[For Mozart in the Jungle “Amusia” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]
Amusia. Pembridge battles his oldest demons, Rodrigo tries to keep the world in tune, Nina and Cynthia disagree, changes will be made.
While the title, “Amusia” refers to Rodrigo’s medical condition diagnosed in this episode, the theme of the show is actually about the much more powerful and prevalent condition – love. In fact, it’s about the many expressions and types of love. At the beginning of the episode Rodrigo visits a classroom of small children and the teacher asks him how he feels about music. He explains that music is the way he connects with the world and the way he expresses his feelings. It touches every aspect of his life and means everything to him. For Rodrigo music is love and love is music. This is the heart of his musical genius. So, when he’s suddenly struck tone deaf right after saying all this to the children we witness the first type of love explored in the episode, a passionate life mission. In this episode we see this slipping away from our beloved Rodrigo.
After this we join the orchestra with guest conductor Lennox, who turns out to be quite the douche. He introduces himself to the musicians explaining that he was literally planning how to conquer Beethoven’s fifth symphony while he suckled at him mother’s teat. So, the only right way for them to play it is his way. Lennox represents self love – Narcissus gazing lovingly at his own image. But the symphony doesn’t see what Lennox sees. They see a douche and they don’t play Beethoven his way. It’s not that they don’t want to please him but just that his way’s all about anger and fury – not their usual mode. In fact, Betty the scorpion first chair oboist is first on his chopping block when Lennox finds her playing a bore and then pulls Hailey out from the back. He asks for the “young one, the pretty one” just to dig the blade into Betty a bit deeper. This is what narcissism does to others – it’s a knife that can only cut people apart so there’s no way to connect.
Meanwhile Pembridge deals with the grief over the loss of his wife and symphony drinking whiskey from the bottle. He digs an old kit entitled Pembridge’s Marvelous Musical Machine out of a closet and puts it on. It turns him into a sort of symphonic clown amalgam of various pseudo instruments including a washboard breastplate, a fireplace blower he pumps like an accordion, and an army helmet. Then, of course, fully decked-out and drunken Pembridge takes to the SoHo sidewalk outside his apartment to draw a curious crowd. Lucky for him Hailey just happens to walk by and save him from further humiliation, something he can’t yet fathom in his intoxicated state. She takes him inside and calls Cynthia who comes right over. In season one we saw the Cynthia and Pembridge entanglement so we know they have a loving history and that’s how this storyline fits perfectly into the love theme. Cynthia sweeps in to help Pembridge with such insider knowledge and instant intimacy that Hailey immediately recognizes they used to be lovers. This helps Hailey see that Cynthia has been trying to protect her with a fairy godmother type of love – to shield her from the musician-in-love-with-their-conductor firestorm she herself went through not long ago.
After Hailey leaves and Pembridge sobers up a bit he advises Cynthia to go to Gloria and hash out a deal that will work between the board and the orchestra, woman-to-woman. She does just this and together they arrange a reasonable agreement where both sides can be happy. Cynthia goes home feeling satisfied and tells Nina about it. But instead of being grateful or even pleased Nina gets bitchy. She says let her do her job. Then Nina shows Cynthia some dirt she dug up on the board and tells Cynthia she sent it to the New York Times. This upsets Cynthia who reminds Nina that she works for the symphony and they didn’t want to create more animosity like this. Then Nina tells Cynthia to go fuck herself and as Cynthia opens the door for Nina to leave she says,”That’s my plan for the foreseeable future,” and thus we see an example of love that was purely physical. So, it’s appropriate for the F bomb to fly about a bit at the end. That type of love is usually over by the end of the first spat too.
In other news, Rodrigo goes to the doctor and gets diagnosed with Amusia, a disorder that causes tone deafness; in other words – pure hell for a conductor and music aficionado. The doctor tells him it’s usually caused by a head injury and Rodrigo says it’s actually because he was cursed in Mexico. The doc immediately cancels the rest of his day’s appointments to deal with this magical maestro. Next when we see Rodrigo he’s attending the symphony to witness guest conductor Lennox leading his beloved orchestra. He slips backstage to see how things are going and finds Lennox berating Hailey and the rest of the orchestra with a nasty tirade. Right away he censures Lennox and then fires him. Rodrigo shows Papa Bear protective love for his musicians, telling Lennox he can’t treat them like that. Problem is, Rodrigo is tone deaf now – remember? How can he conduct tonight? But when Mike tells Hailey she takes action and makes it work. All she has to do is tell Warren Boyd (the first violinist who OWES Rodrigo big time) and together they get the whole symphony in whispered agreement to play with Rodrigo at the helm but paying his baton no mind. So, Rodrigo showed them protective parental love and then they immediately give it right back. His symphony plays Beethoven’s fifth symphony beautifully and maybe the real irony is that this might have been what they needed to finally be the unified symphony he’s been trying to muster out of them. They came together for his sake after all but not in any way he planned. Rodrigo’s so grateful to Hailey that right afterward he thanks her profusely. Then Hailey says she wants him to know that the orchestra really loves him and she’s not just saying that as a cheesy metaphor either. Rodrigo says he loves the orchestra too. She says, “Then can you help them?” and we see how love passes back and forth and back and forth in a self sustaining cycle. Now Rodrigo wants to help them with their contract negotiations, something he was unwilling to get involved with before. So, his love for them has evolved and he’s thus become more involved.
We find the purest true love in the scenes between Lizzie and Bradford. In the last episode they fought because his moving-in boxes took over her apartment. Bradford copped to his disorganization and to not even knowing what half the stuff was but also admitted that he couldn’t let any of it go. That was where the story left off in the last episode – a messy, frustrated impasse. But it picks up in this episode at a very different place. Lizzie brings Bradford to a large storage warehouse type loft where she’s carefully organized ALL of his stuff. Lizzie even fixed his ancient, broken film projector. She labeled and shelved everything into categories. Lizzie didn’t need to know why Bradford couldn’t let this stuff go in order to do this for him. Just him saying he couldn’t let it go was enough. That’s real love. They sit together and play one of his hundreds of tape recordings and it’s an interview Bradford did with his father as a small child. Then we find out Bradford’s father has died because Lizzie says she wishes she could have met him. She asks him how he feels and Bradford says, “What’s the word for this?” and puts his head in her lap.
Unfortunately, the episode doesn’t end in such a loving place. Instead the conclusion lies in the scorpion’s lair. Hailey goes to Betty’s apartment where she meets another oboist who also happens to be Betty’s lover. He offers Hailey a job as second chair for the Des Moines Philharmonic and when she graciously turns it down says she can think about it and get back to him later. Then he leaves them to make Betty an omelette so she can sink her scorpion claws into Hailey. She tells Hailey it’s time to move to Iowa. Betty threatens that if Hailey doesn’t take the Des Moines job, she’ll tell “everyone” about the romance that blossomed between Hailey and Rodrigo in Mexico, thus hurting both of them and their careers. Sadly there’s no love to speak of in this scene. Instead, this part points to the loss of love. It is part of the process, unfortunately. At one point Betty was Hailey’s teacher, then her peer, and even her friend. But now all those forms of love between them are gone and she’s merely a foe. That’s one of the things that can happen with love too. Sometimes it just leaves.
There’s one episode left and a lot happening here which will all come to fruition in the next and final episode of the season. So many questions linger. What will happen with Rodrigo’s cursed ear? Will the orchestra go on strike? What’s Hailey’s next career move? And will Pembridge ever get it together? Lucky you can just watch it right away if you like and find out all these answers and more because it’s all out there for your streaming pleasure. The next recap, though will have to wait until tomorrow.