The Newsroom-Unintended Consequences-Alison Pill

Sunday night, The Newsroom took another trip to the not so far future only to immediately revisit the past. “Unintended Consequences” has Maggie retelling her experience in Africa while she grapples with the fallout. In finally giving a respectable plot to an embattled character, is the show taking a step in the right direction?

The Players:

  • Director: Carl Franklin
  • Writer: Aaron Sorkin
  • Cast: Jeff Daniels, Emily Mortimer, John Gallagher Jr., Alison Pill, Thomas Sadoski, Dev Patel, Olivia Munn, Sam Waterston, Hamish Linklater, Marcia Gay Harden, Constance Zimmer, Grace Gummer, Tess Westin, Mark Atteberry, Chasty Ballesteros, Brad Bennett, Harold Bridgeforth, Shaun Brown, Aya Cash, Chris Chalk, Julia Cho, Rosemarie DeWitt, Wynn Everett, Cameron Gharaee, Joel Johnstone, Margaret Judson, Thomas Matthews, Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine, Gilbert Owuor, Adina Porter, Marque Richardson, Trieu Tran, Charlie Weirach, Bill Walters

Episode Title: “Unintended Consequences”

Jim tries to help his fellow spurned journalists as Maggie and Gary journey to Uganda. Elsewhere, Will takes Occupy Wall Street’s spokesperson to task on air, which creates problems for Jerry’s Genoa hunt.

The Good:

  • Smug: Neal’s friend Shelly Wexler of the Occupy Wall Street movement gets eviscerated by Will on air—like Bambi’s mother the poor thing never saw it coming. The unintended consequence was her unwillingness to lead them to Leon Deet, a man whose report on victims that survived what seemed to be Sarin gas caused the shutdown of his NGO. Here the three smuggest cast members attempt to wheedle the lead out of the spurned Shelly while giving us the opportunity to chuckle intentionally. You had to know that Sloan’s plea would go bad; Sloan’s never been one to hold back, so ignoring Shelly’s condescension would be impossible. Don would have to be the last man in the office for anyone to think he could be humble. As usual Will comes in last to save the day, apologizing for nothing, rebuking the smug label, humanizing his arrogance in his normal manner.
  • Uganda: Maggie is not okay. We learn in a session between her and Rebecca Halliday, the first amendment lawyer defending News Night in Jerry Dantana’s wrongful termination suit. Future Maggie is still all sad, pale faced and bad red haircut so Rebecca tells her that any lawyer would make her relive her pain to discount her state of mind. Hearing the tale of how Maggie bonded with young orphan Daniel at the orphanage who took a bullet for her later while she was trying to ferry him to safety was gut wrenching.  Maggie’s entire plot is plagued by unintended consequences; if she hadn’t been trying to prove herself as a news reporter she never would have been in Uganada. If Maggie and Gary never went to the orphanage the cattle raiders never would have come. And if she never read Daniel Lyle Lyle Crocodile she wouldn’t be the shell of a person she is today.
  • Rom-nantics: We are not blackhearted folks unmoved by emotional subplots—we’re just a fan of advancement.  That’s why this week Jim’s mobile flirtation wins. For one, his rousing speech was one we could get behind and for another, they actually kissed. That kind of progress is unheard of outside of pointless season finale makeouts. Though Jim’s decision to give away his 30 minutes of the president to Hallie (Grace Gummer) couldn’t have been all that throughout considering it caused Mac to pull him off the road. Still, hooray for growth! And for Jim taking a step away from being Mr. Nice Guy long enough to tell Hallie off for her anger towards his good deed. It’s the briefest in history considering their fight is over his nicest action to date, but it’s a start.
  • Intentional Balance: What sets this episode apart is that everything was intentional in a show that sometimes feels more haphazard than it should. Both the lead stories were not only tied to actual news, but the continuously mysterious Genoa drama, giving each more weight. The continuous pummeling of the OWS crowd drives home the message that they wasted a national platform for their ideal while adding the humor of watching the staff grovel for important information. Maggie’s disintegration would be pertinent regardless; watching her hack away at her hair to the memory that her blond hair is what mystified the now deceased orphan in the first place was one of the show’s achingly pure moments. By attaching it to the case, it will continue to validate our concern for her wellbeing. If they can continue to manipulate Genoa into working for them in all fronts this will be their most successful gamble yet.

The So-So:

  • More Please: Good is never good enough. We want to love more people like we love Sloan. Of course the hour couldn’t pass without her shimmering in the spotlight. First, she banters back and forth, proving herself the orator of Sokin’s dreams by speedily weaving Titanic references in with Kodak’s failing stock and Mac’s cry for help. Then, she disembowels the already gutted Shelly Wexler, loudly sucking her Shake Shack while Neal matter of factly reports, “No, Sloan was smug.” By now we should be gushing over more than just one amazingly well rounded character. As much as we love hoisting the “Sloan for President of Everything” flag, every week we do it makes her lack of compatriots all the more obvious.

The Quotable:

  • Shelly: “Like most media I don’t think you’re taking this seriously.” Will: “Is there any chance that’s because you’re not?”
  • “Her movement is idiotic and she was unprepared so as a courtesy I was dismissive.”-Will


“Unintended Consequences” purposefully put Maggie front and center behaving in a way we’ve never seen before: like a calm adult. Things that have been working for the show took over, and for once there’s little in the episode in need of reproach.

Rating: 8/10

The Newsroom airs Sundays at 10 p.m. on HBO.

What did you think of the episode?