The Newsroom has finally become the show we want, and you shouldn’t miss a second of it. “Red Team III” lays out all those missing Genoa breadcrumbs, and it’s much worse than we could have ever guessed. Now, we’re left to wonder like many of the characters, can one bad story bring down an entire news team?
- Director: Anthony Hemingway
- 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 , Chris Chalk, Michael Buonomo, Jane Fonda, Margaret Judson, Adina Porter, Charlie Weirach
Episode Title: “Red Team III”
The News Night team recalls the 48 hours after Genoa aired while readying themselves for the 2012 Presidential Election.
- Good Hair: The stroke of genius in the opening was Don’s attack on Rebecca Halliday’s team. His demand that they openly acknowledge that their presence, and the seriousness with which the lawyers were taking Jerry Dantana’s claim of wrongful termination served as a voice for every viewer watching. If everyone is aware that Not Jim doctored General Stomtonavich’s tape, then why is this even an issue? Don was the best person for that job, arrogantly assuming that people with hair that fabulous—because Marcia Gay Harden’s hair is doing that long luxurious thing again—can’t be daft enough to be duped by an ex-employee. The truth is, the rapid unraveling of evidence makes it seem like there was gross institutional failure. Halliday’s interviews with the staff anchored the show, flipping between the night before the 2012 Presidential Election, the Genoa aftermath, and the anniversary of September 11th.
- The Facts: General Stomtonavich’s call directly after Genoa aired was the first red flag, but as it was disregarded as cold feet. It’s a mulligan. The first nail in the coffin of ruin was Eric Sweeny’s on air admission that he previously suffered a traumatic brain injury, for which he earned a Purple Heart. Afterwards at the holy-crap-how-did-this-happen meeting, everyone is made privy to Maggie’s banishment from the room for Stomtonavich’s interview, which should have happened right after. Then there’s Rebecca and Mac’s now/then revelation that Mann led Valenzuela during their interview.
- There is No Bottom: Immediately afterward we’re in a garage with Charlie and his source Shep, whose quick response was, “I’ll bet there is,” to the news there’s a problem with the story. The heart racing seconds after were filled with pictures of Shep’s son, who was hired by ACN on his 90th day sober, only to be fired after repeatedly tweeting negative remarks about News Night’s new direction. The manifest was an “F you” to Charlie. The sight of a digital clock sparks Mac’s memory and she discovers and finally fires Jerry for altering the tape. It’s important to note here that Jerry reaffirms that Stomtonavich admitted it happened before the cameras were rolling while Maggie was still in the room. It hardly matters because, “No one will ever believe us again,” as Mac stated beautifully before lowering the belated ax. Genoa happened: The white phosphorous was to mark the target, the mopp gear was in case the other side had chemical weapons and Hamni 8′s prepaid cellphone plan ran out just as Neal theorized.
- Shots Fired: There’s a reason we screamed begged and cried for every second of Jane Fonda last season; the final scene served as a reminder of our good taste. Leona Lansing walks into a midnight meeting with Will, Mac, and Charlie looking like a dream realized. She calls Mac McMac and Twiggy, says “hizzle” and pretty much confirms Charlie’s accusation she was high. There are only two things a network can do in ACN’s situation, fire everyone or fight. After proclaiming her love form the thorn-in-the-side news channel, Leona refuses to accept any resignations and prepares them all—minus Rebecca. She seemed to know Lansing would side with them for a fight. The best moment was the last words of the night, when Charlie’s scream about not having the public’s support was met with Leona’s equally loud matter of fact remark, “GET IT BACK!” Looks like The Newsroom has finally learned how to close a show.
- Montage of Monotony: During the airing of the Genoa story everyone involved was stuck in front of a television while foreboding music played in the background. We understand they would have been interested in seeing their hard work play out, but all viewers were interested in was the fallout. It felt tedious and unnecessary, and considering the rest of the episode was full of stellar moments, this bit of mediocrity really stood out.
“Red Team III” shows the difference a year makes. This time last season, we were plotting Leona Lansing’s demise, now she’s our best friend. If anyone had bothered to follow through to see if Hamni 8 was really dead, if anyone fact checked Eric Sweeny’s record of Purple Hearts, if anyone noticed the tape early enough this could have been avoided. The fact that Leona’s choosing to side with News Night is a shock, so we’re prepared for fireworks. The real intrigue is Shep’s deception. We’d really like someone to explore that while running around on election night in two weeks.
The Newsroom airs Sundays at 10 p.m. on HBO.
What did you think of the episode?