Mitch fishes around for a very particular outlet to tell his story while Alex deals with her divorce in 'Open Waters.'

By Jodi Walker
December 06, 2019 at 07:58 PM EST
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Henceforth, this episode of The Morning Show shall be known as Succession Lite. To wit: There are clandestine meetings in abandoned parks, casual coups planned over street falafel, and many matter-of-fact discussions about divorces while wearing gorgeous wide-leg pants. But while, say, Alex and Chip could fit right in on Succession with all their scheming and self-serving, on The Morning Show, there’s also the Bradley-and-Chip side of things — oh, they of bleeding hearts and morality tales.

It’s not an insult to say that The Morning Show sometimes comes off as a lighter version of Succession; it’s just that The Morning Show can never fully commit to the salacious thrill of greedy power-grabs and failed conniving because the story it’s actually telling more successfully is the moral struggle with it all. Its seventh episode paints a picture of a group of people who have spent years of their lives protecting a corporation that they’re now realizing will never protect them back. The Morning Show has taken up all the space in these people’s consciousness, so much so that it’s pushed them out of their own lives.

“Do you ever just not know who you are or what you want — all of the sudden you just don’t feel anything?” Alex asks Bradley after having to tell her daughter that she’s getting a divorce from Jason. Watching Bradley try to remain kind while also being like, “No, not at all,” is quite fun, even amid all the sadness, and I wish there was a little more deep-diving on that kind of conflict over the late-night coups in this episode. But as it is, the hour opens on Cory and Chip discussing how to overthrow Fred as head of UBA, and quickly moves to Bradley literally meeting Mitch in the shadows of Central Park.

After reaching out to her at the end of the last episode, Mitch lures Bradley to a park with promises that he can tell her the full story of how his misdeeds at The Morning Show went down, who knew, and who covered it up. But it’s clear that Mitch still doesn’t think he did anything wrong in using his power and untouchability as lead anchor to sleep with younger women working on the show — he just wants revenge, and he wants it on The Morning Show. Mitch tells Bradley that he wants her to interview him on the show so that they can “lift the veil that protects the corporate public master who, quite frankly, run the whole runs the whole f—ing country.”

But, investigative journalist extraordinaire that she is, Bradley sees through Mitch’s pleas for truth-telling. “You’re not doing this to be altruistic, to take down the big, bad executives at UBA,” she tells him. “You’re doing this because you’re hoping to be exonerated, and I don’t want any part of that.” Mitch assures Bradley that he has proof and witnesses to back up his story, including a woman he had relations with who “basically used [him] to get a career bump.” Oh! Yes! I’m sure that’s how you see it, Mitch!

Bradley doesn’t flat-out say no, but she also has the show to consider now, and all the people who work there that she’s grown to care about it. She and Alex bonded in the previous episode over Alex’s fear of Lizzie blaming her for the impending divorce — and indeed, that was a valid fear. Lizzie is extremely upset when Alex and Justin tell her they’re getting a divorce, saying that Alex has never made them her priority over her job. That’s how Alex ends up posing her “Do you ever just not know who you are?” question to Bradley, and Bradley ends up becoming her sort-of confidante, and somehow a plan is made for them to co-announce it live on air after writing a segment at Alex’s house over dinner. Besties!

But not everyone is feeling so supported. While the show is airing the next morning, Chip gathers his writers and producers to talk about which segment they should fill an empty spot with. Mia pushes for one of Bradley’s, while a younger writer named Nicky stands by a segment on climate change. As tension builds, Nicky suggests that Mia take her lips off Chip’s ass: “Everyone already knows that’s your specialty.” Nicky quickly apologizes, and Mia says they should move on, but Chip stays silent for a moment, and then tells Nicky to pack his things; he’s fired. “I’m being punished for saying to her face what every single person has been saying behind her back for 18 months?” Nicky asks incredulously, which is clearly in the script to make Mia feel isolated, but it also makes me realize that The Morning Show uses “18 months” as a frame of reference a lot, which no adult human has ever used to categorize time unless referring to a baby.

For example, I recall Claire saying that she’s worked at The Morning Show for 18 months — sure, okay — and as we know, somewhere in those 18 months she began dating Yanko the Weatherman. Now human resources has emailed them both asking for a meeting, and it… does not go well! At least not for Claire, who is much less keen to officially declare their relationship than Yanko the Weatherman. He tells H.R. that he slowly became friends with Claire because when she would do research for him, “She was willing to listen and genuinely engage with my work, which is not always the case — people rely on the weather, but they have a problem taking it seriously.” Yanko loves the weather so much.

Claire corroborates Yanko’s story to H.R. in her own unique Claire way: “His brain is just really f—ing sexy.” Claire is insistent that she’s the one who pursued a romantic relationship with Yanko, and is clearly on the defense from the moment she enters the room. But even though her defensiveness isn’t particularly helpful to the situation, she has a right to be uneasy about declaring their relationship. When the woman conducting the interview tells Claire it’s her job to “examine whether the two of you working in the same environment is sustainable,” Claire assumes that she means she’ll be the one who’s fired if it seems unsustainable, and storms out of the meeting.

