I am incredibly pleased to report that The Newsroom has increased both in quality and in favor with television critics over the course of Season 2. Funny how those two things often go hand in hand.
Last night’s episode–which was over 10 minutes shorter than a usual episode–centered on Election Night, 2012, or specifically the first half of it, since the season finale next week will continue the narrative. But what was so compelling about this episode was not the drama of Obama versus Romney, but watching our News Night crew fight a battle that we don’t necessarily want them to win.
Charlie, Will, and Mac have tried to hand in their resignations to Leona after the Genoa catastrophe, but she’s not having it. The three of them spend the episode trying to figure out how to make her accept them, because if they don’t meet this requirement of Jerry Dantana’s lawsuit by tomorrow morning, all the drama (both professional and relational) of the last 14 months will become known to the world at large. In a fantastic scene, Charlie tries to convince Reese to let them go, which launches into a monologue starting with, “My mom says I can’t.”
Lawyer (and sexpot?) Rebecca Halliday, played by Marcia Gay Harden, advises against accepting their resignations. Mac can’t stand the idea of being humiliated even more for Genoa, which she blames herself for, and begs Will to do the humane thing and fire her. He refuses, and she accuses him of punishing her, both for sleeping with her ex-boyfriend and for Genoa.
We don’t want our three musketeers to leave ACN, but we understand their reasoning, which makes for a complex, interesting viewing, worthy of a critically successful cable drama.
What’s more, the side stories in this week’s installment were compelling and added to the overall theme of the episode, rather than being annoying and detracting. “It’s funny the things people try to control when they’re not in control,” Neal remarks, and boy is that ever true. Sloan obsesses about finding out who bought the copy of her book that she didn’t actually sign and picks fights with Elliott (best dialogue of the week goes to these two). Mac is distraught that her Wikipedia page lists her as attending Oxford instead of Cambridge and is determined to change it. Maggie and Jim snip for no reason (obviously).
The dramatic final seconds of the episode, in which Will fires Mac for the end of the night and then tells Taylor to stop holding back in their election night panel, sets up a charged entrance to our season finale. “What if none of us are here tomorrow?” Maggie asks Jim in the promo. What if? What do we want to happen? What do they?
Is this what rewarding viewing feels like?
Also, thank you Hallie, for asking all the questions we had about Maggie’s hair.