The Newsroom: Episode 7 – 5/1 – Recap

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.

Take three seconds to take note of where you are, and what you’re doing. You’re going to remember this night for the rest of your lives.

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.

Maggie: We’re going [on the air]!

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?

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4 thoughts on “The Newsroom: Episode 7 – 5/1 – Recap

  1. I gathered that Mike Tapley is a fictional national security analyst who does talking head work for ACN.

    Your recap captured most of my feelings (my weekly rant is finally up).

    I know you don’t evaluate episodes this way, but I’ll add that Sorkin’s hate for Fox News rewrote history (sorta). TWO times during the episode, Geraldo Rivera’s coverage was pointedly mocked. Mackenzie gives Will a sarcastic look when Rivera suggests the news could be about Gaddafi (which isn’t that unreasonable) and later Charlie nastily suggests that Rivera will soon claim that the U.S. has attacked Finland.

    HOWEVER, in point of fact, Rivera actually DID predict that the president’s announcement would be about Bin Laden’s death at 10:37pm that evening. This scooped Will’s announcement by about twenty minutes.

    Also, I was a bit taken back by the glee everyone felt at what was, in effect, a summary execution. Couldn’t Sorkin have included ONE character to question the morality of it. Isn’t that the sort of thing The Newsroom is supposed to do – revisit our initial reactions to events with a calmer eye? I only ask.

    • If Sorkin hates Rivera that’s his business. And if Rivera’s show scooped the ACN broadcast so what?

      As I recall that night was filled with celebrations in the street all over the country, including right there outside the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue. Was it necessary for Sorkin to have had a doubting Thomas on the ACN staff.

      I am sure somewhere someone said – doing away with the enemy we know only brings us to have to deal with an enemy we don’t know. Which may be what you are alluding to – but I don’t see it as being something that should have been included in this episode.

      Three more episodes to go.

      • “If Sorkin hates Rivera that’s his business. And if Rivera’s show scooped the ACN broadcast so what?”

        Sorkin (who wrote it) goes out of his way to suggest that Rivera is stupid. But he offers up no evidence. They show Mac and Will shaking their head mockingly at Rivera’s Gaddafi comment. BUT that wasn’t unreasonable theory at the time. In fact, all of the networks I surfed through were postulating that (but, I guess they’re not all as smart as the ACN staff). And when it counted, in spite of Charlie’s assessment of his journalistic instincts, Rivera DID make the correct call about Bin Laden BEFORE the White House released their announcement. AND Rivera talked about it on the air BEFORE Will.

        IMHO, if you set out to smear a REAL person, do so with something substantial (such as using actual Michelle Bachmann or Rick Santorum quotes). Otherwise, it’s just taking cheap shops WHICH seem all the more empty when one considers that Rivera, the target of the barbs, turned out to be just as clever as them. This is just part of the air of pretension and superiority built into the character’s dialog on The Newsroom which approaches unintentionally comic levels (I can’t wait for the SNL skit).

        I don’t feel quite as strong about adding a character who ponders aloud the moral implications about Bin Laden’s summary execution. The episode was all about closure (often clumsily). But, FWIW, a lot of my Liberal friends did raise that very question amidst the confetti and cheering.

        If I were writing the episode, I would have jettisoned one of the seemingly endless “do you love me or not” discussions between Lisa and Jim for such a scene.

  2. All right, in the context you have provided – your position makes sense – but it only means that Rivera was the next or latest straw man that Sorkin set up to be knocked down. I agree that this makes the playing field that The Newsroom uses not level. But I can’t be upset about that. After all, all news outlets apply their own slants.

    I think Sorkin decides his targets and his news stories to go along with his political views and without caring much about the correctness of how he does it. If SNL parodies The Newsroom – I won’t care one way or another as I’ve not watched SNL for many years.

    As for the Lisa/Jim/Maggie follies I am sure that some folks care much more about that than you or I do. I’m also sure that too much of that is a waste of time that might be better spent. But I’m also sure that complaints about that have not been listened two. Seems simple enough to have Lisa to dump Jim next week after Maggie put up one of her non-denial denials about caring about Jim.

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