THE NEWSROOM, “News Night with Will McAvoy” Episode Recap
This season of The Newsroom has been a mess. If you’ve read my reviews you know how I feel. I’ve said I want to see Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels) behind the news desk more. And with that, I want to see the characters reacting to these news stories and revealing ways these stories are effecting their lives. The episode begins with Will behind the desk, receiving a call from ‘Dad’. He ignores the call and begins his newscast. At that moment I had a feeling the episode would take place in one night, during one newscast, and I was primed for a quality episode.
Okay, so a quick rundown of some of the stories the team works on in the episode within this episode. It takes place on March 16th, 2012. We have the Trayvon Martin shooting, the Rutgers spying case, and explosions in Damascus. Dancing around the edges are the GOP candidates (appearing a little at the end to offer their insane views on the President and his apparent mystical powers over fuel prices). The pacing is tight as Will stumbles after the phone call from his father, Sloan Sabbith (Olivia Munn) is reprimanded by Reese (Chris Messina) for nude photos appearing on the net, and moments in the control room. I like this opening. It reminds me of the parts of old school The Newsroom from last season that I liked the most.
Maggie (Alison Pill) has returned from Africa and Jim has returned from the Romney campaign. Maggie. My god. I almost liked you. Maggie falls back into being a catty girl as she tries to make some point about sexism and Hallie’s (Grace Gummer) new article. Hallie’s article was picked up by Huffpo. So Maggie finds it prudent to show Jim (John Gallagher Jr.) how many nip slip articles are listed above Hallie’s article about Sandra Fluke. Okay? Maggie, what’s your point? Firstly, Hallie doesn’t run Huffpo. Secondly, Huffpo is a fancy, liberal elite TMZ. Their bullshit relationship subplot is the weakest of this episode while Don and Sloan shine. Sloan’s reputation is sullied as her ex-boyfriend has posted nude photos of her online. This mirror’s Olivia Munn’s own real life exploits with actor, Chris Pine (Captain James Tiberius Kirk from Star Trek). This also seems to mirror Alison Pill’s tweeting fiasco. I wonder how much input these women had in the breakdown of this subplot, involving Sloan breaking down on the floor of a darkened office, working through her demons with Don (Tom Sadoski). It feels like Munn was given some free reign in her character’s dialogue about what it feels like to be violated on such a personal and private level. The drama and emotion is true to the character and true to the story and I love that it played out the way it did. She gets to work through her devastation, finally reaching the rage phase, kicking the guy square in the satchel, taking her power back by taking a photo of his bloodied nose. Don and Sloan are the most interesting characters and I want to see them develop together as the show moves forward.
Charlie (Sam Waterston) speaks with a shadowy figure who reveals that he believes that the military should use any means necessary, including chemical weapons, when required. He hands Charlie a piece of paper that is later revealed to be a report for the helicopter involved in Operation Genoa. One item is called MX-76 Charlie finds that this is not a real thing and believe that it has to be the sarin gas veiled as something else. Well sure, it’s that or weed, right, Charlie?
Will and Mac (Emily Mortimer) have electric chemistry that’s been strong since the very first episode of season one. It’s rarely been on display as strong as tonight as their history together is played out through natural dialogue over Will’s father. Mac urges Will to call and at least leave a message to at least avoid regret. Will spends most of the night, during commercial breaks, evading this obviously emotional call by focusing on the tweets that Neal brings up. I like that the Sorkin wasn’t obvious with the dialogue. It felt like two actual people, discussing a man they both know very well, and not spelling out everything for the viewers. Well done. Will does call but his sister picks up and tells will (off screen) that their father has died. The power of Jeff Daniels delivery, the attempted stoicism displayed through Will’s dark, red eyes and shaky voice send the words straight through the heart. The episode ends on a silent moment when they cut back from commercial. Will sits in silence, after saying his father has died and that he’s okay with it. It’s a quiet moment that wraps up an episode that exists squarely in one night. After the tense moments that build to an expected crescendo, we’re offered a pensive Will, who says, “I guess it’s just us now”.
This is by far the best episode of the season. As it stands, this episode might be the strongest of the show. It feels like a greatest hits compilation of all the greatest moments of previous episodes, rolled into one, very personal and meaningful episode.
– Don strolls right on in on the newsroom and ducks behind Neal’s desk. This is a great and very natural source of comedy from a newsroom that plays well. There was some of this in season one, a bit of physical comedy as Jim ran through a hectic newsroom, but it’s too rare nowadays, and that’s unfortunate. This show could use a bit of relief from its self-congratulatory monologues…and from itself.
– “Mr. Munch” – Laughter ensues.
– “Baba Booey Mother Fuckers!” A Howard Stern reference take down is always welcome.
– The moment between Mac and Jesse, the leader of the Gay and Straight Alliance at Rutgers was powerful. This is a one time character, it seems, but played so well that I actually gave a shit about him. I felt his anger, frustration and defeat.
– Will’s father died. He called to leave a message and his sister called. But he says it’s all right. Maybe a little expected from the outset. But I like Will. It’s a character I care about. It’s a well-crafted, well-acted emotional twist.
– Also, where is Patton Oswalt? Oh, and am I asking too much that Oswalt continue his Star Wars filibuster from Parks and Rec?
– Maggie’s discussion with Jim…entirely inappropriate. Again, she needs to be fired from her job. Why hasn’t she been fired? Hey Jim, have her fired, man.