Episode 08: Confirmations
It only happened twice? Wow. Thanks for that.
What Is Good For You Is Good For The Company, Because It Owns You, and It Owns Me, and We Own it, and We Are All One.
Fret not, I was able to duck the metaphorical anvil slamming me over the head as a cover of Tennessee Ernie Ford’s “Sixteen Tons” played over the opening montage of this week’s episode. The early morning streets of New York are empty as most of the TMS crew prepares for another day in paradise. Cory is working out, Mia is sleeping on the couch in her office, Chip is driving in from wherever the fuck he lives, Laura is in bed, alone. Bradley’s Plot Device is still on the couch, which leads me to believe this episode is set the day after E07. Bradley looks up at a poster of herself and Alex as she passes by in her car and smiles faintly, as if she has distant, passing memories of a woman named Alex.
“Ay, do you think Mitch Kessler has a thing for the sistas?” a lone paparazzi asks Cory as he slides into the building. Unfortunately, (fortunately for us, maybe?) Cory really couldn’t say, and he simply chooses to ignore the follow up “Does Bradley Jackson have a thing for the ladies?” Stella joins in him the elevator where he informs her that because uba+ is worldwide, there is no such thing as early or late. Thrillingly, Billy Crudup delivers this line with the manic chaos demon energy that I have so sorely missed. It gets better as he tells Stella she doesn’t ever need to ask him how he is feeling, because feelings drain your life blood and put an anchor around your neck and the simple act of checking in with another person could cause uba+ to implode!!!! We can’t have that Stella! “Caring about other people limits your ablity to make self serving decisions.” He says passionately as Stella looks at him with a combination of amusement and general “wtf?”
Which is confusing given that he does care about Bradley but made a self serving decision anyway? And he did not confess his wrongdoing to her, which was also self serving, so I suppose I am just wondering what, eggzackly the point of this speech was? But honestly I don’t care, this is the kind of manic chaos this newsletter is literally named for. He leaves Stella in the elevator and yells “awesome,” as he exits. Stella looks…satisfied? Happy? About this interaction? I have no idea why! Exciting!
Cory breezes by Chip, who is not at all suspiciously hovering outside Alex’s office, muttering that he is just about to talk to her. He creeps into her office and calls her, leaving a furious message when she doesn’t pick up. He thought she wanted him back because she cared about him (god he’s stupid) and the real Alex is an emotional murderer and also he doesn’t have any self esteem left for her to suck on. He’s not like, wrong about anything he says about her but again they did work together for fifteen years so I a just having a hard time believing any of this is a surprise? Like, she didn’t JUST get hard to work with?? Also we know he’s gonna fold like a paper doll the second she needs him so…big talk, no ability to back it up! Mark Duplass also employs some capital “C” acting choices here, including but not limited to: picking up a letter opener on Alex’s desk and miming shoving it in his ass and “fuckin’ ramming it all around.”
Down in Control Room Zero (how fun of me to come up with a new nickname for a major stetting in the eighth recap in a ten part series), the staff is wondering if “she” will show up. I am 98% sure they mean Laura, because one of them follows up with “she better, we’re selling her pretty hard.” While checking the copy about Maggie’s book, one of the staffers leans over and stage whispers: “It doesn’t take a genius to figure out who the ‘African American producer’ was that Maggie was writing about.” We immediately cut to Mia because clearly The Morning Show does not think we are geniuses. It’s hard to overstate how nearby Mia is standing, like, there is literally no way she did not hear that, and also no one responds to this man so I am left to assume it was just so we all remembered Mia had an affair with Mitch? Which I do, because I am a not well person who has seen these episodes [redacted] amount of times but also because we saw Mia getting the heads up about the excerpt two weeks ago. Much like me, Mia is just trying to get through this scene.
