By Josh Axelrod
I continue to be weirdly into everything that’s going down on “The Newsroom.” I recognize that it’s not “Mad Men”-level TV, but for some reason everything happening with ACN feels just as grandiose and important as the wheelings and dealings of Sterling Cooper Draper Price. Of course, the stakes have now been raised for Neal and Will McAvoy considerably.
We began right where we left off last week, with the FBI searching the ACN newsroom for evidence that could connect Neal to espionage. While Will cooperated, everyone else pretended to prepare a live broadcast of the search. The FBI acknowledged they were probably bluffing, but Molly still decided to call off the investigation for the moment. ACN 1, FBI 0.
A quick conversation between Will, Rebecca, Charlie and Mac revealed that Will does indeed know the identity of Neal’s source. This put WIll in a dangerous position, but being the pompous blowhard he is, he believed he was too big of a TV star for the FBI to ever consider bringing him to court. Plus, as Rebecca kept reminding everyone, no journalist has ever been prosecuted under the Espionage Act.
As the newsroom got back to work, Maggie went to Jim for help running her story about the EPA carbon dioxide report she got last episode. Jim acted liked a condescending prick to her, which is the most palpable proof we’ve had this season that he still has feelings for her. He still agreed to help her make the story more interesting, though begrudgingly.
Reese, Leona and Charlie had a meeting about the ACN sale (half this episode involved meetings between three or four characters). Leona had no idea how to raise the $4 billion necessary to stop Savannah Capital from taking their money and dissolving ACN. Charlie decided that the best way to deal with this was to spin off ACN with another buyer who would keep them going. Hold that thought.
Jim was a jerk to a lot of women this week. He was still worried that other outlets would hire Hallie just to get dirt on ACN. He also chastised her for a contract with her new employer (Carnivore, which sounds very Buzzfeed-esque) that included bonuses for page views. Hallie was totally right about Jim being a news dinosaur. Journalism is run by clicks and views these days Jim. Get used to it.
This week’s Don-and-Sloan conflict could escalate in the coming weeks if the two don’t play their relationship cards right. Don had a meeting with the new vice president of human resources over Gary apparently being a serial womanizer in the office. The human resources guy proceeded to threaten Don, telling him that if he found proof that he and Sloan were dating, he would have Sloan transferred to a bureau in another city. We don’t like him very much.
It seemed Jim paid attention to his conversation with Hallie, and tried to make Maggie’s story as attention-grabbing as possible to garner more clicks. Maggie called him out on that and correctly diagnosed that this had more to do with Hallie’s new job than Maggie’s story. She also correctly said that Jim was probably supportive of Hallie but in the most condescending way possible. Maggie really knows Jim. Just get these two back together already.
Mac and Molly met in a steam room to discuss the case against Neal. The FBI found evidence of espionage on Neal’s hard drive, and Molly strongly advised Mac to get in touch with Neal if anyone knew where he was. Mac asked JIm and Don if they knew anyone who could reach Neal, and they said they’d get on it.
Paul Lieberstein returned as Richard Westbrook, the EPA guy who decided to be interviewed by Will about the carbon dioxide report. He then went full Toby Flenderson and told Will that there was nothing human beings could do to reverse our planet’s eventual environmental collapse. This exchange summed it up pretty well:
Will: “Are you going to get in trouble for saying this publicly?”
Richard: “Who cares?”
Friday came around, and Will, Neal, Rebecca and Charlie traveled to D.C. to meet with an FBI interrogator. He hates journalists and the University of Nebraska (Will’s alma mater), and he told Will and company that they know Neal is hiding in Venezuela. It certainly now looks like Neal is running from something. Will tried to cooperate with the guy, but after the interregator insulted everyone at the table, Will decided it was time to go.
The next evening was the White House Correspondent’s Dinner. Hallie and Jim were there together unhappily. Maggie took Jack Spaniel, the ethics professor she met on the train last week. Don and Sloan went together, though denied their couple status to the human resources guy in a hilariously awkward Sloan rant.
Three major things happened at the dinner:
- Charlie met Lucas Pruitt (B.J. Novak!!!), who he was planning to sell ACN to in order to keep it out of Blair Lansing’s hands. Pruitt seemed genuinely interested in the news business, but had some pretty crazy ideas for keeping ACN afloat. Charlie left that conversation wondering if this was really the solution to keeping ACN on the air.
- Neal’s source (Lilly Hart, played by Clea DuVall) approached Mac. Lilly gave her 96 hours to air the story, or she would run it herself.
- Will was subpoenaed by the FBI to testify in court about Neal’s source. It looks like he isn’t as big of a TV star as he thinks he is.
Most Sorkin Line of the Week: “If I was a man with no choices I’d kill myself.” -Lucas. B.J. Novak is amazing at being pretentious.
Most Awkward Sloan Sabbath Line: “You think I’m dating the EP of a 10 p.m. newscast that barely outrates reruns of ‘Don’t Shoot Me?’” Way to remind Don exactly how much better you are than him.