The Crackling Chemistry Of Lenny And Midge Will Break Our Hearts In The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Season 4

Anyone who's seen even the pilot of "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" has experienced the life-changing pleasure of seeing Lenny Bruce (as played by Luke Kirby) and Midge Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan) converse. These two have a very special, all-consuming, overwhelming kind of chemistry. Don't get me wrong though — Midge has chemistry with literally everyone she's ever met. The show's dialogue is magic like that. And in the realm of romance, she certainly has options: I still mourn her relationship with the handsome doctor Benjamin (we could've had it all) and begrudgingly accept that if all else fails, she'll always have her somewhat love-struck ex-husband Joel. But Lenny and Midge are magic together.

Unfortunately, there's always been an ominous element hanging over this duo that season 4 confirms will forever keep them apart. Sorry, fellow shippers, I'm here to report that our hopes are destined to be dashed — not even the glossy, candy-colored world of "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" will fend off the real-life tragedy of Lenny Bruce.

The rest of this post contains spoilers through episode six of season 4 of "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel."

The marvelous magic of Lenny and Midge

First thing's first: before we get to the looming sadness, let's address some unbridled joy. The already lively world of "Maisel" crackles with electricity when these two launch into their usual pitter-patter banter — which is saying a lot, for a show so well known for rat-a-tat dialogue. But Lenny and Midge have more than just wit between them: they have a deep and meaningful connection. Lenny has served as a mentor to the up-and-coming comic, helping her find her place in the comedy world with his unique perspective and chaotic career. In fact, she often returns to the model of Lenny when telling Susie how she envisions this next chapter of her stage life.

Best of all is the fact that Lenny quickly marked her as an equal. He respects her comedy — he heralds it, always ready to champion her next stage or melt our hearts by calling her "sensational." Most importantly, these two understand the love and frustration of their art form in a way that no one else in their lives can comprehend. They're both comics — cut from different cloths but sewn up in the same industry.

I cannot even begin to articulate the extreme levels of serotonin boost I feel whenever Luke Kirby's Lenny Bruce appears onscreen. The Miami excursion in season 3 nearly broke me, especially when the above image reappears to remind me how adoringly Lenny looked at Midge before their dance. Not unlike other first-rate romantic leads, Luke Kirby is a master of The Face, always pouring palpable emotion into his gaze. Their moments together are few and far between — Lenny tends to make around two appearances in any given season — but always cement themselves as series highlights. When together, Lenny and Midge function at a completely different pace, and perhaps in another world, their dynamic chemistry would be the endgame. But given the latest episodes of "Maisel," that happy ending isn't in the cards.

The return of our beloved Lenny Bruce

At the end of "How To Chew Quietly and Influence People" when Midge halted her taxi to run outside, my heart nearly stopped in my chest — could it be? Our next Lenny Bruce sighting? Who else could make her stop in her tracks in the wee hours of the morning? Having popped into Midge's show last episode, Lenny wasn't missing for very long, but even the slight possibility of his return inspires joy. So of course, dear reader, I nearly died of happiness when "Maisel vs. Lennon: The Cut Contest" opened on Lenny's face, the comedian lying in a bed in what's quickly revealed to be Midge's apartment. Sure, said bed belongs to her son and the night ended on a purely platonic note, with the deliriously drunk Lenny sleeping off his inebriation in toddler bed, but at least it's something. And a massive step forward, at that!

Generally, Lenny floats in and out of Midge's life like a helpful specter — showing up and whisking her off to atmospheric nightclubs or chatty talk shows. He flirts with her for half an episode, then disappears for the rest of the season, totally detached from the rest of her life. But this is Lenny in her apartment! Meeting her parents and her kids! It would've been fun, if not for "Maisel" choosing this moment to remind us that outside the bubblegum world of Midge's happy-go-lucky life, s*** gets dark.

Last season, when Lenny revealed he was living in Miami, Midge joked: "You know it's weird, I never picture you living anywhere. You just ... exist." Turns out, Lenny prefers it that way. When he wakes up in her apartment, he's more than just confused by the charming expense of her Upper West Side lifestyle, he's alarmed by the setting. Two grandparents offering him coffee unnerves him and, even upon realizing that it's all courtesy of his good friend Midge, Lenny wants out. We've always known that Midge and Lenny are very different people: when she bails him out of jail in episode 1, he sees the prim and proper, color-coded woman and looks right past her. But he's also been happy for the brief interludes where he steps onto her plane and the duo make onscreen magic. But not this time.

So... what happens when two worlds collide?

This is something new: Midge and Lenny bicker. When Lenny does as any mature adult would and ... storms out of her apartment, Midge chases after and we learn a bit more about our beloved Lenny Bruce. He's angry, full of contempt (and some self loathing), doesn't want help and by the way, he has a daughter. Most of these facts were clear in his stand-up acts — the latter is just a quick Google search away — but Midge has never confronted them in this capacity, with Lenny angry and pushing her away. It's certainly not an argument they can't come back from, but one that speaks volumes about the rest of their relationship. Their relationship thrives when there's some distance — when, as Lenny says, they only interact as "creatures of the night" and their identities as comics comes first. But beyond that? Maybe they just wouldn't work.

Last season, the two peered into a hotel bedroom and opted to leave their relationship to "someday." Always quick with wit, Lenny asked, "before I'm dead?" It was a ha ha funny joke for them, but a gut-punch to the audience who knows what awaits in 1966. The grim reality of the matter is that famed comedian Lenny Bruce died of a drug overdose in 1966. Kirby's Lenny is the ghost of a real man, wandering a series packed with fictional characters: their futures are wide open, but his has a definitive ending. This has always hung over the series but while we once had the comfort of distance, writers Dan Palladino and Amy-Sherman Palladino have opted to explore the years leading up to his death. Or as Luke Kirby prevoiusly explained:

"We felt duty to sort of start touching on the aspects of Lenny Bruce's life that kind of led up to his dying young. We're sort of bringing Lenny Bruce a little bit down to Earth this season and kind of exploring that a little bit."

The endgame of Lenny Bruce

At the pace this show goes (the first three seasons spanned 1958 through 1960) and with the fifth season confirmed to be the last, barring a massive time-skip, we may not see the final years of Lenny's life. So in a way, he and Midge could act on their boiling sexual tension, but the tragic ending would still await them. Personally, I would love if they went all "Once Upon A Time in Hollywood" with this s*** and just gave him a happy ending but if their plan is to start planting the seeds of '66 now, then that won't be the endgame. Are they still gonna taunt us with the magical chemistry of this relationship? Most definitely — this isn't even the last we'll see of Lenny this year.

The final episode of the series, "How Do You Get To Carnegie Hall" will almost certainly mark his next return — especially given that Kirby has been boosted to series regular and has only appeared in two episodes thus far. More significantly, Lenny Bruce very famously performed at Carnegie Hall (a comedy record you can actually enjoy via YouTube) where he delivered what biographer Albert Goldman called "the greatest performance of his career." Here, he and Midge could reconcile and more clearly spell out the next chapter of their relationship — with the ominous caveat of us knowing what his future holds.

Six episodes season 4 of "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" are now streaming on Amazon Prime Video, with the finale premiering on Friday, March 11, 2022.