Already, these flashforwards have shifted the feel of the show. Before, the show’s defining question was whether or not Midge could make it big. Now we know for sure the answer’s yes, so the new big question is: at what cost? It’s following up on a theme first properly introduced in the season 2 episode, “Look, She Made a Hat,” in which Midge finds herself talking to a talented painter whose personal life has completely fallen apart. “If you want to do something great, you want to take something as far as it’ll go, you can’t have everything,” he tells her. “You lose family. Sense of home.”
Sure enough, that’s exactly what’s happened in season 5’s flash-forwards. Midge’s relationship with Susie has apparently fallen apart, she’s had three more failed marriages, and most importantly, her kids don’t like her. She’s gotten the fame we’ve always wanted her to have, but was it worth it?
By showing us the future, every new moment between Midge and her kids has a double meaning that wasn’t there before. When she drags her child across the floor like he’s an inanimate object, it’s no longer just a funny gag; it’s a sad reminder of what’s in store for these kids once they’re old enough to be resentful. Treating your kids like afterthoughts has consequences, and now we’ve seen exactly what those consequences are.
With this single narrative choice, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” has made it clear that this isn’t going to be the straightforward, triumphant finale we always expected. Season 5 so far has a strong, unexpectedly tragic undercurrent to it, and maybe that’s what makes for the grand send-off the “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” deserves.