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Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Star Weighs In on [Spoiler]’s Departure in Season 5 Premiere: ‘It Was a Complete Shock’

The following story contains spoilers from The Marvelous Mrs. Maisels Season 5 premiere — proceed at your own peril.

A key Marvelous Mrs. Maisel cast member made a surprising exit in the opening episode of the Amazon comedy’s fifth and final season (the first three episodes of which dropped Friday; read our recap).

Midway through “Go Forward,” which was written and directed by series creator Amy Sherman-Palladino, Mei (played by Everything Everywhere All at Once‘s breakout star/Oscar nominee Stephanie Hsu), revealed to boyfriend Joel (Michael Zegen) that she aborted their unborn child. And she’s moving to Chicago to pursue her dream of becoming a doctor.

“I can’t have it all, Joel,” Mei lamented. “If I’m really going to be a doctor then I have to be a doctor.”

Old Midge in the Mrs. Maisel Finale
Mrs. Maisel Flash-Forward List: All of Season 5’s Futuristic Easter Eggs

The development brought Hsu’s multi-season Maisel run (she joined the series on a recurring basis in Season 3) to a somewhat abrupt end. Zegen admits that the twist caught him off guard.

“It was a complete shock after reading the first episode,” the actor confesses to TVLine in the above video. “I thought maybe she was going to come back, but [Stephanie] told me she wasn’t. It was shocking… I expected them to be together forever, to be honest.”

According to Sherman-Palladino, the character of Mei was always intended to be a temporary presence in Joel’s life.

“[She] was brought in for a hot blast [to knock] Joel off of his axis [and] out of the Midge world,” the EP explains. “She also represent[ed] the next generation of women that would be coming up after Midge, who might be thinking a little ahead of the game, like, ‘Maybe before I get married and have kids, I’m gonna accomplish this.’ Midge was a little late for that. She fell into her ambition. Stephanie was playing those girls in the 60s who are, like, ‘I’ve seen my mom’s way, and maybe I’m going to do it a slightly different way.'”

Adds EP Daniel Palladino: “We wanted to show Joel with a woman who was even more independent than Midge was. Midge embraced the Betty Crocker myth; Mei did not. So [her] pregnancy [teed up] an inevitable conclusion [for the character].”

Sherman-Palladino notes that the decision to have Mei leave town at the start of Season 5 “was determined [long] in advance of [Stephanie] becoming the biggest, hugest star in the entire world,” adding, “You don’t ask Stephanie to show up and not give her anything to do. If she’s gonna show up, you gotta give her great stuff to do. She’s not going to sit there for two or three episodes and be window dressing just because we’re greedy and we love Stephanie.

“She’s a rock star,” Sherman-Palladino sums up. “She comes in, she does rock star s–t, and then she goes out and [gets nominated for] an Oscar.”

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