This week on The Newsroom, Jim (John Gallagher, Jr.) is on the road and things are not improving. Don (Tom Sadoski) is burdened with the power to advocate for Georgia convict, Troy Davis (a devastating story, check it out if you haven’t heard about it), new producer, Jerry Dantana (Hamish Linklater), has a lead on the Genoa Operation, Will (Jeff Daniels) struggles with his own Republicanism, and Maggie (Alison “ain’t she a” Pill) fucks everything else up that she hasn’t yet touched with her magical wizard wand of waywardness. These stories and more, tonight…in this review.
Jim gets a little help from fellow road-journalist Hallie as he finally gets on that coveted Romney press bus. Given that she reappears in the episode, I think it’s safe to assume she’ll be a love interest in the coming arc. She quickly comes off as Maggie 2.0, however. She’s better in all ways, except that when she initiates conversation about Jim’s personal love quadrangle, she dismisses his response with, “I didn’t ask”. Well, lady…ya did ask…just now, when you asked that question. That’s how the English language works you dumb girl. Sorkin continues to fail women with this show, but this storyline is interesting, if only because it gets Jim, a likeable everyman, away from Maggie…every man’s nightmare.
Don has become my favorite character. And this is his episode. It’s revealed he’s been covered Troy Davis for years, meeting with him, talking with him and learning the ins and outs of the story. He now holds the key to that final swing vote on the jury. He knows that the vote was influenced by professional lobbyists, which is highly illegal. As everyone around him pushes back, advising there is nothing they can do, Don loses heart. In a meeting, angered, he says he could reveal the jury member, where he lives and all that, to threaten the man to come clean about the lobbyists. But he’s advised not to do so. He even picks up the phone, but comes to his senses. After this whole Maggie break up, Don is now 100% likeable, despite his apparent assholery, and it serves creating a giant chasm between the audience and Maggie. Maybe this is sow we don’t get sad when Sorkin kills her off during the season finale (god, I hope that is a spoiler). This is by far the strongest element of an overall weak and plotty episode. You heard me, plotty…it’s a real word I just made up.
Jerry Dantana is pushing to cover a secret military operation called Genoa. Ah, here it comes! Last week, Will’s deposition turned to Genoa and it was revealed that something went horribly wrong for the news team. It turns out that the United States military used Sarin gas on civilians, another highly illegal act. Sheesh, we’re a weird country, aren’t we? This is a fictional storyline based on true events. Operation Tailwind in 1998. This is the story that will drive the season and it’s building up nicely. Given the real events this is based on, it appears Dantana is going to muck it up somehow, change someone’s quote, force a story that doesn’t exist and get everyone in trouble. But Sorkin has to tread a difficult line of making it believable and make Dantana fallible enough, but not so much that we think he’s a blithering idiot. So far it’s working and I hope this thread develops as it has been.
Will’s story is slight this week, but it eventually involves Neal. Neal is made fun of during the meeting for believing the hype about Anonymous and Occupy Wall Street. But, who can blame Mac and the crew? How could they know that one day more than only 300 people would stop taking showers and take up residence in a park outside a church in Manhattan? Or that Anonymous would have a Twitter account with a lot of followers? Or that Guy Fawkes masks would see sales akin to that Halloween after V for Vendetta came out? Neal secretly rendezvous with his OWS lady friend and eventually gets arrested…wrongfully arrested. Come on American authority figures…get it together already! Will at this point had been arguing over whether drone strikes are warranted against American civilians or not. He’s a lapsing Republican, so he’s okay with the drone strikes as long as the American in question is a traitor. But he marches down to the police precinct to argue with a desk cop that people can’t get arrested (or bombed) in this country without a trial, traitor or not. Will’s breakdown here is one of these golden moments in this show that keeps me coming back. Jeff Daniels can act the shit out of a scene like that with power and humility and it serves the show better than some of the other, weaker components.
All right. Maggie. Maggie, you…are…awful. We find Maggie sleeping in Sloan’s office. Well, Sloan finds her. Reason number 342 that Maggie should get canned. She starts yapping about something, but Sloan said something about showering and I lost interest in whatever else happened. Maggie then successfully ropes Sloan into her bullshit, by leaving work unannounced to stalk a woman in Astoria. Which is reason number 874 she should be fired. Maggie calls Jim and whines to him about the situation for no reason at all. Jim has no part in this crazy person scheme to get the video taken down. None. I paused the episode and stomped around the house yelling “Why? What the hell? Who cares? Why would you call Jim?” Seriously, ask my wife…I literally did that…and got a popsicle. Maggie stalks the girl, finds her at a laundromat…now, if you haven’t seen the episode, no, I am not describing a horror film in the vein of Single White Female. After all this batshit insanity, Lisa confronts Maggie about the video, because Erica’s blog is a-poppin’ thanks to Sloan’s tweet. Lisa. Sweet sweet Lisa. I hope we don’t lose you. You’re a well-written rarity on this show. Sympathetic and good for Jim. Oh god, I spend so much time hating on this love story plot that I sound like a gossip journalist. Except instead of Kimye, it’s Jaggie…or…Jiggie. Either way, as Maggie has now destroyed her personal life properly, she decides it’s about time to go to Africa, because of stuff and things. We kind of know how that turns out in the end. She gets a haircut. But we know she doesn’t die. Unfortunately. Maybe this will get her out of the way for a while for the show and everyone else to flourish. But our sympathy cannot be rerouted here. If Sorkin was smart, he would have skipped the little mystery of her haircut last week and allowed her to at one point to be presumed dead while she’s gone. That would have given us a chance to feel something for her.
This episode had some major problems. I said it’s plotty and I mean it. There’s so much stuff that it’s hard to latch on to the episode and care for everyone. Other shows can send people across continents and away to new worlds and still maintain a tight story (okay, only Game of Thrones knows how…but it’s possible). But this episode was a mess from the beginning. I have to highlight Don and Jerry’s respective stories for their quality. Hopefully as Genoa takes center stage, Sorkin can rally his plot more tightly around it and provide the characters a chance to exist satisfactorily around it. Until then, he may need to hire an actual writing staff.
- Why the hell is Will being nice…at all? But then it appears he’s just covering his ass. Which is old school Will…then he becomes vulnerable to, of all people, Mac. What just happened?
- I couldn’t tell if the old 9/11 footage and then will stumbling upon the techs watching it was honest emotion or just ham-fisted.
- Maybe if Romney hired nicer people to run his press bus he would have won. I’m positive that’s the message here. That guy is straight Douche City, USA.
- This episode again highlights the worst of the show in general. The women go crazy and the men go to work. Sorkin…women are people too, you know? Remember? You once wrote great women! Do it again!