Bradley, Daniel, Allison, and Replacement Weather Man are doing promo for the upcoming episode— not only will Laura be joining them again, but so will Henry Louis Gates Jr.! They do not specify what Skip Gates will be discussing, but I can only assume he is heavily involved in their “ambush makeover” segment. The second the cameras are off, Bradley chases down Gordon, the gay guy who I thought was hair and makeup, but now seems to be in a non specific production role. “Is she here yet, because I just wanna talk to her before the show starts.” You know, Gordon seems smart, I bet he is capable of understanding that you want to talk to your girlfriend without you explicitly saying so! But Bradley has other tasks to complete, namely getting her assistant RJ to get her Plot Device on a plane and off her damn couch.
Laura is just arriving when Bradley calls and is all hi how are you should I come to your dressing room do you still love me also I don’t know if I like this dress they’ve got me in for today, I feel puffy in it, can you come take a look? Gordon zooms by and mouths “BRADLEY” in that way that feels like he is dragging the shit out of her even though he just said her name. Truly a gift of gay men, that skill.
Bradley is sorry for their fight and she sent her brother away and she’s doing boundaries! Look! Laura has slightly exasperated expression on her face as she explains that creating boundaries takes work and also she is about to go on TV so can they mayyybe put in a pin in the emotional processing for a sec? Bradley is miffed, and only gets more miffed when Laura says “I need to let in hair and makeup and there is not enough make up in the world to make it look like I’m enjoying this.” I am assuming when she says “this” she means returning to the show after having her gay business splashed all over THE VAULT. Though it does kindddd of sound like she is sick of Bradley’s shit too. Either way? Ouch! The girlfriends (??) start their broadcast mad as hell. In some ways, it’s a nice flashback to the days of Alex and Bradley.
Chip is in Alex’s office when some assistant comes in and drops off his fiancee. He complains about Alex, she’s clearly sick of hearing about Alex. She misses “Elmira Chip” a phrase that caused me to short circuit for at least ten minutes. Is that where that house was? He cannot still be living there and commuting in, that is like a four hour drive! Anyway, it doesn’t matter because Alex killed Elmira Chip and all he needs to feel better is to fuck his finance in Alex’s office to get back at her? He wildly overreacts to his fiancee saying (correctly) that is is creepy to do so, she leaves and he has an actual temper tantrum on the couch. God he sucks.
Up in office, Cory is doing what he does best— trying to spin the excerpt from Maggie’s book into good news for uba, rather than the rather harrowing indictment of the network that it is. He’s in full Cory mode, he and Stella are the Lancelot and Arthur, they are the heroes! Gerald is the Merlin, Linda is….well, she doesn’t get a character because Gerald’s new assistant won’t stop calling, but I assume she is the Lady of The Lake. Also I don’t think we’ve ever seen Linda before? Cory is still going, talking about how Fred is gone, Mitch might as well be dead (WELP) and they are cleaning up network! This is a story of triumph! Stella points out that it is going to be particularly bad for Mia, despite the fact that is not her fault, it won’t look great for her. Also, as Linda points out, they diiiiid hire back Alex and Chip, who will not come out of this book looking good.
Cory winds up for a tear about how much people love redemption stories as Gerald gets an urgent message from his assistant via Kyle. “What about those two?” Linda asks, pointing to Bradley and Laura on the TV behind her. Apparently Bradley’s appeal is to “Middle America,” though that is something I thought she lost when she admitted to having an abortion on air last season? But she is blonde now, maybe that fixed it. “Uh, if there were ever two lesbians who could appeal to Middle America, it’s those two.” Cory says, not incorrectly.
Turns out, Gerald’s new assistant was on the ball with this one. The call is from an Italian outlet calling for comment on the death of Mitch Kessler. They have been told it was a car accident near Lake Como, but as anyone who watched The Newsroom knows, they can’t do anything with this until they have two sources. I suppose anyone who knows anything about real journalism knows this as well. Stella pelts out of Cory’s office as he tells her that come hell or high water, Alex Levy will be reporting this!
