The Newsroom is back!
Will’s in a meeting with some lawyers and he’s being snarky. They are discussing Black Op Genoa not Geneva. “It’s a kind of a jib or foresail on a boat.” Matt (Mark) mistyped it in his notes and Will is a freak. Let’s just establish that right off the bat. Will is in hot water. He went on the air alleging that the U.S. government used nerve gas (a war crime) and further alleged that the government is in a conspiracy to cover up Operation Genoa. The lady lawyer exclaims in frustration, “Fudge me!” Except she doesn’t say fudge. Will politely asks if one of the men on the legal team would please fudge Ms. Halliday. Ever the gentleman, this guy.
The story has been retracted. No big whoop. Except it seems to be rather large whoop. At that moment, Maggie interrupts to give Will some notes. She appears to have morphed into a punky version of the plain redheaded chick from Sex In The City. Lady Lawyer Halliday echoes my mental WTF by exclaiming, “What happened to her hair?!” Indeed. I mean. Nerve gas, yadda yadda, war crime, yadda yadda. What the hell is up with Maggie’s hair? Will explains that Maggie went on a story to Uganda. Stuff went down and she came back “a little messed up.” I don’t think he’s talking about just her hair. Halliday is not pleased. Maggie is a character witness and “she looks like the Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.” Ooh, nice one. Way better than the SITC comparison. Will tells Halliday to back the hell off. “If what happened to her happened to you, you’d kill yourself every day for the rest of your life. You would sit in the middle of a room and cry forever.”
No SOPA for you!
Halliday decides to move on. 14 months ago, Will went on the air and called the Tea Party the American Taliban. This did not work out great. For starters, Reese Lansing, the president of AWM, got kicked out of the capitol building in D.C. Reese and and Mama Lansing (Leona) are not happy about this. They meet with Charlie to discuss it. The meeting they were excluded from was on SOPA. [Pause for collective ohhhhhhh.] They are losing money to piracy and they want it to stop. Leona: “We own intellectual property and I want the [fudging] pajama people to stop stealing it!” It would be delicious if there were, say, a torrenting site or something actually named Pajama People. Just saying. But I digress. Reese reminds Charlie that people are mad at Will. And they will be mad at Charlie, too. Charlie says fudge them. But he doesn’t seem convinced.
Return of the Mac
It’s August 23, 2011, and rebels have just taken Gaddafi’s palace in Tripoli. Mac is producing the news show as Will reports. Jim bursts in to tell Mac they have to pull a package (not as dirty as it sounds) because they have reported a French diplomat (Dominic Strauss-Kahn – remember that guy?) is being charged with attempted rape when in fact he is being investigated for attempted rape. The clip airs in seconds. Mac swings into action, telling Jim to call the reporter, wherever he is and patch him through to the control room. He’s at Benihana with his family, but whatever. Mac orders him to find a quiet place and has him do a voice over with the corrected language and bam! The package is fixed (not as neutery as it sounds). We are in awe of Mac’s producer-fu. Hers is clearly the most powerful. The newsroom erupts in relieved applause, but wait! Now there’s trouble with a graphic that isn’t loading. The board is shutting down. I don’t know what that all means, but is seems like Big Trouble. Capital letters. But Mac ain’t even mad. She says a lot of technical sounding stuff and then tells Will his graphic will be on a different monitor. He should look at camera 3. Will turns without missing a beat. They break for commercial like badasses.
Charlie is waiting after the show with the news that this guy Ben who is covering the Romney campaign got hammered and tried jumping into his motel pool from the second story, breaking his ankle in two places. Oh, Ben. Now they have to send someone out to Nashua for the next couple of weeks until Ben can hobble back to duty.
