The Newsroom: S2 Ep8 – Election Night, Part 1

The Newsroom logoThis week on The Newsroom … The spectre of Operation Genoa hangs over ACN’s Election Night coverage. Charlie, Will and Mac again try to get themselves fired. Jerry Dantana sues Don. Will names himself chief morale officer. No, really.

This week’s headlines

Six hours of live election coverage. For you and me, that’s like an orgy at a spa where there are college football games on TV and from the trees hang Christian Louboutins.

Election night in the 2012 US presidential race forms the backdrop to the entire episode, but this week’s main narrative threads revolve around the fall-out from ACN’s Operation Genoa story.

Despite Leona Lansing‘s backing, Charlie, Will and Mac still want to resign to protect the network from wider fall-out. Their credibility with the public has hit rock-bottom and they have lost all their military sources as a result of Genoa.

Charlie tries to convince Reese Lansing to accept his and Will’s resignations, but he has been told by his mother not to do so. Will tries to lift everyone’s spirits by appointing himself chief morale officer. A sleep-deprived Mac feels the most acute sense of failure, obsessing instead on getting her erroneous Wikipedia entry amended. Ultimately she goads Will into firing her, effective as of the end of the election night broadcast.

Now we’re gonna have to read about Jim and Maggie, and Don and Jim and Maggie, and Don and Maggie, and Mac and Will, and did Sloan punch a guy in the face?

Meanwhile Don discovers he is being sued for $20 million by Jerry Dantana for tortious interference, after he provided a reference calling him “a very hard-working sociopath”. If AWM doesn’t settle the wrongful termination action, the lawsuit against Don will be filed the following morning, leading to embarrassing public revelations of events at ACN over the past 14 months.

The B-block

On election night, Jim prematurely calls Michigan’s first district instead of Mississippi.

Sloan discovers that someone signed a copy of her book Hyperinflation in the Weimar Republic: The Economics of Post-World War I Germany on her behalf for a charity auction. She feels bad that it fetched $1,000 under false pretences and tasks Neal to find out who it was. He discovers it was Gary Cooper.

Fired Romney PR aide Taylor Warren is brought on as a political analyst for the election night coverage. She and Maggie bond over their hatred of Jim, and she offers a scoop on a congressman named Brody – nothing to do with Homeland – who once wrote about women crying rape. When Don contacts his chief of staff, he is asked to keep the story quiet in exchange for a scoop on CIA director David Petraeus.

Petraeus was discovered to have had an affair with his biographer Paula Broadwell after she sent threatening emails to Jill Kelley, a Florida socialite and friend of the Petraeuses. A subsequent FBI investigation discovered intimate emails between Petraeus and Broadwell. His resignation was accepted by President Obama on November 9th, three days after the election.

Observations

It’s often difficult to judge the first half of a two-parter, but this one is particularly tricky coming off the back of last week’s season arc-resolving episode. Having been screamed at by Leona to get the public’s trust back, the antics of the newsroom crew here seem fairly trivial. They bumble through the early part of election night in rather less than heroic fashion, leaving us with a cliff-hanger of sorts and a number of dangling loose threads.

It’s not until the very end, when Will encourages Taylor to challenge him on his personal politics and finally puts on his game-face that it feels that anyone is fully focussed on the task at hand.

Nonetheless, what comes in between provides a higher laugh quotient than any other episode this season. Neal is sent running around on fool’s errands, helping Mac and Sloan focus on changing something they can control at a time when everything else seems to be spiralling out of control. I can’t help but wonder whether the mystery buyer of Sloan’s book is someone close to home: Don?

You are a member of a godless, soulless race of extortionists.

Speaking of Don, his righteous indignation at Jerry’s legal strategy is conveyed adroitly in the hands of Thomas Sadoski. We’ve seen a softer, more accessible side of Don this season, but he’s always at his best when allowed to go off on one of his rants.

To provide light relief, there are fun moments peppered throughout the episode, from Elliot and Sloan’s sniping to the normally dour Reese’s monologue retelling his conversation with Leona.

As for Maggie, she professes to Taylor that she hates Jim. I’m not entirely sure where that came from. While the writers have done a good job with Sloan and especially Mac this season, Maggie remains a neurotic mess and the series’ least endearing character. We do, however, discover that Maggie’s appointment with scissors and red dye bottle took place a week previously, with Hallie urging Jim to find out the reason for it. I’ve long since passed caring about the significance of this – as time has passed this season it has felt increasingly like a red herring in the wider plot. (Or should that be red mullet?)

Like so many Newsroom episodes, this was flawed but it was also fun, reminding us of why we care about these characters and their attempts to raise the news to a higher standard.

And finally …

Jim’s mistaken call on the Michigan first district was premature but not, as it turned out, erroneous. Incumbent Republican Dan Benishek retained his seat in a close-run race against Democrat Gary McDowell by a margin of less than one percent.

Rating: 8/10

The Newsroom continues on Sky Atlantic on Mondays at 9pm.

The Newsroom reviews

2.1 First Thing We Do, Let’s Kill All the Lawyers

2.2 The Genoa Tip

2.3 Willie Pete

2.4 Unintended Consequences

2.5 News Night with Will McAvoy

2.6 One Step Too Many

2.7 Red Team III

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3 Comments on The Newsroom: S2 Ep8 – Election Night, Part 1

  1. I really enjoyed most of it except for Mac reverting to last season’s broken record about Will not forgiving her for cheating AGAIN and Maggie reverting to getting screen time. Still, most of the rest was great fun – Charlie in particular was hilarious, and I enjoyed everyone who wasn’t Mac or Maggie or Useless Jim.

    • I kind of forgave the Mac part because it was important to show how stressed she was post-Genoa (and with the small matter of election night to cover), and because it helps push Will into snapping out of the anaesthetised state he seemed to have slipped into and putting his game-face on right at the end.

      As for Maggie’s hair, it’s going to have to be on hell of a pay-off to justify why this has been such a major B-plot this season. Even though I think the separate timelines have been quite clear, the amount of confusion it seems to have caused online has been a huge distraction.

      And what *has* happened to Jim this season? Okay, he’s always been a bit wet and too goody-goody, but he was always fun because he was such an idealist about everything. This year all the life seems to have been sucked out of him and instead we have a lovesick teenager.

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