The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Season 5 Review: The Final Season Gives The Show The Grand Send-Off It Deserves

There's a clear storytelling benefit to knowing well in advance when a show is going to end, and — better yet — knowing well in advance what the final scene in the series will be.

"The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" creator Amy Sherman-Palladino knew both of these things heading into the fifth and final season of the Prime Video show, and the final episodes are infinitely better for it. The series, which follows Midge Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan) as she struggles to make it big as a comic in the early 1960s, was able to give a holistic view of her fictional life, giving us the closure we need as the show ultimately steps out of the spotlight.

When we last left Mrs. Maisel, she was wandering through the snow after Lenny Bruce (Luke Kirby) told her to stop getting in her own way by refusing to be anyone's opening act, including the Tony Bennett. Season 5 picks up right after that, except it doesn't, exactly. The series, blessed with the knowledge these upcoming episodes will be the last, gives us glimpses into the future. Yes, we soon find ourselves back in 1961 with a frozen Midge making her way home, beleaguered and with more than a little bit of frostbite after her time with Lenny. But before we get there, we start with a cold open set in 1981, giving us a hint of what the Maisels' future will look like.

It's these flash-forwards in the characters' fictional lives that give the show such a satisfying ending. And yes, while the time jumps may take away the suspense of whether or not Midge makes it (but let's be honest, we always knew the answer to that anyway), it keeps the specifics of her trials and tribulations to get there a surprise. When events do ultimately unfold, you can't help but watch them like you're seeing an epic moment in the making, a tale that will go down in entertainment history and be retold for decades to come.

A marvelous comic with less than marvelous struggles

If season 5 just gave us that — the story of how Midge made it — it would be a good watch. But the show goes beyond telling us how her career plays out. It not only focuses on the key relationships of the series but also puts a spotlight on characters we pointedly haven't seen a lot of in the seasons before, specifically her two children, who before now have been little more than backdrops in the maelstrom of Midge's star-studded goals.

That exploration brings an extra dimension to Midge and to the show overall. Midge has the gall to be ambitious, to want a life and a career that's far, far, bigger than the role carved out for her. But ambition comes with a cost, especially for women of that time (and this time, frankly). "I can't have it all," one female character states outright at the beginning of the season. It's a statement that will resonate with many, including me. One night after watching Midge put rows of masking tape on her hallway floor to help her son sleep better, I — instead of finishing an article on deadline — ended up trying to console my sobbing toddler, who couldn't go back to bed because all the scotch tape in the world couldn't hang her elephant blanket from the ceiling like she inexplicably wanted it to. We have career ambitions and we are mothers. And we do our best at both, and feel like we're failing at both at the same time. (Pro tip: duct tape ultimately worked.)

"The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" is fictional, of course, but even the titular character has failures and successes. Her children would likely not say their mother was perfect, but she was, ultimately their mother — someone who loves them the best way she can. Midge can't have it all either, although she gets darn close to it, in no small part because of her drive but also because she has people around her who love and support her dreams.

A big life with full, complex relationships

Midge will do anything to make it big, but so will her manager Susie (Alex Borstein), who goes to extremes to get her client a writing gig on the Gordon Ford show in hopes that the opportunity will pave the way for her performing on the program. Midge, who has learned to get out of her own way after the failures of season 4, takes the job on even though she has no interest in giving up performing to do so. Things don't start out so great and are far from easy for the "lady writer," of course, but Midge is determined, as is Susie.

Susie and Midge's relationship remains the heart of the show, up to the very end. But Midge and her ex-husband, Joel (Michael Zegen), get some deserved attention this season as well as her parents, deftly played by Tony Shalhoub and Marin Hinkle. The Maisel's maid, Zelda (Matilda Szydagis), also gets a storyline that brings her out of the background, and Joel's parents, played by Kevin Pollak and Caroline Aaron, have their own journey as well. And yes, Lenny is also there for some heartrending moments, made all the more so if you know the story of the real-life comic.

Like the seasons before it, most (but not all) of these character moments take place in the gaudy-yet-glamorous backdrop of showbiz in 1960s New York City, including more than a bit of time at 30 Rockefeller Plaza and a musical number that will blow your socks off. The show's sendoff has all of the panache we've come to expect, but what sticks with you is Midge's journey, not only toward becoming a star but with her relationships with her loved ones. With her story comes a hope, a hope that all the struggles and setbacks and failures we may face in our own lives are surmountable, that one day we'll break free of the things that hold us back and live our own version of the big life that she strives for and, ultimately, achieves. "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" shows us the audacity of dreaming big, and lets us all imagine, for a time, that we can too.

Season 5 of "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" premieres three episodes on April 14, with new episodes following weekly, until the May 26 series finale on Prime Video.