Contempt: The Newsroom Episode 4 Season 3

newsroom-season-3

While Sam Waterston as Charlie Skinner didn’t have quite the same ferociousness as Jack Nicholson’s Colonel Nathan R. Jessup, in the classic A Few Good Men, the moment was almost a perfect match. And why not – both were penned by Aaron Sorkin. ‘You messed with the wrong marine’ never came out of Charlie’s mouth, but nonetheless, he had to be restrained from ripping the eyes out of Lucas Pruitt’s head. It was a terrific moment during The Newsroom’s 4th Episode, in this the final season.

This episode was like a roller coaster with its scenes of exhilarating verbal histrionics including rapid-fire exchanges of exquisite excitement, which were followed by moments of utter triviality and boorish behavior.

And yes, as to the boorish – I mean you Jim Harper, you judgemental prick.

I remember, and doesn’t it seem so long ago,  when Will McAvoy used to work as the news anchor on ACN’s News Night who knocked over one straw man after another. Will has performed that task, delivering the news, only once this season, and that was on Opening Night. Since then Will’s only moment in the newsroom’s broadcast studio was when he had a lengthy chat with Neal Sampat. Last night Will was reduced to saying “No sir” to the DOJ’s guy in a Grand Jury room, then in a judge’s chambers, or in a court room. There was a slight variation later, near the very end of the episode, when Will said ‘I do’… but that’s getting ahead of ourselves.

The title of the episode was Contempt, which fit perfectly because, to the surprise of no one, in contempt was where Will McAvoy was deemed to be; an inevitable destination for one who uttered ‘No Sir’ that many times.

So following his City Hall wedding to Mackenzie, an ad hoc hitching (so Mack wouldn’t have to testify against Will in the future) executed without a single glitch, an agida free affair unlike any other wedding that came before or will follow after,

Will was manacled and led away by US Marshals. Instead of heading off to the Honeymoon Suite at one of New York’s swankiest hotels, he was marched off to The Tombs, the NYC jail, just a few blocks away.

Yes, as the episode ended, Will would soon be changing into an orange prison jump suit discarding his black Armani wedding suit. Will we ever have Will back in the anchor spot?

Where have you gone, Mr. McAvoy
A nation turns its lonely eyes to you (woo, woo, woo)

Though just married. Mackenzie found herself suddenly single, at least in the present and physical tense. Mackenzie didn’t toss her wedding bouquet over her shoulder, she simply handed it off to Sloan.

Thois seems so long ago, and at the time, I'd have bet that it would never happen...

This seems so long ago, and at the time, I’d have bet that Sloan and Don would never happen…

And speaking of Sloan, is there an Emmy in your future for Supporting Actress in a TV Drama – didn’t she look smashing as she and Charlie exited the taxi cab and marched in to ACN’s office building on the corner of 42nd and 6th. Of course they were exhilarated having just lunched with Toni Dodd, who we would find out later, played a big con on them; almost as good as the one played on Doyle Lonnegan by Gondorff and Hooker in The Sting, 41 years ago.

That wasn’t the only con in this episode. We found out that the HR dude, who had sworn to prove that Sloan and Don were a couple, despite their howling protestations that they were not any such thing, knew all along that they were by virtue of a We Are a Couple document signed and submitted by Sloan. So he played with Don’s head as he waited for the perfect moment to catch them in a clinch. Yeah, it was a con on all of us, Don, Sloan, and those of us who shall be collectively called, the audience. Sorry, but the overall effect or impact was Oh really – what was the point? Well the point was simply to hoodwink all of us. Yes, it worked, but I am less than impressed.

Speaking of less than impressed, we can now have a look at Jim Harper, a 21st century newsman, with mid 20th century ideals about who and how the news is made. Of course Harper is just an extension of Sorkin. Harper speaks the words that come from Sorkin, and you know something, Sorkin is more than half right about some of it. Non professionals with a Twitter account, and with or without a working idea of the New York Times Style Book, can post an item on the net, and the world jumps on as if it is a news wagon oracle speaking the newest and latest truths. This happened (really!) just yesterday when a 14-year-old tweeted about a trade of LA Dodger Matt Kemp to the Baltimore Orioles for Bud Norris and Dylan Bundy; which hit the net. as ‘news’ and got legs immediately – that is until the real professionals heard about it. Of course there was no such trade, and that Twitter post was quickly debunked.

But this is what Sorkin is speaking to us about. He holds up a Lucas Pruitt character so we can shudder in revulsion. Then he points Hallie Shea in the same direction. She joins an outfit called Carnivore where she’s paid a salary and bonuses depending on the number of page views. This isn’t journalism says Mr. Harper. In fact, he’s so burnt up about it, he discusses it with Maggie Jordan. Meanwhile Hallie writes a ‘personal piece’ for Carnivore thinly disguising her boyfriend Jim as Tim. No one is fooled.

Okay Mr. Sorkin, you are free to make jokes at the expense of today’s technologically gathered, fueled, and disseminated info which poses as news. But in doing so, you’ve destroyed a character named Harper. And why must we be dragged against our will, still, through this never-ending story of Maggie and Jim.

The horror!

As the show winds down – only two episodes remain – we will likely be treated to scenes of Will in his prison garb orange, and Neal Sampat returning from Caracas. Why not – even Homeland’s Nicholas Brody returned from Caracas. As did Elizabeth McCord in last night’s Madam Secretary. Sloan and Don will stay together, and maybe Will and Mack will journey off to Italy and take up residence in a coastal villa as did Ari Gold and his Missus to end Entourage. As for Maggie and JIm – I choose to leave this one unspoken.

I’ll close this post by quoting Charlie Skinner:

We don’t do good TV, we do the news. The key words being ‘ we don’t do good TV’. How true!

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