This week’s time-twisting Marvelous Mrs. Maisel answered the burning question on the tips of every fans’ tongue: Why exactly does Future Joel end up in prison?
As revealed through the lens of Susie’s circa-1990 Friars Club “Testi-Roastial,” which stands as one of the series’ most inventive and emotionally poignant episodes (not to mention one of Alex Borstein’s finest hours), viewers learned that Michael Zegen‘s polarizing character made a deal with lovable mafiosos Frank and Nicky in order to get his ex, Midge (Rachel Brosnahan), out from under their thumb.
The underworld trade would ultimately land him in the clink. The Daniel Palladino written and directed hour also confirmed that Joel’s honorable sacrifice was what led to Midge and Susie’s seismic estrangement, as it was Susie’s mob ties that Midge unwittingly got entangled in.
For Zegen, the Episode 6 disclosure marked a huge turning point for Joel. (A rundown of all of the fifth and final season’s futuristic Easter eggs can be found here.)
“I felt like, finally, here was [his] redemption,” the actor shares with TVLine in the above video. ” Not that I was ever looking for that.”
Zegen reveals that he was not initially aware of the context behind Joel’s futuristic prison stint. “I had no idea why he’s in prison [when we shot Episode 5],” he notes. “Nobody told me. Rachel didn’t know either. We just kind of went along with it. And then [when we got the script for Episode 6] and we found out why he goes to prison… I loved it. It just speaks to Joel’s character. He’s always looking out for Midge. He’s always going to try to protect her and their children; it made sense.
“It all kind of came together like, ‘Oh, sh–t, he was really admirable,'” Zegen adds of Joel. “Which was nice. Maybe I won’t get so much hate mail anymore.”