I’m not sure what to say. Actually, I meant to say that I wasn’t sure what I was watching. I tuned in to The Newsroom Episode 4 entitled I’ll Try to Fix You, but as we got into this episode, somehow I thought I was watching a show gleefully called The Will McAvoy Follies. Sorkin may have forgotten that he was doing The Newsroom because he grabbed a stunt from Smash.
I believe I did mention it in my Smash recaps. Yeah – the drink-tossed-in-your-face stunt. We got this not once, not twice, but three times in the first 45 minutes with Will the recipient all three times. McAvoy became Page 6 fodder after the 1st one. Then after the third time, the stakes were raised as Will was splashed all over the cover of one of those supermarket tabloids. But more on that later.
So Episode 4 begins with Will in a tux, sitting in his office. He’s taking a smoke break. It is New Year’s Eve and there’s a party going on in the newsroom. Mackenzie comes in and asks Will to give Wade (Mack’s boyfriend) a few minutes as he has some facts that he wants to share with Will. Wade is an Assistant US Attorney for the Southern District. His job is to prosecute financial crimes. Will expresses the hope that Wade (and his associates) would do a better job.
That’s what Wade wants to discuss.
But before we get that we cut away back to the party. Neal is pitching his Big Foot slash Species premise. Neal’s new girl friend Kaila arrives. As he puts it ‘girl friend‘ is a bit strong of a term. That leaves us with Maggie and Jim Harper. Until Don arrives with an idea – Don wants to fix up Maggie’s roommate Lisa with Jim Harper. Obviously Don’s wheels are turning. Lisa shows up at 10 minutes to midnight. Despite Maggie’s protestations, the introductions are made. As ‘Fun Don’ drags Maggie away, Maggie grabs Tess and says, Kill me, kill me now, do it now … (someone is distressed I’d say).
Wade tells Will that the Congressional funding for the Department of Justice’s financial crimes investigations] has been slashed from 165 million to 30 million. Wade describes it as ‘rolling over’ for the G.O.P., so Wade, and his associates are in a lose/lose scenario. Not enough funds to hire more lawyers, prosecutors, and researchers. The banks can out man the DOJ, and outlast the DOJ as the litigation is dragged through the courts forever. Will says, Are you telling me that the Department of Justice is getting out-lawyered? Wade agrees, and Will sees it for what it is – a good news story. But before Will can head out to the party, there’s a brief tussle/spat with Mackenzie. She says, Congress de-funded the DOJ. I thought you’d want to hear that. Will – I did.
Will emerges from his office, and while he is gazing at the party, Sloan Sabbith appears next to him. There’s some small talk and Sloan suggest that Will talk to someone at the party, especially that blond woman who just crossed into their view.
Two things have just been put into play – Will and Sloan (for the future) and Will and the blond woman who is Nina Howard. Mackenzie comes in and asks Sloan, Why is Will talking to Nina Howard. Nina is a gossip columnist for TMI? Mackenzie and Sloan both say, Oh, Will shouldn’t be talking with her.
Oh how right they are. Will would be safer with a cobra. Mackenzie and Sloan try to warn him off. Will’s not listening. Will and Nina continue to flirt and Nina tells will about her latest project – a ‘takedown’ piece. The countdown to New Years begins. Nina suggest they kiss and then they’d see what happens. As the clock strikes 12:00 and Nina leans in for a kiss – Will decides that to play with this woman would have consequences. He fends her off. Then we get a Sorkin speech from Will about the negative aspects of the gossip press. Nina doesn’t like it and offers a Fuck You to Will. As she tries to walk off, Will grabs her arm to spin her around further the discussion which got nasty.
To make a long story short – Nina hurls her drink into Will’s face, and the next day Will is splashed all over Page 6 accused of groping Nina Howard at the ACN New Years Eve party. The Page Six columnist referred to the incident as a ‘drunken pass‘ at Ms Howard. Charlie Skinner isn’t pleased.
Obviously Will isn’t either. He tells Charlie what happened, he wasn’t ‘groping’ he was ‘fending off’ an unwanted kiss, and No thanks, he doesn’t want the ACN publicity department to draft a response to the Page Six.
Will heads out to the pitch meeting – where he’s greeted by the News Night staff all dousing Will with water. This is Round Two of the Will McAvoy Follies. Will says, By the way I didn’t grope anyone, and Mackenzie says, I went along with the stunt due to peer pressure. More from Neal on Big Foot. Just two stories gain a foothold. Obama’s trip to India is pegged at costing the taxpayers $200 Million a Day, and the story of Obama going after Guns. He’s not but the Right says he is.
