It feels appropriate that “Open Waters” airs the week of Thanksgiving, a holiday that, with its potent mix of extended family members, free-flowing booze, and a truly overwhelming amount of meat, always runs the risk of ending in a full-on family meltdown, because that’s exactly what’s going on at The Morning Show this week: People are melting the hell down.
The most spectacular of these meltdowns belongs to our girl Alex Levy. Freshly back from the wildfires in Los Angeles, Alex must do the thing that caused her to hurl her guts into a toilet in front of sometimes archenemy Bradley Jackson, and tell her young daughter Lizzy that she and Jason are getting a divorce. The conversation goes about as poorly as Alex had feared. Lizzy immediately blames Alex and her job and tells her mother that she treats her and her father like assistants. She loves her job more than she’s ever loved her family. Basically, like, true Alex Levy nightmare stuff.
She hops from that conversation to another super-fun one with her PR team, who informs her that “it’s not the best time to get divorced” and proceeds to list reasons why — mostly, the suspicious timing with Mitch’s divorce — as well as ways the actual filing for divorce could make her look good and pitiable or bad and like a heartless bitch, all with the sterility of the listing of side effects on a drug commercial.
It’s with all of this emotion — plus, like, every other emotion Alex has been feeling since TMS imploded — that Alex visits Lizzy at her boarding school, large pizza in hand, in an attempt to make amends. Oh, you guys, I do not know how to accurately state how terrible this visit goes. It starts out with “I’m sorry I broke your heart” and ends with “Fuck you, kid,” and in between we get Lizzy calling out her mother for playing the victim and Alex reminding her daughter in a very loud voice that she gave her life, her love, and her body to Lizzie, who apparently had a very large head as a baby. Alex also refuses to apologize for her ambition or career. It’s not particularly fun to watch parents scream obscenities at their children, but that entire scene is a car crash from which you cannot look away. And Alex turning around to take back her pizza is absolute perfection.
Not like things are any calmer back at the studio. Chip, who, let’s face it, is always on the verge of a meltdown these days, is especially on edge at the moment as he makes some ill-advised moves to make this coup with Cory happen. Cory, with a mouth full of falafel, tells Chip he needs to be patient, he needs to be like the ambush predators on Planet Earth (a documentary series, thank you very much). If they are going to go after Fred, they need to wait until the perfect moment, with ironclad evidence against him, before they strike. But Chip is no ambush predator. Chip is the executive producer of a morning television show who knows that he could be fired at any moment. Cory even points out that it is obvious that Chip is acting out of desperation and that never ends well for anyone. Summon your inner ambush predator, Chip!
Chip does not do that. Chip does the opposite of that. During an interview with Maggie Brenner, still working on her Bradley Jackson profile, Chip wants Maggie to ask about Mitch, but Mags has no time for corporate-approved lies. Mitch wants to give her more than that. He tells her that he could give her information that would point her toward evidence of a cover-up culture at UBA, implicating people at the very tippy top. Implicating Fred Mickland. But Maggie is a smart cookie and she knows that the only way Chip would be brave enough to go against someone like Fred Mickland is if he has certain assurances that it won’t blow up in his face. She’s sniffing out the coup, and that’s the only story she wants.
So Chip’s big play goes nowhere, which only adds to his stress. Perhaps all of this crashing down around him is making Chip think about his role in the Mitch Kessler cover-up that had been going on for years. It certainly would help explain why when one of his producers, Nicky, gets ticked off over Chip choosing a Mia story over his own and he makes a comment implying that Mia sleeps around to get what she wants, Chip fires him immediately. It’s a huge, possibly not completely thought-out move. Chip is making lots of those these days. He looks like he might vomit at any moment.
Not only is Chip freaking out, but Mia is also having one of those aforementioned things going around the office: Yes, she, too, is having a meltdown.
Mia knows that Chip is trying to do the right thing and stand up for her, but as she tells him, it is only going to make things worse. Now everyone is mad at her for getting Nicky fired. After dealing with snide remarks from co-workers, Mia realizes that this is how her life at TMS is going to be. Forever. So what does she do? She moseys up to the microphone and makes sure everyone at the show, in the studio, in the control room, in the bullpen, can hear her and she unloads.
She, like intrepid field reporter Bradley Jackson before her, is exhausted. She doesn’t even have the energy to fight all the rumors and lies people are telling about her because she knows everyone has made up their minds. She slept with Mitch, so now she’s a slut or a victim and all she wants to do is move forward with her life. She’s a human being with regrets and wants to “be known in this world for something other than fucking Mitch Kessler.” She wants to get back to work. It would be a literal mic-drop moment, except for the fact that the microphone is attached to the table.
It is just one more fire on top of the 20 other garbage fires raging at TMS. And things are probably about to get worse: In a secret dead-of-night meeting, Mitch tells Bradley that he has evidence of UBA covering up complaints against him, and even believes that there is one woman he slept with who got a promotion who would corroborate his story. He’ll give her that story, but in turn wants Bradley to interview him on The Morning Show. After Mia’s speech, Bradley decides she wants to take Mitch, and UBA, on. She tells him that if he can get that woman to corroborate his story, she’d be interested in the interview.
Mitch Kessler wastes no time in showing up at that woman’s apartment ready to call in a favor because Mitch Kessler is the world’s worst. The woman he thinks owes him something is none other than our head talent booker, Hannah.
If it’s even possible, it seems like things are about to get even more tense over at The Morning Show.
This Just In!
• And another meltdown! Hannah definitely reported Yanko and Claire to HR, because they both get summoned for meetings. Yanko thinks it’s actually a great opportunity for them to come clean and put their relationship on the record. He loves her, you see, and he doesn’t want to do that in secret anymore. Claire, however, gets beyond frustrated as HR Sheila pokes and prods at their relationship, trying to make sure Claire isn’t being taken advantage of. Claire is the one who initiated the relationship, she does not feel powerless, and she does not enjoy talking about her sex life with HR Sheila. So, just some really mixed results with human resources.
• You know who is a pretty decent ambush predator? Cory, of course. He’s laying a trap for Fred, taunting him with that whole “you should smile more before you have a permanent frown” speech. Fred must know that Cory is making moves for his job.
• Audra’s back on her bullshit! She’s once again trying to lure Daniel away from TMS in order to add some “gravitas” to YDA. She equally loves that Daniel is boring and into politics and hates that TMS is applauding itself for its progressiveness after installing two white women as co-hosts. Still, Daniel remains unmoved. The sense of loyalty is strong with this one.
• While Bradley is contemplating Mitch’s offer to do an interview with him, something that would certainly be a huge moment for her professionally, she just casually watches the Frost/Nixon interviews in her dressing room. Sometimes I just fully cannot with this show.
• Overhearing some on-air TMS copy remains a delight, like this line, delivered straight-faced by Bradley Jackson: “If you’re like me, you used to dream of a day when robots were part of our everyday lives.”