Episode 05: Ghosts
"Do I need to explain the concept of a mobile phone to you?"
Sorry this is so late! Not to be a fanfic writer about it, but I was traveling back from a week upstate and the train WiFi was NOT delivering the quality of stills you all deserve.
Thank you to the Inside The Episode feature for this incredible Jennifer Aniston quote.
“Alex, It’s A Little Late To Be Storming Into My Hotel Room, Stamping Your Feet.”
Let us LEAP right into the drama, shall we? Cory has finally decided to call Fred back w/r/t to the stories he is planting about Hannah. Fred is, as I’m sure we all remember, in Italy and boy is he not taking too kindly to this! The important thing we learn from this conversation is that the buyout Cory negotiated for Fred was indeed so he could be made CEO. Fred makes mention of “the woke mob” (Hii!!!!) and how they wouldn’t be too pleased to hear this information. We are treated to a flashback where Fred brings this proposal to Cory, he refers to himself as Nixon and Cory as Ford because idk, Boomer Culture? “You give me my pardon and my exit package, and I get onto that helicopter and fly off into sunset.” In the present, Fred is reminding Cory that they made a deal, and if it goes away he will have no reason to spare him. Music of a melodramatic kind plays.
Bradley is skipping back to her room with a blissed out expression, leading me to assume Laura accepted her gift card and they exchanged many orgasms. She is a bit startled to see Cory hanging out in front of her room, which, you know, fair. I assume this is all taking place later in the evening than the events of last week’s episode but you know it is quite simply too hard to tell!
“I wanted to see a human being who I think cares for me as a human being,” Cory says. He’s sad and guilty and Hannah’s wrongful death suit is starting to wear on him. Bradley asks if he’s trying to get out of paying the suit, and he assures her he isn’t. There is like three seconds of meaningful silence and then we cut to the next day. Sure! That makes sense!
Alex and Bradley are doing debate promo at the end of the TMS broadcast. Alex is moderating, as I’m sure you all remember, and Bradley is doing the pre and post debate analysis. Bradley thanks Alex for the promo and Alex is like “well it’s Valentine’s Day, plenty of love to go around.” I don’t know what to do with this, so I am moving on.
In the writers room, Alex and Chip and the downtrodden TMS writing staff are prepping for the debate, reading Bloomberg’s book. They pull out some choice YIKES quotes, including one about Fergie being “a fat broad” and yes, I did think he meant Fergalicious Fergie until Chip follows up with an anecdote about Princess Ann being “a horse faced lesbo.” Duchess Fergie then. Got it. One of the writers brings up the soda ban and they all boo and joke good-naturedly until Alex is like excuse me this is SERIOUS and I am helping choose the LEADER OF THE FREE WORLD over here!!! This scene allows one of the writers to show off his Bernie Sander’s impression, which I suppose is the most important thing.
Bisexual Isabella interrupts the fun to pass Alex a note that says “I am in love with you and l couldn’t live a moment longer without telling you that.” Alex seems to be working though some back pain and is like I REALLY THINK THIS COULD HAVE WAITED, but she gets up and goes to listen to her assistant confess her feelings anyway, probably because she needed to escape that Bernie impression as soon as humanly possible.
Fine, it was actually because Audra is in her office and needs to speak with her. You may or may not recall that one of the most genius casting choices from S1 was bringing in Mindy Kaling as Audra, a morning show anchor on YDA. It sets up a world wherein Jen and Mindy are colleagues and competitors, and while I suppose that is technically true in that both of them are famous actresses, it is really not true at all. It’s classic fun house mirror Morning Show moment, and I honestly cannot thank them enough for the gifts they keep giving. Anyway.
“Alex! What a cool office!” Audra says from her deeply presumptuous position behind Alex’s desk. She popped by before her bite with Daniel (interesting that they still have that kind of relationship given that he did not take the job she offered him in S1 but perhaps he’s begging for another shot after his public breakdown???) and just wanted to let Alex know that Maggie Brener’s first stop on her book tour will be on YDA. You know, the book all about TMS and the scandals within? Audra wants to make sure Alex is okay with it, because if she’s not, Audra will NOT do the interview. GIRL CODE BABY! Alex knows this is absolutely BS but pretends to be fine with it, then waves her out. Audra slides in a “keep fighting the good fight!” dig as she leaves, reminding Alex that there are people who know she is not the feminist icon everyone thinks she is. Obviously Alex takes this in stride and they have a thoughtful, conversation over some tea. lol, JK, Alex goes “I have always been gracious to you, have I not?” and Audra has moment of clarity as she realizes that Alex actually believes that is true. It’s honestly kind of an iconic moment for Audra? She lets Alex take that in and then tells her “If the shoe was on the other foot, I hope you would extend me the same courtesy.”