As The Newsroom Turns
Sloan (yay, Olivia Munn!) is running the office fantasy football league and Charlie amusingly if chauvinistically refers to her as “Money Skirt.” Sloan: “The day will come when we have an HR rep who cares what goes on on this floor and on that day, sir, I will dance upon your grave.” Charlie: “Reciting stock quotes, wearing a skirt?” More adorable curmudgeonly banter between the two of them until Sloan asks, “Why does it have to be like this?” Charlie: “Because you’re a nerd and I’m a nerd and you make nerds look bad.” Sloan: “No, I make nerds look good.” Sloan also wants Charlie to know about this drone strike in Pakistan that killed five suspected militants. Suspected being the operative word.
Meanwhile Don and Maggie are lovey dovey as all get out. WUT. Guess we are back to
season square one. Jim looks on despondently as they flirt and talk about romantic bowling dates and such.
Charlie goes to have a Very Special Conversation with Will, a.k.a. the big kiss-off. He runs into a familiar looking intern. He asks if he knows her. Will: “Say ‘Why is America the greatest country in the world’.” The intern rolls her eyes but accommodates. Oh! She’s the sorority girl from the season one pilot that Will eviscerated on national TV for asking a dumb question! It’s the circle of life, Simba. Will has hired her either to make it up to her or torture her, we’re not sure which. Then he despotically orders her to learn about the eight Broadway musicals that have won the Pulitzer prize including composer, lyricist, librettist, and source material. So, perhaps the latter.
Anyhoo, Charlie is benching Will from the coverage of the 10 anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. People are indeed pissed at Will for the American Taliban crack, and Charlie is caving. Will says it’s okay. He gets it.
Maggie approaches Jim saying she’d like things to go back to the way they were (you mean fraught with sexual tension and unresolved longings, Maggie?). Jim declines. Maggie says she just wants them to be buds again. Jim: “It was always awkward. That’s the way things work. You want to say it wasn’t a big deal, fine. We’re friends. But you’re also staff, and at some point, this conversation becomes inappropriate.” Ooh, burn! Then he says, “It’s only awkward because you want it to be.” Awkward for Jim must mean intolerable, because when he’s finished talking to Maggie he marches into Mac’s office and asks to be sent out on the Romney campaign. Mac laughs it off, saying they should send a junior reporter. But Jim isn’t kidding. He needs to get the hell out of the office for a couple of weeks. He reminds Mac that when she blew it with Will, she went to Peshawar. He just wants to go to Concord. He says she should bring in a guy named Jerry Dantana to cover for him.
Dantana is on the phone with his panties in a bunch over the same drone strike Sloan was talking about. His producer threatens to use one to target his car. “Sorry to bother you with the news.” Then the call from Mac comes. They need him in New York.
Jim shows up in New Hampshire and is told there’s no room for him on the Romney bus. He’s from ACN. Folks round these parts don’t take kindly to them ‘Merican Taliban remarks. Jim and his ACN credentials are forced to drive.
Dantana, meanwhile, has hoofed it to the ACN offices so fast, he hasn’t even dropped off his bags. Someone is an eager beaver. He’s not even put off by the fact that Will can barely remember his name and keeps calling him Terry. He thinks ACN should be doing stories about the administration! He’s ready to get it started. Will: “It’s actually not a great time for me but that go-getter initiative you have? I’m not crazy about that either.” Jerry is unfazed. Sloan comes in waving what turns out to be a blank piece of paper (she needed a prop) talking about the drone strike. That’s what Dantana’s talkin’ bout! He wants to run it after the Libya story and they’ll have a panel of experts. Also, instead of their usual military expert, he wants to use Cyrus West, a retired Air Force general who is a hardliner on drones. Mac questions his choice, but gives in.
On the panel, Cyrus West makes the strong case for drones because he is in favor of protecting lives – American lives. Another panel guest wants to know if drones can distinguish between terrorists and civilians. West doesn’t care, and he doesn’t think anyone else should, either. Mac wants Will to jump in and rebut West’s assertion but Will remains uncharacteristically silent. He’s been shaken by his benching.