In that night’s broadcast Will opens with clips and sounds bytes from Former Governor Sarah Palin, Fox host Glenn Beck, radio’s Rush Limbaugh, and the NRA Executive Vice-President Wayne LaPierre all of whom accuse Obama of going after guns. Will then launches his own editorial; this is really Sorkin’s ‘weekly’ editorial but verbalized by Will – but we’ve not only come to expect as much, but we also know it with a certainty. Will goes on to say that despite the remarks made by Palin, Beck, LaPierre, and Limbaugh, all of which accuse Obama of being anti-gun, the actual case is the opposite. Will says that’s what they’re doing – lying about Obama’s stance on guns – and he doesn’t know why. But he’s willing to offer up some evidence about gun sales, So Palin, LaPierre, Beck, and Limbaugh are likely lying to improve their own ratings and to place Obama under a negative light. So sayeth Sorkin, sorry, make that Will McAvoy. And we’ll be right back …
Meanwhile back at the dating front – first we have Lisa about to go out with Jim Harper. She’s concerned that Jim will think she’s dumb. Maggie tries to talk Lisa out of that idea. Lisa buys into it – but we see, and we’re not surprised, that Maggie is still not quite ready to see Jim and Lisa as a couple, or more accurately Jim with anyone.
Will brings his date back to his apartment. She’s a bit tipsy and wet, so Will gives her the go ahead to get something out of his closet. Any thing but the yellow taffeta. The date asks, Wanna get high? Will says he used to but he can no longer do so because he can’t buy pot without it showing up in the news. She tells him she’s got a stash in the side pocket of her purse. Can you get it out?
Will opens her purse and finds a Walther PPKS .38 caliber pistol – and it is loaded. Carrie – can we talk about this gun in your purse? She believes, as a South Liberal that sex and guns are fine. It’s Northern liberals who... Will interrupts to say, I’m a Republican from Nebraska, and do you mind if I .. he expertly unloads to weapon and hands it back to her. You’re disarming (wink-wink). She says ‘Get it? I saw your show tonight. I’m a liberals liberal. I work for Hillary. You’re dead wrong about guns.’ Will says, I didn’t take a position on guns, I took a position on lying. I came out against it. Carrie defends her right to carry a gun by saying on New York streets, a woman must be able to protect herself. In a flash, Will gets the gun away from her. She says, Is it wrong to be turned on by what just happened. Will says Yes [it's wrong].
That was Chapter three of the Will McAvoy Follies. More to follow. The next day, just during a break in the broadcast, Sloan asks Will, How was she? Will replies that she was packing heat. Sloan says, Didn’t I tell you? Will: No, packing heat as in armed [with a loaded gun]. Will won’t be seeing her again. Sloan asks Will to wait awhile before dating some one else – because Carrie is one of those who get crazy jealous.
After the broadcast, Maggie comes around to ask Jim Harper about his date with Lisa. Okay he says. Will you be seeing her again? I don’t think so. Just wasn’t meant to be. Maggie doesn’t say so, but we know that this is what she wanted to hear.
Which leads us to Will’s next date. It turns out that Will’s date is a person who likes, enjoys, and thrives on the gossip columns. Which leads Will into saying some stuff he shouldn’t have. Which leads to the date tossing her drink in Will’s face before storming out of the bar. Will says, I can’t believe how often this is happening. Wouldn’t you agree that the Will McAvoy Follies is adding an unexpected bit of levity to the show? But before we get too giddy…
Cut to Don and Maggie in bed. The topic is Jim and Lisa. Now Jim had stated that he wasn’t going to see Lisa again. Don thinks that he may have lied and suggest that Maggie call him about this economic news story that he has up on his lap- top. When Maggie reaches Jim, Don calls Lisa’s phone which can be heard ringing. So Lisa and Jim were together. And Don just went out of his way to engineer that Maggie find out about it.
We too also find out something. Will has been summoned to Charlie Skinner’s office where Charlie reads out loud an article in the Post about Will getting another drink tossed in his face. It’s those no longer cute Will McAvoy Follies appearing in the press – and incorrectly to boot. The story accused Will of stiffing the waiter. Which wasn’t the case. But how did this story get into the papers this fast? That’s the real question.
After Charlie had his talk with Will, Will runs into Sloan. Whoa, Carrie is freaking out – she’s sooo jealous says Sloan, followed by I asked you not get stories about you womanizing into papers again. Now she’s going to shoot you.
No, she won’t shoot me, says Will, because I’ll be using you as a human shield. And I wasn’t womanizing, I was dating. And do you think I tipped off the press? Cute – but it is just the appetizer folks. This verbal fore-play between Sloan and Will makes me more than certain that Will and Sloan will be an item down the road.
Okay, the Will follies next takes a back seat to another Will McAvoy/Aaron Sorkin editorial. This time it is Obama’s India trip. Lies, lies, and more lies. By Limbaugh, by Glenn Beck, and by Michelle Bachmann. The President is not traveling with an entourage of 3000 people. Every room in the Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai has not been booked for the Presidential party, and 34 naval warships (14% of the entire US Navy) have not steamed into India’s waters (Mumbai). Will closes the segment by expressing that Beck, Limbaugh, and Bachmann should be required to register, like sex offenders, wherever they go for the rest of their lives. And we’re out. Nice show.
I meant – the news broadcast is over; not the show. Cut to Will’s bedroom. He can’t sleep. Nothing in the fridge interests him, and he’s up by dawn’s early light. Charlie calls asking Will to come into the office at 11:00 It is Saturday, and Will is supposed to be off on the weekend. Will agrees to come in. What’s up?, he wonders.
