The Newsroom-One Step Too Many-Thomas Sadoski, John Gallagher Jr., Olivia Munn, Sam Waterston, Alison Pill, Hamish Linklater, Emily Mortimer, and Dev Patel

For the second week in a row The Newsroom was practically beyond reproach. That’s high praise for a show that recently circled the drain. “One Step Too Far” deals heavily in the Genoa drama, which is exactly what everyone wanted. As Stephen Root joins the ranks as a guest star, it looks like Aaron Sorkin finally stumbled on a newsworthy recipe.

The Players:

  • Director: Julian Farino
  • 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, Grace Gummer, Constance Zimmer, Stephen Root, Hope Davis, Chris Chalk, Cherie Daly, Merle Dandridge, Daniel Brunnemer Hall, Margaret Judson, Charlie Weirach

Episode Title: “One Step Too Many”

The first Red Team assembles as a General appears to spice up the Genoa information. Elsewhere, Jim goes on a double date while Will chases his audience.

The Good:

  • Not Jim: The first Red Team is called, and with it a review of the Genoa progress thus far. A three star General, played by the incomparable Stephen Root, is found to serve as a military confirmation. When Mac and Charlie arrive to do the first interview General Stomtonovich has forgotten they were to arrive, although he does confirm the use of Sarin unprompted. He refuses to admit so on camera with Jerry Dantana, however he does say it happened while Maggie was still in the room (before the camera is turned off). This is where Jeremy now and forever becomes Not Jim. He’d always been, as Don pointed out, but his argumentative nature and decision to treat this tip as a fact rather information to investigate pushed him to alter the General’s tape. No matter how many pieces of the story end up being falsehoods, it’s obvious Not Jim’s action is the one that ruined everything.
  • The Power of Charlie: The final scene of the episode between Charlie and the expertly coiffed Rebecca Halliday lasts less than two minutes but it echoes forever. “None of it was true.” That’s what we have ahead of ourselves. There are lies planted in News Nights coverage of Genoa, and that will be a huge failure. We learned in that snippet that Charlie still hasn’t revealed his confidential source and that the L Corp. Herman Valenzuela identified was the wrong Herman Valenzuela. That should have been obvious when the service record listed him as deceased. Still the real draw here is how powerful Charlie’s few seconds in the limelight are. Using him sparingly makes sense; Charlie is the battering ram the team uses when they need to break into anything. As the Genoa story begins to unravel we expect to see Charlie throw his weight around.
  • Big Brother Little Sister:  The only thing Sloan is good for these days is setting people straight. This week she had to put Will in check. Their interaction was the only good thing coming out of Nina’s plea for Will to make the public like him. Her argument for the entertainment industries seemingly bulletproof economy was more interesting than it should have been. We particularly enjoyed the way she berated Will while hardly referring his crimes. Sloan knows Will holds himself to a high standard and a mere mention of the standard will right him. Please give this genius something better to do; she can still set people straight, we don’t mind. Just give us more.
  • The Plus of the Minus: Jim’s condescension has reached new heights with Maggie, who is still very blond and mucho damaged. At the first Red Team meeting, he questions the original member on whether they believe it, but when he asks Maggie he adopts a tone much like the one people use with small children or wild animals. Later, he gets Hallie to join in by saying Jim’s at the hotel to fix her computer as if Maggie’s dumb enough not to know the truth. Again at the bar, Jim impresses upon Maggie the importance of secrecy on a story she’s kept quiet for seven months. She meets his callous assumptions with the strength we’ve craved from her character. Since she’s not a redhead, it’s clear his repeated warnings about being safe while drinking are moving her closer to other trauma. It’s just a shame that the clout her character has is due to liquid courage and a scorned heart. 
  • Dinner Questions: If you were able to ignore the idiocy of the drunken Ron Paul supporter that served as Neal’s potential hookup, Jim and Hallie’s double date plus Taylor raised some questions. Or one really: What’s The Newsroom going to do with Constance Zimmer? She’s a force to be reckoned with, and her banter with Jim is some of the best of the episode. The announcement of her dismissal from the Romney campaign immediately made her presence all the more suspicious. Will we be seeing her again? Could she appear in yet another adversarial capacity? Or is it possible she could sidle up to the News Night team? Taylor can’t possibly be the wedge driven between Jim and Hallie’s cuteness — that’s Maggie. As long as they do something with Taylor, we’ll be happy.

The So-So:

  • No-mance: Surprising no one, the Will/Nina Howard coupling had to come to an end this week. If her emphasis in Will’s ratings and suggestions that he forgo serious topics in the name of likability wasn’t a clue then you’ve forgotten what News Night 2.0 is all about. Even more insulting was her fix — sending him to the same ACN morning show that aired his dirty laundry during that whole Reese-hacked-Will’s-phone scandal last season. It’s obvious Will is still off his game, until he tells off Nina, but we’re wondering why no mention of his father was made? Their tumultuous relationship doesn’t warrant a huge grief scene, nor does Will’s character. However shouldn’t something have been said?  You know, instead of this?
  • Another Non Starter: In predictable Sorkin fashion the baby steps forward Sloan and Don took last week are all but forgotten as she courts a player from the New York Giants. He fits the same bill as the rest of the jerks Don accurately classified of Sloan’s dating pool, ditching her around midnight. Don swirls drinks at the news team’s bar while he speaks wistfully about the object of his affection. That’s all folks! Two people whose chemistry is off the charts are left to stupidly ignore it in the face of distractions and conversations about their potential. The only good things to come out of either were Samantha Guthrie’s amazing legs and wondrous dancing ability and the moments Don and Mac shared at the bar.

The Quotable:

  • “Neal is always just broken up with somebody; he calls it going home in the morning.”—Jim
  • Will: “I did a focus group, I did it myself. I called our company and I did it on my own. They did the dials and the moderator got comments after.” Sloan: “Why?” Will: “Why?” Sloan: “Yeah.” Will: “To check in. Why does a politician take polls?” Sloan: “To find out what people want him to say the next day. Are you comfortable with that analogy?”

Overall:

“One Step Too Far” is another step in the right direction for The Newsroom. They’ve finally figured out how to make us happy and that begins and ends with one word: Genoa. As long as they continue to pepper us with this scandal, we’re sure to be intrigued. Also, there’s the Maggie mystery — just how and when she chooses to go all Code Red Scissorhands is going to be pertinent. Plus, did you catch that Mac not only knows about Will and Nina, but referred to her as “Mrs. Macbeth?” For once, we can hardly wait until next week.

Rating: 8.5/10

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

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