WARNING: The following post contains spoilers from season 3, episode 1 of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.
Season 2 of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel ended with a steamy cliffhanger when housewife-turned-comedian Miriam “Midge” Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan) hooked up with estranged husband Joel (Michael Zegen) — despite her engagement to a tall, dark and handsome doctor Benjamin (Zachary Levi).
Amazon Prime dropped season 3 on Friday — and it picks up moments after the Maisels’ deed was done. (Again, if you haven’t seen episode 1, stop reading now.)
In the opening shot, Midge stares at the ceiling, a sleeping (and naked!) Joel snoozing gently beside her. She sneaks out of bed but turns back to give him a tender kiss on the cheek.
Then, things fast forward. Midge is performing for the troops at a USO show before she heads out on tour with crooner Shy Baldwin. Between ping-ponging quips with manager Susie (Alex Borstein) and dazzling the military crowd, she squeezes in a tense phone call with Joel.
“I’m sorry I snuck out the other night,” she confesses after a rather routine discussion of their children.
“No explanation needed,” Joel replies. “Really, it’s no big deal at all.”
But, begrudgingly, it is to Midge.
“I just noticed you didn’t call,” she points out, feigning nonchalance.
When he points out that he already knew the details of their custody pick-ups and asks why he would need to phone her, she loses it. An amusing argument involving an overly extended metaphor about a dishwasher follows. We learn that Midge was the one who wanted a one-night stand, nothing more.
“You made it very clear,” Joel reminds her. “One night only.” He asks if she’s changed her mind.
There’s a pause, and Midge dodges the root of his question.
“I’m not mad, she whispers.”
For the rest of the episode, Joel is focused on his dream of opening a club. He discovered a dirt-cheap property in China town — with some shocking strings attached. Later, there’s a tease of a new love interest, but even in divorce court, the chemistry between Midge and Joel crackles.
PEOPLE caught up with the actors ahead of the premiere, and both played coy about Midge and Joel’s future.
“Love is complicated,” said Brosnahan, 29. “When you really love someone, it doesn’t ever go away completely. And I think Midge and Joel will always be there for each other, and will always love each other very much. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re going to be together. All I can really say about season three is that it’s just as complicated as the other two, between those two.”
Zegen, 40, teased a specific point of tension between the parents of two.
“Midge is on tour, and that means that Joel is going to have to take care of the kids,” he explained. “He’s not necessarily a stay at home dad or anything because he has a job and he works at his father’s factory and he is trying to open up this club. So Joel’s schedule is pretty hectic, and it definitely creates sort of a rift between he and Midge.”
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Zegen added that he’s not sure if they are even meant to be, pointing out that Midge fulfilling Joel’s show business dreams could be “emasculating.”
“They got married too young, and they hadn’t really figured out what they wanted to do with their lives yet, but that’s just, that was what it was at the time. You know, people got married at a young age, they had families and they were stuck in dead-end jobs. So they died. You know, that’s, that’s kind of what it was,” he said. “And then he leaves her and it creates this Big Bang kind of thing where now she has this career path that was actually his path, or he thought it could be. And so it’s very hard. They love each other, but it’s really hard to be with somebody who is succeeding at your dream.”
As for Benjamin? He doesn’t appear in the first few episodes, only mentioned in passing by Midge’s exasperated parents Abe (Tony Shaloub) and Rose (Marin Hinkle).
Zegen admits that not every viewer he encounters is taken by Joel’s charm, saying many supported Benjamin over his own character in the battle for Midge’s heart.
“There’s still those key Benjamin fans out there. They know who they are. It’s funny, because every time the Maisel social media team posts something, I read some of the comments. It’s hard to stay away, and it’s really 50/50. Some are like, ‘Yay, Joel,’ and others are like, ‘No, he’s trash,’” he says, laughing. “I try to stay away from reading that stuff, but it’s so difficult. I want to know, I want to know what people think.”
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is streaming now on Amazon Prime.