When Apple TV+ Launched in November 2019, The Morning Show was its flagship program. The high-stakes drama, inspired by the true story of Matt Lauer sexual misconduct and firing from The Today Show, took risks to great payoff that made it must-watch (and must discuss) Television. Not to mention its star-studded cast, giving some of the best performances of their careers. After the first season, the show shifted lanes to focus more on the personal drama and corporate stakes around its two stars than the fallout of the revelations around Mitch (Steve Carrell). This Season, Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon are as brilliant as ever as Alex Levy and Bradley Jackson. They, along with their supporting cast are incredible, even without Mitch Kessler to motivate their arcs.
In season 3, the show has skipped ahead a couple years and is further out from its inciting incident than ever before. Season 3 Premiered with 2 Episodes which seek to reinvent the show. There are whole new issues facing the women who America fell in love with as hosts of The Morning Show. The time jump sets up brand new stakes and roles for Alex, Bradley, and their excellent supporting cast. At its best, this new direction feels fresh. It at times is teeming with writing that gives room for masterclass actresses and actors to give some of the best performances of their careers. At its worst, this premiere takes misguided inspiration from its contemporaries, and some beats read as a cheap copy of Succession, even going so far as to imitate its transitions and score.
Warning: Spoilers Ahead
Episode 1 – “The Kármán Line”
Bradley and Cory meet up in Texas
The first episode of The Morning Show Season 3 serves to introduce viewers to a new yet familiar setting. We reunite with our cast in March of 2022. It’s been about 2 years since we last saw Alex Levy, braving COVID-19 and live streaming her quarantine. It was an exciting cliff-hanger, but its mostly been abandoned, save for a few throw away lines. Instead, this episode focuses on a Space X-style rocket launch. Alex is scheduled to ride on Hyperion One; the maiden voyage of an eccentric billionaire’s low orbit rocket ship. The aforementioned Billionaire is a new introduction to the show, played by John Hamm. This character, Paul Marks, is a fascinating new adittion. Hamm plays the character with a mixture of Elon Musk’s power and passions, with the charisma and sex appeal of Negan from The Walking Dead.
He and Cory – who’s managed to make himself my new favorite character on the show – have been meeting in secret to discuss a merger. And I mean incredibly secret. Alex Levy is the first person to find out beyond Paul and Cory, and she is infuriated. Realizing that her Televised Voyage would be a marketing beat devoid of integrity, she decides to abandon the launch mere hours before. In an interesting role reversal, Alex and Bradley switch assignments. Alex goes boots on the ground to report on a protest for access to safe abortions near the Texas/Mexico border, and Bradley goes to Space.
Houston, We Have a Problem
Bradley Jackson ahead of the Hyperion One Launch
The Launch is one of the biggest “jumping the shark” moments I’ve ever seen in a Television Show. The Morning Show excels in delivering real, tangible drama. The launch is so extraordinary of a situation. It should be a highlight, but since it’s so out of the series’ wheelhouse, it feels like the crew wasn’t equipped to deliver. The sequence is riddled with distractingly bad CGI, which sticks out like a sore thumb in a show with virtually no Special FX. The absurdity of the situation and the bad CGI is totally immersion breaking. Not to mention, the whole situation is sidelined within a few minutes of the next episode, so it feels even more unnecessary.
The saving grace of the scene is when the shuttle detaches, and Bradley, Cory, and Paul are able to float around in Zero gravity. The childlike wonder on their faces is a rare moment of bliss and joy in an extremely serious and stressful show. The soundtrack, the gorgeous “Flower Duet” from the Opera Lakme really helps sell the serenity of the scene. That’s one of several inspired music choices in the episode that really help to sell scenes. As is common in The Morning Show, the joyful moment doesn’t last long. As Bradley Jackson gushes about the beauty of the earth from up above, the feed to her cuts to black suddenly, ending the episode on Alex’s reaction to the shocking cliffhanger.
Episode 2 – “Ghost in the Machine”
Cory and Stella are briefed on a Cyberattack
Thankfully – and predictably – the previous episode’s cliffhanger is quickly and safely resolved. Bradley, Cory, and Paul reconnect to the News Feed after a brief technical difficulty and return to Earth. Then, a new problem arrises. UBA faces a lockdown and eventual blackout, and The Morning Show’s crew and talent panic as they try to figure out what happened. This episode is chaotic and moves at a lightning pace. Tension is heightened because there’s no dramatic irony here. We learn what’s going on when the characters do. UBA suffered a malicious cyberattack, and the hackers are demanding $50 Million in 48 hours or they will leak everything they have. The potential leaks include anything on any device that’s linked to the building’s servers. For corporate, that means content like pilots and films could leak, and sensitive intel about hiring and employee re-evaluation practices are up for grabs.
For our leads, the personal stakes are high. Alex fears for her daughter as her personal devices are connected to their remote work servers at her home. Bradley has intimate videos of her that could be leaked. Bradley and Cory share some mysterious dark secret that could become public. Chip and Isabella, Alex’s closest members of her team are also in a secret (to Alex) relationship. She literally walks in on them to discover their romance. Cory is up to some really shady strategy this episode, requesting a document with details on the secret merger specifically to leak it. There’s also hints that Stella, the head of the news division, and Paul Marks has some form of relationship in the past. This episode sets up a lot of mystery, tension, and stakes which can make for an exciting rest of the season.
Final Thoughts on the Premiere
I think the 2 Episode Premiere was a wise call, but perhaps out of necessity. The first episode was significantly weaker than the second, and served more to reset the show for its new era than kickoff an exciting season. As I mentioned before, the Launch sequence really didn’t work for me and dragged the first episode down a few points. In fact, that episode had a few moments that seemed to need more polish, which standout so much in a show that’s usually so well produced and technically sound. I noticed multiple editing flaws in “The Kármán Line”. There were a few jarring cuts and awkward transitions. I counted at least 2 instances were the takes didn’t match up from one shot to the next.
The second episode, however, was an absolute delight to watch. “Ghost in the Machine” was engaging all the way through, and setup a season I’m eager to watch week to week. As has been the case for The Morning Show’s run so far, acting and characterization is top notch. Even when some plot beats don’t hit, I’m still invested in the characters. At this point, I could watch Alex, Bradley, Chip and Cory do laundry. While the first episode gave me some doubts, the second assured me that yet again, The Morning Show is must-watch TV this Fall.
- THE GOOD
- Masterclass Acting from a Star-Studded Cast
- Personal and High Stakes
- New Character Dynamics
- Supporting Cast Shines More than Ever
- Crystal Clear Visuals and Inspired Music Choices
- THE BAD
- Editing is Flawed at Times
- Immersion Breaking Special Effects
- Less-than-Flattering Succession Imitations in a Few Small Moments