Upon Alex’s return to the writer’s room, Chip tells her that he let everyone go because she was gone so long, which is slightly baffling given that her conversation with Audra was at most eight minutes long? I assume she spent another forty minutes dissociating by her green screen windows. She tells Chip about Maggie’s book tour and he’s like…..well yeah I mean the book is gonna come out and she is gonna have to promote it sooooo? Alex wants a COPY OF THAT BOOK NOW and when Chip does not leap to do her bidding she accuses him of having a shitty attitude. Alex reminds him that he is likely PROMINENTLY featured in the book, and then apologizes for being shitty. Chip is the bigger person here, he wants to move on and get to prepping for the debate, but Alex simply has to go home, she’s been at work for FAR too long and her back hurts and she’s just gotta dip. Apparently Chip wanted to introduce her to his fiancee for some self loathing reason but Alex tremulously says that she fucked up her back and “she’s gotta get out of this place.” This is our fifth edition of this newsletter, so I imagine you know that I am yelling “YOU DID NOT HAVE TO RETURN TO THIS PLACE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD.” Chip’s brown haired fiancee is disappointed to not meet Alex but honestly, you are getting out with a win babe.
In Cory’s hotel room, Kyle is dropping off dinner and confirming a flight to Green Bay oh and Laura and Bradley are dating! To me this confirms that Kyle is homosexual, and as he giddily reports that his friend saw them walking, Cory cuts him off with “Nobody likes a gossip Kyle.” Kyle I LOVE a gossip, please finish that sentence, where were they walking? To and or from Cubbyhole? Henrietta Hudson?? Kyle makes a “Ooooohhhh you are in LOVE with Bradley” face and Cory is like oh no it’s not that at ALL it’s just that gossip is tacky and you shouldn’t do it and no one will be your friend. Kyle leaves and Cory laughs and shakes his head and then falls into another FLASHBACK!!!!
Cory and bewigged Bradley, obviously a little drunk, presumably after Cory was fired. There is a close up of Cory’s hand on Bradley’s leg, and then Bradley reaches in to touch his face as she whispers that him no longer working at uba might have some advantages. They smile at one another and then flashback ends. I have watched this scene multiple times because I am nothing if not dedicated to the cause and I cannot tell if they actually had sex or not? Certainly leans that way, but there isn’t even a kiss? I know the Cory/Bradley shippers on tumblr will have a field day with this and to them I say god bless you and your gifsets.
But back to people Bradley is definitely fucking! Noted Lesbian Laura Peterson is on the plane to Vegas with the TMS crew, and no, her interview with Mayor Pete didn’t just happen to pop up out of nowhere, but she and Bradley didn’t get to spend Valentine’s Day together, so she pulled out the ol’ Gay Rolodex and told Mayor Pete that she simply needed to interview him so she could be on a plane with her gay bisexual type girlfriend. Laura is wearing giant black rimmed glasses and her hair is down and she looks perfect. Bradley is pretty pleased by this extremely gay move Noted Lesbian Laura Peterson’s part and rather smugly sips something that is I assume wine or apple juice, both of which are weird choices for a work flight.
Seated behind our Happy Homos are a twitchy Alex and a cranky Chip. Alex wants Advil for her back and also for the torture that is watching her exes giggle happily together in front of her. She makes a point of mentioning that Noted Lesbian Laura Peterson makes her uncomfortable, which I think we are supposed to read as homophobic, but Alex’s explanation is that “she doesn’t like me.” Chip (fairly) wants to know what the fuck is up with her. She whimpers that “there is a monster inside of her” and she can’t get it out. Is this the final descent into madness for Alex Levy? Possibly!!!!
