Ah, the spiraling continues. This time with physical manifestations of guilt, so that’s fun! If Alex Levy wasn’t losing her shit before — honestly, what does Alex look like when she isn’t melting down slowly? — she sure is now. And it all comes back to Maggie Brener’s tell-all book.
Maggie Brener’s exposé on the shit show that is TMS and UBA has been hanging over everyone’s heads for the entire season, but with Alex making her big return to the network and taking on the Las Vegas Democratic Debate, it seemed to be put on the back burner of her mind for like, five minutes, which is a lot for our Spiral Queen. Then Miss YDA herself saunters into Alex’s office, and in a way only Mindy Kaling can, Audra, always chipper, always smiling, makes it clear that she will be interviewing Maggie Brener about her book on YDA, and this is just a warning. She might be asking for Alex’s permission with her mouth, but literally nothing else about this interaction backs this up and Alex knows it. The best part of this whole scene is Alex trying to “cut the bullshit” with Audra because she’s always been “gracious” toward her, and Audra is like, “Oh wowwww, you actually believe that,” and then walking out still with a smile on her face. Between that and Laura Peterson’s little anecdote about how she thinks Alex had something to do with her being outed to the people at YDA and then seeing her out and about not long after she crossed the street to avoid her, the show I really want to be watching takes place 10 to 15 years ago as Alex Levy ascends the TMS throne while pushing down everyone around her. Alex seems like she was (and is, let’s be real) a menace, and I would like to be awash in daytime TV anchors being devastatingly passive-aggressive toward one another.
With that one pop-in, Alex Levy is preoccupied with what’s in the book once again. She cuts Chip down when he tells her there’s no way he can get a copy of it, reminding him that he’s going to be all over it too. When she sees that Laura Peterson has joined them on the UBA jet out to Vegas for the debate (she’s fortuitously nabbed an interview with Pete Buttigieg and can hang out with Bradley as she does pre and post-debate coverage), she goes on a rant to Chip about how Laura has never once been nice to her that prompts Chip to ask if she’s okay. Plus, she’s convinced that her back pain, which is only getting worse, is like “some monster inside [her] body” that she can’t get out. She’s stressed and tired and what she won’t say is that she is freaking the fuck out because in her heart of hearts, she knows Maggie’s book will include stuff about her and Mitch sleeping together, and she cannot be associated with Mitch in that way. It is, to her, the absolute worst thing that can happen to her.
She, of course, can’t even say that out loud just yet, mainly because Alex lives in a truly impressive state of denial. After debate rehearsal and a drink with Chip, the two of them return to the hotel, and Alex cannot stop agonizing over what’s in Maggie’s book. Why Chip wants to be around her at all remains a mystery. I mean, yeah yeah, he’s in love with her, but why? She is a terrible person to most people but especially to him. The great hair and Aveeno-soaked skin can only take a person so far. Sure, this man grew up being called Chip, but that cannot be the source of all his self-respect issues, can it? I have to believe that even Chip the Teacup would be like, “Nah, this woman is pure chaos,” and he lived in a cursed castle with a Beast who had the most chaotic mood swings for like, so, so long. Whyyyyy does he love a woman who, when he brings up how she once said she wouldn’t take on Mia as a producer because she didn’t want “Mitch’s garbage,” completely denies it. More than denies it, she yells at Chip to get him to agree that it isn’t true when we all know it is. He tells her she has a funny way of “conveniently” forgetting things (also true), and she really has zero time for that. She accuses him of spilling details to Maggie, but, while yes, he did talk to Maggie for her book, it was only to help Alex’s image. Also, his own, naturally. He wanted people to know that he leaked the Mitch story to the New York Times so that he didn’t seem like a completely bad guy. When he brings that up there is an entire unspoken moment that passes between them that says VOLUMES because we know they know that Chip leaked the Mitch story because of his feelings for Alex, and these two jokers still have not spoken about this. They are so dysfunctional it hurts.
