20-19-3-2-14. These are not lotto numbers. If you saw the show, then you know exactly what these numbers mean.
The mile-a-minute dialogue between Don Keefer and Rebecca Halliday got the show off and running to a rousing start. Actually, maybe – spectacular start may be a more fitting description. Because Don couldn’t buy into the fact that they needed lawyers, as he believed that the Dantana lawsuit was frivolous.
DON: Simply, Dantana had cooked the interview. He had taken a pair of scissors to the raw footage, and now he’s suing us. How stupid is that.
Don continued – You can’t be stupid and have haircuts this good, but Halliday was that good, and she knew exactly what she was doing. She said that Dantana is claiming he was the scapegoat.
Next came the weave – that is, bits and pieces of other depositions, or maybe they were just preliminary interviews, in front of Halliday and her sartorially splendid staff. There was Jim, and Maggie, and Sloan, and Neal, and even Will – all of whom were hooked, and hauled out of the water and onto the boat by Halliday. Better they were on the boat than if they continued to swim around in the murky waters they were already in and if they continued in those waters, it could lead to the drowning of all of their careers.
As much as we didn’t like where we were heading which was for Halliday to eventually arrive at the same place that was the basis of Jerry Dantana’s lawsuit – that ACN was guilty of a wrongful termination. Specifically that the inaccuracy of ACN’s reporting of the ‘Chemical warfare in Operation Genoa’ was in truth, an institutional failure – meaning that people above Dantana’s pay grade were equally responsible – yet Dantana was the only one fired.
Once we got that out in the open, we viewers had now been brought up to the same place of where we were when Season 2 began – with ACN staff being interviewed by Halliday.
Yes, they got the story wrong. There was a lengthy and heartfelt recitals of how it happened or discussions of what they thought and did by Don, and Jim, and Maggie, and Sloan, and Neal, and even Will about how the vetting played out. We saw the Stomtonovich statements, the Sweeney interviews, and even the Valenzuela pre-interview interview. The more we saw, the worse it looked.
Ultimately – they talked themselves into doing the story or as Charlie said, All right we’re going. Lock it down. Then we got some of the broadcast which produced the through the roof ratings. Will and Charlie congratulated each other the next morning. Will made a statement about the ratings being so good that they were an ‘I Love Lucy‘ number. The I Love Lucy series was the most viewed show on all of television for four of the six seasons it ran. So News Night was in good, no make that very good company.
Only there was no comment, feedback, or pushback from the D.O.D. Not yet.
But there would be and it would be in the strongest possible terms – the DOD didn’t say the story was false, they said it was absolutely false. We then heard the kind of language that we usually read about in press releases, or newspaper columns – we are considering the use of any and all legal means -yadda yadda – to refute the story.
Stomtonovich said what he said, not what Dantana’s cut and paste job showed to ACN’s largest audience in history. We heard that Sweeney never told them about the TBI until he mentioned it in a follow-up interview with Elliot Hirsch the next night. MacKenzie believed she had asked Valenzuela far too many leading questions.
And the most damning of all – that Charlie Skinner’s spook had given Charlie a bogus helo manifest as payback for ACN firing his son which lead to the boy’s drug use and death. We were shocked to our core when this fellow gave Charlie a stunning backhand slap across the face. No doubt Charlie was shocked too, as he said nothing.
When Will was interviewed he launched a standard Sorkin history lesson. You know the kind – the kind with a slant.
Of course this was the best speech that Sorkin had given Will in weeks. Even though it was interrupted a few times, which may have diluted it to a degree, it was still dynamic and forceful. Especially since Halliday et al did not interrupt Will.
We learned that if 15-year-old Claudette Colvin had not been unmarried and pregnant at the time of her arrest for not giving up her seat on a bus, in Montgomery, on March 2nd of 1955 – we might never had ever heard of Martin Luther King Jr..
We learned that if Guiseppi Zangara had not stood on a wobbly chair, the barrage of bullets, fired by Zangara, that killed Chicago Mayor Anton Cermak, may have struck the President-Elect Franklin Delano Roosevelt on that fateful day, February 15th, 1933. If FDR had been killed, the Presidency would have passed to John Nance Garner, who was strongly against FDR’s New Deal legislation. Per Will (Sorkin) – except for the wobbly chair, we might never have had The New Deal and we’d never have escaped from The Great Depression.
Will continued along the same lines with Part III. January 28th, 1986 – because the O-rings hadn’t been tested to see how they held up in the cold – The Challenger lifted off and 73 seconds into the flight it converted itself into a bomb and detonated. Who knew to test for the cold in South Florida. Only that day, the temps had fallen to 18. So the O-rings failed.
Will’s point: Sometimes, it just the one thing that goes wrong.
This was easily the best episode of the season. However it wasn’t perfect. The sorority girl now intern did the overnight book, and Neal had to keep the paper that discussed Lady Gaga‘s cleavage. Neal once again spoke too rapidly as did Don. For once Sloan spoke slowly through out an entire episode.
They managed to squeeze in the story about Benghazi which may have been fine about setting a date, or it may have been inserted to show us that ACN went with a popular story without having all the facts.
One of the last scenes was Jane Fonda as Leona Lansing refusing to accept the resignations of Will, Charlie and Mack – two months later. This was a lot of histrionics by Fonda, but it was two months later, and it sort of broke up the flow.
We did see MacKenzie fire Dantana but it seemed like Sorkin beat us over the head with how Mackenzie finally pieced it together. First Don asked about why the TV was in the Stomtonovich interview. Then Mack asks about the clocks in sports broadcasts – she asked if other sports had clocks to measure this ‘enforced pacing’. Then a staffer brought one of the clocks to her desk. That was a bit too much overkill. We all knew – surely there were enough clues.
But Mack did have the three best moments in the whole show -
a) She’s reading the DOD response on her monitor. Watch how her face goes dark.
b) She goes down the hall and tells Will – we have a problem
c) After she’s looked at Dantana’s doctored footage – she will come back to the conference room. Her face is wet, and her eyes are brimming with tears. We have to retract the Genoa story. All of it. Tonight.
In my opinion – Emily Mortimer, as MacKenzie McHale knocked all of those three out of the park. But those were just brief moments. The best scene in the episode was the elevator scene with Mack and Jerry. It began with You forgot the shot clock, and then no one … no one… no one… will ever trust us gain. You’re fired.
One more highlight – The usual romantic segments were mostly all on vacation this week. The exception was when Sloan and Don mildly flirted. Sloan dropped in a Shawshank reference, then told Don that messages from boys are often unclear. The Shawshank reference was just Sorkin showing off, and btw, Don was not getting the Sloan remark about boys and messages. But it seems likely he will be sending out some strong messages of his own. After all, there are only two episodes left this season.
OORAH! Until next time.