The major downside to streaming an entire season of a show at once is that by the time the next season rolls around, almost everything you've already seen has become a blur. Season 1 of Mozart in the Jungle premiered on Amazon almost two years ago, and Season 2 is due on Dec. 30. By then, there are only so many days left before returning to the 2016 grind — not leaving much time to rewatch Season 1. So if you want a refresher before you jump into Season 2, a recap of Mozart in the Jungle Season 1 should be just what you're looking for.
Whether you've already seen the show or not, here's a little reminder about its premise. Mozart in the Jungle is about the lives of the musicians in an orchestra in New York City adjusting to the transition as old traditionalists, represented by Malcolm McDowell's retired conductor Thomas and Bernadette Peters' uptight orchestra board head Gloria, lose their control in favor of young, hotshot conductor Rodrigo. Gael Garcia Bernal plays Rodrigo as a full-on eccentric who treats New York City like an exotic zoo full of whimsical experiences (which, in his hands, kind of feels true), though as the season goes on, the conductor is fleshed out, particularly after he decides he needs to buckle down and prove that he's just as capable as Thomas.
Meanwhile, the young oboist Hailey Rutlege (played by Lola Kirke) tries to find her inner self confidence as she trains for the moment where she'll be ready to perform with the orchestra, and she finds an ally early in the season in Saffron Burrows' melancholy cellist, Cynthia. Phew. Got all that? Now, it's time to jump right into the season recap.
Nice To Meet You (Episodes 1-2)
In addition to all of the basic exposition up top, here's what the series premiere added to the mix — demonstrating just how tough it is to be a classical musician. The characters all get to know each other because they run into one another while doing the soundtrack for a bad horror film, or by working on a terrible Broadway show.
Additionally, it revealed how much Thomas doesn't want to retire, and showed Hailey impressing Rodrigo during her audition so much that he adds her to the orchestra, even after she stays up late partying the night before with Alex, a cute dance boy.
Rodrigo Messes With Everyone (Episodes 3-4)
OK, technically this could describe every single episode, but for these three, it feels like Rodrigo is purposefully trying to shake up the orchestra. He gets into the heads of even old grumps like Union Bob and Betty (two members of the orchestra who are particularly by the book) with his playful stunts, conducting techniques, and field trips. And throwing everyone for yet another loop, he cuts off his signature long hair.
Even though he's an eccentric guy, Rodrigo realizes immediately that Hailey isn't ready to play with the rest of the musicians and demotes her to his assistant. This may hurt Hailey at first, but she bonds with Alex to continue honing her skills.
Ana Maria (Episodes 5-6)
Rodrigo's wife Ana Maria comes to town, and she is pretty insufferable. Rodrigo's biggest flaw is that he seems to be so bewitched by her that he second-guesses everything about his upcoming season, panicking about whether or not he's sold out.
As he goes into a tailspin, Thomas disappears completely — bad news for Cynthia, who's having an ongoing affair with him (at least emotionally, even though they've been physical in the past too) that's tearing her apart.
Rich People Problems (Episodes 7-8)
While Hailey is taking lessons from Betty, she also gets the chance to make a ton of cash by giving lessons to a rich eccentric she meets at a party attended by most of the orchestra, where she also finds out that her cool roommate is rich (that's a nonstarter).
Meanwhile, Rodrigo has a crisis of confidence about how he wants to open his first season in New York City... and winds up firing his pianist, Winslow Elliot, in favor of hiring Ana Maria to perform instead.
The Grand Finale (Episodes 9-10)
As the season wraps up, most of the plotlines are resolved, but a few are left hanging. Cynthia's issues with her failing wrist culminate in an affair with Union Bob... and not much more. Gloria's worries about funding the orchestra slowly fade. Rodrigo realizes Ana Maria is a jerk, long after the audience did.
But plenty more pay off beautifully. Betty might be an amazing oboe player, but she deserved to be knocked down a peg after treating Hailey so cruelly, and it was nice to see the newcomer's debut go off without a hitch, without Betty taking over. And having Rodrigo step into the background in order to both play the violin and support Thomas in a nod to what the older man has accomplished was wonderful.
And that final kiss between Rodrigo and Hailey, was it a culmination of their tension throughout the season, or an impulsive decision that will quickly be written off? The only way to find out is by watching Mozart in the Jungle Season 2 when it hits Amazon on Dec. 30.