Fires have been seen as a symbol of rebirth going back to ancient mythology, as Yanko Flores (Nestor Carbonell) so aptly explains in episode 6 of The Morning Show, “The Pendulum Swings.” From the ashes, something wonderful, new, and exciting can arise. Yanko muses over the deeper meaning of a blazing flames when the The Morning Show crew relocates to Malibu to cover the wildfires terrorizing the beachside community. They’re initially called to the West Coast by Fred (Tom Irwin), who wants all the chitter-chatter around #MeToo to stop already (mind you it has literally been four — at most five — days since Mitch Kessler [Steve Carrell] was fired). There’s a fire under Fred’s literal ass since it’s basically confirmed by Chip (Mark Duplass) that he has insight on some searing allegations against the president of UBA. So, he wants everyone else occupied with the smoke and ash blanketing the Golden State.
While the dysfunctional gang is trying not to breathe in smoke, Alex Levy (Jennifer Aniston) is finally exhaling all her toxic pent-up energy. Her (wildly patient) husband, Jacob Craig (Jack Davenport) is finally calling bullshit on their marriage, and demanding an actual, legal divorce. He’s done being married to a “charming narcissist” — an extremely apt description of Alex — and wants to be more than just separated from her. He wants to be free. The only issue is their daughter Lizzy (Oona Roche). Alex is terrified of telling her daughter about the divorce because she thinks Lizzy will blame her career on the failed relationship, and the weight of this concern leads to Alex’s emotional on-camera meltdown. (I’d venture to say Lizzy will just shrug when she hears about the divorce; she’s basically an adult and fully aware of her parents’ actual situation.)
An unlikely ally in Alex’s breakdown is Bradley Jackson (Reese Witherspoon), who is reeling from her own mini-breakdown from episode 5 when she slept with the bartender in the supply closet, talked to her estranged father — who we find out killed a kid when he was drunk driving — and woke up in the same room as the snakey Cory Ellison (Billy Crudup). Because of Bradley’s home life, she is pretty well-equipped to deal with Alex’s emotional volcano. (Alex literally erupts and vomits all over her trailer in the heat of her breakdown.)
The unexpectedly real interaction between the two co-anchors, who have been at odds ever since the Ashley interview in episode 4, gives them the opportunity to move on. They share a warm embrace, and it feels like, for a brief moment, the two women genuinely like and trust each other. Until, of course, Mitch drops a bomb. At the very end of the episode, Mitch emails Bradley teasing that he has some piping hot tea she might be interested in. The camera cuts to Alex staring out at the blazing wildfires, a suggestion of the inferno that awaits us in the next episode.
I think Mitch is looking to confirm that Alex was fully complicit in the conspiracy of silence Bradley implied existing at TSM before Mitch’s departure. This would ruin the bit of trust between her and Alex, and also reignite Bradley’s own quest for truth about the sexual misconduct and harassment happening at America’s favorite morning show.
With that, it’s only a matter of time before Cory folds Bradley into he and Chip’s coup to oust Fred. Chip is scheming to insure the longevity of his own career, and is about to leak another story about TSM (his second or third — it’s basically confirmed he leaked at least one of the Mitch stories) with Cory’s help. He wants Fred fired, and Cory to replace him, so that Cory can then keep Chip safe as an IOU. Because of Cory’s resounding interest in Bradley — are they really just going to stay friends? — he will also want to preserve her role at TSM.
All this is to say: Alex is not safe in her marriage, in her job, or in her new relationship with Bradley. And until they all get out of the path of the fires, she’s not safe from Mother Nature’s blazing wrath either.
Water cooler gossip:
-Claire (Bel Powley) got a promotion! She’s now Bradley’s executive assistant, which is amazing for her, until she gets a little too comfortable with her new, more powerful position. She waltzes over to Yanko’s room at the motel the crew is sharing, and Hannah (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) sees them together. I’m not sure Hannah will say anything — I’m not sure what she has to gain unless she is secretly harboring a desire to be a weather woman on the show — but now is not a good time for this news to come out.
-Speaking of Hannah, we learn a little more about the smooth-talking booker’s personal life. Her mom died when she was 10, and she has a lot of unearthed trauma bubbling inside her. She says this makes her good at her job, but then we see a glimpse of her alone in her motel room, surrounded by prescription bottles, and even a needle. I hope she finds the help she needs, and soon!
-Mean Jennifer Aniston is amazing.