And just like that, everyone has survived Bradley Jackson’s first week as co-host of The Morning Show. Barely. Like, no one has physically died, but that’s a pretty low bar to clear for morning-show standards. The latest episode picks up in the closing seconds of the Friday edition of TMS, you know, the one with that bombshell interview with a Mitch Kessler accuser in which Bradley steered toward implicating the show and the network in a cover-up culture. And if you think that by the end of the show Alex is over Bradley questioning whether she knew about what Mitch was up to, you are extremely wrong.
Back at the anchor desk, all of our on-air staff closes out the show with some cutesy banter, but as soon as they’re off the air, Alex leans over to her co-anchor and says quietly but forcefully, “Don’t you ever, ever question my integrity in my own house again.” Daaaaang, Reese Witherspoon, be worried!
Just as the TMS crew is TGIF-ing all over the place, ready to celebrate that they’ve made it out of this hellish week alive, they are met with a surprise visitor: Mitch Kessler has returned to the studio! He shows up to tell his former colleagues and friends that he loves them and misses them, and then he asks if, in light of a New York Times article that will be coming out with additional allegations, anyone will speak up for him. He knows they want to, he says, and he knows it’s scary, but they are the people who know him. When everyone stays silent, he gets angry: “This is my fucking life!” he yells at them. You guys, do not feel bad for this man — who, by the way, still refuses to admit any guilt. What did he think was going to happen?
Most likely he did NOT think that as he forlornly walked into the elevator, Bradley Jackson would slip in just before the doors close to ask him who else knew about what was going on. “Who do you think?” he responds. So, it looks like Bradley is not at all scared by Alex’s threats to drop the story. She is a journalist, after all. And now her curiosity is piqued.
Surely Alex must be feeling claustrophobic these days, as she’s dealing with an overload of emotions. The guilt over being implicit in The Morning Show coverup culture, the fear that people will start not just whispering about her involvement but pointing it out in very clear terms, and on top of that, all anyone can talk about is how great Bradley is. All of these feelings come to a head at the Broadway Development Fund Charity Fundraiser she hosts at her apartment.
As much as I’d like to simply detail the delightful bop that is Cheyenne Jackson singing “Nice Work If You Can Get It,” so much goes down at this party. Alex’s main mission, aside from helping the theater kids of course, is to corner Maggie Brenner, the New York Magazine reporter who just that afternoon spoke with Bradley for a profile. Alex is all smiles and sincerity when she talks about how great Bradley is and that, oh, have you heard, she’s the one who brought Bradley in because she knows what The Morning Show needs: a strong feminist slant ushered along by Alex herself, who is now able to make things better for all women at the show. But Maggie sees right through her bullshit. There’s no way she’s writing a “feminist puff piece about a woman who turned a blind eye to the sexual misconduct of her co-host.” She pushes in further: She knows why Alex is doing this, that she must be afraid of getting lost in this mess, afraid that her replacement is sitting right next to her. (Marcia Gay Harden is just so, so good here.) So consider this mission of Alex’s a failure.
She moves right from that emotional bomb into whatever the hell Cory is doing. Cory and Fred are on edge at the party due to the impending Times article that may or may not include quotes about how the culture at UBA allowed Mitch’s behavior to go on. Fred has made it clear that Cory won’t come out unscathed should that happen. Those two are like the Odd Couple from hell. Whatever Cory has planned — you know he has something planned — the next step is to cozy up to Alex.
To prove to her that he wants them to be a team, he forces her into a duet at the piano. Musical theater fans will know that his choice of “Not While I’m Around” from Sweeney Todd works on multiple levels. At face value the lyrics do seem to convey the message that Cory is on Alex’s side, that he will protect her from the “demons [that will] charm” her. But in the musical, this duet is between young Tobias and Mrs. Lovett. Tobias is sincere in his desire to protect Mrs. Lovett from Sweeney Todd. She sings the same comforting words back to him, but he doesn’t know that she’s actually working with Todd. The scene is quite unnerving. What are Cory’s true intentions? Is he really an ally for Alex or does he want to shove her in a meat grinder and put her into one of his human pies, metaphorically speaking? No one really knows just what he’s up to, but what I do know is that we are all Yanko, who describes this duet as such: “It’s weird and fascinating and I’m super into it.”
Alex is a theater buff, so she definitely knows the context of that song. By the end of their little duet, Alex is so overcome by, well, probably everything that’s gone on that evening, that she runs off and tells her poor husband Jason, who definitely deserves better, that she needs to go see Mitch.
And that’s how she ends up driving around Manhattan in the passenger seat of Mitch’s car. Let us just take a moment to note that Jennifer Aniston and Steve Carrell are overflowing with chemistry and I’d like for them to be in all the things together. Alex misses her best friend and the two instantly get back their easy rapport. Mitch even sort of jokes (sort of doesn’t) that they could finally get together. “I think the world holds me to a higher standard than that,” she says. But the two of them are very sad and they hold each other and then, if you can believe it, Mitch kisses Alex. She pulls away and before they have to have an awkward conversation, their phones buzz: The Times article is out. And, well, that changes everything. “You knew all about this stuff,” he tells her when she is shocked. “I knew about it in theory,” she says (!!), but reading about it, seeing all of his misdeeds laid out so plainly makes it more than Alex can take. And she wants to go home.
This Just In!
• Just when you think Bradley’s won the week, she gets a call from her father that throws her, ends up getting wasted at Claire’s birthday party, calls her dad back and has an emotional conversation with a man she is still clearly angry with for reasons yet to be revealed, takes the hot bartender in the back room for a hump session, and then ends up drunk and in the arms of Cory, who lives in the same hotel as her. That’s one way to cap off your big career break.
• Claire’s birthday party gets a little heated when they naturally broach the topic of Mitch. The ladies all have different outlooks: Claire sees things very black and white — what Mitch did was deeply disturbing and they should cut off his balls; Hannah tells them that if they were men, they’d be doing the same thing because this is what men do and it’s never going to change (very dark!); Mia gives them all an emotional speech about how complicated the situation is and even lets slip that she feels bad for Mitch before excusing herself. Cool party, Claire.
• Wow, how drunk does Chip get, huh? He knows that if the Times piece implicates UBA in any way, he’ll be the fall guy, as evidenced by Fred keeping him out of the loop on everything. In a last-ditch effort, he goes to his friend, an editor at the Times, and begs him to protect him in the story. When he says he can’t do that, Chip replies with a frustrated “after what I gave you?” which, um, hi, IS VERY INTERESTING. Chip also tells him he knows where his skeletons are buried. That seems to do the trick, and eventually the Times drops the big quote from Mitch’s ex-assistant about a coverup culture, in a trade for the story about Mitch coming to the studio. Chip and UBA can breathe a sigh of relief … for now.
• Audra’s back! She wants Daniel to defect to Team YDA in the worst way and tells him as much at the charity event. Something tells me Daniel’s allegiance to TMS might not last too long. Audra’s very persuasive!
• Yes, Alison and Daniel with the Annie Get Your Gun duet. I’m always here to learn what Broadway tunes fictional characters would choose to sing if given the chance. Just so you know, Yanko would do “I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major General” from The Pirates of Penzance, and I’m okay with that!