Season 4 of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is now well underway, and the biggest question on viewers’ lips is “What’s the deal with Alfie the magician?” First introduced in Episode 2, “Billy Jones & the Orgy Lamps”, Alfie left pretty much everyone – including Alex Borstein’s Susie Myerson – scratching their heads thanks to his enigmatic dialogue and seemingly supernatural abilities.
Since then, Susie has hired Alfie (Gideon Glick) as her assistant, indicating that the beer-swilling illusionist will continue to be a factor this season. So, let’s take a look back at what happened in Alfie’s surreal debut scene and what it could mean for the rest of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Season 4.
What happened when Susie encountered Alfie in “Billy Jones & the Orgy Lamps”?
In Mrs. Maisel Season 4, Episode 2, “Billy Jones & the Orgy Lamps”, Susie is drowning her sorrows in a dive bar when she’s suddenly pestered by flamboyant barfly Alfie. It turns out Alfie is a magician, and he quickly irritates the notoriously short-tempered Susie with his sleight of hand tricks and unsettlingly cryptic remarks.
Alfie’s comments seem to hint at Susie’s current circumstances – she’s short on cash and about to be investigated for arson – but things really take a magical realist turn when Alfie hypnotises Susie. For a brief moment, Susie finds herself transported to the idyllic woodland setting pictured on a nearby calendar, before snapping back to reality to discover that Alfie has vanished.
This marks the biggest break from the (broadly) realistic tone of the series so far, which – aside from the scene with the psychic in Season 2 – typically avoids the supernatural. Of course, it’s possible that Alfie’s apparent clairvoyance and hypnotic powers are simply impeccable stagecraft dressed up as real magic, and included as little more than a throwaway creative flourish by showrunner Amy Sherman-Palladino designed to liven up an otherwise run-of-the-mill dialogue scene.
That seems unlikely, though, so if we assume that (as with the psychic) Alfie’s predictive powers really are authentic, what does that mean for the remaining episodes of Season 4?
What could Susie’s encounter with Alfie mean for the rest of Mrs. Maisel Season 4?
As The Dipp points out in its excellent deep-dive analysis, the two big things to focus on in the scene between Susie and Alfie are the coin trick and the hypnosis.
More than just a harmless bit of (impossibly) good close-up stage magic, the coin trick appears to be a wake-up call to Susie that she needs to stop making bad choices. This is symbolised by the way that Susie repeatedly picks Alfie’s empty hand throughout the trick, underscoring her knack for choosing poorly. That said, given Susie later agrees to work with troublesome client Sophie Lennon (Jane Lynch) again in Episode 4, “Interesting People on Christopher Street”, it seems this thinly-veiled advice didn’t sink in.
Then there are Alfie’s comments towards the end of coin trick, when he says that he’s trying to help Susie. These words could serve as a warning that Susie needs to be more open with her only real friend, Rachel Brosnahan’s Midge – although it could simply be that Alfie was foreshadowing Susie hiring him in Episode 4, instead.
This leaves us with Alfie’s hypnosis of Susie to unpack and considering this is arguably the most straight-up bonkers moment in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel to date, it’s an unsurprisingly harder detail to tease out. Safe money is that this yet another warning for Susie – or at the very least, it’s a prediction of how she’ll end up if she keeps following her current path: alone.
Alfie promised the place he was mentally transporting Susie to would make her smile, but it seems like the magician is trying to hint that there are tears in store for Susie if she keeps pushing Midge away. Alternatively, Alfie could have been alluding to his future as Susie’s employee once again, and positioning their professional partnership as something that will ultimately make her happy.
Or maybe Alfie doesn’t have the answers. Maybe everything he said and did in Episode 2 really was really just lucky guesses and booze-fuelled misdirection – only time (and Mrs. Maisel Season 4’s final four episodes) will tell!
Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments below, or on Twitter or Facebook!
4 thoughts on “What’s the deal with Alfie the magician in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Season 4?”
I disagree – Mrs Maisel has dabbled with magical realism before. In Season 2, when Rose goes to a new psychic, the psychic accurately predicts Midge’s future is with comedy – she sees her performing on stage in her black dress and being adored by the crowd. Rose misinterprets this as being about Midge and Benjamin’s wedding.
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Ah, good point! Thanks for highlighting that!
Yes, the new psychic was a real magician, predicting performing on stage (though not performing stage magic as a magician or illusionist of course, but performing on stage before the audience / crowd).