Cory’s secret trip to Wisconsin is revealed to be a mission to talk with Hannah’s father at the bar he owns to beg him to take the money. Hannah’s father is played by that actor who is not Alan Alda but who I always think for a second is Alan Alda and then I remember that he is Leon from The American President, and Alan Alda is Arnold Vinick in The West Wing. Leon from The American President is pissed that Cory has the gall to come to his bar and badger him, and Cory tells him that if he doesn’t accept, they are going to smear his daughter in the press. This provides me a moment to ponder my morals because I would absolutely take the money? Like, nothing is gonna happen to Fred, he already got his money, he’s in fucking Italy doing whatever it is that he is doing, and no matter what, your kid is still dead? I am sure there is some argument around standing up against those who do bad but….I don’t know if it’s me vs a billion dollar corp? I am taking the check! The two men look at each other, then Cory leaves.
The TMS crew arrives in Vegas and Bisexual Isabella gives Alex a run down of her schedule, a full mock debate with Eric and Co, and then getting up early to do the TMS broadcast from Vegas. Chip is not wearing rumpled corduroy, but he still has the energy of a man who is. He tells Alex nothing bad is going to happen, and then they see Maggie THEE Brener standing a way off, looking hot as shit. Chip and Alex act like two teens who have been caught in the cross-hairs of the cool upperclassman and in some ways that is what they are. Maggie literally smirks as she clocks them panicking, and Alex hisses “You said nothing bad was going to happen,” as they leave. I give Maggie another standing ovation.
The next day at debate prep, Alex is giving one of her more charming performances as “TV personality,” as they wrap up, and Chip asks if she wants to get a drink. She is still in a lot of back pain, but agrees. After, Chip is escorting Alex back to her room and they are discussing Maggie’s Book and what kind of awful shit they said that would be captured forever in it’s pages. They speculate about who might have spoken to Maggie for the book, and Chip (like a fucking idiot) brings up Alex saying that she didn’t want Mitch’s garbage after he asked Chip to take Mia off his team. Alex is all EXCUSE ME I HAVE NEVER IN MY LIFE SAID SOMETHING LIKE THAT HOW ON EARTH COULD YOU THINK I, ALEX LEVY WOULD EVER SAY SOMETHING SO SHITTY??? To be clear, Alex 100% said this. Chip tries to tell her that her gaslighting habit is deeply annoying and that it makes her rather hard to work with, but a light bulb has gone off in Alex’s head, and she HAS to know if Chip spoke to Maggie about her book. He did, but only off the record! It like barely counts! Alex cannot find her room and her back has only gotten worse, so they are just yelling at each other as they wander the halls of this hotel room. This staff is simply ADDICTED to fighting in hotels, my word!
This sends Alex into a panic spiral, asking how DARE he return to work with her without letting her know. I absolutely get why Alex would feel betrayed by this but…I have to assume everyone was asked to talk to Maggie for her book? Like…that is how books like that get written? So why is this just coming up now, why did not you not think to ask this literally any of the other times you have been choked with panic about this book??? Chip accuses Alex of getting him fired, (ehhh, she didn’t REALLY get him fired, he was marked for death by Fred, and she did try to keep him on, but she certainly could have given him a heads up) and tells her that he wanted to look like the good guy for once because he leaked the Mitch story that kicks off the whole show. “What do I look like?” Alex asks, to which he lamely responds: “You…are just gonna look like you.” Sorry Alex, but I did laugh! Thankfully, she has finally found her hotel room and she exits the hallway on the line “this fucking book, I fucking can’t stand it, ow, shit.”
Cory is in a car, presumably back in New York, a perfect place to take a call from MYSTERY VOICE, who wants to tell him that he mostly killed the Hannah story, except at THE VAULT, which is a news outlet? Or? A literal vault? I am choosing to believe it’s a splinter publication from Succession’s iconic Vulture knock off, Vaulter. MYSTERY VOICE is revealed to be a fancy man in a very Fancy Man™ office, but he is unfortunately not Dermont Mulroney. Get his fine ass on The Morning Show ASAP, please, @God. He is That Guy who is That Guy in things, but he is not the same that guy who was Bradley’s agent. There are so many kinds of That Guy!!! Really makes you think, doesn’t it? This That Guy wants to know if anyone would care if the stories were printed, and Cory takes a deep breath and says he would care. Unfortunately, the only thing that would move the needle on this one? An even more salacious story. Cory sighs and hangs up, and we cut away to WHAT SOME MIGHT CALL AN EVEN MORE SALACIOUS STORY!!!!
