Content and trigger warning: This review contains spoilers for Season 2, Episode 7, and discusses suicide.
This week’s episode, “La Amara Vita,” picks up in Italy, where Mitch (Steve Carell) has been laying low all season since the misconduct scandal broke. It’s late February 2020, and he’s been exposed to COVID-19. He’s quarantining in the villa he’s been renting for several months, and an unexpected visitor arrives: Alex herself.
Alex is aware she’s left UBA in shambles, having abandoned a high-profile job moderating a presidential debate, and giving the network no notice. She only just rejoined The Morning Show after nearly a yearlong absence. But in Las Vegas, she learned that Mitch didn’t explicitly deny the claim that they slept together years earlier; now that information is about to be published in Maggie’s (Marcia Gay Harden) new exposé about UBA’s troubled history.
“La Amara Vita” is a smaller-scale episode than usual, primarily taking place in Mitch’s villa. Where last week’s episode did not feature Alex or Mitch, this week doesn’t feature anyone at UBA. It’s an intimate episode, featuring Alex and Mitch arguing, making up, and arguing and making up again, over and over as emotions run high.
Alex and Mitch have never been particularly likable characters, as both tend to reconstruct narratives to fit their desires. (A small, but telling, detail here is that Alex is only concerned about COVID-19 when it’s a personal inconvenience to her.) Mitch has slowly been coming around to the idea that his sexual misconduct at the network was inappropriate and predatory, but still hasn’t made an effort to publicly apologize.
“La Amara Vita” is decisive in Mitch’s arc—namely, that it ends. The episode ends as Mitch drives alone at night through the Italian countryside. Though we see him swerve to avoid hitting another car, Mitch lets go of the wheel as his car careens toward the side of a cliff. As his hands retract, his last thought is of dancing with Alex. Though we don’t see or hear the aftermath of the moment, showrunner Kerry Ehrin confirmed that Mitch intentionally chose not to stop the car.
Speaking with Variety, Ehrin said the choice to kill Mitch off “was because his story had effectively run out,” as she could not envision him “attempting to claw his way back to a media job after all that had happened.” It does seem as though that’s the case—after all Mitch has done, how would the show have justified his continued presence as a protagonist? Though his guilt certainly amplified over the course of the season, the fact remains that he assaulted a colleague who later took her own life, and he made no public effort to take accountability for his actions. Mitch sees he’s destroyed his own life by ruining others. (Though Mitch was quarantining due to a COVID-19 exposure in this episode, Ehrin said Mitch didn’t die of COVID-19 because it would have been “exploitative” of the current crisis.)
It’s a powerful and painful episode. “La Amara Vita” really shines through the pairing of Aniston and Carell. They sink into their roles here in a way that wasn’t always palpable in previous episodes. As two of the most famous faces in American television, it’s not always easy to see Alex and Mitch without also seeing Rachel from Friends and Michael from The Office. But in “La Amara Vita,” Aniston and Carell inhabit their roles to their fullest potential. Their energy is equally tense and tender, and illuminates why America, in the world of The Morning Show, would have embraced them as beloved daytime television co-anchors.
“La Amara Vita” is (roughly translated) Italian for “the bitter life.” It’s a fitting title: a bitter life and a bitter end for a character who caused a lot of strife for others. Alex reminds Mitch in this episode that she got hurt in the shuffle, too. She’s spent the last year realizing that her longtime colleague and friend isn’t a good person, and her life has fallen apart because of it. And though Alex is arguably the most self-interested character on the series, it’s hard to forget that The Morning Show began as the story of a disgraced public figure and the colleague he left behind. A bitter life for Alex, indeed.
The Morning Show drops Fridays on AppleTV+.