Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, Mark Duplass and more discuss the latest twist in season 2.
While there have been plenty of unexpected moments in season 2 of The Morning Show, nothing has been more shocking than what happened to disgraced news personality and former UBA anchor Mitch Kessler (Steve Carell). The cast, including Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, Karen Pittman and Mark Duplass, as well as executive producer Mimi Leder, break down why this was a necessary move and what this means for the Apple TV+ series moving forward.
[Warning: Spoilers for season 2, episode 8, “Confirmations,” which is now streaming.]
At the end of episode 7, “La Amara Vita,” Mitch is seen driving off a cliff while heading back to his Italian villa after spending the night with Paola Lambruschini (Valeria Golino). And episode 8 wasted no time revealing that he in fact died as the UBA team back in the U.S. raced to confirm the news and report it on The Morning Show.
“There's a lot of, you know, panic and uncertainty as a lot of people are still feeling now, so I feel like it was really well done,” Witherspoon says of how the episode played out.
While Mitch left UBA amid allegations of sexual misconduct, which led to the overdose of talent booker Hannah Shoenfeld (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), those who worked with him in front of the camera and behind the scenes had very different and mixed emotions about his departure and subsequent death, which played out throughout the episode in unexpected ways.
None more than Alex Levy (Aniston), who has spent all season facing down rumors that she and Mitch slept together during their time as co-anchors and took a surprise trip to Italy to address her past with him. Surprisingly, she is the last to find out the news after spending most of the episode flying back to New York City and being informed by her producer Chip Black (Duplass).
“I thought it was quite shocking and... it’s a gut punch to the heart and soul for Alex,” says Aniston, who thinks the whole situation is “tragically poetic.”
“It’s heartbreaking, actually, for Alex,” she continues, especially considering the time Alex spent with Mitch in Italy as they confronted their past, which included them sleeping together and her thinking she was pregnant at one point. And before Alex leaves, Mitch agrees to put out a statement refuting the claims Maggie Brener (Marcia Gay Harden) made in her tell-all book about their sexual history. “The last day they had [together] he says, ‘I am going to do this for you so you can appear this way.’”
“Alex remembers the person that she loved before he did all those horrible things and she still feels connected to him,” Leder explains. “She selfishly needs to go there to get him to refute the tell-all from Maggie.” So, when Alex visits Mitch, the director says they try to “pretend that it was like it used to be when the world was a different place and when you didn't do all those horrible things. But they can’t ever go back. So, I think she is wrestling with her own guilt and her own self-preservation.”
Given that Chip is the one to inform Alex of the news and bring her back to the office after they make a detour to inform Mitch’s ex-wife, Paige (Embeth Davidtz), about the news, the two finally let each other have it. In that moment, their true, contentious feelings for each other are revealed.
“Chip would never admit this, but Chip is secretly jealous of Mitch and he’s jealous of Alex’s deep, old work-love connection with Mitch,” Duplass says. “And if you got Chip in his most vulnerable state and asked him, ‘Are you glad he’s dead?’ I think Chip would say it’s more of an inroad for him to be closer with Alex. I think that’s the gross side of him. He doesn’t want to admit it, but I think it’s real.”
And while Alex doesn’t have any romantic feelings for Chip, Duplass says that “with two people who are as broken as these two are,” they are codependent and needy -- and ultimately still rely on each other.
Meanwhile, things are a bit more complicated for Mia Jordan (Pittman), especially after Brener’s book makes allegations that Mitch targeted Black women and it’s widely known within the office that she previously had an affair with him. But at the same time, she’s tasked with confirming his death and making sure that it’s reported in a balanced way.
“There is this confluence of events that happens that really rattles the news organization, and news like this is very important to get right,” Pittman says, noting how Mia and the other producers “demonstrate how important it is, no matter how wild the rumor or the information is, for them to be respected. The integrity of the organization is based upon whether they get the confirmations necessary to make sure it is fact and not fiction.”
When it specifically comes to Mia, Pittman says that “being a character that had had a previous relationship with the newsmaker who was going to share that information with not just the world but her fellow colleagues... that was very hard and challenging to put together.” She credits the episode’s writers and director for making that moment “real and authentic” to what Mia was feeling. “It was an extraordinary gift to be able to play this character not just in the moments where she is doing the work, but in the moments where we reveal her inner emotions to the audience.”
While the effects of Mitch's death play out differently with each character, Leder says it was the right decision for his story. “We are exploring identity this season,” the director explains. And for Mitch, it was not about exonerating or forgiving him, but seeing who he is as a human being. “He is in exile figuratively and literally. He has lost everything. So, he has to live with his sins for the rest of his life and he’s in a prison of his own making. There's nowhere for him to go because he’s completely trapped by the consequences of what he’s done.”
“It’s a really interesting storyline and it was difficult to do,” Leder continues. “Steve is such a sympathetic character. So, walking that line, we didn’t want to make him too sympathetic, and I don’t think we did.”
New episodes of The Morning Show season 2 debut every Friday. Want to watch more? Both seasons are now streaming on Apple TV+. (We may receive an affiliate commission if you subscribe to a service through our links.)