The Newsroom-Election Night, Part 1-Emily Mortimer and Jeff Daniels

It may be Election Night 2012 on The Newsroom but Genoa still has us in its grips. “Election Night, Part 1” eased none of the anxiety the team’s failure caused and continues to mystify. Just how News Night will make good on their misstep is unclear, but for once we want to stick around to see how it’s done.

The Players:

  • Director: Jason Ensler
  • Writer: Aaron Sorkin
  • Cast: Jeff Daniels, Emily Mortimer, John Gallagher Jr., Alison Pill, Thomas Sadoski, Dev Patel, Olivia Munn, Sam Waterston, Marcia Gay Harden , David Harbour, Chris Messina,  Constance Zimmer, Chris Chalk, Kyle Cartieri, Lauren Tom, Margaret Judson, Adina Porter, Michael Rosinsky, Charlie Weirach, Salli Richardson-Whitfield, Wynn Everett, Thomas Matthews, John F. Carpenter, Trieu Tran, Riley Voelkel, Brian Henderson

Episode Title: “Election Night, Part One”

Charlie attempts to make Reese see reason as the team covers election night.

The Good:

  •  The New Delilah: The confidence that Marcia Gay Harden oozes is intoxicating. At this point we’re forced to believe she’s woven strands of Samson’s hair in with her expertly manicured coif. Rebecca’s that unflappable, stealing every scene she’s in. Her news that Don is being sued by Jerry for exaggerating, while giving a bad job recommendation was more than worrisome. This year, Don went from being the jerk everyone hated to the lovable jerk no one can resist. The thought of his character being toyed with is unsettling, but it could mean more screen time for Rebecca. Watching her throw around the words, “liquid sex,” in front of Charlie makes that a delicious possibility.
  • Reese Redeemed: Like Thomas Sadoski before him, Chris Messina has played the resident prick admirably. It’s about time he was given a restorative moment. Reese’s exasperation with his mother’s refusal to accept Will and Charlie’s resignations transformed into a recitation of a power struggle with his mother’s rabid need for grandchildren. There is no telling if Reese will ever be this adorable again, so enjoy it while it lasts.
  • Cambridge: Anyone who took freshman psychology—or ever committed an egregious error—knew Mac was hung up on correcting her Wikipedia page because of Genoa. The more important part was how effortlessly Will can read Mac; he sensed she would fixate on the Oxford mix-up immediately. It was interesting to see how the writers wove the Genoa flop in with the still bleeding heart of their relationship. For once we weren’t bothered by it. We side with Will on his disbelief that anyone could be timing his recovery from being cheated on by the love of his life. His incredulity over Mac thinking him shallow enough to blame her for the ruin of his image came across as extremely powerful and genuine. Obviously, Will’s mercy firing of Mac will be an issue next week. Whether Sorkin would actually remove her from News Night is the question. 
  • MI and MS: The irony of Jim making a small mistake with humongous consequences after he haunted Maggie’s every move was glorious. Calling Michigan instead of Mississippi during the Presidential election definitely falls under the umbrella of error that Charlie would deem worthy of termination. That application for the Department of Sanitation he was carrying around was only funny in a terrifyingly serious way. It’ll be interesting to see if it all comes out, but not as much as finally learning that Maggie cut her hair a week before the election. Why she waited that long is still a little hazy considering the moment was played as a reaction to her blond hair that attracted the attention of the  child that died on her shoulders. But hey, it wouldn’t be a Sorkin show if they didn’t make us wait.
  • A Man and A Woman: For some reason Elliot’s genius has been suppressed. This must be stopped. His chemistry with Sloane, Don, and Taylor was perfect for a few much-needed moments of comedic relief. Let’s see more of him please. Speaking of Taylor, we knew we’d see her again. So far she seems to have folded into the fray with ease; siding with Sloane in petty arguments is an easy way to win favor. It was necessary for Jim to put the screws to her after enduring her rage for so long. However, with her giving Maggie that huge breaking news tip, the fallout will determine if fans will clamor to have her back.

The So-So:

  • Off The Net: An open ended plot can be far less suspenseful than the writers intended, but that’s the chance one takes when airing a two part episode. Last night, Sloan’s search for the book Gary forged her signature on fell into that category.  Sure, his improperly worded German inscription (“I hope you shred this book”) was slightly problematic but it felt like Neal should be scrambling to do more important things, with it being election night and all. We can only hope that Part 2 will give weight to this hunt. If not, time will have been wasted watching Sloane freak out over a silly mistake.

The Quotable:

  • “Be less desperate for female friends.” –Elliot
  • “When you cut your hair did you want to look like Joey Heatherton and something went terribly wrong?”—Don
  • Don: “You are a member of a godless soulless race of extortionists.”  Rebecca: “That’s fair.”
  • “You’re like a foot taller than a person is supposed to be.” –Taylor
  • “How big a dick do you think I am and how long have you thought it?” –Will

Overall:

“Election Night, Part One” more than anything made us look towards the future. Taylor’s tip about the enormous David Petraeus scandal could be the military story that restores credibility. Unfortunately, it looks like Charlie could unravel and the whole team could stage a mass walk out before that happens. If The Newsroom ends this properly, Season 2 might be a restoration for the heavily critiqued drama.

Rating: 8.5/10

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

What did you think of the episode?