The Morning Show 3×10 “The Overview Effect” is about as effective as a finale can be for a season like this one. The episode has some twists that are really surprising — at least for viewers who don’t follow social media spoilers — as well as just plain fun. During the hour, some major threads from earlier in the season finally get tied up in neat little bows, and thankfully, legacy media lives to utterly fail at painting a full picture yet another day.
Which, to be clear: If we make the analogy to real-life billionaire buyouts, the UBA/NBN merger is going to, realistically, cause some problems. (The layoffs Stella and Mia discuss near the end of this finale, for one.) But the news is still good. Or, at least, this is certainly better than the alternative — one need only see the absolute destruction of Twitter’s usefulness during major world events to prove that.
Probably the most important positive aspect about where “The Overview Effect” leaves us has to do with Bradley and Alex. Specifically, the two characters who started this whole journey for us find themselves back on paths that might or might not be decent ones. It’s as close to redemption as this series was ever going to give us.
…but is that redemption earned? That’s where the difficulty continues to lie, especially in a finale that focuses overly-much on Alex. Alex the star, the savior, the unprecedented. Even Alex, the heartbroken by the end…as if anyone was ever going to care about that romance. The whole thing comes across as just some way to let Jennifer Aniston be the star of The Morning Show 3×10 like she was in the previous season finale. But what worked there — very well, in fact — does not work here. Then, character and plot were in some kind of harmony. In “The Overview Effect,” however, it’s more about forcing someone to be the hero in Episode 10 who was more than prepared to betray not just her colleagues, but the entire concept of journalism, as recently as Episode 9.
Look. We get it. Aniston is very good at what she does. We’ve known this for decades (plural). But it’s long past time for this series to make a choice: Either Alex Levy is the girl we love to hate, or she’s someone who’s flawed yet working to be better and worth rooting for. As of now, the narrative is recklessly muddied, to the point where even the best performances just don’t land the way they should. Now, to be clear: They do land…just not like they could.
If the camera spends too much time on the reactions of one character to her heartbreak, while leaving everyone else to just kind of get glossed over — and if tender scenes that make absolutely no sense between Aniston’s Alex and Jon Hamm’s Paul get shoved in at the expense of all else, even after several episodes of implying their intimacy and focus is somehow more valuable or important than others’ — the end result becomes weaker.
Of course, even in the midst of all this dissatisfaction, we’d still like to point out that the actors deserve fair compensation and protections for their work. As in, it’s long past time for the studios to make a proper deal with SAG-AFTRA, not a “best and final” offer that still leaves them incredibly vulnerable. And no, not in the emotionally-compelling type of vulnerable that we love to see on screen either. This AI mess.
Anyway. Time for an even more detailed discussion of The Morning Show 3×10…
Welcome back, Bradley?
We’re starting at the very end because I do what I want.
There’s that old saying about how everything will be ok in the end, and if it’s not ok, it’s not the end. Well, this seems to finally be the end of Bradley Jackson’s insurrection-enabling era because she spends her final moments of this season preparing to join Hal in coming clean to the FBI. And she even has Alex there to support her — just like she’d once supported Alex in that infamous interview with Maggie Brenner. So, everything feels like it’s finally going to be ok. Normally, this is where we’d drop a “thank God,” but as is the case for pretty much every good outcome in The Morning Show 3×10, we have Alex to thank. And thank her we will, in this case.
Despite their fight in the season’s penultimate episode, Alex listens to her gut. So, when nobody — including Alex — can reach Bradley after the Cory rumors, Alex makes the very good decision to just…force her way in. (But, like, in a good way.) And she’s maybe the only one who could’ve gotten through that door. Normally, we’d expect Laura to be Bradley’s person…but…well. The narrative went where it did for them. So, the role Alex plays in Bradley’s life is the next best one overall, and it may have been the best one for this situation overall. No romantic entanglements to make things even more complicated, if you will. Just a friend(?) and coworker, to the rescue.
“I didn’t have a choice. He’s my brother.”
“Of course you did. You had a choice — you always have a choice!”
