After the previous episode’s journey to Rikers, “Circles Within Circles” returns to our regularly scheduled programming, and initially scatters Mozart’s cast of characters around the city as they each deal with their own issues. It all culminates in a performance for donors that Rodrigo, characteristically, disrupts, driving Gloria up the wall. The half hour is peppered with fun bits, but mostly features gears turning as the season builds to a more grand finale.
We first check in on Gloria and Thomas, who take a particularly snazzy-looking car to go visit Gloria’s parents. For all of Gloria’s glamour, she comes from humble origins, though the trip touches a nerve. Her folks and Thomas gang up on her, teasing her about her age and her chubby childhood. What we learn is that the Gloria we see is her own invention, someone who doesn’t like being belittled, even if it means everyone is getting along. Though it angers her, it’s hard to see any real threat to her relationships with Thomas: They are clearly meant to be. Romance is also a factor in Cynthia’s thread, though it’s a secondary one. A doctor tells her she needs surgery on her hand, and Saffron Burrows plays this revelation with quiet devastation. There’s one bright side. At the clinic, she meets an ailing, yet handsome, New York Knicks player, Kevin. A bourbon date appears on the horizon.
And then there’s Hailey, still figuring out what her livelihood will be, and trying to prep a piece to conduct and Lizzie’s club opening. It turns out she has something of a reputation, a realization she happens upon when she finds Ester, a hotshot violinist, after a fire alarm goes off at her apartment. Ester knows Hailey from that time our heroine threw up “on” Andrew Walsh. Not exactly how you want to be regarded by your peers, but Andrew is enough of a dick that they have a mutual enemy, and Ester agrees to play for her. But what to play? Thomas tells her she needs to find a piece that she can “really feel.” That piece turns out to be Thomas’. Despite his hesitation to let her have it, he relents.
But largely, the episode is spent with Rodrigo, who is floundering. Here’s where we finally get to see the effect Maestro Rivera’s death has had on him. He’s currently living with Thomas, unable to sleep and trying to find meaning in bubbles while being visited by Bach. Eventually he discovers a renewed purpose: He’s going to invest in the future. Still, it takes an onstage nap, a chat with a friendly security guard, and a relic from his past to get him there. The conversation is what first ignites a spark of an idea in Rodrigo. The guard doesn’t particularly like classical music, but Rodrigo offers him passes for the next season at which point he mentions a grandson who used to play the violin. “You know when a child is playing or running inside their minds they are listening to music,” Rodrigo says, brain whirring. His first instinct is to rush to Hailey and ask her to have a kid with him. It’s entirely unclear whether he means this metaphorically or literally, but who knows. She ignores this odd request and goes back to her lesson with Thomas, who proceeds to kick him out. So he heads to Cynthia’s where he’s visited by his old friend Manu, who brings him a piece of his past: A box containing a toy Maestro Rivera once took away from him. That in itself is silly, but Rodrigo finds himself overcome with grief and anger at himself. Then he finds something remarkable. The Maestro’s baton is hidden beneath the more frivolous items. And that’s when it comes together.
At the fancy event, he takes the mic from Gloria, and announces that they are all pregnant. This time it’s clear he’s speaking figuratively. According to Rodrigo, they are starting a music program for children with the New York Symphony Youth Orchestra. The sentiment here is lovely, but, obviously this is completely unrealistic with the operation already struggling. But the idea itself is a hit, much to Gloria’s chagrin, as she promptly begins throwing shit at him. Just how the orchestra—and the show—is going to pull this off is unclear, but it’s a logical place to take Rodrigo, who has always been filled with a childlike energy. Though the plot perhaps ties up Rodrigo’s sadness over Maestro Rivera’s death a little too neatly and quickly, he figures he’ll give others what the maestro taught him: Music. Now someone just needs to pony up the funds.
- I wondered if the portrayal of Gloria in this episode was just a tad sexist. I don’t really need a badass woman being insecure because she used to be heavyset.
- The circumstances surrounding how Manu finds Rodrigo—himself sort of a nomad—are baffling.
- I wish they had perhaps given a little more time to Cynthia in this episode. Burrows has been giving a performance laden with quiet remorse all season, and it’s been understatedly good.
- Where exactly is Hailey living? I do appreciate a good fire alarm jam session.
- Still not enough Cole Escola.