'The Morning Show' Premiere: Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston Battle a Hack and a Jon Hamm-Led Shakeup

In the first two episodes of 'The Morning Show' season 3, there is a lot at stake for the UBA gang as multiple company-wide shakeups are revealed

<p>Apple TV+</p> Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston in

Apple TV+

Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston in 'The Morning Show'

There's a lot to unpack from the first two episodes of The Morning Show's big return.

As the Apple TV+ drama's third season debuted on Wednesday, viewers learned in the premiere episode that UBA CEO Cory Ellison (Billy Crudup) is hitching a plan to sell off the network — and he's seeking the help of tech mogul Paul Marks (Jon Hamm) to get the job done.

Cory, who is currently avoiding Alex Levy (Jennifer Aniston), staged a one-on-one meeting with Paul to go over the gritty details. As Cory raved about the potential merger being "the biggest deal of the decade," Hamm's Paul said he's "ready to close" but that Cory has been "holding this thing up." Paul also pointed out the risks of financially backing the company.

"UBA is on the bubble. COVID saved your ass," said Paul, referencing the rise of the UBA+ streaming service amid the pandemic. "I am offering a 20 percent premium on top of market value, and you're lucky to get that."

<p>Courtesy of Apple+</p> Jon Hamm as Paul Marks on 'The Morning Show' Season 3.

Courtesy of Apple+

Jon Hamm as Paul Marks on 'The Morning Show' Season 3.

Related: 'The Morning Show' Crew Is Looking for a 'Lifeline' in Season 3 Teaser: 'Let All the Secrets Come Out!'

Continuing to make sure things run smoothly for UBA, Cory noted the company's plan of launching the first female journalist into space, "America's Sweetheart" Alex, through Paul's Hyperion company, marking a historic first while celebrating her two decades at the network. But despite how epic that venture will be, Paul still thinks that UBA needs "a miracle," adding, "I'm it."

Alex was finally able to catch "busy" Cory after continuously chasing him down. Though Cory wanted to keep the conversation upbeat about how he'd be joining her and Paul on the Hyperion One rocket launch, Alex wanted to talk business.

"I saved your precious UBA+ ass with my blood, my sweat and my tears and everything else that came out of my body when I had COVID," said Aniston's Alex, who pointed out the nearly $2 billion she's helped bring into the company through ad dollars before demanding, "I need to be a real partner. I need to have a say in the future of this place."

"I've been out there in the real world for the last two years and I know what people want," she continued. "Here's what I want: double my development slate, profit participation and a seat on the board."

Though Cory felt her requests were "unprecedented," Alex declared that she is "unprecedented" as well and is "all over this network." And while she prefers to remain at UBA, Alex threatened: "I will be very clear with you right now: I'll go elsewhere if things don't change."

<p>Courtesy of Apple+</p> Jennifer Aniston as Alex Levy on 'The Morning Show' Season 3.

Courtesy of Apple+

Jennifer Aniston as Alex Levy on 'The Morning Show' Season 3.

Related: 'The Morning Show' Review: Jennifer Aniston Wakes Up with Jon Hamm, Who Channels Elon Musk in Best Season Yet

The UBA crew made their way to Texas for the Hyperion One rocket launch. The big event kicked off with a speech from Hamm's Paul, followed by Alex's introduction to the tech mogul, who then took her on a tour of the facility.

During their one-on-one chat, Alex learned of Cory's plan to sell the company to Paul, which led to a big confrontation between Alex and Cory thereafter.

Alex said that because Cory is "pimping me out" with the Hyperion One rocket launch so he can "close a deal," she needed to be "brought in" on what's going on. Cory then admitted that UBA is in financial trouble amid the changing media landscape and needs someone with "real deep pockets" to save them, a.k.a. Paul.

Elsewhere, Bradley Jackson (Reese Witherspoon) was given a devastating update from UBA's News President Stella Bak (Greta Lee) about her abortion story being axed. Stella noted that because of Bradley's own personal experience with abortion, her coverage of the story could potentially leave UBA "open to a lawsuit" and lead to "advertiser boycotts" if she crossed the line, which is something the network couldn't afford to take on at this time.

