphant and some are tragic, but creators Amy Sherman-Palladino and Daniel Palladino do a masterful job of completing the stories of the Maisels, the Weissmans, and those who support and oppose them along their journeys. Season 5 also takes a couple of brief trips back to the early 1950s, offering important context that gives further insight into the eventual fates of two previously underdeveloped characters.

The time jumps provide valuable background to the stories of Ethan and Esther

It's recently become fashionable in television writers' rooms to disorient audiences with constant timeline shifts and changes in setting, but the Palladinos and writer-producer Jen Kirkman deserve kudos for using those techniques to expertly wrap up Miriam's saga in a way that is both satisfying and grounding. 

While the leaps into the '80s and '90s help conclude the important story arcs of "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel," it's the jumps back in time that give particularly helpful insight into the pathologies that Ethan and Esther carry into adulthood. The flashbacks and flash-forwards give a breadth and depth to the story of "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" that was missing from its first four seasons, and allow for the introduction of some compelling "new" characters. The two young Maisel children have been in the storytelling margins for most of the series' first four seasons, and it's not until Season 5 that we see how Midge's chaotic nature and non-traditional schedule disrupt the lives of her offspring well into their 20s. 

The first timeline jump comes in the opening seconds of the Season 5 premiere, and it's equal measures jarring and delightful.

Season 5 begins with an enlightening leap forward

In the cold open of the Season 5 premiere, we're hurled ahead to 1981, where Esther — now 23 and a brilliant Harvard grad student — vents her frustrations with her mother to a therapist (Gibson Frasier). In revealing those frustrations, she comes off sounding a great deal like the woman she's trying so hard to distance herself from, and once viewers orient themselves to the shock of time travel, the sequence becomes a marvelously revealing snapshot of a character we knew very little of until this point. Adult Esther is a bona fide scientific genius with job offers from NASA rolling her way, but she has a disjointed and manic thought process very reminiscent of her mother's. 

The opening sequence of Episode 2 is equally as shocking, showing a "60 Minutes" interview between Mike Wallace (Currie Graham) and a now world-famous Midge. It's a perfectly executed non-spoiler spoiler, as anyone who has stuck with the show this long is probably certain that Miriam's rollercoaster career would ultimately result in her star being hurled into the stratosphere. The mystery of the series has always been how that would happen, not whether or not it would. 

The interview sets up the remainder of Season 5 to show the winding and bumpy path Midge takes to superstardom, and the rest of the story is no less satisfying now that we know where she ends up. 

Ethan puts a vast spiritual and physical distance between himself and his mother

It's not until Episode 3 that we get a look into Ethan's future. In a flash-forward to 1984 we see him toiling on a kibbutz in Israel in a quest to get closer to the earth and God. Midge drops in on a helicopter, oblivious to the impact such an arrival will have on a community used to being under near-constant military siege. 

The scene is executed much differently than the reveal of Esther's adulthood, yet is equally impactful in showing just how unlike Miriam the younger Maisels have become. But where Esther struggles daily to put distance between herself and her mother, Ethan has found every possible way to make his adulthood as foreign to her as he can; working in the dirt and pairing himself with a religious and militant partner who is as unlike Midge as any woman on Earth. 

There are other important revelations of the future later in Season 5 that further round out the tale of Miriam and her family and friends, and they're all presented and filled out exquisitely as "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" winds to its conclusion.