The Morning Show
Friends, countrymen, Apple TV+ subscribers: We’ve made it to the end of this wild, Jennifer Aniston–Is–Our–One–True–Queen–fueled ride that is The Morning Show season one. Was it at times cheesy as hell and trying way too hard? Yes. Did Bradley Jackson never once make complete sense as a character? Also, yes. But does it pretty much stick the landing? You betcha. Once a show rolls out the Vivaldi while two main characters fist fight on an apartment building lobby floor, you know it is Getting! Things! Done!
All of the scheming that went down in last week’s episode comes to a tragic, volatile head in the season finale. The timetable for both sides — Bradley, Cory, and Chip over on “Team Interview Mitch and Take Down Fred Mickland,” and Fred and Alex on “Team Save Our Asses” — was always a short one, but as more information comes to light, people grow more desperate.
Blame it on Maggie Brenner, I guess? Once she gives Fred a heads-up about the investigation she’s doing into his cover-up of Mitch Kessler’s sexual misconduct, Fred knows it’s time to deploy Operation Fall Guy: He expedites the findings of that totally unbiased internal investigation into TMS, so that he can offer up Chip as the one to blame for letting Mitch’s behavior go unchecked for so long. Chip has always known he’d end up getting blamed, but that doesn’t make the scene in which Fred fires him any less emotional. Partly because Fred telling Chip how sick it makes him that someone he trusted was “endangering his employees” makes me want to flip a table; partly because it is Alex whose begrudging approval of Chip’s replacement, Marlon Tate, is the final nail in Chip’s TMS coffin; but especially because Marlon Tate really is the biggest doofus. Poor Chip! Yes, I feel bad for Chip now. That’s where we are in this season.
To pull off the Mitch interview on TMS without even Alex knowing, there’s a very fragile plan in play and Chip getting fired does not help. After meeting with Mitch to find out who he has to corroborate his story about Fred — when he tells them it’s Hannah he adds that he “didn’t realize she was working [him]” for good measure because, yes, friends, Mitch Kessler is still playing the victim — Bradley wants to make sure Hannah is ready and willing to tell her story. Even if she remains anonymous, it’s a huge risk on her part and she’s starting to realize that more and more — especially once a call comes in from another UBA department, offering her a promotion on a show in sunny Los Angeles. Yep, UBA is trying to buy her silence one more time, isn’t that swell?
Hannah is falling apart, but she feels like she has to protect other people in her position, so she has Bradley come to her apartment. Reliving the whole thing — from Mitch, whom she saw as a parental figure, using her body like that to Fred silencing her without even knowing who she was — is obviously traumatic for Hannah. She keeps telling Bradley she’s fine, that other people have gone through worse, but by the end of it, she breaks. Teary-eyed and angry, she tries to explain what it feels like to not only have been violated, but to be completely defined by that moment. Bradley tries to remind Hannah that none of this is her fault, but Hannah doesn’t want to hear it: “All due respect, please take your rhetoric and just fuck off,” she says.
Bradley leaves that extremely upsetting meeting for all of us second-guessing if she should even be doing this interview, if she should be putting Hannah through any of this. It is in this moment that Chip shows up and informs her that he was fired and that this interview needs to happen tomorrow. Everyone’s doing great, guys! At least Chip calls out that none of them are doing this interview for purely altruistic reasons: He wants the interview done tomorrow because he knows Fred will surely cut the network feed rather than be exposed, which means that big announcement of the internal investigations implicating Chip will be postponed, and he knows that part of the reason Bradley is doing this is because it could be huge for her career. No one is simply fighting for justice here! Bradley does not make a callback to her “We’re newspeople!” moment, but she does in my dreams. Instead, she spirals because I guess she suffers from imposter syndrome now. To calm her down Chip tries to hug her, but Bradley pushes him off: “Don’t hug me right now, what the hell is that going to fix?” which, if someone would like to iron that onto a T-shirt with a picture of just Bradley’s wig, I would wear it.
So, even though this could blow up in their faces, and even though Hannah is certainly not in any emotional place to have her story told to a national audience, they’re going through with the interview. Cory, too, has his misgivings, but those mainly have to do with how sleazy Mitch is. He pays him a visit to make clear that he may very well soon be head of UBA and that if Mitch ever wants a shot at redemption he needs to pull the victim crap and confess. Cory remains a true blessing on this show.
The morning of the interview, everything is in place to sneak Mitch in the building. Cory will be manning the control room to make sure they stay on Bradley and Mitch when it goes down. This is really happening. But then, things take a turn.
While Fred’s introducing Marlon to the TMS team before the show, Bradley gets a call from Claire. Claire had been trying to make amends with Hannah after their huge fight over Yanko by showing up at Hannah’s apartment with coffee before work. But when she arrives she discovers that Hannah has died from an overdose.
Knowing she was the one who made Hannah relive all of her trauma, Bradley takes on all the blame. After informing the staff, and calling Chip to tell him there is no way she is doing this interview now, Bradley goes to see Alex. Not only does she tell her that they were going to interview Mitch behind her back, not only does she admit that it was partly to blow up Alex’s career, but she also says that she’s leaving. She can’t do this anymore.
In the wake of Hannah’s death, Alex is finally — finally — taking a hard look at her role in all of this and reexamining what the hell she’s doing aligning herself with Fred Mickland. She chases Bradley out on the street to get her to come back inside because she knows she was wrong to align herself with Fred and because they need to fix what’s happened. Oh, and also to yell at some dude trying to get a photo of them that she is just an empty vessel, because that is the kind of show this is! Bradley goes inside to appease her, but immediately tries to leave again. It’s Cory who convinces Bradley to stay and “fight the fight” against the Fred Micklands of the world. And off we go!
Several things happen at once: Claire runs into the studio, beside herself over Hannah, and back into Yanko’s arms, which is nice because Yanko’s drunken El Niño speech about the anchovies was really bumming me out. Chip, distraught over his role in Hannah’s death, meets Mitch in the lobby of his building, tells him about Hannah, punches him in the face, and as the two wrestle on the ground, admits that he is the one who leaked the initial story about Mitch to the New York Times. It is awesome. Then, bloody and stumbling around New York, Chip leaves a voice-mail for Alex telling her that he leaked the story because they were going to get rid of her — and he knew that if they didn’t have Mitch, they’d need her to stay: “It was always for you. Always.” YOU GUYS. We don’t even have time to talk about this declaration of love — what a journey my feelings for Chip have gone on this season! — because it’s back at the studio where things are really getting interesting.
Alex Levy can’t even get three words out during the opening of The Morning Show before she asks Bradley to take over. While Bradley tries to get through the news, Alex is, well, she’s having a meltdown. She’s walking all over the studio, in and out of the shot, she’s sweating, she’s asking people on the crew their names and chiding herself for not knowing everyone. Alex Levy decides she isn’t going to be complicit anymore. She gets in Bradley’s shot and starts laying down some truths. Truths about how she turned a blind eye and let the women working at TMS feel threatened without doing anything about it because she was succeeding. Truths about the bogus internal investigations that are going to be released. Truths about Fred Mickland covering up sexual misconduct for years. “Are we doing this?” Bradley asks her co-anchor.
Oh, they are so doing this.
As the two of them quickly spout off the truth, knowing they could be pulled off the air at any time, Cory is in the control room overriding any calls Marlon is trying to make. Fred Mickland runs — runs! — downstairs, but is locked out of the control room, which, punctuated by Cory’s smug wave from inside the room, is honestly hilarious. And finally, as Alex and Bradley rail against simply accepting a culture of silence, Fred has someone completely cut the feed. UBA goes to color bars. It is the only way to stop them. In Times Square, Chip sees the UBA feed go out and knows what Alex and Bradley have done.
Perplexingly, the final shot of the season is of Mitch Kessler, bloodied and bruised, sitting all alone in his giant, empty house, perhaps for the first time reckoning with what he has done — but this is not his story. Instead, as the season ends, I’ll keep with me the image of our two leading ladies taking on an entire network. Remember when Alex Levy, in her fabulous red coat, told the UBA board that they don’t have the power anymore? Yeah, she wasn’t kidding.