A storm is brewing over New York City in AppleTV+’s The Morning Show in more ways than one. While gray clouds hang above midtown Manhattan, the impact of COVID-19 reaches New York City, and UBA isn’t exempt from it.
Alex (Jennifer Aniston) tested positive for COVID in last week’s episode, but has been sent home from the hospital despite some concerning symptoms. Bradley (Reese Witherspoon) searches the streets of Manhattan for her missing brother Hal (Joe Tippett), whom she last saw when he refused to enter rehab. Cory (Billy Crudup) debates holding a launch party for UBA’s new streaming service even though the rest of the world has already realized that having a party at the beginning of a pandemic is a terrible idea. (He’s talked out of it when he hears that Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson have COVID.)
Meanwhile, Chip (Mark Duplass) is apparently back on Alex’s side again even though he just chewed her out for abandoning everyone at UBA to go to Italy. He pitches an idea to Cory: to promote COVID awareness, Alex will record her own UBA+ show from home as she recovers from the virus and chats with epidemiologists. Cory approves the idea, and Alex begins the show at home, sweating and stumbling her way through the text on the teleprompter.
It’s a finale that is surprisingly muted compared to the explosive moments The Morning Show has had in the past. (Season 1’s finale had a character death, Chip getting in a fight with Steve Carell’s Mitch, and Alex and Bradley going rogue on the air to expose UBA’s coverup of sexual misconduct.) Some of it is touching—Witherspoon in particular is excellent as Bradley scrambles to find her estranged brother, and Cory gets a moment of tenderness that is surprisingly earnest for such a self-interested character.
But on the whole, “Fever” is an odd season finale for a show that has yet to be renewed. It leaves the wrong threads hanging. Last week, Yanko (Nestor Carbonell) had a tense reunion with Claire (Bel Powley) that was unresolved. Not only does Powley not appear in “Fever,” but Yanko’s sole appearance in the episode is a quick cut to show that he’s filled in for UBA’s absent anchors. The two were abandoned mid-argument last week, and now we don’t know what happened to them?
And what about Laura (Julianna Margulies), who was revealed to have a heart condition that puts her at risk for COVID? Bradley ignored a call from Laura, and never follows up. At least an assurance that Laura safely arrived at her vacation home in Montana would be nice.
Perhaps the most perplexing choice in “Fever” is Alex’s address to the audience, an attempted justification for not writing off Mitch after he was revealed to be a sexual predator. And among other things, she went to Italy to see him during a pandemic, and did not take COVID precautions, thereby showing up to work while possibly having the virus. She then says she is “done apologizing” for herself and wants America to “get on the Alex Levy train or just stay at the station.” This feels unearned because Alex doesn’t seem remorseful for making choices that made people unsafe.
It’s an odd place to leave The Morning Show in. It’s up to AppleTV+ to decide if they’re still on the Alex Levy train, but her unapologetic embrace of her worst (and arguably dangerous) parts of herself may leave audiences at the station, should there be a third season.