This article contains spoilers for Season 2, Episode 8 of The Morning Show, “Confirmations.”
AppleTV+’s The Morning Show has never really figured itself out. Season 1 wanted to be a hard-hitting takedown of misogyny and workplace sexism by way of #MeToo (and a thinly-veiled portrait of Matt Lauer’s exit from Today). Instead, it was a soapy drama anchored by its constant display of famous people you’ve loved in other projects. And this season, though committed more unashamedly to the soapy nature of the story, has flip-flopped from being fine if slow to hey, maybe this show is good!
This week’s episode, “Confirmations,” is a welcome entry that gives the impression of a sense of direction that the show has badly needed all season. Much of this season has been a blatant countdown to the arrival of COVID-19 in America, and the narrative has suffered for it. (24’s periodic ticking clocks felt more subtle than The Morning Show’s shoehorned reminders that this season takes place in the weeks before mid-March 2020). In short, it felt like there was no driving purpose behind this season beyond the idea that a hypothetical Season 3 (the show has yet to be renewed) would explore the impact of the pandemic.
If anything, “Confirmations” demonstrates a sense of direction for Alex (Jennifer Aniston), who finally gets some comeuppance for her self-interested ways. But how do we get there?
“Confirmations” opens in the early hours of the morning, as the sleepy UBA employees tumble into the building to prepare for another episode of The Morning Show. Producer Mia (Karen Pittman) receives an unconfirmed report that Mitch (Steve Carell, whose final appearance was in last week’s episode) has died in a car accident in Italy. She races to confirm the story before breaking the news to the Morning Show team, and subsequently, to America. (Pittman’s performance excels here, as Karen wrestles with her complicated history with Mitch.)
Bradley (Reese Witherspoon) still feels her complicated family is incompatible with her desire to be with Laura (Julianna Margulies). Cory (Billy Crudup) and Stella (Greta Lee) remain at odds over how to run the network. More is made of the upcoming book exposing the issues at the show during Mitch’s tenure. Though these are necessary continuations of the story, “Confirmations” becomes Alex’s episode in the second half, and it’s a stronger episode for it.
Alex has never been particularly likeable, but AppleTV+ has banked on Jennifer Aniston’s likeability to lure the audience into this character’s world. Yes, Alex was hurt and blindsided by Mitch’s exit from The Morning Show, but she also left an important part of her job and faked an injury to fly to Italy and confront Mitch. She left her producer, Chip (Mark Duplass), scrambling.
Alex returns to America and Chip picks her up at the airport, somberly relaying the news of Mitch’s death. Mitch’s family hasn’t heard the news yet, and Alex feels it’s her responsibility to tell them. But Alex’s grief is punctured by a screaming match with Chip, who felt abandoned by Alex after she left the presidential debate and left the country. Chip explodes with anger as he explains to Alex how her behavior impacts other people—UBA had to quickly choose a new debate moderator, Chip was petrified that Alex’s (fictitious) injury was a problem, and she flew “off to Italy to rendezvous with a vicious sexual predator while in the middle of a burgeoning pandemic!”
Breaking the news to Mitch’s family doesn’t go well for Alex, either. Mitch’s wife Paige (Embeth Davidtz) long suspected that Alex and Mitch had previously slept together. “You two were made for each other,” Paige sneers, “sorry for your loss.” It’s a cold but long overdue wakeup call for Alex, who is stricken by Paige’s harshness and still reeling from Chip’s confrontation.
There are only two episodes left in this season of The Morning Show, and there’s a lot of potential for a truly great finish—Alex has been confronted with the consequences of her actions. There’s opportunity for character growth here, and it’s necessary. It took a long time—perhaps too long—to get here, but the season’s not over yet. Maybe the series will be even better from here.
The Morning Show drops Fridays on AppleTV+.