If you don’t have a way to push the story forward, then take the easy way out, and circle back to the beginning,
Of course, using that as my lead would be not quite correct. The Newsroom brought down the curtain for the final time tonight, and strangely enough, Aaron Sorkin waited until the last 10 minutes or so to push the story ahead into the future.
The actual length of this, the final episode, was about 65 minutes or so. I guess they found the extra time that they had saved in the earlier episodes this season. Aside from the fact that Charlie Skinner died at the end of the previous episode, this episode ended on a series of definite upticks.
And that means that I am not going to take Sorkin out behind the shed for a good old-fashioned critical ‘whipping’. In short I’m saying that I rather enjoyed this last episode called What Kind of a Day Has It Been. Basically everyone and all the dangling couples, lovers, jobs , and uncertainty has been wrapped up in many ‘happy endings’, and kudos to Sorkin for doing so.
In fact he ended this show with Will McAvoy speaking the words that were the title of the very first episode of The Newsroom which aired on June 24, 2012. Do you remember them?
We Just Decided To.
But getting there wasn’t easy. To borrow from A Tale of Two Cities – It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Meaning that The Newsroom , which totaled 25 episodes, provided a kind of television that could be called exhilarating. It was also at times, silly, or exasperating, or pedantic as we watched as McAvoy spoke to us from his Sorkin pulpit. Or Sorkin wrote some maddening stuff for the female characters. Or at worst – who really cares if Maggie Jordan and Jim Harper ever find their way.
I loved Charley Skinner. He gave new meaning to the words cantankerous as well as curmudgeonly. When he was hopping mad, he was something that could be called beautiful. I loved Mackenzie – even with her less than stellar computer skills. After all, despite all that she was good for News Night, and even better for Will McAvoy. On top of that, she even ‘solved’ the Genoa issue.
Don began as the bad guy and ended up as someone to admire, even with his stance on the Princeton rape case last week. I never figured him for some one for Sloan to go for. As for Sloan, she was funny, brilliant, and sometimes a bit shrill – but always lovable. I’ll never forget the first time she made Charlie Skinner hopping mad – and I mean that literally. That was when she had a conversation, on the air, in Japanese, which got her suspended. The second time she really riled up Charlie – he died.
So both Don and Sloan had these strong feelings of guilt. But the reality was that Charlie’s fires had gone out seven weeks before. He wasn’t supporting Pruitt’s measures as much as he was simply living through them – getting deeper and deeper into a state of depression.
As the episode opened we saw those TPC limousines arriving for the Skinner funeral at a beautiful suburban church. The church choir was singing, the church was packed, and everyone was present except for Mackenzie who was outside the church on her cell phone. She was getting some important news, which she would pass on to Will as they sat in the pew, but not to us. At least not directly. When she told Will who had called her – we all got the message – including Will.
But seconds later we flashed back to –
Hey! Sorority girl! When you ask me to tell you why America is the greatest country in the world, I don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about. Yosemite?
Yeah, that was the opening. Not the actual panel discussion at Northwestern – but a video of it which Charlie Skinner was replaying in his office. Which means we were back in 2010. Charlie was aghast. Yeah he’s back, in the sense of not now, or ever again in the foreseeable future, if there was one, but via flashbacks to when Will lost it at Northwestern, and then to a few places we had never been before – like Will alone at a bar in the Caribbean.
No Erin Andrews in sight.
Or when Charlie found Mackenzie in a Washington DC bowling alley at 11:00 in the morning. Mackenzie was unemployed, desperate, and drinking. But that is precisely when Charlie offered her the job as the Executive Producer of News Night.
When Mackenzie demurred and told the story of how Will hadn’t been returning any of her phone calls, emails, texts, or letters. She said, I‘m the last thing Will McAvoy wants or needs.
To which Charlie replied – You’re the only thing he needs.
So we now found out, 24 episodes after the first one, the background of how and why Charlie hired Mackenzie to produce News Night. Then we saw the origination of the Don Quixote angle which also played a few times in Season One. And then we saw how Mackenzie asked Jim Harper to come up to New York and be her Senior Producer.
Then the show circled back to the present and we touched bases with Maggie and Jim Harper, Don and Sloan, and even Leona and Lucas Pruitt. And all of those characters bickered and bantered, looked at one another will both the kinds of looks that said I Love you, and WTF. Leona didn’t quite retell the joke about Jesus and Moses playing golf, but she got Pruitt;s attention – in a way that we didn’t expect. So when it played out, we were surprised.
Neal came back from Caracas and got into the action by ripping old Bree Dorritt a new one. You remember Neal – who had a short season. Remember when Will called him Punjab and Will thought he was the IT guy. Neal said he wasn’t, in fact Neal told Will that he was the editor of Will’s blog to which Will replied – I have a blog?????
Yeah Will was the center piece of the first episode with his rant at Northwestern. This week he closed with something of a group hug and they all gathered round to sing Kumbaya – only this time it was the Tom T. Hall song – That’s How I Got to Memphis.
My favorite Will line in this episode and like for this season came when some one said, Oh you play guitar in your spare time, and Will said –
No, I’m a news anchor in my spare time.
From my perspective – I’ll miss them all, and wish Mr. Sorkin all the best as well as saying thanks. It was a fine way to end this episode and to close out the series. It worked out just perfectly in all respects, and why was that – because you and your writers and directors, and the production team all sat down as basically did what was needed – or in your own words – we just decided to.