The Newsroom Season 2 Episode 8

Well hello, and welcome to the first half of the season finale of The Newsroom. We are now in the throes of the aftermath of the sarin scandal – and also on election night, which I actually don’t have a problem with.  Why not show us the most exciting times in the newsroom? No issues with that.

Furthermore, the word "orgy" comes up in comparison to six hours of live TV, and I choose to temporarily ignore the fact that the orgy comment was then explained to a female via a "shoe tree" analogy and then devolved into a discussion of their relationship. Never mind all that, because there’s going to be some election porn. If you’ll recall, we had some election porn on this blog last year, so I can get right into this. Let’s just ignore the part about explaining things via shoes. Right?

So mainly, this episode shows the news unfolding more or less the way it should.    There’s that whole who’s-gonna-quit who’s-allowed-to-quit thing they had going on, but one thing the show has done much more "rightly" this year is to keep the action firmly in the room where it’s supposed to be. The action of what happens on camera is what makes anything off-camera actually inviting.

I do wonder whether we could have done without a Republican fist-pumping on the air, but perhaps Republicans can’t help themselves. I also wonder whether Marcia Gay Harden decided she was going to play the whole episode drunk, and whether she cracked a smile during Reese’s whole rant about his mother. Which I will admit to enjoying.

What else should I admit to here? How about the fact that I think all the nobility here is bullsh-t? I am letting myself wide open.   Because I should say that nobility is the most important quality to have in television, that people should, and indeed, fall on their swords when bad things happen, and that the mark of an honorable person you’d want to work with is that they have no moral greyness whatsoever.

But I don’t believe it. First of all, most people have self-preservation instincts.   They try to find ways to save themselves because that’s what we do as human beings.   Fight or Flight. There is no third option that says "look squarely in the face of your rescue and say that it’s too good, and that you deserve to die". As much as I hate Jim (and I see the show echoes this sentiment ),  I liked that his instinct where his mistake was concerned was to lie. Because you know what? It’s what most people would do, even if they otherwise spend their time skyping chastely with their girlfriends.

One of the biggest surprises of The Newsroom this season is that Don has become so bearable. Maybe not dating Maggie is the key for everyone to become more real and likeable, and the fact that Sloan’s only interaction with her has been in passing has kept her interesting. In fact, with all due respect to Alison Pill, does anyone like Maggie? Count her as their favourite?  Secretly root for her? Neither Mac nor Jim nor anyone else really gives her that much attention, while Don looks at her clear-eyed.   He knows she’s messed up, he’s only interested on an intellectual level, and he’s going to keep doing his job. Refreshing, right?

It’s such a stark contrast to Will and Mac, and I finally figured out why their did-they/didn’t-they love each other/do each other wrong thing feels so utterly false. It may be the whiniest complaint I’ve come up with outside of worrying about one’s Wikipedia page being correct, but go with me here.

Their spending all this time on this implies they don’t actually need to spend the time on the work. The show.  The one they all just swore up and down they would die to protect and are humiliated to have besmirched.   This may be true, but they banter through the whole thing and only talk about the idea that there is news on occasions where they have to. I get that their personal relationship is something that still beats between the two of them – but this often? This close to the surface? Are there really people whose last important relationship was this long ago and yet, it still consumes them?

Nonetheless. She’s fired*, he’s ready to be ripped apart on air by an unworthy opponent, there appear to be some cast members who have yet to comment on Maggie’s hair. It’s not exactly edge of your seat, especially since we all kind of know how the election wound up – but they’re getting closer to being people. Let’s see if they make it next week.