Mozart in the Jungle: Season 3

As you may recall, Mozart in the Jungle concluded its second season, back in January of this year, or December 31st, 2015 if you binged, with a bitter battle between the artistes and the orchestra’s management and board of directors. It was more than just a loud and ugly argument about wages.

Control of the orchestra as well as control of the board were at stake.

In any event, while many of you were about to take a summer vacation, assured that your jobs would still be there on your return to the workplace, the members of the (fictional) New York Symphony Orchestra had no such certainties.

So, after some contretemps between Rodrigo de Souza (Gael Garcia Bernal) and the board’s version of Darth Vader, who went by the name of Edward Biben, who suggested that in exchange for Rodrigo’s resignation as Conductor, he would push through all of the orchestra’s demands. But the plan fell through, as a majority of the board, under Gloria’s lead, chose to reject the orchestra’s demands, which of course nullified Rodrigo’s resignation.

So there was a lockout, and finding themselves unable to enter their home venue, the orchestra traveled the few short blocks from Lafayette Street over to Washington Square Park. There they gave an impromptu and free concert.

After which they scattered in multiple directions, unsure of their fates. As viewers, we would all have to wait for Season 3 to find the answers to the question of the orchestra’s survival as well as many others.

Season 3 of Mozart in the Jungle launched on December 9th with all 10 episodes available for bingeing or watching at a more leisurely pace. As the first episode began we find ourselves watching Rodrigo, the orchestra’s conductor, riding a bicycle down the Grand Canal of Venice, Italy.

Technically, one may not ride a bike on water, but what we really got was Rodrigo on a bike attached to some pontoons. So Rodrigo was in Venice Italy, Hailey was on tour with the Andrew Walsh Ensemble.

Rodrigo, when not conversing with a young Mozart, was introduced to and began working with a reclusive opera diva called Alessandra (played by Monica Bellucci). And so it begins.

Season Three will take us from a lockout to a lockup. Said another way, we will travel from Venice, Italy all the way to the New York Department of Corrections facility located on Rikers Island in New York.

My thinking was that this season, while quite entertaining, was more than a bit scattershot – or as I like to say – all over the place. That doesn’t detract from the excellent music, acting, and location shooting. Those were the strong pluses.

But on the debit side of this series ledger, too much time was given over to scenes that really held no interest for us. Thomas  Pembridge (played by the always excellent Malcolm McDowell) who once was the erstwhile conductor of the New York Symphony, became the ‘old’ conductor of said symphony, or said another way Musical Director Emeritus, when Gloria (Bernadette Peters) brought in Rodrigo.

Somewhere in the middle of the above, while Thomas’s angst may have softened – indeed he was now seeing Gloria as his paramour – did we really need to have Gloria and Thomas motor out to Long Island to visit Gloria parents in the 8th episode which was called Circles Within Circles. In the same vein, Episode 7 was called Not Titled Yet, and it was a literal documentary about the Symphony’s concert on Rikers Island.

Also Hailey’s old roommate Lizzie (Hannah Dunne) has reinvented herself, and is now a night club owner and a singer at the same club.  My favorite, the long-limbed and beautiful cellist Cynthia (played by Saffron Burrows), discovers that she can no longer mask the pain which emanates from her elbow with drugs or booze. Surgery is necessary.

Rodrigo who has been and will always be a human humming-bird, had to deal with his recalcitrant diva which created tons of stress for him. He did manage to get the diva up and running and we were fortunate to see a guest appearance by Placido Domingo.

As I said , the show is all over the place. Thomas Pembridge visits the downtown techo-beat music scene in Manhattan. Hailey takes up conducting. Cynthia puts her cello aside for an electric guitar.

But the key question, the question that has been festering for nearly all of three seasons is whether or not Rodrigo and Hailey will hook-up.

As the show’s tagline states – You can’t have harmony, if everyone is playing solo. That, along with all the other questions and dangling plot lines are given results for you to ponder while we wait and see if there will be a 4th season of Mozart in the Jungle.

To this reviewer, this was the weakest of the three seasons yet. That said the show is still eminently watchable.

Here is the Season Three Trailer:

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