This season of NEWSROOM feels like a spy thriller on par with BOURNE IDENTITY. Even though it’s drama, it’s just as exciting as Matt Damon kicking ass on the big screen. The writing is to “blame”. These characters are just so interesting and multi-dimensional. Their peril equates to our own. We feel for them so much because of Aaron SORKIN’s phenomenal writing.
The focus this episode was once again on Neal (DEV PATEL) and his act of espionage. He knowingly put his government in jeopardy by asking for dangerous information regarding a massacre on the African continent(?). Last episode, he went on the run from the authorities. This week dealt with the fallout.
The story begins with the FBI storming the ACN offices, as they hunt down Neal. They ask everyone their names. When they get to GARY COOPER he aims a witty retort right for them, “My name is: Unless you have a warrant, go f**k yourself.” This laugh broke the intensity – but not for long. Charlie bluffs the FBI into submission by turning his film crew on them, ready to broadcast this “Government raid of an American News station”.
JEFF DANIELS (as Will) is the leader we all want to be led by. He supports his team to his own detriment. He covers for Neal and even helped in his escape. Now, Daniels is left to take the blame. He willingly steps into the line of fire, assuming his position in the media and the public’s eye will assure his safety.
There was also a brilliant segment where he verbally sparred with the FBI’s lawyer trying to pry out the source. Will straight up says, “You bungled this and I can’t help you anymore.” But by the end, let’s just say he isn’t feeling so safe.
Another storyline weaving its way through the episode involves Maggie’s (ALLISON PILL) report on CO2 emissions. I like how Jim provokes her by acting bored by her story, pretending to be an ACN viewer at home watching this proposed report. He says, “You mentioned CO2 and I started thinking of other things in my head.” Touché. Is this dialogue illuminating how a lot of the public views stories about Climate Change? I think Sorkin is getting clever here. I love it.
Jim continues, “Environmental stories aren’t exciting.” Yeah, unless it’s on HBO’s NEWSROOM. He asks to see the report, to see the important facts. Maggie has highlighted the entire 100 page document. Again, touché. Actually there’s a great section of back-and-forth exploding firecracker dialogue between these two. Since Neil is gone, Maggie has to rely on Jim’s computer abilities. Let’s say she doesn’t have much faith in him.
I love when Charlie breaks the news story in the “writer’s room”. It’s like your typical action movie, where the Sargent comes in and lays out the plan, like “there’s this guy wanted for this reason”… blah blah. Here on NEWSROOM the “crew” doesn’t even need to be told background information. All this crew needs is a name. With their phones at the ready, they’ve already instantly researched the “target” for themselves. I really like how it spoofs this clichéd action movie moment. These “grunts” are more than capable. They’re all leaders in their own right. Great stuff.
Maggie’s CO2 story hits the air, with Will interviewing the expert “witness” who wrote the report. This was pitch black comedy at its best, as Will somehow tries to find a positive spin on Climate Change. (These quotes are paraphrased from memory.) The expert says, “Well, maybe shutting off our cars 20 years ago.”
Will keeps searching for a solution to save the planet, but the expert doesn’t relent, “Let’s say the house is on fire. You can try and put it out. But if the house is already burnt to the ground there’s nothing left to save.” Will says, “Let’s see if we can’t find a better option. People are looking forward to their weekend.” What a blend of comedy and tragedy.
This episode could be one of the most IMPORTANT TELEVISION EPISODES ever. Not even the actual NEWS covers this subject in this manner.
Jim’s storyline also involves his girlfriend (GUMMER) working for the opposition. He’s worried, since she gets raises dependent on clicks/views. He thinks it’s dangerous when “market forces push the news.” This is a great point that happens today with social media, like the Cosby allegations over more important news stories. Jim also has a great joke when he talks with Maggie about her new boyfriend, the Ethics Professor, “Leave it to you to find the only person who can make money being ethical.” There is so much subtext in every conversation. NEWSROOM really rewards the participating viewer.
Neal’s storyline involving hacking the SuperNet builds more excitement towards the end of the episode. The producers consider cooperating with the authorities due to the serious nature of these secrets. I like the idea that Neill could surrender and work for the FBI in their cyber division, kind of like the crook turned good guy in CATCH ME IF YOU CAN.
Charlie meets the new owner of ACN, a younger guy with a mind for social media. Just great, eh. His plans for the News Network involved isolated feeds for the individual – “User generated content. Crowd-sourcing the news.” The new owner continues, “I want a channel devoted to people stalking DANNY GLOVER. You think I’m joking?” I didn’t. But I think Sorkin was.
IS THIS a sign of things to come? A lot of folks get their news on Facebook or Twitter, where top stories are filtered through a very narrow scope – your interests. Sometimes we need to know things outside our specific hobbies or obsessions. World Events is disappearing to give way for Celebrity Events. When it comes to news this way, I’m more like Danny Glover from LETHAL WEAPON, “I’m too old for this sh*t.”
By the end, Emily Mortimer’s producer goes to a big gala event where she meets Neal’s source (played by CLEA DUVALL). Duvall isn’t letting her story slide. She knows Neal was threatened, and now the story may disappear. She threatens Mortimer, “If the story isn’t on the air in 5 days, I’m uploading it to Gwenyth Paltrow’s blog.” Hahaha. Talk about people obsessed with social media and judging what celebrity’s think.
I can’t wait to see how this all unfolds on Sunday. There are so many storylines getting set for collision. I didn’t even mention JANE FONDA’s appearance (“Brother can you spare a dime.”) or Sloan’s (OLIVIA MUNN) workplace relationship with another head producer. They have to deny their romance while being investigated by Human Resources. Wow. All this may sound complicated, but upon viewing it’s all perfectly balanced.
NEWSROOM continues to be the best DRAMA on television, mixing important issues, top news stories, and loads of humour. It’s a real shame the audience isn’t larger. I’m actually sad that this will be the FINAL SEASON. Like Daniels says, “You think it’s possible I’m not as big a TV star as I thought?” He means this in regards to the Neal situation, but REALLY doesn’t it apply to NEWSROOM. Let me assure you, the cancellation has nothing to do with any of the creative talent, but with the viewing audience’s disinterest in important fiction that illuminates our understanding.
I really hope at some point before the last episode airs, NEWSROOM focus on the events this past summer in FERGUSON. I look forward to how Sorkin views the complex social issues involved, and their murky history in America.
Don’t let this amazing drama filled with comedy SLIP THROUGH the cracks. You can find season 1 & 2 on DVD or On Demand. If you feel there’s a gap in quality entertainment for adults, you won’t be disappointed with NEWSROOM.
What did you think? Is Will in big trouble? Is Neal safe?
What will happen between Mortimer and the source?
Will Fonda or Charlie find a way to keep ACN from turning into TMZ?