Another score for Alex: When she finds out about Hal, she’s about as upset as the rest of us. The entire confrontation is the type of onscreen partnership between Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Anniston that’s always, always been golden for this series. Unlike several of their previous scenes this season, though, this one isn’t some bizarre forced meeting. No. It’s a natural progression; it’s characters driving the plot, as opposed to the other way around. And because of that, it’s just fantastic. To put it another way: Forget about this season’s, or even this finale’s, problems. This is (at least part of) what we’re here for.
At this point in the finale, Alex is who we need and want her to be. Sure, we have no idea who or what she’s been most of this season. But at least as far as the Bradley of it all goes, she meets the moment. Flaws remain, but they’re compelling and can be worked out. Yes, Alex is (again) unwilling to believe what Bradley has to say about Paul; she even calls Bradley’s theory about him surveilling her a “big leap.” But even as she does this, it’s like we can see the wheels turning. Aniston gives us just enough of a hint that Alex isn’t as certain as she was in their previous confrontation. There’s that tiniest bit of doubt creeping in and something different about the energy. It’s subtle, and that’s what makes it beautiful and real.
But the strength of that performance is what makes the solo time in the car seem a little bit too over indulgent. Yes, we need to see Alex thinking it through. And, certainly, we need to see the text she sends, that moment when she chooses to delete “West Virginia” and send a text with the errant “Hanover.” It’s such a smart way for the character to lay a trap for Paul, and so that part just fits. But something’s off about the framing. Either the car scene drags or needs…something. Less time to be even more effective? Different angles? Something.
“Do you know what he said to me, Alex? He told me he would destroy her life; he said he would ruin Laura’s career. I can’t let that happen — I won’t let that happen.”
We’re also still left with the question of how Laura plays into the decision Bradley ultimately makes. All of this sacrifice for the sake of love is certainly romantic, and we’re nothing if not die-hard shippers. But if Bradley’s sole motivation to do the right thing is about someone else…it’s still a little disappointing. So, we’d like to think it’s a combination of everything: Laura’s condemnation, Paul’s threats, Alex’s judgement, Bradley’s own conscience…and time. Otherwise, what we’ve established is that her only guiding principle is “do things for other people.” And while selflessness is certainly a quality worth loving, Bradley simply has to have her own morals and boundaries outside of even that. Especially as a journalist. She just has to.
…which, that raises another question and brings us to the future. Can Bradley even be a journalist after all this? Logically, we’d like to say no. But it’s not there’s no realistic basis for such a plot. Plenty of people have committed violent, horrific crimes in the film industry alone, only to still thrive. So, maybe Bradley will get some kind of talk show after she does a minimum amount of time in a white-collar prison. And/or maybe she’ll avoid doing time at all by paying a fine that doesn’t even make a dent in her net worth. If shitty white dudes can get away with everything with nothing more than a slap on the wrist, why not? It will be disappointing — at best — if things go that way, sure. But that, at least, won’t be down to anything wrong with the series — just the godawful state of the world.
So, yeah. Bradley’s gonna be ok..as long is this truly is the end of this particular plot.
Alex saves legacy media
Look: All concerns about why Alex gets to be the hero after being so willing to stab everyone in the back aside — and sorry for being repetitive with mentioning that, but also not sorry — she just has some utterly brilliant moments in The Morning Show 3×10. And we can applaud giving Aniston plenty of places to shine, if nothing else. (But, again…there are better ways to do that than what we’ve seen in these 10 episodes. See also: The previous seasons.)
The best of the best comes in two places: First, Alex’s moment of recognition, of dread, of just…something dying when the word “Hanover” comes out of Paul’s mouth. Heaps and heaps of praise could not explain the feeling of watching that reaction. Also worthy of special recognition is Alex’s big entrance into the Board room, the way she throws down the gauntlet in the form of a stack of files and a well-thought-out proposal. It’s pure art.
Even the way Alex holds herself together, repeatedly telling Paul “not. here,” as she marches him off to face his final blow in the form of Kate speaking out, is so much fun to watch. It’s all incredibly entertaining, as well as a bit of wish fulfillment. Would that we could stop the billionaires from buying up everything precious to us, to take the power back, to make a real difference. To finally speak from a place of holding all the cards, of finally getting what we’ve worked so hard for, of taking all the power.
