Well, that little trip to Venice was nice, but now Mozart In The Jungle is back in Manhattan and has to do the work of getting on with the series. That means solving the labor dispute that has broken up the orchestra. And—turns out—it’s not that hard. All you need to do is have Betty and Gloria get drunk in a room together while both management and creative is locked in a church. Naturally, this zany plan is the idea of Rodrigo.
“Symphony Of Red Tape” contains some of the inspired lunacy the series does so well, especially when led by a buoyant Gael García Bernal. There’s a little bit of whiplash here, though. The rhythm established in the first five episodes is gone, as is Monica Bellucci’s captivating Alessandra. Rodrigo has funneled his despondency over the death of Maestro Rivera into reuniting the warring factions, but it mostly seems like the writers just decided to jump over the mourning stage. Not that I mind exactly. Mozart is most fun when it’s engaging with the community of weirdos it has built and ”Symphony” does that splendidly.
Both sides of the fight are gathering for the christening of Virgil and Christophe’s baby, when Rodrigo executes his plan with the help of Pavel and Thomas. For some reason, Rodrigo gets a chance to speak at the service. So that means the maestro goes all metaphorically King Solomon on the child, whose parents are on either side of the fight. After he announces his true intention, the family and friends unrelated to the conflict are ushered out and the games begin. Rodrigo, of course, doesn’t stay. But everyone else, out of necessity, acquiesces. Most, however, are not actually involved in the negotiation. Left to their own devices they engage in various antics. Pavel puts on polka and starts to dance. Dee Dee leads a meditation circle. Hailey, attempting to work, pokes around and finds Thomas sequestered in a room at a piano. She thanks him for taking over for her in Venice when she was flailing as a conductor, and they start an impromptu lesson. Hailey tries to qualify her opinions, saying she’s “sorry.” Part of me bristled during that scene. Thomas tells Hailey not to giggle is, which, in some ways, code for: Don’t be so female. After all, conducting is still a male-dominated profession. On the other hand, yes, Hailey shouldn’t apologize for having thoughts about the music. She should take charge and be confident in her talent, and when they start shouting at one another it’s liberating.
Rodrigo doesn’t subject himself to the lock-in. So, on his own adventure, he goes to visit the bubble lady to try to regain a hold of their performance space. What transpires between them is one of those always delightful, typically obscure, slightly sexual Rodrigo interactions. The two of them speak in bubble metaphors—with actual bubbles used to illustrate their points of view—and eventually come to some sort of agreement that the place can be shared.
As for the actual business at hand, well, Cyn—too personally involved—delegates that to Betty, who decides to go find booze with Gloria before the actually talk through anything. They down scotch as they hash out a plan, and it’s clear no one is the villain, but to the players, like Betty, the orchestra is life. For Gloria, it’s still a job, and Betty makes the ultimate sacrifice for her fellow musicians: She decides to retire. When they are finally done, Cyn is ringing the church’s bells to blow off steam and celebrate. That’s when Rodrigo busts in, energetically. It’s not perfect, but a deal is done, and the music can happen again.
So where do we go now? With Alessandra’s storyline in all likelihood done and the contract settled, Mozart is rebooting midway through the season. This episode was a fun way to resolve all the issues, but it also leaves the series in a precarious place for the rest of the season. There are only four more episodes left and it’s essentially starting from scratch.
- Not much time was spent on the question of Hailey’s living situation, but, hey, that’s Difficult People’s Cole Escola as her new roommate. More of him, please.
- I’m not sure I’m quite invested in Lizzie’s Czech bar project. It’s certainly a cool concept, but it also seems like the kind of place that pops up all the time in Brooklyn and goes quickly out of business. Meanwhile, I find her insistence on dressing exactly like her musical crush insufferable. Anyone else?
- Why are there no clergymen around while the orchestra is rampaging through this church?
- Also: Why is Thomas locked in? He certainly doesn’t need to be there. Is it to support Gloria?
- I assume this means the end of Deborah Monk’s time on the show. Betty wasn’t one of the better characters, but she’s always a welcome addition.