Truth be told, The Morning Show has always been about burning it all to the ground, and in “The Pendulum Swings,” the show takes that metaphor a little more literally, as TMS and its two leading ladies head to Los Angeles to cover the raging wildfires, currently destroying lives. The footage coming out of California is grim — it’s described as a war zone — and to walk into something like that, one would need her head on straight. This 100 percent does not describe the current state of either of our co-anchors.
Bradley is, you may recall, waking up from a banger of a night out, and I definitely mean “banger” in that she was banging that bartender in the back room. Her hangover is ferocious, but with the help of some coffee and baked goods from Cory (he slept on the couch to make sure she didn’t choke on the grilled cheese sandwich she was barfing up, a gentleman), she gets on that private plane to head West because, have you heard? SHE’S A JOURNALIST.
Alex is in a worse frame of mind. Not only is she hungover from her Broadway party and from whatever the hell that was with Mitch, Jason appears in the bedroom to tell her that her abandoning him the night before was the last straw, he’s filing for divorce. All it takes is the threat of having to inform her young daughter that their family is breaking up for Alex to go from “wildfires are no 9/11” (truly: yikes) to “I’m going to California!” She’s not happy about it, but if it’ll postpone telling Lizzie about the divorce, she’ll suck it up and report on some devastating wildfires.
The scene in L.A. is truly awful, but that doesn’t stop Alex from putting aside her own shit. In a staff meeting, when Bradley complains about the stories they’re doing being too soft, and wanting to do an exposé on the Richie McRichsters hiring private firefighters to save their homes, Alex lets her have it. She calls Bradley out on her “superior journalist bullshit,” and when Bradley talks about telling the truth and not “force-feeding” people “glossy bullshit,” Alex responds, “Why? So we can all fucking kill ourselves?” Listen, I know Alex is letting her inner turmoil express itself with this true, cold bitchery, and I also know that Bradley has some extremely valid points, but honestly: Bless Alex Levy. Bradley is truly ridiculous (is she idealistic or is she hardened? No one knows!), and someone with a cold, dead heart deserves to remind people of that.
Of course, Alex isn’t truly dead inside, she’s just angry and upset, and Bradley is the easiest of targets. Alex can’t hide her anguish for too long. In their first live shot from the wildfires, Alex is able to tell the audience that the TMS team is “taking care of each other” without choking, which is truly a feat, but then makes it very clear she wants nothing to do with Bradley. She runs off to go cry over pictures of her daughter. When they begin a segment about a man who’s been rescuing misplaced dogs, Alex has not pulled herself together. Like, at all. Of course the dog man is talking about keeping mom dogs and their babies together and how anyone who is alone should adopt a stray because no one wants to be alone, and, well, Alex loses it on air. She tries to cover her sobs up, but she cannot. America will probably make a big deal about her having a meltdown, but guys, I cannot adequately express this enough: She was surrounded by so many cute fucking puppies who were rescued from the fire. Who among us would not weep?
So then, in the middle of TMS, the question becomes: How do we solve a problem like Alex Levy? She’s locked herself in her trailer. Of course it’s Bradley “I Am Very Well Versed With People on the Edge” Jackson who volunteers as tribute to go inside and check on her co-host. Alex obviously hates this, but is so upset and probably still a little hungover that she can’t argue ― she needs to throw up. It’s Bradley who holds her hair back and hugs her until she can catch her breath again. It’s a very moving (and sincere, if you can believe it!) moment, but then again, vomit always brings people together.
Later that evening, Alex arrives at Bradley’s hotel door to explain just why she completely lost her shit that day. She tells her about the divorce, and opens up about how her real fear is that Lizzie will end up thinking badly of her. She’s surely the one her daughter will blame for the divorce, and the thought of Lizzie hating her is too much. Bradley opens up, too: She pushed her father, an alcoholic, completely out of her life after he killed a kid in a drunk-driving accident. But even through all of that, she never stopped loving him. Alex can hardly believe she’s doing this, and truly seems to hate it, but she gives Bradley a hug. She needed to hear that.
It’s a complicated relationship, this one. How could these two ever truly be allies, let alone friends? There’s no way Alex will ever be over her fears and insecurities surrounding Bradley swooping in to replace her with one moment of shared vulnerability. Still, Alex Levy could sure use someone to trust. I mean, who does she really have at this moment? Chip, I guess, but come on, that guy’s name is voluntarily Chip. Even if Alex and Bradley are starting to possibly think about moving past their sometimes passive-aggressive, sometimes just aggressive rivalry, that tenuous relationship has one more giant hurdle looming in the distance: Bradley Jackson is receiving supersecret emails about information she might find interesting from, you guessed it, Mitch Kessler. Yeah, that’s not going to end well.
This Just In!
• Well, isn’t it nice to see Bradley and Chip finally bonding? Chip informs her he has to kill her “rich people hire private firefighters” story because one of those rich people happens to be Fred. The two have a very friendly conversation about how Chip used to be just like her, pushing for “the truth” (gag me), and by the end of the conversation, Chip says “fuck Fred” and tells her to move forward with her story.
• Chip’s motivation for keeping Bradley’s story may be less “pushing for the truth” and more screwing Fred over. He meets with Cory in L.A. for some pilot screenings, and pretty much suggests they join together and plot a coup to oust Fred and put Cory in charge. Cory’s into it — what other endgame can he have here? — but he warns Chip that they need to be smart. They need something specific on Fred that can be leaked. By the end of the episode, Chip thinks he has just the thing. Ooooh, coups are so fun, huh?
• “Yes, I know. My face can be startling in an intimate setting.” Cory is the gift that keeps on giving.
• Oh boy. Bradley offers Claire a job as her assistant and apparently promotions make Claire v. horny. Yanko is very proud of his secret gf, but doesn’t want to make a scene because he has a brain sometimes. Yanko was right to try and pump the brakes while sharing a hotel with everyone he works with: Claire shows up to his hotel room, and who should peep them making out? Hannah. Objectively, that’s not good.
• Maybe Hannah won’t remember? She’s hopped up on lots of Adderall and some coke, perhaps? All washed down with some booze. I am worried about Hannah!
• Everything Alex does when she arrives on the plane is a mood I would like to be at all times: From the sunnies to the giant scarf, from getting on at the absolute last minute to this reply dripping in sarcasm when her assistant tells her the hotels are full of wildfire victims and there are no suites left: “Can’t they kick out some of the displaced families? I do need room for my diamonds.”