“THIS IS SO MUCH FUN” Bradley yells with a mouthful of waffle. She is sitting on the floor (gay) in robe in Noted Lesbian Laura Peterson’s hotel room, giggling about how much better it is to have sex and eat waffles than moderate a presidential debate. This confirms my theory that the lack of chemistry in this relationship stems from Reese. Look, it’s not that I think only gay actors should be allowed to play gay parts, because I don’t! For one, I think there are a lot more queer leaning celebrities than we are lead to believe, but also, I simply do not think it is that deep? The problem here is that Reese might actually be the straightest woman alive? And you know, bless her for trying, but she brings a huge “just two gal pals on a sleepover” energy to the space. The other problem, is that The Morning Show has weird conception of sex and sexuality generally? There isn’t a ton of sex on this show, just yelling, and the show does feel a little afraid of depicting adult relationships? Suffice it to say, it’s weird that Noted Lesbian Laura Peterson sits in a chair on the other side of the room, it’s weird that they don’t touch each other that much, it’s just kind of weird! Generally! But we have plot to work through!
Bradley is crowing about how fun it is to have sex and eat waffles instead of working, but she does, for some reason feel a little bad for Alex. Laura is very ominously like “Don’t,” and Bradley, like any one of us, badgers Noted Lesbian Laura Peters for the details. Turns out Alex and Noted Lesbian Laura Peterson used to run in the same circle back in the day, and not too soon after Alex found out Laura Peterson was in fact, a Noted Lesbian, YDA found out and Laura lost her job. Yikes!!! I hate to say it, but that really does track for…everything we know about Alex Levy as person thus far.
Bradley is appalled, because of course she is, but thing that stuck with Noted Lesbian Laura Peterson was much smaller. Sometime after she was fired, she saw Alex on the street, walking in her direction. “She saw me…and looked away, and crossed the street so she wouldn’t have to run into me. I never forgot that…and I never will.” It really do be like that sometimes, you know? Of course she can’t prove that Alex outed her to YDA, but she will hold on to that specific slight for a long time. It should be noted, for posterity, that Laura looks fucking flawless.
Their sleepover fun is interrupted by Bradley getting a text from Cory, who says he’s been trying to call. It takes Bradley many seconds longer than it needs to to clock that he has been calling her HOTEL ROOM, not her cell. Noted Lesbian Laura Peterson comes in to the room just long enough to say: Cory has to hear me talking so our relationship can be confirmed for the rest of this plot line to work. Cory hears her, and we see a shot of him looking so betrayed that it made me giggle, just a little.
What Cory wants is permission to make the Hannah story go away, even though the more pressing thing that he is NOT saying is that in order to make the Hannah story go away he will have to leak that Noted Lesbian Laura Peterson and Bradley are dating. Bradley emphatically agrees, the only thing Hannah wanted was her name out of all this. Well this is quite shitty, Cory! He closes his eyes when they hang up, as if the pain of his actions and Bradley dating Noted Lesbian Laura is too much to handle. I don’t know what it is about the way Billy Crudup plays Cory that makes his crush on Bradley feel like a little kid who has a crush on their first grade teacher? Something about it does not read like the affections on an adult man? Much to ponder.
Alex’s back hurts, and she can’t sleep, so she does the next best thing: wanders the halls until she finds Maggie’s room and barges in, screaming that she has to know what is in the book. This scene is so fully insane that I was both desperate to re-watch it and also never wanted to see it again in my whole life? It is not explained how Alex found Maggie’s room, nor why Maggie is up (my actual kingdom to learn anything about her personal life) but come on now, why would it be? Alex waddles in, all whimpers and ouches and DEMANDS to see the book. See, this is what this show should be all the time, White Actresses of Certain Age yelling at each other in silk. Let us not tackle cancel culture or Me Too, or COVID or Race, just give Jen reasons to yell things like “I don’t care that you don’t want to see me in pain, you have to!”
