After taking a dive last week, The Newsroom has pulled itself up by the bootstraps. “The 112th Congress” focused on Will’s six-month attack on the Tea Party, as well as the Primary Elections of 2010. Jane Fonda also appears and displays some strength as the head of the news network. It looks like the balance of the season is back, but for how long?

The Players:

  • Director: Greg Mottola
  • Writers: Aaron Sorkin and Gideon Yago
  • Cast: Jeff Daniels, Emily Mortimer, John Gallagher Jr., Alison Pill, Thomas Sadoski, Dev Patel, Olivia Munn, Sam Waterston, Chris Messina, Jane Fonda

Episode Title: “The 112th Congress”

Will apologizes on air for his show’s lack of integrity and promises viewers a new direction. Unfortunately, the CEO of ACN’s parent company, Leona Lansing, doesn’t agree with said direction; her serious warnings were ignored by Charlie. Meanwhile, Will attempts to rankle Mac with a slew of dates. Elsewhere, Don challenges Elliot and Jim helps Maggie in a crisis.

The Good:

  • The Framework: Making the episode one elaborate flashback was a risky move, but it paid off.  Using the boardroom as the frame for the flashback grounded it in a very serious tone. It was a maneuver that gave every moment importance. The meeting’s review of News Night’s conduct over the past six months, gave weight to the rapid fire speed of the show.
  • The 44th Floor: The meeting itself was this week’s crowning moment. It made complete sense that Reese would be born into a world of nepotism. His smug attitude has an air that could only be a product of being the CEO’s son. Charlie’s unhidden disdain for his bosses offspring is as much a delight as Jane Fonda’s character. Leona’s Jesus/Moses joke far outweighed the flimsy Rocky 2 allusion. Her argument with Charlie brought to light real problems the show brings to the network. It’s made the parent company no profit and has pitted it against the very people that govern the company’s every move. Thanks to her threat, we can count on seeing more of Fonda. And those will be the moments fans crave.
  • Facts Are the Center: In the midst of criticism that The Newsroom is left-leaning, this episode makes a point to establish Will as a staunch Republican, who attacks radical members of his own party, namely the Tea Party. It’s hard to forget the splash the group made when its resurgence first began. Having a fellow Republican attack their principles is a strong statement. Grounding his arguments in sound facts keeps the show out of danger. Will this silence the left-leaning grumblings?  Who knows, but it’s definitely entertaining.

The So-So:

  • The Women: At least this week relationships took a backseat to the news. Unfortunately, it did nothing for the women of the episode, save the incomparable Jane Fonda. Mackenzie was instrumental in orchestrating every coup Will conducted, but that was overshadowed by her discomfort with Will’s dates. Maggie insisted on presenting the whole truth in the newsroom, and yet her relationship status with Don took precedent in the script. They were both attached to the strongest parts of the episode, but their characters gained nothing in return. Sloan was the only person on the election panel actually contributing to the discussion. Yet all she gets from Will at the celebratory gathering is a dismissive utterance. They weren’t paraded around as weaklings, but this week didn’t do women any favors.
  • What’s In a Name?: Alliteration apparently. Leona Lansing, Mackenzie McHale, Sloan Sabbith; we get the point. Do yourself a favor and give it a rest. This is a show about a network news show, not a comic book.

The Quotable:

  • “The newsroom turned into a courtroom Reese, because I made the decision that American voters need a fucking lawyer.”
  • “I wish your face would stop moving so I can punch it.”


Without a doubt, this episode is a vast improvement from last week. Chris Messina, Sam Waterston, and Jane Fonda ruled their scenes. Making news and the fallout from that news the center of the episode was the right move. But even with all that, it wasn’t perfect. They need to figure out a better way to present the women of the show. They’ve already been granted another season to give it a shot. Fans probably won’t wait that long, so let’s hope they figure it out before then.

Rating: 8/10

The Newsroom airs on Sunday nights at 10:00 p.m. on HBO.

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