There have been a few notable meltdowns in this season of The Morning Show, but episode 7 is basically one long therapy session. Now that the cast is back from the fiery Malibu coast, they face a new danger: Open waters. Per the episode’s title, the network finds itself in open waters, exposed for another damning exposé thanks to Cory (Billy Crudup) and Chip’s (Mark Duplass) recent alliance. Even more specifically, Alex Levy (Jennifer Aniston) faces a threat bigger than the Great White shark that stalked Blake Lively’s character in The Shallows. Not only is she bracing herself for public backlash to her divorce, but she is also smack in the path of the scandal tornado known Mitch Kessler (Steve Carell), because misery loves company. Mitch wants to take down UBA — including Alex and Chip — and he wants to do it with everyone’s favorite truth-seeking brunette: Bradley Jackson (Reese Witherspoon).
Still, despite all the drama unfolding amongst the major players we’ve come to know, it’s The Morning Show’s behind-the-scenes characters that are truly causing turbulence in this episode, which marks the final stretch of season one of the show. Mia Jordan (Karen Pittman), Claire (Bel Powley), and Lizzy (Oona Roche) all become key components in this hour-long therapy session when they each air out their dirty laundry to their respective audiences. Mia vents to the entire broadcast team about their treatment of her: We know she slept with Mitch a while back, and that many think she is the person behind the New York Times leaks (it’s really Chip), not to mention that she got to her desirable position as a lead producer because of her relationship with Mitch. She screams as much through a loudspeaker, announcing that she just wants to do her job, so everyone who has a dick, or a bone to pick, can just fuck off.
Claire’s outburst happens behind closed doors when she and weatherman Yanko Flores (Nestor Carbonell) decide to come clean about their private relationship in the midst of the internal investigation. Claire gets defensive over the nature of their power dynamic — she sees herself as the partner-in-power; she pursued him, she got a promotion at the company without his help (remember, Bradley recruited her to be her executive assistant), and she still doesn’t know if she even likes him that much. She’s young and having fun. And now she has to DTR (define the relationship) to an HR rep? No thank you.
And lastly, there’s Lizzy. Sweet, whiney Lizzy, who I haven’t really liked since the beginning. But, she does call out her mom, Alex, on all her petty bullshit, which is refreshing to hear. That is until Alex, being Alex, twists her daughter’s pain over the news of her parent’s divorce — sudden in her eyes, slow-burning in everyone else's — into a conversation about her own career. She tells her daughter to shut the fuck up, and stop acting like some progressive, holier-than-thou princess. She laments about her daughter fucking up her body, her life, and her happiness, by constantly making her feel guilty about craving success. The conversation ends with them both in tears, hurling insults at each other. The blowout is enough to make even Madeline Martha Mackenzie and Abigail blush.
The intensity around Alex’s pending divorce — the scene where she has to strategize how she will announce the split to America was hard to watch considering Aniston’s been through her own mammoth separations — is enough to distract her from the rising tide. By the end of the episode, Mitch has convinced Bradley to hear his side of the story, which will incriminate Chip and Alex. He teases that he has someone who will defend his name, and take his side. Based on Mia’s earlier confessions about Mitch, and the implications from her co-workers that she benefited heavily from their secret romance, viewers are led to believe that Mia is Mitch’s smoking gun. But instead, he visits Hannah’s (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) apartment, informing her that he’s cashing in on his side of the bargain. Hannah herself hinted at such a workplace transaction when she suggested Claire use the hectic environment of the fires to get close to the co-anchors and push for a promotion. Now, we seemingly know what she meant.
Like Mitch, Fred is creating his own Fantasy League for keeping his job and his name out of the papers. Cory is down to help Chip eliminate Fred from his high-power position, but he tells Chip to be patient. Neither stay good on their word, though. By the end of the episode, Chip basically begs New York Magazine’s Maggie (Marcia Gay Harden) to let him spill more tea about the network (she refuses — she wants even bigger scoop), and Cory threatens Fred by seemingly quoting Joker: “You might want to smile more, before you end up with a permanent frown.”
Everyone’s hanging onto their buoy for life, but drifting deeper out to sea. The only person who is on a lifeboat, safe and sound? Mindy Kaling as a cut-throat competing news anchor whose one boozy lunch away from convincing Daniel (Desean Terry) to join YDA.
At this rate of potential upheaval, season two will have to be called: The Morning Shows.