NEWSROOM is building towards its ultimate finale. The story jumps ahead 52 DAYS in one dramatic CUT TO. Will is in prison. ACN operates under a new owner focused on Social Media. Sloan is more comfortable as new anchor. And Jim seems to have split up with Halle.
Let’s start with Will (JEFF DANIELS) in prison. He has an inquisitive, and rather pushy, cell mate. I love how Will establishes his dominance, as he sizes up his hostel roommate who’s incarcerated for multiple counts of spousal abuse.
He rises up from his bed and approaches the man, intimidating him in this great scene. Will says, “I want you to see that I have four inches and thirty pounds on you. You’re not going to hit me, like your wife. You so much as raise your hands past your waist and I will knock you the f**k into next week.” Will stands up for what’s right, no matter where he is, or who knows about it. I love our hero.
Things get really interesting when we learned the SOURCE shot herself in front of the DOJ building. She’s dead. I guess, the Associated Press didn’t run her story either. Does this mean Will is a free man? Well, the lawyers still want confirmation. I love how Will stands firm, “No, sir.” Over and over.
Sloan (OLIVIA MUNN) seems to be filling in for Will, emulating his tactics rather well. She sets up an interview for the tech guy who created the new STALKER APP, called NGage. The jokes are constantly firing as she “vivisects” the value of such an app with DON. This is a real strength of NEWSROOM. Constant jokes blasting us from every angle. How many jokes can possibly fit into one minute? It’s more laughs than a sitcom, that’s for sure. AARON SORKIN’s humourous commentary is more on par with an excellent STAND UP comedian.
Jim and Maggie are in RUSSIA during the Olympics. They stakeout the airport hoping to get on the same flight as EDWARD SNOWDEN. They approach the ticket counter, the employee asks, “Are you journalists?” They affirm this. She quickly retorts, “No, I don’t know where Edward Snowden is.” Dry humour at its best – this isn’t the first time she’s been asked.
And it continues, as Jim asks for different tickets (seats) for the sold out flight. He asks her to check. She refers to him as “Jim Humdrum”. He corrects, “Jim Harper… Can you check again?” She replies, “What do you think will happen the second time?” This is just one example (I can remember) of the witty back-and-forth attack of dialogue.
Jim and Maggie resort to asking other passengers to trade seats, so they can get closer to where they suspect Snowden is seated. Maggie tries to ask someone by speaking Russian. He speaks with a French accent. Jim says, “Good. French.” – implying a shared language. The Frenchman replies, “I speak English.” Haha. He doesn’t want to hear some American bastardize his language. Dry. Implied. Great.
The end result is funny too, as Jim is forced to wear oversized Sochi branded athletic wear.
And the end END result: Jim professes his “LIKE” for Maggie… You may recall that phrase from “52 days ago.”
The laughs start to dry up as we focus on much more serious subject matter. Don puts his impressive skills of deduction to good work, as he investigates a college campus rape. The victim has made an app that warns other female students by naming the “suspects.” She just wants to help stop the next attack from ever happening. This is another strength of NEWSROOM – healthy debates on important issues from the headlines.
The student was drunk at a party, passed out, and two guys carried her away for some privacy to sexually assault her. She says it should be the easiest arrest ever made, yet the authorities never pursued her charges. Don provokes her to see if she’s telling the truth, illuminating the dangers of Social Media, as he says how he found her. By posting what school she’s at, a teacher, a class, a group, where she hangs out – insignificant details leave a trail of breadcrumbs for a sleuth like Don.
Then we get into the real issue at hand. The student puts it best, “I have a whole new appreciation for the concept of consensual .” Don must assume innocence of the accusers. This website might help in this case, but what about others? He points out that a girl could lie, and use this site as revenge for breaking-up or a cheating boyfriend. Like Don pontificates, “The Internet is used for vigilantism every day.”
The victim’s best argument boils down to this (paraphrased)… “I’m scared all the time. Am I going to be raped? The site scares you? Good. It’s supposed to scare guys from NOT raping.” Don warns her, that if she goes through with this app and her accusations the media won’t be so kind to her. He talks of how a TV courtroom is “no holds barred”, her case will be a “lawless foodfight”, and she will be “slut shamed”. There will be no justice, just her reputation dragged through the mud.
Somehow, each week, NEWSROOM manages to condense such important issues into just a few minutes of dialogue. I know Will was a speech writer, but damn it if Aaron Sorkin shouldn’t be as well. Wouldn’t it be great to hear politicians talk this passionately about society’s problems?
Which leads me to SLOAN and her deconstruction of another App. She’s convinced the higher ups to let her interview the software developer live on the air. I knew she was going to provoke the truth out of this techie. And, wow, did she ever. This stalker app lets you find out where any celebrity is at any given moment. You can see who’s shopping where or who’s eating at which trendy spot.
Sloan goes all WILL here… She uses Kristen Bell as an example – “If I want to know where she is, I can just use your app and it will tell me. Don’t you think this strips them of their dignity?” Techie replies, “It’s the price of fame.” Sloan lures him, “When you say (George Clooney) is drunk at this bar, is it fact checked?” Techie, “The public don’t expect it to be true. They just want immediacy.” Sloan, “Good because he was in another country that night.”
Sloan makes her true point clear, “It’s like an electronic ankle bracelet tracking the celebrity’s every move?” Tech, “Exactly.” “So when Kristen Bell leaves the restaurant… there will be a line-up of sociopaths waiting for her.” The techie feels attacked. He warns Sloan will get in trouble. She retorts, “I’m intentionally stripping you of your dignity… And all I did was tell the truth.”
Before she signs off Sloan gets in a few more digs, like… “What is the significance of someone getting drunk at a bar?” And calling the users of the Stalker App, “A wild pack of prideless punks.” She interrupts the techie before he can reply, “This is Sloan Sabbath for ACN News, filling in for Will McAvoy.” You’re damn right… This interview was just as exciting to watch as an epic car chase.
Sloan = Will. Is she the new face of ACN? Or will she be fired for this perceived attack on software offered by her new CEO and boss?
Charlie was steaming mad. To add to it, Don returns with the results of his investigation. He’s asked if he found the assaulted victim, he says he couldn’t find her. Love it. Will’s ETHICS are rubbing off on everyone. Charlie thinks there is a “mutiny”. The CEO refers to Sloan and Don as THELMA & LOUISE. Everything boils over. All these story arcs intersect in a grand finale.
I WON’T SPOIL the end here, but I will just say it was just straight-up emotional. The name of this episode carries so much more weight during the final images.
Heh, EMMYS – Nominate this episode. It exemplifies everything NEWSROOM has to offer – from humour, to important issues, great speeches, great acting, and powerful emotions.
What did you think? Is this the best episode of this FINAL SEASON?
Does Will just need to be right – like his cellmate implied? Or does Will believe these principles whole-heartedly?
If so, how will he manage working in the new ACN climate – polluted by Social Media, and Apps like NGage Celebrity Stalking?
With writing like this how is Sorkin’s new screenplay about STEVE JOBS not made already? Surely, it can’t be that hard to replace Christian BALE? Other actors must be chomping at the bit for an opportunity like this. Remember what his writing did for JESSE EISENBERG in THE SOCIAL NETWORK?