The Newsroom: Episode 2 – The Genoa Tip Recap

 Episode 2 of The Newsroom was called The Genoa Tip, and it is near the end of this episode that we see hear from a participant about the Operation Genoa. Because of having to establish the story lines set up in the season’s first episode – this week there were no flashbacks, and no sightings of Rebecca Halliday.  While I won’t call this episode a winner, it did have some worthy parts to it.

To begin the episode, we got Jim Harper finally getting to board the Romney campaign bus. No doubt, thanks must go to Hallie Shea (Grace Gummer) for the good word she gave to Cameron aka Clipboard Guy which went something like – Let him on the Bus.

Fast forwarding to the end of the show, when Mackenzie and Jerry Dantana have the Genoa source, USMC Gunnery Sergeant Eric Sweeney (retired), on the phone, Mack probes for the details of the covert or black ops mission known as Operation Genoa.

Mack: Are you willing to tell the name of the person you heard this from?
Jerry: She’s not understanding…
Sweeney: I didn’t hear it from anyone. I was Special Forces. I was there.

Boom – there it is. An admission from a participant that the US Forces, in the course of an extraction that freed American captives in Pakistan, used sarin gas on civilians. As Sweeney said, they (the Pakistanis) were all dead. Which would be a war crime anyway you looked at it. And, this story and its aftermath will be the basis of Season Two. So this was the really key moment of the show.

Will's non-electric 'hot-seat'

Will’s non-electric ‘hot-seat’

For sure we will see more of Hallie Shea, and we will learn how the story of Operation Genoa went bad. So readers, you now have the opening and just about the closing. What occurred in the remaining 55 minutes? Read on.

So to flesh out this episode, Maggie and Lisa, as well as Don and Jim Harper are all briefly returned to that ungainly love rectangle so we might see it play out its last dying moments. Or said another way – we get another round of the four of them. Personally I didn’t care all that much about them last year, but Aaron Sorkin needed to prolong the agony of each of them, and us for a while longer in order to create their new circumstances.

Don had broken off his relationship with Maggie, and checked into a hotel, in that order, in the least episode, and this week he wanted to run stories about convicted cop killer Troy Davis.

There was a neat exchange between Don and Will about this. Very neat. Nice to see Don as News Producer Don rather as Relationship Don. But I doubt it will last. We still have Sloan/Don looming.

After Don walked out on her, Maggie was wired so she went to ACN and slept in Sloan’s office. Then she and Sloan go to the gym, and Maggie tells the whole sordid tale of the Sex in the City Tour Bus rant to Sloan – which may have been news to Sloan – but was old bad news for us.

To compound all of this, Sloan and Maggie race off to a laundromat in Astoria Queens to get the up-loader/blogger of the video to take it down. She’s really a small fry, but she agrees to take it down when Sloan offers to tweet about her blog. Sloan has 450,000 followers. So the blogger agrees. Later we learn that she reneges.

Jim went up to New Hampshire. Not to cover the campaign but to flee away from Maggie (and Don). But this being a TV series, and Sorkin being Sorkin, where this is going is very easy to discern. The Romney folks don’t like him – he will ask too many difficult questions and he ‘s connected to Will McAvoy.  Jim Harper and Hallie Shea will ride the bus together, be at the same bars at the same time, eat the same turkey sandwiches and (surprise, surprise) a relationship will begin. Yes it will. Never mind that Hallie says, We’re competing.

Lisa, who by now knows all as she’s seen the video on YouTube, will change her relationship with Maggie from bff to landlord and tenant. Good for her.

Which will help get Maggie off to Uganda. So unless the story lines change rapidly, we won’t have any of these four people in the same place at the same time for a while. Split screens for phone conversations won’t count.

What else – Neal Sampat (Dev Patel has the role) heads downtown, on his lunch hour, to meet his contact Shelly Wexler, played by the appealing Aya Cash, from the Occupy Wall Street movement, and within moments, he has been arrested. While the first Occupy Wall Street demo garnered only a few hundred folks, this time thousands did show up – and the police weren’t buying into it – too many people wearing masks and all that (a law from the 1880’s). So Neal is arrested and led off to NYC’s First Precinct police station.

With the wonders of technology at his disposal – within the hour Will is down at the police station and with him having all the experience of being a lawyer and a former prosecutor for the DA, Will was able to run rings around the poor desk sergeant who basically had to void the arrest. Neal properly did identify himself as a member of the press, who was covering the story, rather than participating in the protest. So legally speaking – there were no grounds for his arrest.

This was rather neatly written and performed by Jeff Daniels as Will and an actor called Billy Malone who had the role of the desk sergeant. Kudos to Sorkin for this ‘extraction’ which didn’t require sarin gas, and notably did not put us to sleep.

Lisa had that lengthy diatribe/dialogue with Maggie described above. Kudos to actress Kelen Coleman for doing a great job with this scene. On the downside it was far too long. So net/net, Maggie has now lost Don, Jim, and Lisa. No wonder she wants to head off to Africa.

Charlie and Will had some talks, Will finds out that no one believed him when he said that skipping the 9-11 10th Anniversary Show was his idea, Mackenzie and Will also talked – that is AFTER Mackenzie walked into the usual watering hole Hang Chow’s, and promptly poured her drink into Will’s lap as a novel and non-traditional way of saying hello and wassup?

Then there was Sloan – was it me – or did you think that Olivia Munn as Sloan seemed exciting in ways we never saw last year. She was certainly sparking or maybe I should say creating sparks.

So I guess we will be back next week to watch Sloan and Don create some sparks together.

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