NOTE: this post contains spoilers for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel season 5 episode 7, “A House Full of Extremely Lame Horses.”
Shirley (Caroline Aaron) and Moishe (Kevin Pollak) are watching a sitcom while Esther (Ireland and Sedona Carvajal) and Ethan (Colin Keane) color. Midge (Rachel Brosnahan) and Rose (Marin Hinkle) are walking around the house because Rose wants to throw a party there for her matchmaking clients. Midge sees them watching the show and tells them that Danny Stevens (Hank Azaria), the star, is going to be on Gordon Ford’s show. She offers to get them tickets.
As Midge, Rose, and the kids leave Midge tries to rein her mother in and have more realistic expectations of the party. Flash forward to 1973. Rose is drifting down some steep stairs looking fabulous talking about love but at the bottom of the stairs she loses her steam. Rose is in the middle of a commercial shoot. And it’s not going well. Currently, they are on take 196 and everyone is frazzled. Midge put the commercial together for Rose to promote her business, and she’s the only one who can get Rose to her mark and talking into the camera at the same time.
Cut back to 1961 inside the Weissman’s busy apartment. Rose can’t figure out how to light the stove. Midge is trying and failing to get Esther ready for school. And Abe (Tony Shalhoub) is demonstrating piano songs he wants Ethan to learn. Zelda (Matilda Szydagis) pops in to light the stove and solve their problems. But Janusz (Alexander Gemignai) is not happy she keeps coming back to help. Zelda shows them again a book she’s created to help them solve their own problems but they’re still way too dependent on her. Janusz sternly tells Zelda that when a horse’s leg is broken it’s useless, so it is shot. He tells Zelda the Weissmans are a house full of extremely lame horses.
Amid all this, a neighbor from downstairs calls telling them there is a bathtub overflowing and flooding the apartments under the Weissman’s. It’s all hands on deck as Janusz and Zelda get roped into helping to solve the crisis, as usual. Rose is upset the apartment won’t be ready for her party. Now late for work, Midge convinces Abe to go to a parent event at Ethan’s school.
While at the school, Abe is troubled to learn Ethan has been put in a group that isn’t academically advanced. Nothing could be worse to Abe than to find out his grandson is just normal and happy, not a genius or a prodigy.
In the writer’s room at the show, Danny Stevens asks the writers to give him some good jokes because his writing team is awful. However, Midge says he should talk about his life because he’s trying to pitch the book. Danny objects, thinking his life isn’t funny but Midge tells him that if the story is real and authentic he can find the funny in it. Danny takes her advice and charms the audience with a mix of stories about his parents and humor.
After the show, Danny tells Midge he’s developing a couple of sitcoms and offers her a job writing for his shows. Gordon gets mad that Danny is trying to poach Midge and gets thrown out for causing a scene.
Susie (Alex Borstein) is also making moves for Midge’s career. At a poker game with Mike Carr (Jason Ralph) and some other agents, one of whom is the booker for Jack Parr. Mike lets Susie know he got Midge into a showcase for Jack Parr to audition for his show. When Susie tells Midge they decide they’re going to put their efforts into getting Midge on Parr’s show even if it means leaving The Gordon Ford Show.
Midge goes to Gordon to level with him and give him the chance to book her on his show first. Gordon refuses because of the rule. So Midge puts everything she’s got into the performance for Parr. Even though her set was a huge success, she doesn’t get it. Instead, Parr’s show wants to book James (Jay Will), another client of Susie’s.
There’s a jump back to Rose’s commercial shoot in 1973. Susie, Midge, and Midge’s accountant are crunching numbers because Midge is paying for the commercial. Midge has been paying for Rose’s business for years. Even though the shoot is way over budget, Midge tells the accountant to pay whatever it costs to give Rose exactly what she wants, saying it’s all she can give Rose in the brief time that Rose has left. She tells Susie to book her another tour to pay for it all.
Back in 1961, Midge has a rare breakdown. She breaks a glass and cries in the bathroom feeling like she failed. Abe, stands outside the bathroom door, asking Midge if she’s ok, but then he hears the exact piano piece he’s been trying to teach Ethan wafting through the apartment. It’s played perfectly. But it’s not Ethan, it’s Esther. Esther is the genius of the Weissman clan who will carry on the legacy.
The episode closes with the ending of the Danny Stevens episode from the opening. In sitcom world family conflicts, disappointments, and disasters are resolved within 30 minutes. But the laugh tracks and canned jokes aren’t real. Real life may be messy, and painful, but if it’s real you can always find the funny.
New episodes of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel season 5 release every Friday on Prime Video.