[For Mozart in the Jungle “Leave Everything Behind” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]
Leave Everything Behind. With each double cross between the board and orchestra, Rodrigo prepares to do whatever it takes.
Episode eight bursts with beginnings and endings just like the cycle of life. Thus, the title, “Leave Everything Behind,” isn’t just something a character says but also the resonant theme of this particular show. Rodrigo plays a crucial role in this theme too but in an oppositional way because he keeps reminding us throughout the episode that this “everything” we’re all so attached to is nothing really; a mere whiff, a delusion in our mind. So, why is leaving “everything” all behind so hard for us? Rodrigo would say because we are human and what’s in our mind is all that matters to us anyway. And he would be right.
The show opens as Thomas Pembridge brings his wife, Claire, flowers along with the signed divorce papers she so wanted from him. At last, he says, that is all now over behind us so we can begin again as friends. Now sit down and listen to the glorious symphony I just finished composing. So, Claire sits and patiently puts on the headphones to listen to the symphony Pembridge has spent the past three decades composing. After a few seconds Claire grimaces, winces, and then slumps down in her chair. Pembridge begs of her, “Was that an exhausted slump or a your-career-is-over slump?” but it turns out it’s a Claire-is-dead slump. She’s gone and his music was probably what killed her.
In the next scene at Claire’s funeral the orchestral management board and musicians are forced to see each other again after their disastrous contract meeting. Even Nina attends and whispers in the pews along with the players about their next move. They decide Hailey should go out with Eric Winklestein, the hot venture capitalist on the board that she flirted with at the benefit. Maybe Hailey can find out which way the board’s votes are leaning on their contract. Meanwhile, focused on the actual funeral, Pembridge addresses the crowd and puts the one copy of his symphony in the casket with Claire. He declares that now it belongs only to her and that she’s buried with the murder weapon.
Then we see Rodrigo on his way to visit Ana Maria, yet another wife who wants divorce papers signed. He tells Mike maybe by doing this he can lift the curse, a necessity now because he’s literally bleeding out of his ear. Mike asks Rodrigo if he thinks it’s possible the curse is just psychosomatic and Rodrigo says, ‘Of course it is! Everything is. The music. You. me. The way we experience things, it’s all psychosomatic,” which is exactly why we love Rodrigo so much. He’s a living breathing embodiment of all that’s true, insightful, and artistic. When he knocks on the door of the convent where Ana Maria now lives we realize why she’s seeking the divorce. Rodrigo then hears her playing her violin in the back garden and goes to her. Ana Maria explains that she’s going to “Leave Everything Behind” and take her vows. He says she’s over reacting to a fight they had and they can always work things out. She replies, “Why is it always about you?” and he says, “It just is,” and then tells her how he was cursed for turning down Maestro Rivera but that now he needs to find his place. Ana Maria says she too must find her place and it’s here at the convent and with God so he must release her and sign the papers. She insists. So, Rodrigo signs them all the while muttering that it’s just a paper. They share a passionate kiss, perturbing a nun who happens to be walking by in the garden, then Rodrigo leaves everything behind and goes back to the car and Mike. He tells Mike the curse can leave him now and they’re both relieved but then a bird suddenly falls down dead right next to them and they both know it’s not true. The curse remains.
Back at the funeral the musicians discover the smear article the board sent to the papers showing Kristoff in front of a Porsche. Such decadence! Gloria knows right away that it was the PR guy doing Biben’s dirty work and confronts him. He basically says he’s going with the winners on this one and Biben’s in the winners circle if you measure winning by dolla dolla bills, y’all. Then Biben approaches Pembridge and for the zillionth time asks him to take over the role of symphony conductor. Pembridge rightfully asks why Biben is so obsessed with him coming back and Biben admits that Pembridge reminds him of his father and Rodrigo his despised stepbrother, a cocky little prick. That’s the thing about business decisions… they’re so often actually brilliantly disguised personal decisions. After this Pembridge tells Rodrigo he really needs to know his thoughts on the symphony, which is now dead and buried, “I need your eulogy,” he says with his requisite hyperbole. Rodrigo tells him it’s one of those things where you have to allow yourself to write the bad thing so that the good stuff can come out later. It’s a very accurate representation of the creative process, this observation, and there’s plenty of time to get better. That’s the problem, Pembridge replies, Claire too thought there was enough time. Touché, Maestro. Touché.
Meanwhile Hailey goes out on a date with Erik Winklestein, hot venture capitalist, in an attempt to acquire secret information (which Lizzie accurately describes as some seriously Spy Kids shit). But Hailey forgets all about being a spy because she has so much fun with Erik. They’re flirty and fantastic together with Erik even saying that since that night at the benefit he can’t get learning Spanish out of his mind because he wants to be able to charm a room like Rodrigo did. Afterward he invites her to go skiing in Montana in a couple weeks and Hailey wants to go but can’t because she’s got to be available as a sub for the symphony. Then Erik says he doesn’t want to screw up the date and “talk shop” but she might find that she’s got some free time coming up after all. Then Hailey says let’s not talk at all and kisses him and they’re off to the smoochtown races. Thus we now know that the board is going to vote against the musicians and they’ll likely be on strike, out of work, and there won’t be any music. An imminent ending lies before us as the episode closes. Yet there’s also a new beginning as Hailey and Erik walk arms around each other through the chilly rain, the kindling embers of romantic hope keeping them warm.