“And then you realize you’re the replaceable one.”—Mitch
Wow. This has been a good season of The Morning Show and this bottle episode set in Italy was a great example of the depth of the series. But it also, at times, is tough to watch. If you’ve been reading and enjoying these recaps, you know I go through all the big plot points of the episodes. But for this week in particular, if you haven’t watched, wait to read this recap. You’ve been warned.
Two weeks ago, I wrote about Mitch (Steve Carell) and the growth of his character. The interview he provided Paola (Valeria Golino) was incredibly moving. But Mitch is a conflicted character and always has been. As this episode picks up, Mitch feels he needs to return to New York to be with his kids during the pandemic. Before he goes, he asks if Paola will delete his interview. She reluctantly agrees but seems more than a little disappointed.
Before we can even get to that, Mitch has a visitor—Alex (Jennifer Aniston). After her melt down in Las Vegas Alex hopped a plane and headed straight for Italy. She wants Mitch to issue a statement that they never slept together—even if it’s a lie—to protect her from any potential fallout and shame Maggie Brener (Marcia Gay Harden). In fact, she demands it of Mitch. In the process she demeans Paola, who hears Alex’s comments, then quickly flees.
But Alex is unable to safely drive so she pulls over and falls asleep. The next morning a police officer rouses Alex and sends her back to the home of the only person she knows, Mitch. Alex arrives and lets herself in. She finds a note from Mitch indicating she should make herself at home but he doesn’t wish to see her because it’s too painful.
Alex breaks down. Mitch emerges. They are alone and finally get to have a real conversation. Paola has left in the awkwardness, assuring Mitch his video has been deleted first. Mitch and Alex invite her to return but get no response. Alex has a 6 a.m. return flight, so she has a day to kill with Mitch.
They play games. They swap stories. They laugh. And, eventually, they dance. It’s in that moment we learn the depth of Alex’s love for Mitch. The result of their affair was a time when Alex thought she was pregnant. She wanted the child and when it turned out to be fake, she says she mourned. Mitch is moved. We’ve long been told about the depth of their relationship but in this seventh episode of the second season, we finally begin to understand their bond. Gently Alex falls asleep on Mitch’s shoulder.
When he awakes, Mitch sees the latest news about him and the book. He’s angry and shattered, and he sees Alex again recoil. The hurt is palpable. He begs her for help, saying, “I want to be a good person.” Alex leaves for the airport, unable to offer any solace to Mitch. They had a beautiful moment but there are no happy endings here.
The title of the episode—La Amara Vita—translates to the bitter life I’ve come to know. Mitch continues to struggle. He is lonely and broken. Paola awakes and asks if she should come over. Mitch says he’ll come to her.
Paola knows who Mitch is. Thanks to the interview, she knows his deepest areas of brokenness, too. And she accepts him for who he is. Paola makes an advance, which Mitch declines. He’s weary of connection but, on a deeper level, seems to believe he’s unworthy of love. Paola persists and they connect. She also shares that she hasn’t yet actually deleted his interview.
Mitch heads out to grab something at the market. As Alex fights off fatigue to arrive for her flight, Mitch is blinded by the lights of a passing vehicle long enough for his car to sail off the edge of a cliff and into the dark of night. It’s a tragic ending for a tragic character, but one that feels fitting to his arc on the show.
And with that revealing interview still on Paola’s hard drive, you can’t help but feel that we haven’t seen Mitch’s last shot at redemption.
I’m going with Paola. She awakened and opened something in Mitch while also accepting him and helping him find a way forward. I hope her work is not yet complete.
Episode Grade: A-
That’s a wrap from Italy. Check back next week for a recap of Confirmations.
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.