Anyway, Alex simply cannot let any of this go. She can barely walk because of her back pain and yet still arrives at Maggie Brener’s hotel room — Maggie’s in Vegas to cover the debates and also to torture Alex, depending on who you ask — to pretty much beg Maggie to see the book. It is embarrassing for everyone. Eventually, Maggie figures out that the only thing Alex is really concerned about is her and Mitch’s sexual relationship getting out. It certainly doesn’t help that Alex finds a mockup of the book and discovers it’s called The Wrong Side of the Bed: Corruption, Cover-Ups, and a Crisis of Culture at America’s Number One Morning Show with Alex and Mitch plastered all over the front. Alex, in tears, yells that she’s going to sue Maggie for libel if that’s in the book, and Maggie, unbothered, tells her she can sue her if it’s untrue. They both know it’s not. Hey, at least Maggie agrees to keep this little meeting just between them. “So don’t say I don’t care,” she tells Alex, who hobbles out. Has this woman ever been lower? To no one’s surprise, Alex calls out of the debate — hey, Bradley has fished her wish! — and instead, we find her on a plane headed to who knows where, but definitely getting her the hell out of Las Vegas.
Also continuing to unravel is Cory Ellison. Two things are happening simultaneously in his life that end up intersecting in the most devious of ways. The first is the ongoing problem of Fred Micklen trying to start a smear campaign against Hannah Shoenfeld by planting awful stories about her in the hopes of her family either settling or dismissing their wrongful death suit. Cory’s conversation with Fred goes nowhere; the guy is way past bargaining, he’s taking this into his own hands, and he makes sure to remind Cory that because of the deal they made in which Cory got him a buyout of $119.2 million in exchange for taking over the UBA CEO position, if Fred goes down, so will Cory. Cory goes to plan B: He flies out to Green Bay, Wisconsin, meets with Hannah’s father, and begs him just to take the settlement money. It’s the best he’s going to get, he tries to reason with him. But, it turns out that Hannah’s father doesn’t much care about the money, but rather punishing UBA and making a point about how horrible it was that they gave Fred Micklen all that money to sweep the whole situation under the rug. He also, rather appallingly, doesn’t care that there will be terrible stories written about his daughter; he’s not settling. When Cory tells him what will be in these stories, his only response is, “Well, is it true?” Just when you thought you couldn’t feel any worse for Hannah, huh?
Cory learns that to get rid of the Hannah story from the one outlet that’s planning on running with it, he’ll have to give them an even more scandalous one. Wouldn’t ya know, one just happens to fall into his lap. His assistant Kyle tries his hand at a bit of assistant/boss gossip time and tells Cory that his friend saw Laura Peterson and Bradley Jackson together, and it definitely seems like they’re dating. “Nobody likes a gossip, Kyle,” Cory says, but that’s not true. We all love a gossip! Billy Crudup is doing some real Acting in this moment as we watch his face quietly shift from assured disbelief to doubt to jealousy and anger. We’re really going for the Cory loves Bradley thing in season two. Don’t say this show never reaches for the stars, okay?!
Just in case you were incredulous about Cory’s feelings, we even get a flashback to right before Bradley’s big board meeting after she was suspended and Cory fired for a hot second. We see Cory and Reese Witherspoon’s Brunette Wig engage in some drunk close talking and light, flirty touching, and Reese Witherspoon’s Brunette Wig says something about there being “advantages” to Cory not being her boss, and maybe they fucked? Will we ever know? Anyway, Cory loves Bradley, and he is HURT when he learns that she is with Laura. He’s so hurt, in fact, that after he confirms the two are dating by catching Bradley in a lie while she’s in Vegas and he overhears Laura in the same room, he has a long chat with her about her being his moral compass, his “Jiminy Cricket,” if you will. If she says that he should do whatever it takes, no matter what, to stop the Hannah stories from coming out, then he’ll know it’s the right decision. Of course, she says, protect Hannah at all costs. She doesn’t yet know that “all costs” means Cory will trade Hannah’s story for the story of Bradley and Laura secretly sleeping together. It is a real dick move to say the absolute least. Everyone is terrible! If only we could all hop on Alex’s private plane and fly far, far away!
In Other News
• Mitch is quarantining with Paola in Italy, and to pass the time and get some interview practice, she convinces him to do an interview with her. He is the Saddest Boy and also the Guiltiest Boy and talks about how his biggest crime when it comes to Hannah is how when he went to her to get her to help him ahead of what was to be his TMS interview; he saw the pain he was inflicting on her and continued to push her. These taped interviews are going to come back in some way, right? As much as Paola insists they are just for her?
• Yanko is really having a time here. He learns that after his half-assed apology, they’re sending him to Florida to meet with representatives from the Seminole tribe, which he’s fine with, but he is sick and tired of having to, as he puts it “genuflect at the altar of Stella’s progressive bullshit.” Later, however, he witnesses a man yelling racial slurs at Stella on the street, and Yanko promptly goes and kicks the shit out of the guy. It’s all on video, so … that’ll be another Yanko fire to deal with.