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The confessions and humor are forced on an uneven Mozart In The Jungle

Screenshot: Amazon Prime Video
Screenshot: Amazon Prime Video
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The morning after Rodrigo and Alessandra finally give into their desires is surprisingly rambunctious. Not realizing he’s talking to an empty room, Rodrigo tells La Fiamma he’s been lying in bed, dreaming of what they just did in bed. The cornball factor is high, but this is also totally in character, as is his description of their “fornication” as “eccentric, athletic, artistic” (though his delivery there reminds me of Jackie Chiles). It’s the last moment of peace he’ll have for a while, though, so he might as well enjoy it.

“Avventura Romantica” is mostly a farcical romp that sends Rodrigo running from the bedroom to the theater, then back out on the canals in search of Alessandra. In the process, he’s joined by half the Symphony. Well, really just its former conductor, Thomas, and its maybe-former president, Gloria. Mozart has to pull some strings to get them to Venice—while Rodrigo’s been prepping La Fiamma, Thomas has been in the studio with Erase Face (Malcolm McDowell’s “Thank God for that” upon learning he can call the DJ “Danny” was a throwaway moment in episode two, but it still makes me laugh). And somehow, Thomas is already out on tour. Writer Susan Coyne doesn’t just drop this thread, as the episode ends with Thomas back on stage (then on his back).


It does feel contrived, though, especially when a worried Rodrigo rushes out of the hall to find Alessandra only to be met by Gloria and Thomas right outside the hall. The new couple had been keeping tabs on Rodrigo, and were aware of his European adventure. And now that its approaching the midseason mark, Mozart has to start figuring out whether this will be a permanent vacation for Rodrigo, or if his new romance will unravel and send him packing. Still, the whole thing was probably just a setup for having Bernadette Peters ditch her platform heels to run barefoot along a canal before jumping into a gondola.

That moment is every bit as ludicrous as it sounds, as is Rodrigo thrusting Hailey up on the podium to conduct in his absence. She can’t make sense of his instructions (sorry, Rodrigo, “be a French person trying to be Spanish” is meaningless phrase), and she’s also had so little instruction in this area up to this point that she can’t help but fail. But Hailey’s public shaming is the most realistic thing in “Avventura Romantica,” as the Italian pit orchestra eats her alive. Even coaching Lola Kirke properly to mimic conducting probably wouldn’t have helped. Thomas isn’t very sympathetic (he too shows impeccable timing by wandering into the rehearsal to witness Hailey’s flailing), but he does take over when she runs off.

Again, it’s all very convenient, just like Rodrigo finding Alessandra in the first place he looks—her family’s estate. That the tension is resolved almost as quickly as it arises isn’t really the episode’s flaw; it’s that the humor in the subsequent scenes feels forced. Beppi and Rodrigo quibbling over modern usage of “fornicate” in front of the pit orchestra? Kind of funny. Rodrigo dropping to his knees and screaming “why?” in response to their confrontation is less so. Mozart’s episodes often feel self-contained, even as they fit into the bigger, serialized picture, but “Avventura Romantica” is single-minded in its focus. It’s all about putting the screws to Rodrigo so that he bursts out with an insincere proclamation of love for Alessandra. Unfortunately, she’s just desperate enough to believe him, so he can’t just wave it off.

Rodrigo can’t and won’t stay in Italy; he’s needed back in Manhattan to end the lockout and to keep up the season’s momentum. He’s not going to bring La Fiamma back with him, so their romance is obviously doomed. Ordinarily, that prospect wouldn’t seem so glum, especially not on this particular show. No one, not even the orchestra or Hailey, really feels like they can count on the guy. (But that’s what we love about him, right? His flightiness?) But Alessandra’s been positioned as a semi-tragic figure, so Rodrigo’s mercurial nature won’t play as well here. Mozart’s headed further into drama territory for this arc, where it’s painted itself into a bit of a corner.


Stray observations

  • Poor Warren—being called a loser by your own kid has got to suck.
  • I always assumed Beppi was Alessandra’s husband, even when he was begging Rodrigo not to fornicato with her.
  • La Fiamma’s influence must have been considerable if she could secure an annulment in Italy with such ease.
  • It was probably just a tossed-off line, but I thought the “Miss America” insult directed at Hailey was a nod to Lola Kirke’s role in Mistress America.
  • Mansfield Park director Patricia Rozema helmed these last two episodes, which is a great fit.
  • “I’m at a silent bar. It’s a new thing.” Um, I wish, Christophe.
  • I’m sorry, I know it’s not 10 a.m. yesterday.

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