The Morning Show has always done a good job of telling stories that mirror real life, and season 3 is no different. While the season ends in such a way that could easily wrap up the story for all the characters (albeit with a few loose ends), fans will be pleased to know that the Apple TV+ original series, one of its first, has been renewed for a fourth season.
The story in season 3 takes things in new directions, once again. It picks up following the end of the COVID-19 pandemic. The episodes touch on everything from the Fourth Estate and the future of legacy media to journalistic integrity and topical political issues, all leading to an explosive end.
Central to the story through season 3 is the financial state of the UBA network. Alex Levy (Friends star Jennifer Aniston) doesn’t know how financially strained the network is, and she’s clamoring for a piece of a not-so-big pie. Cory Ellison (Billy Crudup), meanwhile, is secretly talking with a billionaire named Paul Marx (Jon Hamm in a new role) to buy the company. He thinks an injection of cash might save the network, but wants to do it quietly — and naively believes he’ll still be in charge.
Whether it’s Cory’s failed leadership or a general changing of the landscape that has left UBA in a precarious position is unknown. It’s likely a combination of both. Advertisers are dwindling, support is falling, and employees are unhappy, feeling overworked, underpaid, and underappreciated. Will this Hail Mary plan work? Does Paul have genuine intentions for the company, and will an acquisition raise eyebrows about journalistic integrity?
As is usually the case, things don’t go smoothly for Cory, particularly when Alex discovers what’s going on and blows up his deal with Paul. When she discovers how bad things really are, however, she tracks down Paul and uses her charms to convince him to come back to the table. It works, and the pair eventually strike up a romance in the process, which throws a whole new wrench into the mess.
As the dance with Paul continues, The Morning Show touches on the delicate tightrope the staff must walk when their job is to present news, even if it conflicts with their own emotions and personal obligations. Mia (Karen Pittman), for example, is faced with a seemingly impossible decision: run photos that could get her photographer ex-boyfriend killed before he’s able to get to safety or wait and risk not getting the exclusive.
Stella (Greta Lee) is offered the new CEO position behind Cory’s back and battles with whether to tell her current boss what’s going on or accept the offer and throw him under the bus. What’s more, she has an unsavory history with Paul that makes her skeptical anyway. Meanwhile, a scene where she’s faced with awful, misogynist acts from corporate advertisers that UBA needs to secure in order to survive leaves her (and viewers) with an uneasy feeling.
The there’s Bradley Jackson (Reese Witherspoon), who, it’s revealed in a flashback, was covering news of the Capital riots when she spotted her brother, Hal (Joe Tippett), as one of the rioters. She swiftly deleted the footage of him and lied to the FBI about it, a fact Cory learned, then reluctantly helped her cover up.
Twisting the knife further is that Hal is working on a clean slate and wants to confess. Bradley is concerned about how this would implicate her and blow up the life he has finally begun to build for himself. He is doing well, despite the tragic death of their mother (from COVID). He’s married with a baby, and things are finally looking up.
Bradley’s pleading won’t matter anyway when Laura (Julianna Margulies) later discovers what happened. She’s disgusted by Bradley’s choice to throw her journalistic integrity out the window to protect her brother and his heinous actions. Laura reluctantly decides to keep quiet, but also ends their resurrected romance.
Meanwhile, Alex and Paul are growing closer, and he convinces her to start her own thing once the acquisition is finalized. Why? He plans to sell off UBA assets, effectively dissolving the network. With rose-colored glasses from the fast-tracked romance (that has caused further drama for the network), Alex decides she’s all-in. She doesn’t care about Cory and she plans to take the hard-working staff with her anyway and pay them what they deserve. She can do it on her own. Naturally, the decision doesn’t go over well when Cory finds out not only what Alex is going to do, but Paul’s ultimate plan as well.
With the takeover looming, Cory is in scramble mode once again. He has help from Bradley and Stella, both of whom are looking into Paul and his company to find something — anything — that could prevent the deal from going through. Stella, it’s earlier revealed, was a young coder under Paul’s Silicon Valley incubator who fell into a deep depression when he purchased her code for a steal and made billions from it. Her former best friend. Kate (Natalie Morales), who used to work for Paul and was recently fired from his company. Hyperion, knows something bad is going on, but she had signed an NDA and is afraid to talk. Eventually, however, as Bradley notes, someone will.
Paul knows about their digging, however, and blackmails Bradley with knowledge of Hal and the Capital. He also plants a fake news story about Cory being a predator, using a photo of him carrying an intoxicated Bradley back to her hotel room to twist the narrative. He’s evil, Bradley believes, and she wishes Alex would see it. How did he know about Hal anyway? Bradley is convinced Paul has been surveilling her since he discovered she was trying to find dirt on him.
Despite Alex’s support of Paul, she listens to Bradley, and pulls a clever test in hopes of proving her wrong. She sends a text message to Bradley with a specific piece of incorrect information that Paul later quotes, all but confirming that Bradley was right. Reeling from the discovery, Alex goes into her usual save the day mode.
At the board meeting, before the deal is finalized, Alex presents members with an alternate plan, much to Paul’s shock. With the help of Laura, she met with the CEO of partner network YDA and proposed a merger. They would share resources, staff, advertising dollars, even shows. It would mean layoffs and changes, but UBA would survive. Despite the very last minute nature of the plan, the board has a fiduciary responsibility to look at any offer equal to or greater than Paul’s, and they do.
As they deliberate, Alex leads an angered Paul to a room where Stella and Kate confront him about the unsafe conditions of his rocket, his actions to hide it, and the fact that Kate has proof. He must either reveal the truth to NASA or they’ll go public with the news. The billionaire loses and leaves with his tail between his legs. That’s not, however, before showing up at Alex’s apartment to express his regret and uncertainty for the future of his company. He might have genuinely fallen for Alex, but he’s the exact type of man of which she needs to steer clear.
In the aftermath of the events, UBA is thriving, though there are still a lot of decisions that need to be ironed out. Stella is gearing up to position herself for the CEO job now that Cory is likely being pushed out and she can feel like she earned it versus being silenced with it. The fourth estate survives to see another day.
Cory and Bradley give statements about their relationship to clear Cory’s name, and Bradley tells the truth. She never feared Cory, nor felt he was grooming her. She does reveal he told her he loved her, but quickly follows this up with the fact that he saw her for who she was, and that’s the only thing she feared. When she tells Cory she’ll miss him, the typically stoic, smiling CEO tears up, trying his best to hide it. He’s later seen standing in a crowd, lost and dejected. What’s next for Cory?
Bradley, meanwhile, heads with Alex to a local FBI office, where she meets Hal. They are going to confess, which likely won’t bode well for either of them. With several offenses committed, it’s difficult to imagine that either of them will be let off with a simple slap on the wrist. But fans will have to wait until next season to find out.
Despite the seemingly fitting ending, The Morning Show has been renewed for a fourth season.
Stream The Morning Show on Apple TV+.
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