After this revelation, Bradley had to put on a brave face to go receive the First Amendment award from the American Alliance of Journalists, presented by Alex. Fellow news personality Laura Peterson (Julianna Margulies), who is now Bradley's ex, attended the event to Bradley's surprise, despite things being tense between them.

Related: 'The Morning Show' Crew Is Ready to 'Burn It All Down' in Season 3 Trailer: 'It Is Time to Smash and Shatter'

While accepting the award, Bradley simply stated, "There will always, always be someone who tries to silence you. Don't let them," before walking out. She later informed Alex of what happened with her abortion story, which upset Bradley because she wanted her work to "mean something." But Alex advised her to "just let this one go" because they "can't fight every battle."

The two ladies' storylines then blended as Bradley decided to pursue the abortion story with the help of Alex, who boycotted the Hyperion One rocket launch just hours before takeoff. But as Bradley was on her way, Cory stopped her and asked her to back off, saying he was "there" for her and needed her to "return the favor." Flashes of an ominous moment between the two were then shown.

<p>Courtesy of Apple+</p> Reese Witherspoon and Billy Crudup on 'The Morning Show' Season 3.

Courtesy of Apple+

Reese Witherspoon and Billy Crudup on 'The Morning Show' Season 3.

Bradley and Alex then switched tasks, with Alex taking on the abortion story and Bradley being launched into space. And while the rocket launch was smooth sailing at first, the live feed of Bradley, Cory and Paul cut off as the episode concluded.

In episode 2, viewers learned that Bradley, Cory and Paul were safe as the live feed picked back up. But the on-air glitch left Paul angry with Cory, saying Alex was "supposed to make space look safe and appealing" but she went "a-wall" and "people are blaming my rocket for your transmission f--- up," which is all going to cost him a lot of money in the end.

As the UBA team returned to NYC, Alex informed UBA board member Cybil Richards (Holland Taylor) — who was not happy with Alex for abandoning the rocket event — about Cory's secret plan to sell the company. That conversation eventually backfired on Alex, who was later told by Lee's Stella — who had a private meeting with Cybil and Cory about Alex — that she will be forced to "spend more time" hosting TMS to boost ratings rather than getting her initial demands met.

<p>Courtesy of Apple+</p> 'The Morning Show'

Courtesy of Apple+

'The Morning Show'

Later on, a dramatic shift occurred while Bradley and Alex were co-hosting TMS alongside their new colleague Christine Hunter (Nicole Beharie). Glitches began occurring within the newsroom, sparking panic amongst the staff, especially as the door to the studio suddenly locked, the lights in the building shut off and an alarm sounded. Many initially believed a terrorist attack was going down but as the building's systems rebooted, they realized the UBA office had been hacked.

The hack unearthed very personal information, including the staff's performance reviews from corporate. But the biggest revelation involved a risqué video Bradley sent to Margulies' Laura when they were dating. The hacker demanded a payment of $50 million to conceal the intimate video, but the board chose not to abide.

Bradley disclosed the hack on UBA's evening news show, warning viewers that "certain things may come to light, personal things, that were never meant to be shared." But UBA wanted to be transparent with their viewers about the issue, nonetheless.

<p>Courtesy of Apple+</p> Reese Witherspoon as Bradley Jackson on 'The Morning Show' Season 3.

Courtesy of Apple+

Reese Witherspoon as Bradley Jackson on 'The Morning Show' Season 3.

At episode two's end, Cory and Stella had a one-on-one chat in his office about the network's future. Stella, who previously worked in the tech world before joining UBA, then warned Cory that Hamm's Paul is "tricky" and advised her colleague to proceed with caution. But after Stella left, Cory made a call about drafting a "document with deal points for a merger with Paul Marks," which he wanted to have leaked the following morning.

Meanwhile, on Stella's way out of the UBA headquarters, she pulled up an old photo on her phone of herself with Paul, hinting at her previous ties to the tech mogul that are yet to be revealed.

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