The first episode of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel introduces the characters, the sense of humor, and 1950’s New York. It sets the stage for the marriage subplot and shifts Miriam from blind belief (self-deception) to truth however horrible that truth may be. And, it lets the audience know what they’re in for should they choose to continue through the next 7 episodes.
The episode is told in one act, meaning, only one major decision is made. That is to say, there is only one turning point that is irreversible: when Joel leaves Miriam. The two can no longer go back to life as it was before he left.
Once more, here is your warning. Spoilers Ahead.
The 5 Commandments of the Episode
Inciting Incident. Miriam gives a speech at her own wedding. She introduces the characters and the subplot of the rabbi begins with Miriam upsetting him.
Complication. Joel pursues comedy with Miriam’s help. He thinks it’s a serious dream. She is living in a fantasy world where she hides her true self from everyone. Once that facade is broken, only she can go on pretending.
Crisis. Can Joel stay in the relationship? He hates his job and feels like a failure at his dream, the one thing that’s been keeping him going. Staying would be responsible. Leaving is freeing.
Climax. Joel tells Miriam about the affair and leaves her using her own suitcase.
Resolution. Drunk Miriam performs an original comedy routine at the Gaslight. She is very good, but gets arrested.
Promises this Episode Makes
The first episode promises the audience that there will be more performances by Miriam. It sets the stage for her comedy routines. We know we will likely see a scene where Miriam confronts Joel and they either reunite or breakup for good (which we see twice during the season). And, we’re excited for Miriam’s journey of self-discovery, which we can empathize with.