Calling the second episode of The Newsroom a failure would be a little strong, but the truth flirts with that word. “News Night 2.0” focuses on the Arizona Immigration Bill, as well as the dissolution of Will and Mac’s relationship. The few good parts of the episode were marred by women of the show that only a week ago were something to smile about. It’s clear The Newsroom needs to decide what kind of show it’s going to be. Will viewers wait around while they figure it out?
- Director: Alex Graves
- Writer: Aaron Sorkin
- Cast: Jeff Daniels, Emily Mortimer, Sam Waterston, John Gallagher, Jr., Alison Pill, Thomas Sadoski, Dev Patel, Olivia Munn, Chris Messina
Episode Title: “News Night 2.0”
As Mac begins to take the reins of the revamped News Night a secret from her breakup with Will spreads across the newsroom. Meanwhile, economist Sloan Sabbith joins the team and Jim takes the fall for a mishap Maggie causes. Elsewhere, Charlie puts a stop to Will’s meeting with Reese.
- Punch Drunk Love: Is it too much to hope that Charlie will threaten to beat someone up every week? Continuing his role as episode bright spot, Sam Waterston really shines in his scene opposite Chris Messina. The obvious distaste for one another played extremely well, thanks impart to Messina’s role as the cocky numbers guru. Here’s to these two fighting every week; their bitter words soothe the soul.
- Jim Harper: Jim is the only character that stuck to the outline he presented in the series premiere. It’s easy to find favor with his hardworking and dedicated spirit. His budding unrequited love, while unsurprising, in endearing. Score one for the lovable dork.
- Obama Bickering: Is it absolutely necessary that the only two African Americans with speaking roles have to fight about President Obama? If they stand on opposite sides of every issue fine, but if their role is to continuously debate every move Obama has made over the past two years it’ll get old fast. And why is it so hard for Will to believe that Gary Cooper’s name is Gary Cooper other than the color of his skin? Was that supposed to be funny? Hint: it wasn’t.
- Opening Graphics: Last week, the title card and opening graphics were wedged in between Will’s explosive monologue and his return to work, making them slightly easier to ignore. This week the long, drawn out, dated music grated on the nerves of anyone unable to fast forward through the episode. If there’s any way to cut that down or change it completely, it should be done immediately.
- The Mighty Mac: After distinguishing herself as a firecracker, Mortimer’s character has been reduced to a blundering and over emotional fool. Not only does she make the most predictable gaffe by sending a private email to everyone, she does it twice in one day. Because of course, there’s no such thing as email in Afghanistan or Iraq. She knocks over easels, drinks in a dark corner, and is quick to apologize for her only redeeming scene in which she challenges Will to live up to his integrity. Mac defends her appointment of Sloan to Will by listing Sloan’s doctorate and position at Columbia University but when she pitched the segment to Sloan, her main support was the financial analyst’s legs. She even pokes at Jim for fostering the crush that she initiated last week; where is the character everyone fell in love with last week? Let’s have more of her please.
- Sans Loyalty: She may not have established herself as a strong character in the premiere, but Maggie’s loyalty and expert researching catapulted her career in a matter of moments. It’s comical that only a week later, she’s strongly considering leaving the show that just promoted her. She’s also responsible for a huge mistake that cost the entire team a quality episode. She started off cocky, refusing Jim’s help with her assignment, only to grab his hand and beg, “What should I do?” when everything goes wrong. How is it that these women can rapidly deteriorate so quickly?
- “We don’t do good television, we do the news.”
- “You should shut up more than you do, do people tell you that.”
There’s a good show somewhere under this minutia. There has to be. Everything that made it look promising last week seemed to highlight a path to a quick burnout. Even the main character had issues with consistency; Will fully supported the immigration bill, but secretly paid for an illegal immigrant to get to and from work. Also, this show is going to have to decide whether it breeds strong women, or the flighty model female. The fate of the show is tied to that distinction; if the remainder of the season focuses on the latter there’s a good chance The Newsroom will be a memory instead of a success.
The Newsroom airs Sunday nights at 10 p.m. on HBO.
What did you think of this week’s episode?