The Newsroom‘s “5/1″ focuses on the death of terrorist Osama bin Laden, or rather the build up to the announcement. Also, this week, relationships play a bigger role but don’t darken the night. Can The Newsroom keep up their winning streak?

The Players:

  • Director: Joshua Marston
  • Writer: Aaron Sorkin
  • Cast: Jeff Daniels, Emily Mortimer, John Gallagher Jr., Alison Pill, Thomas Sadoski, Dev Patel, Olivia Munn, Sam Waterston, Terry Crews, Natalie Morales, Kelen Coleman

Episode Title: “5/1″

Thanks to an anonymous tip to Charlie about the impending break of world news, the team cuts their anniversary short to prepare.

The Good:

  • Dwayne Johnson/The Rock: One of the first key moments in “5/1″ is the tweet from Dwayne Johnson, sent out to millions before the world knew what was going on. Note the time, 7:24 p.m.,  more than four hours before the President of the United States made the announcement. Reason away his Navy Seal relative or probable ties to government, but it means he was and remains infinitely cooler than everyone else.
  • That Party: There was that awesome chess game between combatants Kendra and Gary. Jim and Will rocked out acoustic-style to “Sunshine” before Will scored some “medicinal” marijuana treats from Kaylee. Kaylee also beat Jim at Guitar Hero (backwards and blindfolded). The party malarkey was a brief cut, and not at all the story. But as work shindigs go, it wasn’t too shabby.
  • Penance: Charlie mentioned penance when demanding his news team wait for permission from the White House to report Bin Laden’s death. With an account of an incident in 1991 in Tel Aviv where his jump-the-gun reporting cost military lives and limbs. The moment further asserts the team’s point of being the media elite. It’s a nice speech by Sam Waterston, but the waiting really serves penance for the bigger story. Charlie’s Deep Throat informant, affectionately named Late for Dinner, reveals that ACN employs the same phone hacking ways that got News of the World into so much trouble.
  • His Moment: What’s up with Don guys? To be clear, he was a complete jerk to a flight attendant who was just doing her job. Before we add it to Sorkin’s Sexism count it seemed like a clear illustration of the way many abuse people. The most beautiful thing about Don’s moment (his short heartfelt speech) is that he realized it wasn’t his moment. It would have been nice if his realization could have included an apology to the aforementioned flight attendant instead of berating her one final time with, “Flight Attendant Crazy Lady.” But sometimes we have to take what we can get.
  • Obama/Osama: The signs put before Will as he went on the air (“Obama Good” “Osama Bad”) were presumably to assist the anchor high out of his mind. They were also a nod to the name mix up that numerous anchors made around this time. The letters are quite similar. A mistake anyone could make when talking about both simultaneously and at such a great capacity, but it still deserves a slight poke.

The So-So:

  • Big and Black: For a moment, it seemed like the writing team was going to do an interesting parallel on the death of Osama bin Laden with racial profiling in America. As Lonny is sequestered by the police for getting out of the car and chasing Will, he does issue a great line, found in the quotes below. Unfortunately, the writers leave the story there. It’s picked up later, where learning the news of Bin Laden’s death is supposed to be enough to cover the damage inflicted. Oh to what could have been, if they’d fleshed out the moment, or given us a scene in the squad car or police station.
  • Sloan Savior: Most of the misogyny is heaped on Sloan this week, and it’s a strong move. Sloan carries all moments like the champion she is. She gets a salacious email from a fan, gets hit on by a passenger, sets the Secretary of Treasury on fire, and is berated by Don for following FAA regulations before he tells her to strip. Lucky for the writing team, Olivia Munn’s charm seems to erase the negative parts of these moments from our minds — for the most part.

The Bad:

  • Coming Soon (SPOILERS): Most viewers will take issue with the previews because they seemingly ruin the last three episodes. The return of Mac’s Ex, the predictable Don/Maggie breakup, Jim stating, “I’m no one’s second choice,” Casey Anthony, Anthony Weiner, the debt ceiling, a dramatic ratings dip, a subsequent change in standards, and Jane Fonda’s calm utterance, “The night we killed Bin Laden you were very good. You’re welcome and you’re fired,” are all put on display. It seems a bit much to include the firing in the previews, but also its more than a dash cocky. It means they’ll have to live up to those expectations. The question is, do we think they can?  (The Magic 8-Ball says Reply Hazy, Try Again.)
  • Just Say Okay: After Maggie convinces Jim to break up with Lisa, Lisa beats Jim to the punch. She ends things in a classy and adult manner. That is until Maggie I-Can’t-Leave-Well-Enough-Alone Jordan drags Lisa into the center of the room to put on a ridiculous show to prove she has no feeling for Jim. But she proves the exact opposite, something Lisa sees plainly.  Still Lisa’s clearheaded manner has Jim rethinking their relationship and will certainly spell the predictable end for Jim and Maggie. He’ll develop legitimate feelings for someone else, and she will be alone. 

The Quotable:

  • “Yeah, maybe if you stare at that piece of paper long enough the time will reverse itself and the last 10 seconds will be erased from the universe.”
  • “Nothing I can do about being big and black at the same time.”
  • “I’m the guy that wins the lottery and loses the ticket.”
  • “What is this compulsion you have to look on the bright side?  I can never count on you to be Jewish.”

Overall:

The Newsroom did a decent job of staying away from some of it’s more detestable ways. They were careful to include Kaylee, to remind viewers that in the face of celebration there are those that still hurt from the acts of September 11, 2001. Jeff Daniels carried on his schtick as the stoned anchor quite well but it should come as no surprise since he’s a veteran of slapstick comedy, thanks to a little film called Dumb and Dumber. Not to mention how awesome Eliot was on that plane. (“Daddy are you the smartest man in the world? Yes, I am.”).

Rating: 8/10

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

What did you think of the episode?