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The Morning Show Season 3 Ends With the Biggest Surprise of All: Stability

"The Overview Effect" isn't a series finale, but it certainly feels like one.
  • Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston in The Morning Show Season 3 finale (Photo: Apple TV+)
    Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston in The Morning Show Season 3 finale (Photo: Apple TV+)

    [Editor's Note: This post contains spoilers for The Morning Show Season 3 finale, "The Overview Effect."]

    Since its debut in 2019, The Morning Show has been drawn to cliffhangers like a moth to a flame, but the Season 3 finale takes a different approach, instead opting for something that looks a whole lot like closure. "The Overview Effect" isn't a series finale — Apple TV+ renewed The Morning Show for Season 4 in late April, shortly after filming wrapped — but with its kumbaya energy and tidy resolutions, it certainly feels like one, particularly where Alex Levy (Jennifer Aniston) and Bradley Jackson (Reese Witherspoon) are concerned.

    Alex and Bradley, former The Morning Show anchors who have since leveraged their popularity into jobs elsewhere at UBA, spent the bulk of Season 3 wrestling with their personal and professional obligations. As Alex fell for ruthless, space-obsessed billionaire Paul Marks (Jon Hamm) and abandoned her journalistic principles — all while continuing to claim the moral high ground and dismissing anyone who suggested otherwise — Bradley faced potential legal consequences for deleting footage of her brother Hal (Joe Tippett) assaulting a Capitol police officer on January 6, 2021. (Even with a new showrunner, Charlotte Stoudt, The Morning Show couldn't resist the allure of incorporating the insurrection into the drama.) But for their obvious thematic similarities, these storylines were marked by one key difference: While Alex only sunk deeper into her narcissism over the course of the season, Bradley's sin slowly ate her up inside, to the point that she ultimately sacrificed her career to protect her ex-girlfriend Laura Peterson's (Julianna Margulies) reputation.

    At first, the finale — an efficient hour of television that brings the season's many storylines together in a satisfying way — suggests that Alex will continue walking down the path of destruction with Paul, but when she realizes her boyfriend has been surveilling her (and Bradley, and everyone else at UBA), she finally has a come-to-Jesus moment. In a series of events straight out of Succession (there's even an accompanying score of string instruments), Alex hatches a plan with Laura and interrupts the board's vote on Paul's acquisition with an alternative offer: "a merger of equals" between UBA and rival network NBN. "Two entities coming together, greater than the sum of their parts," she proposes. "It's a chance to start over. To do things right, for once. A true partnership." As she makes her pitch, she shoots daggers at Paul, who promised her the very same, but failed to live up to it.

    But after all the harm Alex has done this season, blowing up the Hyperion deal isn't enough to right the ship, integrity-wise. She leads an irate Paul directly into a confrontation with Stella Bak (Greta Lee), UBA's news division chief and Paul's former student, and Kate Danton (Natalie Morales), whom Paul fired for expressing concerns about the safety of his rockets. Armed with evidence that Paul has been lying to the government about his space program, Alex offers him a choice: "Walk away from UBA right now, make it right with the people you hurt, come clean to NASA. Or we'll run the story and end Hyperion." For Paul, who sees UBA as nothing more than a fundraising source for Hyperion, it's a no-brainer. "Tell Leonard [the chairman of the board] I'm pulling out of the deal," he tells Alex. "You'll hear from my lawyers."

    While Bradley plays a less pivotal role in the finale (though she was involved in the effort to take down Paul before the billionaire blackmailed her into quitting) she also gets a redemption arc. In the episode's final minutes, Bradley does what she should have done from the beginning: turns herself and her brother into the FBI. Bradley tears up as she processes how her life is about to change, but Alex assures her that she'll be there for support, whatever happens. As Bradley walks into the building, the action moves at half-speed, and a slow, melancholic version of "Three Little Birds (Don't Worry About a Thing)" begins to play. The scene feels distinctly like a goodbye, as if The Morning Show wants to end Bradley's story on a high note, before questions of prison time and hefty fines arise — and before the creative team has to figure out how to incorporate the story of a woman who no longer has a career in journalism into a show about a legacy media company.

    So, what comes next for The Morning Show? The joint venture between UBA and NBN sets up an obvious storyline for Season 4 (and beyond) as staffers jockey for position at the merged company. Producer Mia Jordan (Karen Pittman) says it best when she warns Stella that "the writing is on the wall," as "there's going to be layoffs and buyouts" as the networks consolidate resources across divisions. While anyone is at risk of losing their job — sadly, that's the current state of media — CEO Cory Ellison (Billy Crudup), or as he describes himself, "the architect of the biggest failed deal of the 21st century," is in a particularly precarious position due to Paul's fake report about him grooming Bradley and the months he spent sparring with the board over the acquisition. That said, he and Cybil Reynolds (Holland Taylor), who's no longer UBA chairman but still holds sway in the boardroom, ended the season on good terms, and if there's anyone you want in your corner as you enter a contentious battle for the C-suite, it's a powerful woman with even more powerful friends.

    There are a few other storylines that can and should be picked up in Season 4, particularly if the Apple TV+ drama is interested in doing better by its non-white characters. Mia's romantic journey with photojournalist Andre Ford (Clive Standen) ended with them getting back together, but considering the limited focus on Pittman's character this season, there's plenty of room for further exploration. New anchor Chris Hunter (Nicole Beharie) was also offered a job at a sports network, but her fight to achieve pay equity at UBA is far from over. Even former weatherman Yanko Flores (Néstor Carbonell) got more interesting when he told Chris that he's attempting to adopt a child. As always, Yanko remained on the fringes in Season 3, chiming in with a bad take about affirmative action or cancel culture every few episodes, but his private life remains an enigma. And while he definitely doesn't need a standalone episode — 60 full minutes of Yanko would be infuriating — it would be nice if The Morning Show checked in with him outside the studio once or twice.

    But even with a few dangling plot threads, it feels like the show is hitting the refresh button with its Season 3 finale. There are no imminent threats to the anchors or the network, as was the case in previous seasons, or warring factions to burn it all down. The fate of UBA may be up in the air, but for the first time, these characters are heading into that uncertain future together, on equal footing. For The Morning Show, achieving that kind of stability may be the most unexpected ending of all.

    The Morning Show is streaming on Apple TV+. Join the discussion about the show in our forums.

    Claire Spellberg Lustig is the Senior Editor at Primetimer and a scholar of The View. Follow her on Twitter at @c_spellberg.

    TOPICS: The Morning Show, Apple TV+, Billy Crudup, Greta Lee, Jennifer Aniston, Jon Hamm, Karen Pittman, Nicole Beharie, Reese Witherspoon