The Newsroom-News Night with Will McAvoy-Jeff Daniels and Emily Mortimer

The Newsroom might be worth watching again. “News Night with Will McAvoy” slowed their timeline, depicting the bustling newsroom and all the dramas that occur while Will’s on air. Sometimes risks don’t pan out but this one might have saved the season.

The Players:

  • Director: Alan Poul
  • Writer: Aaron Sorkin
  • Cast: Jeff Daniels, Emily Mortimer, John Gallagher Jr., Alison Pill, Thomas Sadoski, Dev Patel, Olivia Munn, Sam Waterston, Tess Westin, Paul Austin, Kristin Carey, Chris Chalk, Adina Porter, Sean Smith, Charlie Weirach

Episode Title: “News Night with Will McAvoy”

Charlie’s friend stops by with another breadcrumb from the Genoa trail, while Mac tries to make Will do the right thing.  Meanwhile, Jim and Maggie wait for a 911 call to download as Sloan deals with a betrayal.

The Good:

  • Twitter Heartbeat: By cramming three different elements into Will and Mac’s commercial break powwows The Newsroom was able to play on an array of emotions. It continued to beat the drum of Sorkin’s hatred for the internet—specifically Twitter — and he should be thankful the others drowned out his monotonous rhetoric. Neal’s role as monkey-in-the-middle of Will and Mac’s disagreement on the importance of the Twitter battle was far more intriguing.  Dev Patel’s character deserves meatier material, but his exasperation with his superiors’ Tony and Angela act was delightful. The real win was Mac’s effort to take his father’s heart condition seriously. Predictably, by the time Will forces himself to make the effort, his father’s passes. Man and Will’s honest banter coupled with Will’s heartbreaking on-air grieving (“I guess it’s just us now.”) felt beautifully genuine.
  • If That’s the Story: A visit from Charlie’s Naval intelligence/spook friend seemingly confirmed that Genoa happened.  A few rhetorical questions and hypothetical remarks would have been enough for this conversation to be important. The crumpled manifesto marked Operation Genoa is the first piece of physical evidence that the US armed forces committed war crimes using toxic gas. Surely the information could be used when the story is fully fleshed out, but the moment served to finally convince Charlie and Mac that the atrocity actually happened. Whether we’re being force fed morels of the Genoa drama for a purpose or Sorkin is employing his usual drag out technique hasn’t stopped the plot from being enchanting. With only four episodes left in the season though, the bottom has to fall out of this thing sometime soon.
  • Downloading: Hitting another nail in this season’s “Maggie is damaged” arc, six months after her return from Africa she’s drinking and sleeping around. She has to stay out late enough to get home after Lisa; the death of an orphan didn’t heal that wound. She’s afraid to sleep alone—hence all the men—and reeks from the previous night’s bender at work. She’s cold and argumentative, attacking Jim’s girlfriend’s articles and generally being unpleasant. He’s the only one to confront her, but Gary defends her pain. To drive that home, Maggie was the unfortunate character forced to reenact NBC’s infamous George Zimmerman faux pas. Like the mid-March 2012 incident, Maggie cut a snippet of the Zimmerman 911 phone call excluding the operator’s question about Trayvon Martin’s ethnicity, effectively creating the argument that the media purposefully skewed the story towards race. Surely not the last time the show refers to the case but at least the first was well done.
  • Rage: Sloan’s ex splashing her naked pictures all over the net the day after their breakup isn’t news but it paints a picture of the plight some overly trusting women have been made to suffer. The staff’s respectful support can’t stop her from spiraling; hiding in Don’s dark office she succumbs to humiliation with poignant resignation. (“This is who I am now.”)  The story’s real purpose was to bond Sloan and Don, something that has been done more than a few times but never in such a serious or lengthy scale. This is probably the last time watching Sloan put someone in their place or another non-starting development Sloan/Don romance will satiate us. Still watching Sloan walk into her  smarmy ex’s meeting to give him a bloody nose, only for Don to stop him from chasing her down with a sanctimonious, “No, no,” was too delicious not to enjoy.

The So-So:

  • Take a Stand: Mac’s stance against using the show to achieve 15 minutes of fame is something we celebrate. The way she admonished the Rutgers student waiting to remark on the Tyler Clementi tragedy that planned to use his moment to come out on air might have seemed harsh. Fortunately, her refusal to allow the young man to use someone’s death as a soapbox was completely valid. Where the show missed the mark was Maggie’s argument about the Sandra Fluke debacle. As you might recall, Rush Limbaugh called the Georgetown University student a slut when she argued for insurance coverage of birth control. Maggie thought the media should remove the stigma from being a slut—a woman who enjoys casual sex like men do — an ideal that was broached during the coverage. It’s not normally like the show to take a stance on something without giving credit to the real life counterparts.

The Quotable:

  • “I really just think tonight is one of those nights where you should just do everything I say.”—Mac
  • “I know that this really isn’t your fault but I hate you anyway. I know it’s irrational. It is what it is. Tonight, I root for your failure.”—Mac

Overall:

“News Night with Will McAvoy” continued to push itself back into the black. What Mac matter-of-factly stated near the closing proved true. “Tonight we take care of all family business.” For the most part, news stories were woven into character drama seamlessly. The closer they march towards fleshing out the rest of the characters the sooner they can properly turn this show around.

Rating: 8/10

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

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