[For Mozart in the Jungle “Home” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]
Home.In the episode “Home” as the tables turn with each double cross, no one is safe. Rodrigo prepares to do whatever it takes. The future is uncertain.
The Mozart in the Jungle season two finale isn’t just entitled “Home,” it feels like home. All the elements of the season come together for us in a spectacle that comforts us but at the same time seems different, more evolved. That’s because we’ve come to know and love these characters and their quirky stories but they’ve also changed and developed into even more interesting people than they were at the start. The world of Mozart in the Jungle while incredibly specific to the New York City world of classical musicians also feels universal. It’s every workplace, family, and lover. It’s somehow an entirely foreign and niche entity while at the same time completely familiar and just like our world. By the last episode it’s so familiar, in fact, that it feels like home to us just as it does to Rodrigo and his symphony.
The episode opens with a shrieking Gloria as she reads the article in the New York Times exposing the “dirt” Nina fed to them. The piece says that Gloria spent a large sum of cash redecorating her private office but neglects to mention that she spent her own money doing it. Gloria calls Cynthia, furious, and pulls out of the deal they made thus validating Cynthia’s gripe to Nina that creating further animosity would only hurt the orchestra in these contract negotiations.
Meanwhile Rodrigo climbs a rock wall to do his own brand of negotiating with Biben, who plays hardball, even hanging off the side of a plastic cliff. Rodrigo, willing to do anything to get the orchestra the five year contract they want, agrees to resign from the orchestra as long as Biben ensures his symphony will get their deal. They make the deal and both sign off on contracts with lawyers beside them – so it’s official. Only if Biben comes through and gets the orchestra the deal will Rodrigo truly be parted from his symphony. But Biben guarantees he will come through on this. While good, this is also tragic news, of course. But then there’s more good news too because after the handshake on the rock wall, Rodrigo falls and hits his head, knocking the cursed Amusia right out of it. He decides that the curse must have been Biben all along. But no matter because his gorgeous musical tone is back and that means everything.
The next scene shows Hailey discussing her career and what move she should make. On the one hand she has blackmail threats from Betty and on the other she has an offer from Andrew Walsh to join him on tour which would make her a rare jewel among oboists because most work in symphonies. Lizzie encourages her to go the soloist route. She’s special enough to be a soloist and just needs to believe in herself. Hailey agrees and we see that she’s changed this season. Strengthened by her struggle, she’s grown into a full blown woman. This was a wish she had in earlier episodes when admiring Lizzie. Hailey remarked that Lizzie was a real woman now and wanted to join her. At last, it seems, she has joined the ranks.
Gloria calls an emergency board meeting to discuss the orchestra’s contract negotiation and Biben immediately tries to take over. He announces Rodrigo’s resignation and declares that he has Pembridge ready to be maestro again. So, Biben says they should accept the orchestra’s counterproposal and search for a new Chairman of the Board to replace Gloria given the smear campaign against her (and thus the board) in the press. Then he says, “and perhaps we won’t even have to look very far…” implying that perhaps it shall be himself. Gloria responds that she’s certain he strong-armed Rodrigo into resigning. She’s been listening to Biben these past few months saying the board needs to look out for the orchestra’s financial future and she’s come to agree with that. Gloria explains that she doesn’t think they should concede to the demands of the orchestra right now because it could be detrimental to their financial prospects. Also, she says she’ll remain Chairman of the Board for the next three years until they get over this challenging time but that then she’d be happy to have another chair take over then. “Perhaps it could even be someone at this table,” she says, “but, Biben, it will be you over my dead body,” so then it’s time to vote. The board members all vote and because Erik votes against Biben and with Gloria, the orchestra deal doesn’t go through. Not only is Erik the deciding vote, it’s also implied that he may be that fresh new Chairman of the Board in three years time.
Next we see the orchestra dressed to perform and locked out of the concert hall. They’re told it’s a lockout and they can’t go to work without a viable contract. The deal fell through. Cynthia explains that she fired Nina and how she couldn’t be trusted. Then she gives a rousing speech about how they’re warriors and leads them away from the symphony hall in a unified march. As they proceed the musicians pass a limo parked outside the hall. In the limo sits Pembridge having an imaginary conversation with the orchestra about he can’t wait to be their maestro again. Then he sees them walking out and tells the limo driver to follow. Meanwhile Rodrigo mopes on a park bench pouting when he gets a call from Mike to notify him the deal didn’t go through which means Biben didn’t keep his end of the bargain and Rodrigo can conduct again. Rodrigo’s so happy he jumps up and onto his bike to join them. Lizzie and Bradford hear about the walkout too and come film it for the classical music podcast. It’s officially a moment in history.
The orchestra sets up to do their concert in Washington Square Park right below the famous arch. Betty and Hailey sit down side by side and make peace now that it doesn’t really matter much anymore what their positions are, being on strike and all. Rodrigo joins the orchestra at the helm, joyful and ready to lead them. He says, “I find myself at home with you. This is our home,” then conducts them in their most glorious playing of the season – maybe ever. The music is revitalizing – new, delicate, and fresh. Off to the side Pembridge watches and listens saying, “He’s done it! He’s bloody well done it!” meaning the orchestra has reached a new peak of musical perfection with Rodrigo at their helm. Then he and Gloria smooch and realize they love each other.
In the final scene Rodrigo goes to Hailey’s apartment to see what she’s doing now that the orchestra is on strike. She tells him she’s joining Andrew Walsh on tour. Rodrigo says she’s different now, “There’s more thorns on your rose but still it’s so beautiful,” then she says he’s different now too and they kiss. Rodrigo starts to tell her not to go with Walsh but Hailey tells him she’s not going to Europe with Walsh just yet and a car drives up. It’s Erik, of course. He’s there to take her on the ski trip to Montana he invited her to on their first date. Erik greets Rodrigo warmly and apologizes for the walkout situation but then lies and says he voted FOR the orchestra’s demands. He and Hailey drive off together to Montana leaving a stunned Rodrigo on the sidewalk. But our hero isn’t sad for more than a second. Some music starts up in his delightful brain, lilting and fluttery like the butterflies of love. Rodrigo smiles and mounts his bike then rides off with a smile on his face as a lovely song is composed for us straight out of his brilliant and beautiful head.
There were many remarkable moments this season for Mozart in the Jungle and it was exciting fun to watch with all the grand characters and so much at stake in their lives. Truly the whole season felt like home, not just this last one, and we can’t wait to find out if the show will be renewed for a season three. It seems inevitable given that Gael Garcia Bernal won the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Comedy Series and the show won Best Comedy Series. Also, it seems like they left us so many narrative teases; not cliffhangers exactly but just stories we’re dying to see unfold further. For instance, Erik totally lied about his vote and he’s getting down with Hailey! What’s Rodrigo going to do while the orchestra is on strike – compose? How can they get the symphony back in gear now that they finally sound amazing? We eagerly anticipate these answers and more in the next season. But we’re also grateful for all laughter and poignance in this fantastic sophomore season. You made us grizzled TV watching veterans feel things, Mozart in the Jungle, and that’s a worthy feat for which we thank you.