After the drone panel discussion, Dantana talks to West about his attitude. West is concerned about being asked back (doesn’t seem likely from Mac’s reaction to him). In a conciliatory gesture, he offers Dantana a story, but says he must use him to help follow it. Dantana: “What kind of story?” West: “The kind that makes careers and ends presidencies.” It’s a black op called Genoa.
Occupy Wall Street
At the rundown meeting, Neal pitches a story on a fast building grassroots movement called Occupy Wall Street. He thinks America is about to undergo its own Arab Spring. Mac is decidedly cautious, because Neal also thinks Bigfoot is real. However, she is willing to listen. Neal has identified their main demand: a presidential commission to get money out of politics. She tells Neal she likes his enthusiasm but people protest things all the time. He has to wait for something more substantial. Neal makes the sad puppy face and leaves her office. Mac thinks it over for a second and then catches Neal outside and tells him he should go to the next Occupy Wall Street meeting. He’s on it.
At the Occupy meeting, Neal is immediately identified as a possible narc because he is wearing his ACN credentials. Duh. The Occupiers are distrustful. Also, they speak with weird hand signals. Neal wants to know why they wouldn’t want help getting their message out. They do; they just don’t need no stinkin’ press. They want to make sure their message is clear before the media distorts it.
Neal chats up the non-leader of the group (“no one is in charge”), Shelly Wexler. She is a PhD candidate at NYU and she teaches there. Neal wants to know what the Occupy plan is. Basically set up tents until a constitutional amendment is ratified. Neal is skeptical. Also he wants to know about the hand signals – they’re Quaker in origin. Neal tells her their message is a bit diluted and that they’ll need media coverage. Shelly is confident the media will be there. Also, she basically says ACN are pussies who can’t handle covering real issues properly. Neal says he hopes the Occupy movement succeeds. Shelly tells him he’s on the wrong side of the camera. Neal hands her his card telling her sooner or later, they’ll want coverage. Also, “Go back to one clear message, or you guys are going to be a joke.”
Sloan & Don & Maggie & Jim
After Sloan’s broadcast, she and Don have an awkward moment. Sloan had confessed to him last season that the reason she was still single is
an inexplicable plot device that he had never asked her out. But she only said that because she thought it was her last day and it seemed like a good parting line. Oooookay. Don says he took it as a joke. Oooooookay. Then he says he has to head home. He has a 13 day streak going as a good boyfriend. Sloan asks what he gets if he hits two weeks and Don anwers, “A healthy conscience.” Damn his pesky conscience! Don/Sloan is way hotter than Don/Maggie! Make it so, Sorkin!
Don returns to his and Maggie’s apartment. Maggie wakes up to him packing. He’s just grabbing a couple of things and he’ll be at the Sheraton. Maggie is all, WTF? And Don is like, no big deal. Go back to sleep. Your cousin who hates you just sent me a link to a Youtube vid of you having a mental breakdown and declaring feelings for Jim in front of a double decker tour bus (remember that epic moment last season?).
So you know, bygones. He’s going to a hotel. And he called her old roommate Lisa and she’ll be able to move back in. Turns out he’s not the bad guy after all. He tells Maggie she should call Jim. “Tell him to get off the [fudging] bus. We’re trying to do the news.”
We close with Mac telling the lawyers that if Ben hadn’t broken his ankle, and Jim hadn’t gone to cover for him, and Dantana hadn’t come up to cover for Jim, if their usual military consultant had been on the panel instead of Dantana’s guy Cyrus West, if she’d caught it sooner … at first none of them believed Operation Genoa was real. But more and more evidence came in and they thought they had something huge. But if all those things hadn’t happened, they wouldn’t be sitting here and Will wouldn’t be waiting for Mac in the hallway, worried sick but pretending not to be. “He’s worried he got me in trouble instead of the other way around.”
The Who’s “You Better, You Bet” plays as Mac goes over her testimony again with the lawyers.
Nanea Hoffman is the founder of Sweatpants & Coffee. She is a ginormous Aaron Sorkin fangirl.