On TMS, Bradley and Laura are bantering with the replacement weather guy. Laura is going to miss winter clothes, is that just her? Bradley, any thoughts? Bradley has no thoughts on that, she straight up ignores the question and pivots to some news about Prince Harry. Awkward! Stella drops the Mitch bombshell on Mia, who tells some trusted staffers to run this down, the whole two sources thing, TMS is running this story first no matter what, they will not report it until his family knows. Then she runs to Alex’s dressing room where Chip is lurking. He tries to apologize and starts with “as a straight white guy” to which Mia and I both groan and tell him to shut up. Mia needs Alex to be on standby for when they report this.
As we know, Chip still does not know where Alex is, so he commits some light credit card fraud to check the last purchase on her card. He knows an impressive (unsettling?) amount about her— her social security number, her childhood best friend’s name (Colleen), her mother’s maiden name (Lasine), the year, make, and model of her first car (1976 Plymouth Duster). I am choosing to believe that the Duster was actually Jen Aniston’s first car, though I cannot confirm that. Chip discovers that her last purchase was at the Linate Airport in Milan. DUN DUN DUN.
I mean…kind of. We know that Alex is fine, so in order to care about this we have to care about Chip and, well…
The newsroom is buzzing as Mia and Company try confirm the story, there is a random tweet of a car that has definitely been in a crash, but like most things on Twitter, the details don’t fully match up. Upstairs, Cory and Stella are discussing if Alex is the right person to report this story. Stella is skeptical, but Cory is adamant. “You mean is the best decision for the onscreen ex-wife of the disgraced sexual predator turned dead disgraced sexual predator to report his sudden untimely death to the world?” Yeah, I gotta give this one to Cory, that is good TV, he is right! Someone named Wendell calls Stella to tell her that TV news is a family and that the loss of human life is tragic, but this is TMS’ story to run. Oh, he also happens to know the hospital Mitch was taken to, but they probably already have that. Yep we do, thanks so much for calling, g2g my guy!!! Stella says before hanging up and passing the hospital info down to Mia and Co. They’ve just learned that the house that Mitch was staying in belongs to Clay Becker, a uba high up in San Fransisco. Chip is tearing his hair out and demanding the name of the hospital, while trying to pretend that he’s been in communication with Alex. Quite a powerful and obnoxious odor of mendacity in this room, huh?
As TMS goes to break, Mia announces the news to everyone on set. I’ve gotta say, especially after the slog that was last week’s episode, this is rather fun to watch? Yes, there are tinges of self important Newsroom-esque storytelling, but it’s much less self aggrandizing—probably because they are not smugly re-reporting real life news events. Plus, it’s propulsive and fast paced and for the most part everyone’s reactions are consistent with their characters. Mia tells Bradley and Laura that network wants Alex to report the story, and Allison wants to know how sure they are. “Something happened. We’re pretty sure of that.”
In Alex’s dressing room, Chip finally gets through to the hospital in Italy. There was a man without ID who was in a car crash that matches Mitch’s description, and yes, there was a woman with him, and “she did not look good.” Chip takes the shaky cam route up to Cory’s office, pushes past Kyle and tells Stella to get out. She’s like Uhhh, fuck you I am the president of news, I am not getting out?? Chip finally confesses that the last time he saw Alex was in Vegas and that he thinks she might be dead. Cory demands that Kyle get Bisexual Isabella up to his office, and Chip says “she won’t talk to you, she doesn’t like our kind.” White men, you see. God Chip, shut UP.
Down in the newsroom, Clay from San Fransisco calls Mia and confirms the news. They still need a second confirmation, so Mia takes to her office to process. Resident Dark Angel Rena is napping on her couch, and Mia apologizes to her before unleashing all her feelings about Mitch. It’s a long monologue about getting called a victim of this “empty, horny vessel who wanted nothing but what he wanted” despite being “the side chick.” She’s furious and sad and Karen Pittman is very good! And honestly, Mia is the only character who I want to hear reflecting on Mitch, if I have to hear it at all. It is probably not on purpose that this episode doesn’t force us to sit with the loss Mitch for very long, there aren’t a bunch of “we loved him anyway” moments, just a conflicted, angry and sad woman dealing with the ramifications of this man’s affect on her life.
