I did try to go into this week’s episode of The Morning Show, titled “La Amara Vita,” with an open mind. I knew from the thumbnail and full-season reviews that this episode took place entirely in Italy and that it was heavy on Steve Carell’s Mitch Kessler. After a stellar episode 6, episode 7 seemed to take a nosedive, literally.
Throughout the season, I’ve been eye-rolling the “cancel culture” storyline was telling with Mitch, especially after his first conversation with Paola where she said he shouldn’t concern himself with what “children,” think of him. The show’s commentary about cancel culture, at least the version of it that leads people to harass the “canceled” on the street to go viral, is valid until you remember what led to Mitch being canceled in the first place.
Throughout the entire first season, we watched exactly how Mitch had ruined so many lives through his actions on The Morning Show, culminating in the pain becoming so unbearable that Hannah Shoenfeld, one of his accusers, commits suicide. In my mind, Mitch killed Hannah. He didn’t hold a gun to her head and shoot her, but his actions led to her death. Because of the focus of season 1 and how deeply they explored the pain that comes from being a victim of sexual assault and harassment, it’s hard to even look at Mitch, let alone sympathize with him.
This episode attempts to do just that, though in my opinion, unsuccessfully. While Mitch and Alex are dancing around his living room in Italy, it’s hard not to remember Hannah at that moment. It’s hard not to remember Hannah when Mitch lashes out during a report on Maggie’s book that reveals his targeted harassment of Black women. It’s all just really hard to sit through, honestly.
The only saving grace of this episode is Alex, though I feel her storyline still lacked the kind of resolution it deserved. Alex’s confession that she missed Mitch offers a really interesting commentary on the complexities of reconciling the person you once loved with their horrible actions, and how impossible it can feel to cut them out of your life. It’s uncomfortable to watch her grapple with the Mitch she thought she knew and the Mitch that existed. After their night of dancing and bonding as if nothing ever happened, the news report was like a bucket of ice water for Alex, shattering the illusion and forcing her back to the present.
Jennifer Anniston does a wonderful job in this episode playing that dichotomy and allowing layers of disgust, shame, love, and regret to color every scene Alex has during the episode. Though my only frustration comes from Alex’s instinct to run, which she has done in nearly every episode of this series, and I would love to see an episode soon where she finally decides to face her problems instead of fleeing them.
The episode ramps up after Maggie’s bombshell drops, and the fallout features Mitch begging Alex to teach him what he did wrong. It’s a moment that has me torn. On one hand, Mitch is a grown man who should be aware of his actions and recognize his behaviors. On the other hand, what if he genuinely didn’t know? Whose responsibility does it become to rehabilitate him? Is there even rehabilitation to be had?
It’s like he’s gaslighting Alex and himself at this moment. He poses to Alex: “You don’t actually think I did that?” But I think both he and Alex knew, deep down, that he did do that. He did all of it, which is what leads to the end of the episode.
I honestly don’t know how to feel about the end of this episode. I can’t honestly say that Mitch deserved to die, but I also can’t honestly say that I’ll miss him on The Morning Show. It was shocking to watch his car drive off the cliff, and especially to hear the sound bites from season 1 detailing the loss he faced of any support system. Though, that old support system needed to support his victims instead, which is what they did during that first season, to various degrees of success.
I find this ending so challenging for that reason. Yes, Mitch was a human being and he didn’t deserve to die, but he also caused the pain and suffering of so many women, and inadvertently caused the death of one as well. It was hard not to remember Hannah while Mitch sped towards the same fate, as he finally came to terms with what he had done.
This unceremonious ending to Mitch’s story has me confused about what story The Morning Show was trying to tell with his character. In the first season, the final moment where Alex and Bradley reclaimed their power in the wake of Hannah’s death felt like a victory march, one that left Mitch to rot for what he’d done.
Come season 2, and the show is still parading Mitch around as if he’s the least-rotten apple in the bunch, via scenes opposite arguably more disgusting characters like Fred or considerably more sympathetic like Paola. Though, I know that, truthfully, both sides of this story can be true at the same time.
Mitch can be a horrible person and yet still desire a human life with connection, but who gets to draw the line in the sand between a redeemable person and a threat to those around him? Who gets to decide that Mitch’s lonely existence is worse than the pain he gave to his victims? Especially when in comparison to the jail time he probably should’ve faced over his actions, he arguably got off easy.
Overall, this episode just begs the question: Where does this all lead? Who is going to be left standing when the lives of those attached to The Morning Show come crumbling down around them once again?