And, like, yeah…Alex is out here, girl-bossing it up or whatever. (But if only we could tell a feminist story that isn’t about last-minute pivots away from being used by shitty men…)
“I don’t know. You’re fuckin’ smart; you’re gonna figure it out. Talk to Stella. She started this; she started pulling threads, and there’s something there, Alex. There’s something there.”
The “power” part here is, of course, where we have to take the majority of the season with a grain of salt in order to get the most satisfaction. Because, well. Just look at what she was willing to do for that power…right up until the eleventh hour. At any rate, The Morning Show 3×10 is about Alex taking Bradley’s advice and encouragement, then using that to find a way to end the sale to Paul/Hyperion. Right down to including the “threads” Stella’s been pulling.
But we don’t get to see that work; the collaboration with the person Alex was ready to screw over five seconds ago all takes place off screen. A missed opportunity, especially since a genuine conversation between Stella and Alex could’ve gone a long way. At least we see Alex’s visit to Laura, but even that conversation, based on how it ends, would’ve worked better as a cliffhanger in another episode than it does as something that feels jammed into this finale.
In short, we simply needed more time and development for Alex’s turn back to the right side of this to be believable. Because for as much as Alex cares about journalism, about Bradley, about the truth…she was willing to throw that all away for power. It’s only learning the awful truth about her partner in crime that sets Alex back on the path of righteousness. And even then, the “way” she finds to save everyone is one that gives her all the power she’s ever wanted and saves her own ass. In the end, that’s somehow both enough to root for her and mildly irritating. Maybe, though, that’s the point.
And, if nothing else, Alex Levy is certainly a much better person to play the hero than Cory Ellison.
More on The Morning Show 3×10
- Imagine, for a moment, if the flashback episode had been all this baby Bradley stuff — really digging into the depths of this character’s trauma — instead of the cruel return to 2020. A girl can always dream
to make believe, right?
- Utterly stunning work from Witherspoon as a totally wrecked and (rightfully) paranoid Bradley in this entire finale. We usually don’t get to see her like this, but wow.
- “I gave them information.” Here we go with “flippant billionaire motherfucker,” as I like to call him, again. Notice how he tells just enough of the truth without actually telling Alex the full story. He’s managing her.
- Fitting that Stella has “Queen” in her handle, actually.
- And we should all fuck up some zombies.
- Stella’s pause before that “I don’t know what to think” is so messy. So, so messy.
- Not enough Chris in this episode.
- Total icon for suggesting they all tell their own story, though. Complete and total icon.
- “The 20,000 employees at UBA deserve to know what’s at stake in this Board vote. If the lights are going out, we need to talk about what that means for them. For us.” Nothing but respect for my president.
- “This is why they hate us. 90 million gallons of water a year on this shit!” I mean…the man has a point. Too bad he’s saying it in that mocking Cory Ellison tone, though.
- “…you’re toxic, Cory. Radioactive.” And now, this horrible dude has a point.
- “You won’t even know how to spend that much money.” Literally true of any billionaire, at any time. And yet, they keep hoarding more wealth while the rest of us keep suffering more. Disgusting.
- “Oh, fuck, Bradley!” (Same, Alex…same.)
- That confused, defensive side-eye the second Bradley mentions Paul? That’s good shit.
- From the frantic energy in the “how did he know” dialogue, to that tremble in Witherspoon’s voice when she gets to the part about Hal…Just beyond explanation, how good she is here.
- “Succession of lawyers…like Russian nesting dolls in Brooks Brothers suits.” Siri, play “Cry Me A River.”
- “Pretty fucked up. She did not sound like herself. Really manic.” “That’s…grim.” He can not even find a way to pretend to have human emotions.
- “She’s gonna have to start doing some things for herself.” (Heartbreaking: the worst person you know just made a great point.)
- The walk-in closet scene was too much. Sorry, not sorry.
- Layla backstage: “Here. We. Go.” Me alone on my couch, yelling at the TV: Girl, same.