Meanwhile, Bisexual Isabella in Stella’s office claiming that while she has Alex’s passwords, she never looks in her email. I am going to call BS on that one babe, are you telling me that Alexandra Levy reads her own email???? She most certainly does NOT, the majority of your job as her assistant would in fact be, reading her email. Stella tells her that Alex got to where she did by being reasonable (citation needed) and she would understand if her Bisexual Assistant read her email just this once. If she’s not dead. I don’t think that was supposed to be funny, but I did laugh. In any case, it is persuasive enough to Bisexual Isabella, and she reports to Cory and Chip that Alex’s flight is landing in Teterboro in a half hour. Cory is already thinking through the ramifications of what will happen when word gets out about where was Alex was. Well, what are they gonna do about that?? Cory: “I don’t know, that’s the fun of it.” In brave show of strength and emotional fortitude, Chip pukes on the table. It is disgusting, but Cory just nods at the mess and says “Okay,” before calling Kyle over to come deal with it.
TMS is somehow still airing, I feel like this is the longest amount of time this show has possibly ever been on the air in the universe of the show. Laura, Bradley and Allison are teeing up a segment Bradley did about bullying in schools, and the one student who “did something pretty remarkable” about it. As ever, the morning show within The Morning Show content continues to be excellent. Gayle gravely informs Bradley that her Plot Device is in the hall, and the second the segment wraps, she sprints off set.
It seems those boundaries she was so proud of have come crumbling down already! Plot Device has obviously been using, he is mumbling about being like their dad, asking if Bradley is ashamed of him, and singing “The Boxer.” I am forced to dodge another metaphorical anvil, and Bradley makes the wild choice to take him to the public cafe area to get him a cup of coffee rather than her dressing room. She tells him that he can’t be there, because Mitch Kessler died, which…does not feel like information he needs right now, or ever, really? He starts singing again (still “The Boxer,” the anvils are flying fast and furious now!) as a crowd of onlookers starts to grow.
Laura comes to see if Bradley is returning to the show, and Plot Device asks if Mitch killed anyone in his car accident. You know, like their dad did? This is the second time this information as been inappropriately blurted out, the first was when Bradley told Alex in S1 to demonstrate that her daughter would probably still love her if she got divorced. Bradley tells him he cannot do this to her right now, and that is the last straw for Plot Device. He smashes his mug on the ground at Bradley’s feet, and Laura tells someone to get security. Plot Device keeps breaking shit and singing as the Simon and Garfunkel version starts to play and honestly the music cues on The Handmaid’s Tale were subtler than this. Security gets Plot Device out of there as he begs his sister to help. Laura watches with a look on her face that is like well, I really underestimated how bad this was. There is a short montage of the newsroom still trying to get their second source, Chip driving to get Alex, and Mia writing copy for the broadcast while Rena looks on. Simon and Garfunkel’s Lie la lie, lie la lie la lie la lie are just going absolutely off in the background.
Thankfully, the song ends (though it will be stuck in my head for the rest of my day, and probably yours too!) as Bradley cries on Laura’s shoulder in her dressing room. It is hard to overstate the IMMENSE Mommy vibe Laura has here, and it is equally hard to overstate the amount of screenshots I was compelled to take as she cradles Bradley’s face and tells her she is not a horrible person.
She wonders if Bradley has ever been to therapy, which is, for those keeping notes, the third time she has brought up therapy. Bradley is worried a therapist will tell her she is crazy, so Laura reminds her that she learned behaviors to help her survive a crazy childhood environment, and those behaviors are not helping her now. Someone get this woman a TikTok account, she will corner the market on gay mental health TikTok! Bradley just wants her family to get better, because she loves them, Laura keeps reminding her she can’t fix people who don’t want to be fixed, but she can help herself stop getting hurt by them. Bradley doesn’t want to abandon her Plot Device, he is her baby Plot Device and she can’t just leave him. “Honestly? Honestly, honey, I think you might have to walk away.” Laura says. Her hand is resting on Bradley’s thigh and I take a quick moment to scream into a pillow because it is very rude for The Morning Show to attack me with this Mommy content!!!
