The Morning Show season 3 review: "This uneven opening is rescued by a thrilling second episode"

The Morning Show
(Image: © Apple TV+)

GamesRadar+ Verdict

Just as an uneven opening episode threatens to lose even dedicated fans of The Morning Show, episode 2 flips the formula to pull viewers back in

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Drawing a conclusion over the first two episodes of The Morning Show season 3 is tough, as while the opener is a frustrating, convoluted echo of what’s come before, episode 2 somehow manages to be one of the Apple TV Plus show’s best hours yet. The result is an uneven return to this world of broadcasting politics, which could soar or sink in its remaining episodes.

The action picks up almost two years on from the season 2 finale that focused heavily on the outbreak of Covid. Given that finale featured Alex Levy (played by Jennifer Aniston) sweating through the virus live on air, it’s undeniably a wise choice to distance itself from the heavy-handed nature with which the series tackled issues of the pandemic.

We meet Alex again as she’s preparing for a trip into space on a tech titan’s rocket for a segment in a fun, thinly-veiled allegory of the billionaire space race between Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos. Meanwhile, Cory (Billy Crudup’s studio head is still the show’s MVP) is dealing with the potential sale of the network as Bradley (Reese Witherspoon) struggles with her place as a serious journalist, despite now helming UBA’s evening news show.

Familiar territory

The Morning Show

(Image credit: Apple TV+)

Despite the promise of its premise, Bradley’s storyline is an example of the series’ continued struggle to break free of repetitive character beats. Reckoning with her place as a "serious reporter" has been one of her bugbears since the opening of season 1, and it feels frustrating to have very little development from that storyline in its reintroduction.

The narrative also isn’t helped by the show’s inability to commit to its two-year time jump. Each character is talking about the events of two years ago as if they’re from yesterday. And really, it’s pretty unbelievable that they’d still be mentioning the time Alex had Covid or that it would have remained awkward between Bradley and Cory years after his romantic confession.

The most intriguing part of the opener is the introduction of Jon Hamm as Paul Marks. As a smarmy and scheming character, he fills The Morning Show’s quota for detestable men that was left with a vacancy following the death of Steve Carell’s Mitch Kessler, and his chemistry with Aniston is particularly absorbing. But even he can’t save 'The Kármán Line' from feeling rather dull.

Sink or swim

The Morning Show

(Image credit: Apple TV+)

It’s a real surprise then that the second of the two episodes made available for review, 'Ghost in the Machine', flips the tired structure on its head completely in a gripping hour of television. This is all thanks to a simple, claustrophobic premise: as The Morning Show is live on air, a network-wide hack puts the whole team on lockdown in UBA’s headquarters.

With whip-smart dialogue, real stakes, and heavy topics, it leans into the contemporary conversation of cyber security, and by doing so it captures what made the first season of the show so compelling: not only is this a very realistic scenario, the series has something interesting to say about it. This time around, it's to do with fame, privacy, and the gray area of our moral choices. 

The tense action culminates in a particularly powerful scene between Cory and Greta Lee’s Stella Bak in which secrets threaten to spill over. It’s one of the few moments in the opening episodes which really feel like the show is making use of the talent (and starryness) of its cast.

And as the needle drops on episode 2, it seems there’s still some of the groundbreaking first season’s magic in this show yet. The question just remains about how much the remainder of season 3 can capture of it. 

The Morning Show episodes 1 and 2 arrive on Apple TV Plus today. The remaining episodes are released weekly on the streaming platform. 

For what else to stream, here's our breakdown of the best Apple TV Plus shows to watch now.

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Fay Watson
Deputy Entertainment Editor

I’m the Deputy Entertainment Editor here at GamesRadar+, covering TV and film for the Total Film and SFX sections online. I previously worked as a Senior Showbiz Reporter and SEO TV reporter at Express Online for three years. I've also written for The Resident magazines and Amateur Photographer, before specializing in entertainment.