- Speaking of wish fulfillment: Chip’s entire onscreen rant. All those fucks on-air, plus just getting to speak truth to power about the behind-the-scenes corruption? Genius.
- (…but it’s kinda already been done. By the women. And the end of Season 1.)
- Regardless, the way Mark Duplass just builds up in intensity as he works through Chip’s initial nervousness, right up to the point where he’s like, “you know what? Fuck that,” is incredible.
- No, seriously. The intensity is so great. And the words themselves? Chef’s kiss.
- “You want to nuke this place? Fine. You pay the FCC obscenity fines. You are killing an 80-year-old company that started as a radio station, warning people about the dangers of fascism. And. You. Do. Not. Fucking. Care. So, fuck you, motherfucker. Fuck you and the fucking rocket you rode in on, which…by the way, looks like a giant fucking metal dick!” God-tier.
- “Black’s R-rated populist rant struck a nerve across the political spectrum. Woke cheerleader, AOC, tweeted that Black was, quote, “baller.” And she would’ve been right if this was a real scenario. So there.
- “Cybil, this is fun! We’re gonna kill a billionaire!” Can’t believe this show continues to make me root for Cory. And this unholy alliance with Cybil…weirdly works.
- Can’t believe I finally got Julianna Margulies and Jennifer Aniston back in a scene together and it’s…this. Not to mention the timing…nope. Gonna leave that alone.
- “You know, Bradley is…a stranger. I see that now — I never knew her. Not really. I just wanted to.” Me watching this season.
- So, Alex and Laura have come a long way, I take it?
- The way Cory’s face just…tells a story when Paul shows up at that restaurant…Billy Crudup, folks.
- “…very willing to exploit her personal life when it suited you. So, maybe you’re not the poster boy for feminism that you think you are. You didn’t leak that article to protect Hannah Schoenfeld — you leaked it because you couldn’t stand the idea of Bradley with Laura Peterson. So, at least, for fuck’s sake, be honest with yourself.” Heartbreaking: The worst person you know…
- Someone had to enjoy writing this line: “I’m guessing the kind where I can’t even say your name to my goldfish…where we pretend in perpetuity that you aren’t the steaming, rocket-based shitbag that you are.”
- “I would rather do time with the fuckin’ Oathkeepers than take a penny from you.” On the one hand, drag him. But on the other…I mean…those assholes aren’t worth spending time with, and money is good to have.
- Nice with the barely held back emotion on that “night, Mom,” but eh. The scene itself is like it’s there just to make the bizarre mommy trip make sense in the end. No thanks to either.
- All the repeated “what do you want” questions…my dude, not everything is transactional to everyone.
- Why did we get more time to sit with Alex’s feelings about this dude she was with for 10 seconds than we got with the entirety of BradleyLaura though.
- Ok but can I join the Dance Week Challenge with Chris.
- “I was afraid because…he saw me for who I really was. Everything about me. And I was afraid I could never be with someone like that.” We’re keeping the “tease Cory and Bradley, even though literally no one asked” tradition, huh.
- Also, lady, you literally just told him you’re two people who use each other. The hell.
- “Well, I’m still the architect of the biggest failed deal of the 21st Century, so…” “Biggest failed deal so far.” They’re flirting. WTF.
- She’ll miss what. Nope. Huge no.
- …and why do I feel bad for Cory again???? This is exhausting.
- Cool story, Alex. We get it. You’re crying over this garbage man again. What’s everyone else up to?
- “Remaking this place. Just…doing it without you feels wrong.” That’s not the only thing that feels wrong.
- Sweet reminiscing from Bradley and Alex. Even sweeter hug and offer of support.
- Woo. A whole season of…unrecognizable I don’t know what, just to end up kinda back where we began. Yay!
- And we’re free!
Here’s hoping SAG-AFTRA gets their deal, and the actors get back to work soon. It’s going to be a long wait for more…and yeah. We’ll be back. Who cares how messy it is as long as the performances are great, and it all turns out ok? (We do. But…the sentiment’s there.)
Thoughts on The Morning Show 3×10 “The Overview Effect”? Leave us a comment!
All episodes of The Morning Show Season 3 are now streaming on Apple TV+