The Morning Show season finale brings controversy and coronavirus

Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston in “The Morning Show,” now streaming on Apple TV+.
Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston in “The Morning Show,” now streaming on Apple TV+. /

The Morning Show wraps its second season with its finale titled “Fever,” and there’s a lot to unpack from this controversial episode. 

Bradley kicks off The Morning Show‘s finale by handing out missing posters of her brother Hal, who she hasn’t been able to contact in days after leaving him at the rehab facility during episode 9. Her storyline in this episode is interesting and revolves almost entirely around the search for her brother, as well as her relationship with shame and those around her.

This episode, for me, marked a regression for Bradley as a character that was frustrating but ultimately justified. Following Laura’s advice seemed easy at the time, but this episode made it clear that cutting your family out of your life is not a walk in the park, no matter how much it may improve your own life. In their only conversation during the finale, Alex tells Bradley that family is everything, and to not let the fear of others shaming her to dictate her choices.

It’s ironic, coming from the woman who treated her family so poorly that she hasn’t spoken to her daughter on screen since episode 7 of season 1.

In a way, Bradley has both sides of the argument in her ear: Alex as the family member that longs to not be left behind despite her refusal to grow in any way, and Laura as the woman who was forced to cut ties with her family because they did nothing but bring her pain. But Laura isn’t there, as she flew to Montana sometime between episodes 9 and 10, so Bradley announces to the world that her brother is missing, and issues an open call for information across her social platforms.

The calls work, and at the end of the episode she’s reunited with Hal, but at the cost of her growth as a character and a person. It’ll be extremely interesting to see how her character moves forward after this if the show is picked up for a third season, especially because she’d grown so much in such a short time during season two.

Aside from searching for Hal, Bradley is confronted with another bombshell: Cory’s feelings for her. Unfortunately, this is a storyline that has been bubbling in the background since the beginning of this season, but the way it comes to a head in this episode marks a true low point for the series, especially if they decide to pursue it.

A potential relationship between Bradley and Cory goes against the entire nature of the series. Not only is Cory her boss, which would go against everything the show has stood for since season 1, but Cory is also the man who outed Bradley. Despite her insistence that the outing might’ve been a good thing, it very clearly wasn’t. It was an invasion of privacy and a betrayal that I don’t think Cory can ever truly come back from.

And I think that speaks to their relationship in general because if Cory really loved Bradley the way he insisted he did over and over again in this episode, he wouldn’t have outed her. For Cory, Bradley is a problem that he can’t solve, a wild card, an enigma. He doesn’t truly see her as a human being because if he did, he wouldn’t have outed her and he wouldn’t have confessed his love to her during this turbulent search for her brother.

We have known since the beginning of the series that Cory lives for chaos and unpredictability because he believes it’s the only thing that gives meaning to his otherwise methodical life. This desire for chaos seems to have deluded him into believing he truly cares for Bradley, while not actually showing any consideration for her feelings or boundaries.

It would also be a disappointing jump from the incredible queer storyline they explored this season with Bradley only to put her in a relationship with her boss in the future. It would be disheartening for a queer audience to watch as this character, whose journey was so relatable and heartfelt, then began dating the very man who betrayed her trust in the worst way possible for any queer person.

Bradley isn’t the only one suffering throughout the episode, as Alex deals with the fallout of both her concussion and her positive Coronavirus test. She is sent home at the beginning of this episode, where she’s told to stay and try to get better.

This thread leads to an interesting journey for Alex throughout the episode, especially in how the show portrays her experience with COVID. There are moments in this episode that feel straight out of a horror film, and it’s really interesting to watch. Nothing is more terrifying than Alex Levy naked in the fetal position on the floor of her shower as she tries to stave off the burning heat of a COVID fever.

Though, some of these scenes do feel a bit exhaustive, especially since we’ve all been living in a real COVID horror film going on two years. There’s unfortunate desensitization that I, and probably a lot of other viewers, have to pandemic-related scenes, and that didn’t help in getting me on the “Alex Levy train,” throughout the episode.

As Alex was asking the world via her UBA+ broadcast why they were entitled to have an opinion about her, I was struggling with my own opinions about Alex. As her fever brings a type of insanity that we’ve only seen off-air from this polished Morning Show host, it’s hard not to view her ranting as the sad, destabilization of the woman we once knew from the early days of The Morning Show.

But, I think that’s the point. Gone are the days of Alex Levy staring down the UBA board and informing them that she is truly in charge of The Morning Show. Now she’s been beaten down by the world and has instead decided to beat it back, and her level of success is up to the individual viewer.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about Chip, specifically with Alex, in this episode. He truly stepped up as a friend for Alex when she needed him, but to the cost of his own life. In a way, Chip and Bradley both got sucked back into toxic relationships that hold them back, and it’s interesting to see their storylines run in parallel the way they have.

Aside from Alex and Bradley’s drama, Daniel, Stella, and Mia shine in this episode. Daniel is a force, finally deciding that he no longer wants to be strung along by The Morning Show with promises of a seat at the table; he decides he’s going to build his table.

Mia and Stella both push him to stay, but Mia is truly the only one who understands what he’s going through. She tells him that “tomorrow will come, someday,” as he wonders when he’ll finally get the opportunity to stop fighting for the same things his white counterparts get handed on a silver platter.

Stella’s initiative from episode 8 is seen again here, as she’s forced into the pressure cooker of morning news during a burgeoning pandemic. Though I can only hope next season she’ll be able to have even more room for growth, considering there’s still so much untapped potential in her character arc and Greta Lee’s performance.

Overall, this episode was far from my favorite of the season, and not as strong as their season one closer was. It’s common knowledge that The Morning Show has pivoted and course-corrected many times in its short existence, and I think this is the first episode since early in the season where you could feel the disconnect. Where the pieces that were reshuffled and recut just don’t quite fit together the way they should.

There were so many things looming over this season, and I’m just not sure they stuck the landing, especially with so many loose threads still dangling and few resolutions coming out of this finale. Though, The Morning Show has a clear advantage: Its cast.

Despite a rocky finale, the performances from players like Jennifer Anniston, Reese Witherspoon, Karen Pittman, and Mark Duplass carry the series through to the end and allow for the audience to ignore some of the more nonsensical conclusions, or lack thereof, in favor of awe at these incredibly talented people.

dark. Next. Alex is cancelled in the latest episode of The Morning Show

The Morning Show season 2 is now available to stream in its entirety on AppleTV+, but there is no news yet on a season 3 renewal.