Okay, so I didn’t quite remember exactly what happened on 5/1 which was the title of The Newsroom’s 7th Episode. The date referenced was May 1st, 2011. The Episode begins with a party at Will McAvoy’s apartment, where Charlie Skinner gets a mysterious phone call from the 2011 version of Deep Throat. The caller tells Charlie that he will get a phone call at 9:00 PM from the White House Press Secretary.
When Charlie presses him for more info, the caller simply says that he’s told Charlie all he could at the time, and that he’s only establishing his credibility. This was a pretty decent hook, as I said above I didn’t recall what that date referenced.
Meanwhile, the party continued. Will had wolfed down two pot-laced cookies brought to the party by Kaylee who is Neal’s girl friend. This on top of taking his vicodin. More on the party doings – charades, drinking games, Kaylee playing Guitar Hero blindfolded, a duet with Will and Jim, and Charlie nervously checking his watch.
Then a lengthy session with Jim and Maggie, which was interrupted when Lisa called, then back to Jim and Maggie. This was nearly four minutes of Maggie hectoring Jim. Why? Because Lisa told Jim she loved him last night – and Jim isn’t on the same page.
Why does Sorkin love these two so much? You know, Fox Mulder and Dana Scully danced this same dance for the better part of 9 seasons on The X-Files, but they at least did solve some cases. Quick quiz – can you recall any work that Jim Harper and Maggie Jordan did over the last few episodes?
Just then Charlie gets his phone call. The President of the United States will go on the air at 10:30 to make a statement that will be about matters of National Security. Amid a lot of uninformed guesses – Charlie says, ‘I think they got Bin Laden‘. But before Will, Charlie, Mackenzie, Jim, Maggie, and even Lisa, and everyone else leaves the party (4 per taxi were Mackenzie’s instructions) to rush back to the office, Sorkin takes a few moments to demonstrate that Will is under the influence of the pot-laced cookies.
Meanwhile, on an inbound flight into La Guardia, we have Elliot, Don, and Sloan who are struggling to call their contacts to find out what could be the subject of the mysterious news announcement that President Obama will make later that night. Don is edging into a state of frustration because he wants to do something and he’s being continually rebuffed by a take-no-prisoners cabin attendant who won’t let any passengers change seats until the plane has arrived and come to a complete stop at the terminal.
Will and his bodyguard get stuck in traffic, and Will decides to run for it. When Lonny, the burly bodyguard starts after him, he’s waylaid by two New York City patrolmen. Lonny says he can’t help it if he is big and black.
Back at the newsroom Mackenzie has to deal with her Washington DC anchor who wants to go public with the news. Charlie is unhappy with the two confirmations of the announcement by the POTUS, despite that one of the confirmations was by Helene Cooper of the New York Times, who had a by-line story in the NY Times the next morning. He prefers to wait for the go-ahead from the White House.
Will remains wasted…
Don remains frustrated on board, as does Sloan, and it seems that everyone on the plane, as far back as row 22 has overheard Don talking about himself, Jim, and Maggie.
Finally Charlie goes public, at least in his own newsroom. Will makes the broadcast announcement, and he is sober as a judge (thanks to his high tolerance). We find out that Kaylee’s father was a partner at Cantor Fitzgerald which was located on a very high floor at the World Trade Center, and he perished on 9-11.
Don creates a major scene on the plane, and the cabin attendant calls the pilot and First Officer to come out, and deal with Don. When Don sees the Captain’s stripes and realizes that he is on a United Airlines flight, he announces that he wanted the Captain and his officer, and cabin attendant ‘Crazy Lady’ – to be the first to know – that Osama Bin Laden had been killed that night by American Special Forces. Don will later, in the newsroom, take out his NYFD baseball cap.
Later, Lonny shows up with the two patrolmen; he needs Will to identify him, and vouch to the cops that his story was accurate.
There’s also another round of Lisa/Jim/Maggie. Lisa breaks up with him before he can break up with her. Jim then proceeds with a brand new date request with Lisa. A do-over as he describes it. This time on his own terms rather than at the behest of Maggie.
Charlie is told by his source, now called Late for Dinner, that the News Corp isn’t the only news organization that hacks their employees phones – ACN’s parent company – you know, the one with Leona Lansing at the top of the pyramid, has been engaged in similar practices. I guess that means the we can expect Leona and Reese shortly.
The show ends with President Obama walking up to a podium in the East Wing and making the announcement to the American public.
The BAD NEWS: In my view this was the weakest Episode of the season. Two segments of the Jim, Maggie, and Lisa triangle. Don and Sloan (and Elliot) trapped on a plane. Will getting wasted. Neal and his aliens theory – Neal defended this by saying that Mackenzie asked them to think way, way out of the box.
The GOOD NEWS: Charlie telling staff to take three seconds to take notice of where they are and what they’re doing. Mackenzie McHale didn’t have much to do this week, but she looked good doing it – Sorkin who has defended himself against accusations that he’s been undercutting the female characters – by saying that he has established that Maggie, Mackenzie, and Sloan as being smart – after that he’s free to have them slip on as many banana peels as he thinks is necessary.Will recovered from being wasted. Charlie Skinner toned down his scenery munching and seemed much more stable and centered. Soft tributes to the NYC Police Department, the NYC Fire Department, and the Crew of United Airlines.
The WORST POSSIBLE NEWS: The segment ran just under 53 minutes. The show closed with Obama breaking the news, and carried his voice which we heard under the closing credits. Then came the previews of what to expect (we are informed that Only Three Episodes are Left).
If at all possible, if you’ve not seen the episode yet – turn your TV off, or open a new window with anything else on it on your computer if you’re watching on hbogo.com, or change channels. I’m not going to tell you what was shown but suffice to say – there were major, MAJOR spoilers. I’m not sure why they decided to do this, but in my view, it was a poor choice, a very poor choice.
As Charlie Skinner said, you will remember this night for the rest of your lives. In fact I can recall President Obama approaching the podium and making the announcement. I was home and in front of my television that night (May 1). As for this broadcast, August 5th, 2012 – I’ll remember it as the night when The Newsroom stumbled, and stumbled badly.
The show was good once the news room swung back into action – but the antics of the characters weakened every input of the characters except for Charlie and Mackenzie. Don’ s last second save – while speaking to the United Airlines Captain – will not save the episode which was to trivialize the news and in favor the of the Maggie and Jim follies.
By the way, who is Mike Tapley?