So, that’s one weatherman whose future is looking a little questionable… and what about the rest of the Morning Show cast and crew, you ask? Well, Daniel is being wooed by Audra, who calls him just the “beautiful, deep-feeling, boring man who loves hard news” they need over at Your Day America. And then there’s Chip, who tries to use his interview with Maggie for this eternally ongoing Bradley profile to also float the idea that there might be a little smoke around the idea of UBA being incriminated in the Mitch allegations, and perhaps Maggie might like to sniff out that fire for New York magazine.

But Cory warned Chip — he told him over the best falafel in the city (“I read about it on Eater!”) not to chase Fred out in the open unless he was sure he had the ammo to take him down. Maggie can smell Chip’s desperation, telling him that no one grows a conscience about being complicit in a multibillion-dollar corporation’s misdeeds overnight: “You grow a conscience when someone from that corporation gives you permission to have one.” Cory’s commitment to keeping Chip on if he’s able to usurp Fred is Chip’s permission, and now that’s the story Maggie’s onto.

Even with all this going on, the cast is able to come together to take some big-happy-family promo shots for the new Mitch-less Morning Show marketing. However, in the middle of said photo shoot, a highly disgruntled Mia comes over the intercom system in the studio. You see, yet another man in the control room has alluded to everyone knowing about the former relationship between her and Mitch, also noting that Nicky was just making a joke and saying he shouldn’t be fired for saying what everyone else is thinking. Cool!

Mia takes a beat, then picks up the intercom microphone: “This is Mia Jordan — I’m the scorned, oversensitive woman who screwed the lead anchor to help her career, and got him fired when he didn’t want to leave his wife, and now I’m out for blood, so everyone with a dick better be careful because she hates dicks now.” Mia says she knows what everyone is saying about her relationship with Mitch, and how she got Nicky fired, and leaked the Mitch story to the Times, and is probably the Zodiac killer. She could deny all the gossip, which is mostly untrue, but she’s too tired, and what would be the point, anyway? “Everybody’s already decided what to believe.”

While everyone listens in shock, Mia pleads for them to just let her move on with her life. “We are all just people who want to do our jobs, do good work,” she says. “So that’s what I’m gonna focus on… because I’d like to be known in this world for something other than f—ing Mitch Kessler, and I think I deserve that opportunity.”

She certainly does, but I hate to break it to Mia, that Mitch Kessler stench seems nearly impossible to shake. Much like the show that made him famous, Mitch has infected all of these people’s lives, and taken up space that should have never belonged to him. Even in her divorce, Alex not only has to account for how it looks for The Morning Show, but what it says about her and Mitch. A scary public relations company tells her that the only way she can be seen as anything but a heartless, high-maintenance workaholic is if it came out Jason cheated on her with a younger woman — in which case, the caveat would be that she also seems pathetic — and no matter what, people are going to read into the fact that she’s filing for divorce just a few weeks after Mitch.

Even Alex’s daughter wonders if there’s anything there.

Alex shows up at Lizzie’s boarding school dorm room unannounced with pizza, and that is very much the wrong move. Lizzie is still really upset, and her mother trying to smooth things over by saying she knows that it hurts does nothing to make Lizzie feel better, and everything to suggest that Alex just wants to assuage her own guilt. Alex insists to her daughter that she has tried to save the marriage, that 25 years is a long time, and that she can’t even explain how lonely she’s been. After Lizzie says she’s still too hurt to see any kind of bigger picture, Alex pleads, “We’ve always been there for each other, you’re my baby — let’s just not do this right now.”

Oh, and that is super not the right the thing to say. Lizzie says she can’t believe her mom is doing this, and when Alex asks what she’s doing, Lizzie screams, “I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE CARE OF YOU RIGHT NOW!” There’s been mention that Lizzie has been going to therapy, and it’s clear she’s been working through some feelings on growing up with a mom like Alex.

Alex says she’ll leave, but when Lizzie snips that she should go lean on America, maybe they’ll take care of her, Alex whips back around, and cries, “Oh, f— you, kid!” She screams at Lizzie that she’s done everything for her, she broke her vagina “with that big f—ing head of yours,” she stayed with Jason for years while he treated her like a 5-year-old, and now she wants happiness. “Yes, I worked my ass off to get where I am, and I wanted it,” Alex yells at her daughter. “I wanted to be something in this world! I didn’t know that was a crime.”

It’s not. But it’s probably also not going to make your sad teenage daughter feel much better, especially when you take back the pizza you brought for her, and yell “F— you, kid!” yet another time before storming out.

As if things couldn’t get worse for Alex, back in the city, Bradley is calling Mitch and telling him that if he can find someone to corroborate his story, she might be interested in telling it…

That’s how Mitch winds up at Hannah’s doorstep (all those Hannah close-ups had to mean something!) saying, “Hey, kiddo… you got something out of me, and now it’s time for you to repay the favor,” like the true creep he is.

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