We find out before Will does. The Will McAvoy Follies have just made the cover of the TMI Magazine – My Night With Will McAvoy: Sex, Drugs, and Guns. Wow! This magazine is a supermarket tattler sheet if there ever was one. But before that, Neal, as in One-Note Neal has called his own meeting. He’s still pitching the Species Puzzle as a story possibility. This is a tired tale getting its 3rd go-round this show. Also not to be missed – is an another meaningful exchange of looks, sorry – make that another exchange of meaningful looks between Jim Harper and Maggie Jordan. Do you think we will soon be witnessing another heavy meeting between these two? I do. Especially since when Neal asks if anyone agrees with his theory about the Apex Predator, Jim Harper says no, and Maggie then says, Careful, when Jim says no he really means I’m sleeping with your roommate. On that jaw-dropping note, Will arrives. And seconds later Charlie arrives with the magazine in hand.
Time for another Charlie / Will talk. Postpone Jim and Maggie for the moment. We’ll circle back to that shortly. As will Sorkin. But Charlie has Don and Mackenzie in for his meeting. Mackenzie wants to know if Will keeps guns in his house. Sure, a vast collection, and sometimes for fun I go to the park and shoot dogs…Mack is just asking.
Meanwhile Neal drones on about local myths like Sasquatch, and others of that ilk. Maggie pipes in, Here we find local myths like Jim not being a liar. I’d say that remark was the other shoe dropping – so a shootout between Will and Maggie is imminent. Jim is pissed that Maggie called him out in a staff meeting. Maggie is upset because Jim lied to her. Neal is upset too – Sorry this isn’t sound proof glass. The assembled staff heard every word. A new venue is needed asap.
Jim apologizes about lying. Maggie’s not buying Jim’s explanation about how lying – this time – was a good thing. Maggie says I have no idea what you’re talking about. Jim says, Don was the one who fixed us up? Don was the one who called Lisa? Then Don knows what I’m talking about. This catches Maggie’s attention. Big time. Jim has just connected the dots for her.
Back in Charlie’s office, questions are asked. Damage control is needed. When Will protests that this isn’t the Rupert Murdoch News Corp. This is us. Charlie suddenly gets it.
The whole thing – all these embarrassing stories have all been engineered by Leona Lansing. Of course – Charlie says that TMI (the tattler-like tabloid) is owned by AWM, which is the ACN network’s parent company. That’s how Nina Howard knew the cost of the tuxedo. Leona had given Charlie the exact same gift as a Christmas present the year before.
Wow – we now see how the whole thing was done. Leona used Will’s gaffes, his propensity to play without thinking about it too much – to arrange the context she needed to able to fire Will. You remember what she said, don’t you? I’ve got a good job Charlie. Now do you want to play golf or fuck around?
There it is – the root cause. Charlie has to tell Will what he didn’t know. His meeting with Leona now comes to light. Okay Will is now out there on the thinnest of ice. A big time save is needed.
Just then, Maggie sees something on the ticker. Arizona Republican Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords has just been shot. Maggie rushes in, interrupting the Charlie/Will/Don/Mackenzie meeting and at once the ACN News Night team swings into action. All of this takes us through the last ten minutes of tonight’s episode.
There’s plenty of suspense to this as well. Reese comes rushing in, bitching and moaning about the 1000′s viewers that are being lost while ACN checks the facts. Reese points out that Fox and other networks are running the story that Giffords has died. Reese insists on ACN getting on board with that story. Charlie resists, Will resists. Tick tock. Finally, Maggie gets a confirmation. Gabrielle Giffords hasn’t died, she’s being wheeled into surgery.
Truth has prevailed. Integrity has saved the day. Instead of looking silly like Fox and the other networks that led with the wrong story, Will and the ACN team came out winners. The Leona and Reese combine have been thwarted. For the time being but that story is far from dead.
Summary: Not as good as Episodes one and three. But far better than Episode 2. I’m kind of bored with the Jim Harper/Maggie/Don story. We all know how that one will play out – the Jim and Lisa chapter notwithstanding. Sorkin is just spinning his wheels with it. He’s buying time, and providing us with manipulative filler.
The Will McAvoy Follies were fun, but they’ve likely got only a short shelf-life. Waiting in the wings is Will and Sloan. Count on it. Also still to come is Charlie vs Leona Round Two. And more of the Mackenzie and Will circus.
I’m also sure that Bigfoot and Sasquatch will be written out as well. Neal has some dimensions to him, so he should be more than a one-note guy popping in and out like a cuckoo clock.
I liked the way Sorkin shortened most of the sermons/editorials from the Will McAvoy/Aaron Sorkin pulpit. I felt less ‘preached to’ than in prior weeks. The Guns and Obama India Travels editorials were fun – but they remain as Will and the Straw Men. Will takes on Limbaugh, Beck, Bachmann and company and by logic Will will always win because his editorials are always unopposed. And never responded too.
Be back next week with Episode Five – Amen. C-ya.