Maggie is…honestly less surprised by this entire outburst than I would have thought? I mean, I would be shocked if a colleague of mine came to my hotel room and started screaming at me? Maggie is pitying and disdainful but absolutely kind of amused? Alex accuses Maggie of following her across the country and Maggie is like bitch the fuck? It’s a presidential debate and I am the world’s most important journalist? We learn some fun facts here, namely that Maggie called Alex many times to fact check the book and Alex simply ignored all of them. I mean, I know she was having a breakdown and thought she was done with public life or whatever but how do you not follow up on that if only so your denial can be in print and more importantly so you know what’s in the book and so you can prepare for it???? God, I hope the straight alternate reality version of me is running an Olivia Pope level crisis firm, because these people!!!!
Shocking no one, Alex chooses to continue her tirade, demanding to see the book. Maggie calmly replies she doesn’t have a copy on her (YEAH RIGHT) and then Alex spies something on the table, whatever could it be??
Woweee, what a (clunky) title! Alex cries and gasps, and desperately flips through it, but the pages are blank. It’s a mock up of the cover, nothing more. Now, I don’t work in publishing, but I have…never heard of this in my entire life??? They printed and bound blank pages just to check that, what? That book jacket fits? We’ve been making books for a long time, I think we know how those measurements work? I refuse to believe this is a done thing, and I refuse to believe Maggie packed a BLANK BOOK in her sensible carry on, I just won’t! Sorry, this has fully derailed me, let me get back on track here.
The thing that is in the book, of course, is that Alex and Mitch slept together. Maggie know that the reason Alex is so pressed about the book is because she doesn’t want this to get out and ruin her. Now, am I deeply immoral, or is this easy to fix? Spin this story as another instance of Mitch being the living worst! I mean don’t say he assaulted you, but in the flashback we see of Mitch and Alex co-anchoring together, he is super lewd and flirty and also dismissive of her? Just spin this into being sucked into his orbit and that he wore you down with the negging and the compliments and you were in a low point due to [insert National Tragedy Here] and you felt so guilty—his wife, your husband, blah blah blah— but it was how Mitch operated with women in his life and you are embarrassed to admit you were one of them? Yeah, you are gonna get some mean tweets but get out ahead of it! Don’t let Maggie control the story! Christ do I have to do everything???
Anyway, Alex is LOSING her mind and crying and her back is flaring up and she has to (help) pick a leader of the free world tomorrow! Maggie isn’t moved, the book isn’t changing. “Alex..would you like to lie down?" She offers as Alex starts to limp out of her room. I have obviously been muttering a similar sentiment under my breath since the moment Alex entered that room, but no, Alex Levy is not weak enough to fall back on her ex girlfriend’s offer. Maggie tells her that she’ll keep this “little epilogue” just between them. “So don’t say I don’t care.” Give! Her! An! Emmy!
Alex makes her way down the hall, and then calls out of the debate and flies back to New York. Hope all of those waffles and sex prepped Bradley for the debate, cause that gay bisexual type is moderating her way to the big leagues!
Inexplicably Famous Guest Stars Ranked
MINDY KAILING: 9/10: She looks incredible, I love the energy she brings to the space, I can only imagine how fun it is for her to act like she is better than Jennifer Aniston, god bless and god speed.
Brother, Can You Spare a Confessional Interview?
Mitch and Paola are indeed quarantined together, she is working away at her documentary, he is watching her play with his giant dog from a window. She convinces him to do an interview for the documentary, promising that it will be private and never shared with anyone. He goes on for a long time about Regretting His Actions while also dismissing his actions as being “ignorance” which…uh, right here in 2019? I’ll give you willful ignorance at best, my guy. He does have a good read on how horrible was to Hannah when he asked her to cover for him, and Steve Carell is good this scene, but I still? Just? Don’t? Care? About? His? “Healing?” Why are you trying to make me??
Soon May The Weatherman Come
After Yanko flubbed his apology, Mia tells him he has to go learn with some Native people in Florida and he’s like FINE but this is Stella’s altar of SACRIFICIAL PROGRESSIVENESS and I WON’T BE TAKEN DOWN LIKE THIS. And then some dick in the street yells a bunch of slurs and shit at Stella, and Yanko punches him. I would have preferred to see how being screamed at the in street by a racist affected Stella as opposed to this being a moment where Yanko is Heroic, but that’s not what we’re doing here! Cool!
Best Jennifer Aniston Sound of Distress
Most Baffling Line of Dialogue
“I have to moderate a presidential debate while you are making up salacious shit about unimportant people doing unimportant things!!”