By Josh Axelrod
“The Newsroom” is finally back for its third and final season, and I for one was quite excited about its return. I’ve been a “Newsroom” apologist even when it was blatantly bad television, so watching it become legitimately good TV feels extra special to me. If the Season 3 premiere is any indication, we’re in for another tense season of newsroom politics and outside parties trying to take down Atlantic Cable News.
“Boston” picked up on April 15, 2013, the day of the Boston Marathon bombing. Before the chaos started, the ACN crew were just going about their daily lives. Will and Mac were discussing Will’s lack of close male groomsmen to match Mac’s nine bridesmaids. Maggie was in the middle of an intense medicine ball workout. Don was dealing with jury duty. Like true journalists, everyone stopped whatever they were doing to get on this story.
The news process had clearly changed quite a bit at ACN in the wake of Operation Genoa. Everyone was much more hesitant to report anything about the bombing until they were 100 percent sure the information they were reporting was accurate. While everyone argued about what to report and when, they were scooped by at least two other networks (including FOX). Charlie and Reese Lansing were not happy about this, but when ACN did get on the air, they were confident their information was fair and true.
In order to better cover the bombing, ACN wanted to send Elliot Hirsch and a producer to Boston. Jim volunteered Maggie, and everyone was hesitant to give her such a huge responsibility. Jim defended her, and Mac sent her and Elliot to the Boston.
Maggie proceeded to do some expert digging and ended up with a juicy story involving a high school friend of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Right before their broadcast, Elliot ate some chicken salad with walnuts and his tongue swelled up due to allergies. This forced Maggie to go on air to report the story, and she crushed it. As Charlie remarked: “I feel like she aged 10 years this week.” Jim swooned.
It’s a testament to how well his show redeemed Maggie last season that her moment of triumph here felt so well-earned. More importantly, it was clear that Jim still has feelings for Maggie. Though I will say, I like Hallie. She’s sassy, a great journalist and (subjectively) more attractive than Maggie. Jim’s got to sort his feelings out, but his options here are pretty strong.
Elsewhere, it appeared that what Don has really can’t be taught. It was heavily implied that he and Sloan had been hooking up ever since their kiss last season. She even more a dress with the tag still on it to breakfast with a source. At least the source gave her valuable information about two companies in takeover talks.
Don and Sloan have great chemistry, much better than Mac and Will. Their banter is pure Sorkinese, as in too witty for real life. But between arguing about what was a pun and a double entendre (they’re both so lovably awkward), they actually got did some great reporting. Sloan’s love of puzzles shone through here, and she figured out that ACN is actually in the midst of a hostile takeover. Reese, as usual, wasn’t too happy to hear that news.
Sloan told him that right after Neal accidentally admitted to, as Will put it, “conspiring to commit espionage.” See, some guy sent Neal over 27,000 government documents that contained some tantalizing information. He got these files from a flash drive that was left for him in some random toilet at some random restaurant, so our whistleblower is clearly a bit paranoid.
Neal made the mistake of asking him to send him more files in a different format, which was basically coaxing him to commit a crime. Will told Neal that he was going to have to lawyer up, and it looks like we’re in for another legal battle going forward. Hopefully this one won’t be as drawn out as the one involving Genoa was.
On top of ACN being sold and Neal getting in trouble, Reese told everyone that ACN is now a fourth-place network. This almost prompted Will to quit out of sheer frustration. Then he realized that he couldn’t sit idly by and watch social media and citizen journalism take over the news dissemination process. His final words were perfect as an allegory for both his current uphill battles and show’s fate: “We’re not in the middle of a third act. We just got to the end of the first.” CHILLS.
Seriously, I love “The Newsroom.” And this episode exemplified everything that makes this show so entertaining. Don and Sloan were being adorkable together, Will was barking orders while being slyly funny and every member of the ACN team got a chance to shine. Plus, some solid journalism was done in the process, this week being the commendable handling of the Boston Marathon bombing. Now let’s get Maggie and Jim back together without crushing Hallie too much.
Most Sorkin Line of the Week: “Euripides can suck it. We were supposed to get down from the tree this week!”
Most Awkwad Sloan Sabbath Line: “I don’t mind that you’re dumb Don. And I mean that.”