The Newsroom, “Election Night Parts 1 & 2”

sam-waterston-jane-fonda-the-newsroom-s-2-ep-9-550-hbo

And so, the antic-climactic end of an ordeal came and went in the last two episodes of this season of The Newsroom. The arcs introduced, continued, and closed in these two episodes reiterated pretty much the thesis of the whole season: seeking the truth and earning/establishing trust. We watched the News Night team endure a test of faith, both in the pursuit of truthful journalism and in the pursuit of gaining the trust of one another. Like the end of season 1, there was a call to action for the journalists – a fight for what is right and true for American journalism. But unlike season 1, there was something almost too neat and tidy that if I didn’t read into it more, I’d have thought they prepared for the end. The only question that is left unanswered is what will come of ACN not bowing down to Dantana, but there’s this feeling of not needing to know the immediate aftermath. We know the whole team is in it together, and that we’re meant to root for their passionate pursuit of the truth.

The long and short of what happened? Over the course of the ACN election broadcast – which is, coincidentally, the night before Dantana’s suit against ACN becomes public – we watch the ethics battle play out with Charlie, Will and Mac, and also observe secondary disputes over portraying the truth among the rest of the News Night team. Charlie and Will push Leona Lansing and ultimately Reese to – at first – accept the key three’s resignations, believing that it will be a step forward in regaining the public’s trust in ACN if they take the fall for the “mistakes” of Genoa. Leona (wonderfully portrayed by Jane Fonda) rambles while high, still pushing for ACN not backing down to Dantana just because he was upset that he was wrong/got fired. Reese (also wonderfully portrayed by Chris Messina) at first wants to accept the resignations, then goes for some long walk with his Rockette girlfriend and decides to fight back against someone who truly did wrong to the name of journalism. Of course, just as Reese decides to back his mother’s decision, Charlie also goes on board with Leona, proclaiming that they are really good at what they do. He takes back the resignations as a sign of journalistic justice.

In the meantime, we also have Sloan in a pathetically comical tertiary arc. Also seeking to be truthful in her actions in light of Genoa, she somehow discovers that a book of hers that was auctioned for a Sandy fundraiser was erroneously inscribed with a bad German translation on her behalf. She makes Neal hunt down the person who purchased the book. In Election Night Part 1, I couldn’t care less, and felt that it was a pathetic excuse to give Sloan a little bit of drama. Lo and behold, her once unrequited love Don faked a bidding war with fictional journalist character names and won the book. After discovering the clue (“Sidney Falco” won the book and a poster for “The Sweet Smell of Success” hung in Don’s office), Sloan inscribes a true signature and plants a kiss on Don. Whoopee. I will say, though, the constant on-air negligence of Sloan did become genuinely funny – Sloan barely contributed to the broadcast, though she tried her darndest.

We also have the tiresome storyline of Jim and Maggie. I do love John Gallagher, Jr., but sappy Jim in a long-distance relationship with Hallie is a little irritating. Nevertheless, we have Jim and Maggie in a moment of a possible journalistic suicide when Jim mistakenly calls a race for Michigan senate. The tension between him and Maggie as they confront the issue of whether or not they retract a potentially false call really then becomes an avenue for them to discuss “what happened in Africa.” And, HOW CONVENIENT, Maggie’s roommate is catering an ACN party in the exec floor for election night! Jim hunts her down after someone illegally tweets a photo from the party, and he confronts Lisa, begging her to talk to a clearly depressed and troubled Maggie. A couple of questions about this though: 1) Why does Hallie care THAT much? That was way too much a device for Jim to confront something he could easily observe on his own, 2) Why did Maggie wait so long to cut and dye her hair? The episode that goes into her trip to Africa implied that the blood-red hairstyle was a thing for a while. Turns out it was a more recent decision. Doesn’t quite make sense, but whatever. It’s a physical sign of her inner torture. In the final hours of the election broadcast, while everyone acted like it was the end of their world (which, if I were in their shoes, I’d act that way too), Jim pulls for an act of forgiveness, and Maggie and Lisa finally decide to have their first honest and open conversation since the ill-fated breakup of Jim and Lisa.

Also in the spirit of acting like it’s the end of their world, we finally get that will-they-or-won’t-they fulfillment with former spurned lovers Mac and Will. My main problem with this is that they brought up this storyline in spurts throughout this season. I mean, yeah, we knew it was an underlying thing since day one, but it felt so unimportant and underplayed after the whole “what was in that phone call” crap settled down mid-season. It finally all comes to a head because Mac and Will are tortured about not being able to do what they felt was the right thing, stepping down from ACN. Mac begs Will to fire her, unintentionally prompting him to be angry with her on a more personal level. He declares to Mac, “I was a good boyfriend,” disappointed in Mac assuming he should be more concerned about how he appears to the public. He fires her, but asks her to keep it a secret. When they learn that the state of their resignations is in Reese’s hands, Will steps down from the desk to showcase Elliot, and he and Mac have a go in the hair and makeup room. It is here Will and Mac basically reveal they still love each other, Will admitting he was holding onto the ring he bought for Mac many years ago. After they complete the broadcast, AGAIN, in a moment of “OMG IT’S THE END OF THE WORLD” Will races to find Mac having dug out the Tiffany’s ring he purchased and proposes to her. She accepts! I will say I’m glad someone acknowledged the ridiculousness of Mac’s name, as Will attempted to announce the “Future Misses Mackenzie Morgan Machale Mac- that’s not gonna work.”

Oh yeah, and Mac gets obsessive over getting the truth right in her own tiny way by insisting someone correct her Wikipedia page to say she went to Cambridge, NOT Oxford.

Overall, it was fun to see the Election Night broadcast go under way from behind the scenes. The whole night, though, seemed to be flooded with a lot of fodder. The golden charms in these episodes, though, were definitely are star players – Charlie, Will, and Mac – and even Don was a true winner to me, especially with his approach to the lawsuit against him for giving Dantana a bad job reference. What else do we have left to expect from The Newsroom at this point? Yes, I wonder how they will win the fight to re-earn the trust of the public. But we’re leaving everyone in an eerily good place. I guess that’s where the wonder for season 3 comes from – can Will and Mac stay engaged, will Don and Sloan wind up together, and can Maggie actually heal now.

Till next season, happy reporting.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s