[For Mozart in the Jungle “Nothing Resonates Like Rhinoceros Foreskin” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]
Nothing Resonates Like Rhinoceros Foreskin. Rodrigo makes some changes in how he conducts; Gloria extends an unusual invitation to Hailey.
The amazing title of season two’s second episode for Mozart in the Jungle, “Nothing Resonates Like Rhinoceros Foreskin,” says it all literally and figuratively. The phrase comes from a joke the Jason Schwartzman character, Bradford, says in one of the episode’s early scenes. He and his girlfriend, Lizzie (Hailey’s roomie) just returned from a six week trip to collect rare, exotic musical instruments. One such instrument is the tiny drum Bradford holds up to Alex (Hailey’s boyfriend) and says, “Tap it as softly as you can,” then the sound thrums gently and Bradford delivers the hilarious title line that turns out not just a joke but also the resonant theme of the episode. Sometimes when you shift your perspective just a tiny bit, everything changes. We hear this idea again only moments later when Lizzie passes along some wizened, just-acquired-world-traveler advice to the flummoxed Hailey. She tells her to just look at things a little differently for answers to her multitude of looming life questions.
Lizzie clears things right away, like a windshield wiper to Hailey’s foggy lovesick brain. Entering the living room they share Lizzie asks what Hailey sees and she says, “Mike making our guests really uncomfortable,” while their friend, Mike, gets into the lilting acoustic music with a hardcore dance. But Lizzie sees something else in Mike, “an energetic young man who’s full of potential; lives and breathes music everyday,” the precise qualities needed for Hailey’s replacement to assist Rodrigo. Thus with a simple flip of the switch Lizzie turns the light on for Hailey and solves one of her major challenges.
Meanwhile at rehearsal newfound “Stern Papa” Rodrigo has finally arrived and it’s no more happy fun ball for the symphony. He lectures them about their bad behavior, takes away their softball team, and threatens culprits with removal from the orchestra if a cellphone ever goes off again during a performance. Then without hesitation he pounces into passionate conducting and seizes the opportunity of their fired up angry blood with a flowering of powerful music. This shows a serious shift in perspective for Rodrigo which deeply affects the orchestra. They’re already playing better and are more cohesive only seconds after his speech.
Thomas Pembridge also has boiling blood from the feedback of his dear friend and brilliant pianist, Winslow, perfectly portrayed by master thespian, Wallace Shawn. After he shares the symphony he’s been composing, Pembridge finds a rude awakening in store – the truth. Turns out Winslow thinks it stinks. In fact, he says even great conductors can’t really become decent composers because they’ve spent their lives studying all the best music and thus can only ever create derivative work. It’s hopeless, Pembridge! So, he responds in his classic fashion and tells Winslow to put on some rubber gloves and go fuck himself, though it pains him to say so… but not really. Pembridge boots him right out of the apartment, deaf to Winslow’s cries of, “I’m sensitive there! Oh you’re tickling me! Ouch that smarts!” etc. With Wallace Shawn and Malcolm Macdowell at the helm, the scene can’t help but be hilarious.
Then Gloria shows Hailey some new art that the orchestra wants to use for their new ad campaign and it’s a giant picture of Hailey’s gorgeous face. She says, “But I’m just a substitute…” and they insist that she’s part of the team who will just happen to bring a more youthful vitality to the symphony’s image. This will help them change the way hipsters see the orchestra and hopefully get fresh young patrons and ticket buyers. So, everybody is trying to shift everybody else’s point of view in this episode. It’s epidemic. Luckily Hailey’s totally fine with them using her image and even agrees to attend a donors banquet that Gloria’s hosting to bring in younger patronage. In fact, she cancels her plans to please Gloria.
Afterward Hailey visits Rodrigo’s apartment to find him gazing sadly at his divorce papers. Did you forget he was married to that wild violinist? Yes… but not for long. He’s hesitant to sign and grateful for the distraction when Hailey shows up… but not for long. She’s got news. They stand on the spectacular terrace where Rodrigo lives rent-free thanks to a rich orchestral patron and it’s a challenge not to die from amazement that anyone could possibly have this view of Manhattan RENT-FREE but such is the luck of the extraordinary Rodrigo. Hailey then introduces Mike as Rodrigo’s new assistant. At first he wants nothing to do with Mike but after challenging him to a series of Herculean tasks and questions all of which Mike easily conquers, Rodrigo has to admit that Mike is indeed the perfect replacement for Hailey. She’s thus now free to practice her oboe till the cows come home – an oboists heaven – and all it took was a change in Rodrigo’s point of view.
Next the symphony musician representatives meet at a pizza place to discuss their contract negotiations. Cynthia announces that the management board (led by Gloria) rejected their terms and many of them react with insecurity and say they’re asking the board for too much and should “just take what we can get,” as Nina, their new lawyer joins them. She’s here to play hardball and calls them wimps. Nina insists that their best next move is to get some dirt on the board members and leak it to the press. Cynthia then pulls Nina aside to remind her that she works for them and needs to represent the orchestra’s interests. Nina agrees but also diverts Cynthia saying she can’t concentrate around her because she’s so sexy. Cynthia blushes and then Nina says, “Jesus, could you get more hot?” and we can confidently state that no, it doesn’t get much hotter than Saffron Burrows. So, Nina shifted Cynthia’s attention in this scene away from the topic at hand (doing her job) and turned it into a flirtation. It will be a long time before Cynthia gets her mind back on the symphony’s interests rather than her own sexual desires. So, though Nina may be a shark and possibly even a good lawyer, she’s not what this orchestra needs right now.
In the following scene Gloria hosts the benefit for young donors in her enormous apartment. She proposes an idea for a new hall with perfect acoustics and a message to the classical music world that the New York Symphony respresents the future. Gloria then rolls out a cake in the shape of this new modern hall and Rodrigo tells the group of young rich peeps (in Spanish) that he hopes to one day call it home. Hailey then meets one of the generous young donors, a stock market guy named Eric and sparks fly between them. Rodrigo sees this flirtation and gets a serious case of envious crankass. He’s suddenly “Stern Papa” again and tells Hailey, “this isn’t Acapulco,” before leaving abruptly. But then his whole perspective shifts too when he soon finds a group of musicians playing and dancing in a park. They throw Rodrigo a tambourine and he’s completely at home, grooving and jangling with his joyful mojo back one hundred percent thanks to the music. He takes home a gorgeous little vixen from the group and the episode closes on her screams of delight in his bed before the camera pans out to the sultry city lights below. It’s our last little shift of perspective in an episode packed with plenty of refreshing new ways to see Mozart in the Jungle characters at work and play.