Another week, another round of episodes for Apple TV+’s starting high-stakes shows The Morning Show, See, and For All Mankind.
[Editor’s Note: The following reviews will include spoilers for the fifth episodes of each series.]
The drama continues this week in all three shows. So let’s go ahead and dig right in.
The Morning Show
Hey, Mitch Kessler (Steve Carell) is in this episode! So one might expect that this might be an episode where we finally get some concrete answers regarding the accusations of sexual misconduct against the former co-anchor of the morning show. And you’d be right! Following the bombshell interview between Bradley Jackson (Reese Witherspoon) and one of Kessler’s accusers, The New York Times runs a story about Kessler and gets even more accusers on the record.
The interview, and the impending NYT piece forces Kessler to come back to the studio and confront his former colleagues, including Alex Levy (Jennifer Aniston) and Chip Black (Mark Duplass). He essentially tells everyone he’s sorry because the show was “hit by a bus” — but he’s still not admitting he did anything wrong, mind you. He asks for someone, anyone, to stand up for him, but no one agrees.
We get a party at Levy’s house, there are show tunes sung, including a pretty great duet singing the pitch-perfect (drama wise) “Not While I’m Around” from the musical Sweeney Todd. This is actually pretty amazing, and not just because it involves Levy and Cory Ellison (Billy Crudup). It makes us ask: what’s Ellison up to now, especially considering how aggressive he’s been trying to get Levy off the show?
The leads Levy to Kessler and the two drive around Manhattan for awhile, which the show uses to further showcase the chemistry between Aniston and Carell, which is definitely there. Kessler kisses Levy and, despite the fact she pulls back, there’s still some tension between the two — and not just because she can joke about him being a sexual predator.
Bradley Jackson (Witherspoon) finds herself at a birthday party for a co-worker, where she gets very drunk following a phone call with her estranged father. Something happened between the two and things aren’t great, but I’m sure we’ll find out more about that later. Jackson keeps drinking, has a back alley rendezvous, and then ends up in the arms of Ellison in the hotel where they both live.
Jackson continues to self-destruct in spectacular ways as we’ve seen already a handful of times.
This episode opens things up a bit, and it’s good that, especially following last episode’s interview, that we now know without a shadow of a doubt that Kessler was using his position at The Morning Show to sleep with many, many women. Of course, whether or not the show actually goes out of its way to label this a bad thing remains to be seen.
We’re officially in the back half of the first season, so can The Morning Show wrap things up in a coherent, worthwhile way? Better shows have struggled, so it will be interesting to see how this wraps up.
The fight scenes in See are great. In addition to the drama between the twins that can see and the world around them, the fight scenes have proven to be the best part of this show. They’re unique enough, and captured by the camera in such a way, that they feel personal and brutal in equal measure.
Okay, with that out of the way, we lead into the fifth episode. Baba Voss (Jason Momoa) and his family, Maghra (Hera Hilmar), Haniwa (Nesta Cooper), Kofun (Archie Madekwe), are still on the run. Paris (Alfre Woodard) and Bow Lion (Yadira Guevara-Prip) are along for the journey, all in an effort to escape the Witch Finder General Tamacti Jun (Christian Camargo).
Voss and what’s left of his family/clan discover a scavenger camp after their own weapons and items are taken. Voss and the twins are told by Maghra to retrieve their missing gear, especially some leftover items from her own father, which are vitally important to her. Haniwa is attacked at the scavenger camp, but before Voss can kill her assailant she stops him: the man can see.
The stranger who can see joins them, and just in time: the Witch Finder General finds them and we get to see combat as those fleeing persecution defend themselves. Maghra slips away, finding her way to the Witch Finger General. She presents herself and for a moment you might think she’s going to offer herself up in favor to save her family.
Nope. She’s a princess! That’s right: the items she needed to have saved are the ceremonial rings that appear to showcase royalty, and we learn that Maghra is actually Princess Maghra. The Witch Finder General takes a knee and we end on an actual cliffhanger!
Okay, I know you’re asking: what about the crazy Queen, right? Last episode she turned off the dam’s relief valves and the place started to crumble. Well, that leads to the dam breaking and washing away the city she once ruled, presumably killing everyone there. She survives with two aides and they break out into the wilds.
It doesn’t take long before the aides are killed and the Queen is taken prisoner. She’s taken to the City of the Worm, where we find an encampment making silk clothing. The Queen, not accustomed to this sort of situation, is pretty adamant in her defiance. But it doesn’t help her, and she’s put to work weaving strands of silk.
Some of the dialogue can be rough and, honestly, pretty uninteresting. But this is not always the case. The performances continue to be 100% committed and that goes a long way. I think it’s safe to say that See is plenty interesting, and, as we make our way into the back half of the first season I’m invested to see how it wraps up.
For All Mankind
NASA hasn’t been without any triumphs so far, but it’s hard to argue that the fifth episode of For All Mankind isn’t uplifting in its own right. After all, we finally get to see Ed Baldwin (Joel Kinnaman) land on the moon. There’s still plenty of backlash over the fact that there’s a woman up there with the crew, but Molly Cobb (Sonya Walger) is obviously up to the task.
And it’s her final decision to approve a change of plans, which sees Apollo 15 getting a change to its landing site thanks to NASA discovering even more frozen water in a different crater.
The lunar set is pretty amazing. Money well spent, Apple.
Karen Baldwin (Shantel VanSanten) continues to be a stickler for change just across the board, whether it’s a woman in space, or the discovery that one of the other characters has been smoking marijuana in their free time. Karen has a lot going on, a lot of fear for her husband that she tries to hide and shove away, but it’s Molly’s husband, Wayne (Lenny Jacobson) that helps her face those demons as he deals with his own.
Gordo Stevens (Michael Dorman) continues his downward spiral after being pulled from Apollo 15’s crew. He’s drinking even more than he was before, and one has to wonder if he’s going to see himself right off the crew of Apollo 18, too, thanks to his own actions. That includes picking a fight with Danielle Pool (Krys Marshall)’s husband.
For All Mankind continues to show off incredibly strong performances. Easily the best of Apple TV+’s original content so far. Especially VanSanten in this episode. Watching her breakdown in front of Lenny, talking about her fear of losing Ed, is heartbreaking because it’s believable. Ed telling Molly about failing to teach his son, Shane, how to ride a bike. It all works so well.
Before the episode wraps up, Molly finds what appears to be ice on the moon — a lot of it. NASA’s gamble, based on imagery of the surface of the moon, pays off. I’m glad that the show just keeps leaning into these aspects, broadening the scope of what could be and what might happen as the season ends.
A jump to two years later before the credits roll sees a habitat –“Jamestown Base”– land on the moon “to stay”, ahead of Apollo 21. It’s the start of something pretty remarkable for the show, and it looks like we’re going to get into some exciting science-fiction elements here soon.
This has turned into the best show on Apple TV+ and I can’t wait to see what’s next.