Alex Levy is missing, and that’s a big problem. A problem for TMS (after all of Alex Levy’s home fanfare?), a problem for Chip, and a problem for us, the audience. This show needs Alex Levy. It needs her sparring with Cory, and it definitely needs her sparring with Bradley. There have been so few Alex/Bradley scenes this season! What the hell are we even doing here, guys?!
While Chip is pretending to have the Alex situation under control and repeatedly telling everyone that she’s under doctor’s orders to rest because of her back pain, we know he’s freaking the fuck out because he can’t get ahold of her. We also know that since she hopped on that plane and fled from the Democratic debate in Vegas, she has yet to reappear anywhere, but you’ve got to assume that all roads lead to Mitch, right? His story line has to intersect with everything else that’s going on at some point. For now, it remains a mystery. All TMS can do is figure out how to not look like complete idiots (sort of impossible at this point) and find someone to fill in. Chip suggests Laura Peterson, probably to get back at Alex, who is basically torturing him at this point. Cory hops all over that, probably hoping that someone else would suggest her. He did the dirty deed of feeding the Bradley/Laura story to the Vault and even informs it where they’ll be so that the tabloid can get pictures, and now he is staring wistfully out of windows and other things you do when you’re the Saddest Boy in New York. So does he want Laura Peterson right next to Bradley on TMS when this story drops because he’s extra-petty and spiteful toward the woman he’s harboring intense feelings for, or is he hoping to spectacularly blow up her life so that she comes running back to him? It’s probably a healthy mixture of both.
At Bradley’s urging, Laura agrees to take the gig. If Bradley had any sense or made any sense, this woman who seems terrified of being outed would probably not want to be so closely tied to her girlfriend in public, alas. I will follow along with this tale of convenience only because it gives us the gift that keeps on giving: Julianna Margulies’s devastating line reading of “Yeah, I won’t be doing that” when asked to wear Groucho Marx glasses for a segment. That moment got rid of three gray hairs on my head, it was so healing.
You know who is probably popping new grays all over the place due to tension and anxiety and guilt? Cory Ellison. He’s standing there in the control room watching Bradley and Laura blatantly flirt during a heart-health segment, just waiting for the story of their secret relationship to go live, and even Stella can tell something’s up with him. He’s nowhere to be found when the story does finally hit the interwebs. Bradley learns about it during a commercial break when her drug-addict brother Hal, who has arrived in NYC for a surprise visit, texts her the link.
Bradley has a meltdown in her dressing room. She’s a very private person, and she doesn’t want any information getting out about anyone she is or isn’t dating, she explains. Laura, who, let’s remember, was also publicly outed back in the day and was understandably very traumatized by the whole thing, tries to empathize while also reminding her that she’ll be just fine. Bradley gathers herself enough to show up for the final segment of the show. Later, as she hides in her dressing room (again) until everyone is gone, they have a fight on the phone when Laura introduces Bradley to the concept of therapy, Bradley keeps piping in about Laura not understanding the way she grew up, and Laura has exactly no time for Bradley interrupting her. I don’t know, this whole relationship has much more of a “woman in need of a mother figure” vibe than a hot sexual-chemistry one, no? Anyway, Bradley then heads home to face Hal.
Oh, buddy, the siblings from West Virginia get into it. Hal is upset because their mom has been calling him nonstop after hearing about Bradley being gay and she is Not Having It. Remember Bradley’s mother, a truly terrible person? The fight goes from Bradley wanting their small town to have evolved a bit, to explaining how traumatizing it is to be outed, to Hal yelling about how their mother has gotten even worse since Bradley’s given her money and she’s killing him and that he’s depressed and thinks the only way he can survive and stay clean is by being with Bradley. Bradley, of course, has to explain how that is a whole fucking lot to put on a person, especially one whose life just blew up in front of them. To quote Bradley Jackson, it’s exhausting. I’m exhausted.
And then Cory shows up. Perhaps to see the chaos he hath wrought or to assuage his guilt or to see if Bradley would crumple into his arms. The conversation does not seem to go the way he hoped. Instead, as they talk about what happened, Bradley comes to a realization: that she really likes Laura and she likes who she is with her — certainly a better version of herself than she is with her family — and that this moment is forcing her to grow because she now gets the chance to admit to real feelings for someone else. Why does she care about what terrible people think about her? “I’m glad that it worked out,” Cory tells Bradley. But it does not look like he’s glad. It looks like he needs to go find another window to stare out of longingly. But Bradley doesn’t notice this. Instead, she walks back into her hotel-room house with resolve and tells her brother that she wants him gone by tomorrow morning.
In Other News
• Where is this Yanko story line going? After his very-much-recorded fight on the street with that racist, he has a sit-down with Stella. He thinks it should be fine since the only reason he smashed that dude’s face with his fists was to defend Stella in the first place. Unfortunately, he doesn’t know that she just had a run-in with our favorite executive board member Cybil, who tells Stella to get her shit together, stop letting the talent walk all over her, and figure out where her loyalties lie (does she want to be tied to Cory Ellison forever?). She’s going to give Cybil what she wants. In this instance, specifically, that’s suspending Yanko. Oh, he’s real pissed and feels like he just can’t win in this place. Or in society, I guess.
• In this conversation with Cybil, Stella also learns that Cory was supposed to fire Bradley and didn’t. Listen, I love Cory Ellison, but are we headed toward a Stella Bak coup of some kind? She’s got to step into her power at some point, right? Cory’s always a better character when he’s scheming to claw his way to the top anyway.
• Mia’s finally letting some of her real feelings out: She learns that Vanity Fair is running an excerpt of the Maggie Brener book, and it’s mostly about how Mitch Kessler targeted Black women. First, she takes it out on Rena, who really is just in the wrong place at the wrong time, and then Chip, and honestly, if anyone has justification for screaming at Chip, it’s Mia.
• Speaking of, what was that scene between Alex’s assistant Isabella and Chip? Dang, girl! Chip finds Isabella at Alex’s apartment and learns that Alex is truly gone, and when things get a little heated because he wants answers and she was told not to tell Chip anything, she proceeds to ream him and all “mediocre white men” out for “fucking things up and getting second chances” out of nowhere, really. Her anger falls a little flat since in this moment she’s defending Alex Levy, who, uh, has done some pretty terrible things and seems to get a whole host of second chances.
• Daniel continues to go off-script: In what is supposed to be a fluff interview with UBA late-night host Peter Bullard (Dave Foley!), he calls him out for referring to Daniel as “mincing.” It gets tense on-air until Mia makes Daniel pull back, but some damage has been done. We know Daniel is still hanging out with Audra — perhaps it’s time for him to fly the TMS coop and head over to YDA. Life’s too short, my friend.