In the episode "Ghost in the Machine" of The Morning Show, chaos ensues as UBA is hit with a cyber attack. The hackers disrupt the morning broadcast, manipulate the building's power, and expose internal emails as a warning before demanding a $50 million ransom. The sight of people in well-tailored suits losing control and panicking is oddly exhilarating.
However, UBA was already facing problems before the cyber attack. The Hyperion One broadcast was a failure due to the UBA transmission failure, jeopardizing Cory's secret deal to sell the company to Paul Marks. Alex, fueled by anger, reveals Cory's plans to Cybil, who is not only furious with Cory but also holds a grudge against Alex for abandoning the Hyperion One launch. Alex's assumption of Cybil's support is proven wrong when Cybil meets with Cory and Stella to discuss the fallout. Cybil wants Alex to face consequences for her actions as advertisers threaten to withdraw their support. She feels that Alex takes control of the company while Cory does nothing about it. The three of them decide to make Alex host The Morning Show five days a week until upfronts as punishment. Alex initially laughs it off, but when she realizes that both Cory and Cybil are in agreement, she realizes she has no allies and becomes furious.
Despite Alex's self-absorption and tantrums, larger issues are at play within UBA.
During the live interview with No. 1 space visitor Bradley Jackson on TMS, chaos ensues. The prompter malfunctions, the control room doors lock, communication with the anchors is lost, and the power goes out completely. Initially, there is concern about a potential active shooter situation. However, Chip, surprisingly adept in a crisis, breaks down the door with a fire extinguisher and leads everyone to safety in Alex's dressing room. In this brief moment, viewers catch a glimpse of Christina's vulnerability as she calls her husband and speaks to her daughter, adding a human touch to her character.
Meanwhile, Bradley decides to join Chip in investigating the situation. In a hilarious turn of events, Bradley suggests taking the elevator despite the ongoing power fluctuations. To everyone's amusement, Chip agrees. This incident highlights the lack of intelligence among the show's characters, making for an entertaining scene. Bradley and Chip end up stuck in the elevator for an hour.
Unfortunately, things take a turn for the worse outside the elevator. The power is restored intermittently, loud music blares through the building, and a series of compromising emails are leaked, including a nude video sent by Bradley to Laura. The IT team discovers that the entire network has been hacked, prompting the need to inspect all computers and phones. Cory receives two messages from the hackers, one demanding $50 million within 48 hours and another showcasing the type of content they possess. It is believed that the hackers are of Russian origin.
Once Bradley is freed from the elevator, she is summoned to Cory's office where he, Stella, and Laura inform her about the leaked video. Overwhelmed, Bradley vomits in reaction. Laura tries to offer comfort by emphasizing that Bradley has been violated and should lean on others for support. However, Bradley prefers to be alone. While larger issues are at play, it would be nice to see some chemistry between these two women.
Cory decides to call Mr. Cybersecurity himself, Paul Marks, to discuss how to handle the ransom situation. He implies that Paul might be behind the hack and is holding UBA hostage until Cory agrees to his offer. It's unclear why Paul is still interested in UBA despite its ongoing issues. Surprisingly, Cory is secretly excited about the hack as he believes it can be spun to portray UBA as a defender of democracy under attack by shadowy enemies of free speech. Cory has some strange interests, that's for sure.
Later, Bradley asks Cory to talk with her, expressing her fear about a Big Mysterious Thing that happened last year being exposed. Cory shows empathy and assures her that they will do everything to protect her if a certain video gets out. However, Bradley is less concerned about the video and more worried about the Big Mysterious Thing. Billy Crudup delivers a great performance, transitioning from a slick CEO to a genuinely concerned person. While it's intriguing to tease out mysteries, having too much secrecy around the event makes it difficult to fully invest in Bradley and Cory's situation. It's important to provide more details so that viewers can truly care about these characters.
Bradley emphasizes the importance of getting the board to agree to pay the ransom, and Cory promises to do his best. She tries to enlist Alex's help by appealing to Cybil, but Alex is too consumed by her own anger and doesn't care if the network gets exposed. Furthermore, she reveals that she has no influence over Cybil. Alex questions why Bradley is so invested in protecting UBA, to which Bradley responds by asking if Alex had a sexual relationship with a predator. Bradley points out that she protected Alex when UBA failed to do so, and reminds her that other people's reputations are at stake. This conversation leaves Alex feeling guilty.
Unfortunately, Bradley's attempt to persuade UBA to pay the ransom fails miserably. This is partly because most companies refuse to negotiate with hackers, but also because Cybil has a personal grudge against Cory. Despite Cory's impassioned speech about the potential disaster of a leak, Cybil dismisses his concerns and convinces the board, which now includes Stephen Fry, not to pay. She reminds them that even if they do pay, there's no guarantee the leak won't still happen, and it wouldn't look good for the company to fund Russia. With everyone agreeing not to pay, Cory confronts Cybil, but she reveals that she knows about his discussions with Paul Marks and warns him to calm down. She points out that many men with a God complex like Cory have failed at the company before, igniting a war between the two. Only one of them will come out on top.
As the 48-hour mark approaches and the hackers don't receive their money, Bradley is left to break the news of the hack and UBA's refusal to pay on her evening news show. She warns that uncomfortable revelations meant to be private will come to light. However, she finds solace in her friendship with Alex, who apologizes and offers to help her figure out what to do next after learning about the video from Laura. While the hack is sure to create drama with more information yet to be revealed, the episode ends with a revelation that adds another complication to Cory's plans to sell the company. When Stella receives her phone back from IT, she discovers an intriguing photo in her library - not one with Blake Griffin, whom she apparently dated, but an old picture of her hugging Paul Marks.