Chip is waiting for Alex as she disembarks from her borrowed jet. Any relief she had in seeing him is quickly erased as he tells her the new about Mitch. He tells her they still need a second source, which springs her into action. She calls Paola who confirms, and then we get some silent slow motion reaction footage from Alex. In the car on the way back, Alex calls Mia to tell her that she is not coming in, but she will let her know after they tell Paige and then they can go to air. Mia tells her that she doesn’t need to do that. Alex: “Oh, whatever, okay, I’ll speak to you soon.” Then her phone starts going off as she gets all the messages Chip left for her, and of course she has to listen to them. I do not think I have ever in my life listened to a voicemail from a person I was sitting next to, but then again, I am duty bound as a millennial to find voicemails the most irritating thing on the fucking earth.
Alex seems SHOCKED that Chip left her so many voicemails but…madam you simply left FOR ITALY without telling anyone??? Anyway, it spurs one of the most bonkers fights that has ever been put on the small screen. Alex immediately comes in hot with “Why are you not letting me feel what I should be feeling right now!!!!” and Chip starts listing all the things that Alex has done over the season, she wants to know if he’s jealous. “Jealous of that dead DUMB asshole???” He also brings up that she apparently never responded to the message he left for her during the S1 finale, where he confesses he leaked the Mitch investigation to protect her from getting fired. They yell about how much they hate each other. It is…a wild thing to watch, and it is only made more wild by the fact that they in a simply harrowing green screen car.
They eventually pull up to Miss Honey’s house, and one of Mitch’s kids answers the door, thrilled to see Alex. She asks him to get his mom, then drops the news, telling her that she is here for her, whatever she needs, and Miss Honey takes this in with a hint of surprise and disbelief, before dragging the absolute hell out of Alex.
“Most of the time, I had no idea who those girls were, so what difference did it make? But you knew me—and unlike those other poor girls, you didn’t have to do it, did you? And you would see me at parties, and hug me.” Alex is so stunned at being called out that all she can do is take deep, shuddery breaths and stammer that it only happened twice. Miss Honey looks at her with an incredibly potent mixture of disappointment and disdain, before telling her that she and Mitch were basically the same person, and that she’s sorry for Alex’s loss. I will beginning my Emmy campaign for Embeth Davidtz right this minute, you are welcome to join me in the streets.
Somehow, Alex manages to walk back to the car after being eviscerated to call the team at TMS. They are still on air (STILL?) and I guess on another commercial break, as Bradley, Laura, Mia, Cory and Stella listen to Alex tell Bradley that she is the person who has to break this news. You see, Bradley was the start of all of these changes, and she deserves this moment. There is a long shot of Laura looking on approvingly as Alex says this and I don’t quite know what it’s supposed to signify, but there it is. Bradley has a few tears in her eyes when Alex says that she “so appreciates her” because having your ex validate your feelings after a messy break up is really important!
Bradley’s broadcast on Mitch’s death is surprisingly good—it doesn’t let him off the hook, and there is recognition that it is sad, but it doesn’t feel like it is some tragic loss, or miscarriage of justice, as I wager it would have felt if Alex reported it. The final shot is of Queen Levy herself, tears in her eyes as Bradley says “Figuring out what from the past we need to remember, to forgive, to learn from, or ignore is impossible to do elegantly. People at this work place suffered from Mitch’s ability to any of that. And for that, people are still paying the price.”
Best Jennifer Aniston Sound of Distress
Most Baffling Line of Dialogue
“I don’t ever wanna suck your dick, never ever ever.”
Next week: Testimony