“News isn’t just the stuff you want to hear.”—Daniel
We have known since the season premier that a major storyline this season was going to be COVID. You don’t set a show in contemporary New York City in 2020 and not have COVID be a thing. I have mixed feelings about revisiting something that’s both still so raw and ongoing. But if this episode is any indication, the way it’s being handed with The Morning Show might be fascinating in its own way.
When last we left the scene, Daniel (Desean Terry) was on his way to China. As we pick up, he’s in Wuhan when he’s awakened in the middle of the night. A pandemic has broken out and the city is about to go into lockdown. Daniel and his crew scramble to get out and just make it back to Bejing, where they have to quarantine for 14 days. He knows this is a major story and something is coming, but even quarantined in China he can’t get any traction at home that it’s a story.
Mia (Karen Pittman) is sympathetic to Daniel’s desire for a bigger role on the show, but she needs ratings. She wants to hold on to her job and, as she tells him, a virus in China has no impact on the lives of the teaming streets of New York City… a perspective that can still be held in January 2020. With hindsight we know that won’t last long, but it’s not hard to remember those early days when COVID seemed like something far away. For now, it’s a problem for another day, but it’s lurking in the shadows and soon should start impacting all our characters.
Meanwhile, the big focus for those in New York is the return of Alex Levy (Jennifer Aniston). She breaks it to Cory (Billy Crudup) and Stella (Gretta Lee), the new President of the New Division, that Chip (Mark Duplass) is coming back as her producer. Cory will do what it takes to keep Alex happy, betting a lot of his future on the ratings she’ll bring. Stella is weary of bringing him back, as she was weary of Alex returning. Mia is also weary of having Chip back and their new dynamic, in addition to how it will and does split the staff. But, it’s happening, and they all have to get on board.
Meanwhile, UBA is using one of the most over-the-top ad campaigns in the world to announce Alex’s return. Another piece of the roll out is big prime time interviews for Alex and Bradley (Reese Witherspoon) with hard-hitting UBA reporter Laura Peterson (Juliana Margulies). Alex is up first, winnowing it down to a supposedly tightly controlled few hours. Still, Laura manages to get in a few probing questions, including about her relationship with Mitch (Steve Carell). Alex again warns Bradley to be weary.
But Cory asks Laura to look out for Bradley. The two conduct an interview during the course of a couple days in Iowa at the Caucuses. Bradley opens up and the two bond—in a big way. In fact, back in New York coming from the airport, Bradley leans in and kisses Laura… So, that was certainly a major surprise to close the episode.
But the announcement goes well, the televised interviews land and it’s time for Alex to return. As the episode closes a seemingly tense Alex careens toward the desk, takes her seat and it’s go time… as we fade to black!
Mitch’s Redemption Tour
Meanwhile, in Italy, Mitch is trying to find his way toward a meaningful contribution, teaming with Paola (Valeria Golino) on her documentary. It’s a nice distraction for him from other issues in his life, including Fred (Tom Irwin) popping back up, trying to encourage Mitch to team up with him to fight back against Hannah’s family. Mitch is trying to live a quiet life. He seems like he’s changed, but I’ll be curious to see where this goes.
It’s Laura Peterson. She makes a quick impression on our leads, setting Alex on edge and setting Bradley’s heart a flutter. She certainly made it interesting.
Episode Grade: B+
That’s a wrap on this week’s episode, Laura. Check back next week for a recap of Kill the Fatted Calf!
Matthew Fox is a graduate of the Radio, Television and Film program at Biola University, and a giant nerd. He spends his free time watching movies, TV, and obsessing about football. He is a member of the FSWA. You can find him @knighthawk7734 on Twitter and as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast.