Warning: The following recap, by its very nature, contains spoilers for The Newsroom‘s Season 1 finale. If you haven’t watched the episode yet, avert your eyes! All others, read on…
The final episode of The Newsroom’s first season didn’t surpass the excellent “5/1” bin Laden hour from a few weeks back, but it did deliver some big relationship moments while reserving some reveals for next season. Now grab your show rundowns and adjust your mics, and let’s review what happened during “The Greater Fool.”
THERE WILL BE BLOOD | The episode opens with Will unconscious in his bathroom, surrounded by blood. Did the death threatener finally make good on his or her promise? Nah. Will’s just got a bad bleeding ulcer, brought on by mixing too many anti-depressants with booze and then taking too many pain relievers to treat the resultant headache. At the hospital, Mac tells the doctor her boss is upset about the “hatchet job” News Night profile that finally ran in New York. The piece’s unfortunate title? “The Greater Fool.” When Will finally wakes up enough to have coherent conversation, Mac beats him about the head with a copy of the magazine. “I’ve been waiting two days to hit you!” she cries. “I appreciate your patience!” he replies. Heh. Will’s in a funk – he says the piece was right, that News Night is an embarrassment and a failure. There’s a lot of whining and some Jell-O, then a mean nurse complains about how her great-aunt is getting squeezed out of the voting process in Tennessee… and all of a sudden, Will’s back! (To the opening strains of The Who’s “Baba O’Riley,” no less.) Let us also note that, during his hospital visit, Charlie has two absolutely kickass phrases that I might need to stitch onto a pillow sometime in the near future. One is pretty much unprintable here, but let’s try anyway: “P—y-ass coward-ass p—ified p–sies.” The other: “Hell hath no fury like the second-rate.” And while we’re at it, let’s take a moment for what a great fit the bushy-browed Sam Waterston is as Charlie. It feels like he’s letting loose after all of those buttoned-up years as Law & Order’s McCoy and having a lot of fun doing so.
TAPPED OUT | To be fair, Mean Nurse’s great-aunt is only half of the fire newly ignited under Will’s convalescent tush. The other half comes from Nina Howard, who meets with Mackenzie to say she knows Will was high on the night of the bin Laden-capture broadcast, and when she has one more source, she’ll have to run with the story. Gone is the nasty-but-consistent Nina, who tossed a drink in Will’s face and later tried to shake him down in exchange for killing a tabloid piece about Mac. This new Nina feels really bad about who she is and what she does, and urges Mac to make sure there’s no one else who’ll confirm the drugged-up broadcast. Ugh. Mr. Sorkin, not everyone who’s ever cranked out a piece of news has to turn out to be a highly principled acolyte of Murrow. It’s more fun when the bad guys are unapologetically so. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go peruse my copy of Columbia Journalism Review and then catch up on my DVR’d episodes of PBS NewsHour. Elsewhere, Charlie’s NSA source is so bereft by the news that his past is too dirty for ACN to use him, he jumps off the Queensboro Bridge, but not before sending Charlie an envelope. Charlie brings that envelope, as well as Will and Mac, to a meeting with Leona and Reese. Will admits he was high on the night of the bin Laden show. Leona fires him. Charlie plays the NSA trump card, which forces Reese to admit to tapping cell phones. Leona’s genuinely shocked, and I loved her response to Charlie’s query about where she thought TMI’s scoop came from: “I assumed they made it up.” Ha! Charlie has secretly taped the entire encounter, so he informs the Lansing family that News Night is going to go on as planned, and that TMI should be shut down ASAP. (I love you, Charlie, but you’re reaching a bit on that last request.) Will goes on the air and does the broadcast he wants – with Mean Nurse’s great-aunt Dorothy front and center – and wraps by calling the Tea Party “American Taliban.” No need to couch things, Will. How do you really feel? Later, after Mac reveals that she was in the audience at Northwestern during Will’s meltdown in the pilot, we hear part of his voicemail to Mackenzie that TMI stole. “I’ve never stopped–” he says, but we see Nina pause playback before we can hear the rest, and then she moves the digital file to her trash and gets rid of it forever. You couldn’t grow a conscience after we heard Will’s innermost thoughts, Neener?
I COULDN’T HELP BUT WONDER… | Roommate Lisa really likes Sex and the City, so Jim asks the News Night team how he can become more well-versed in the show. Because that’s a totally appropriate topic with which to open a pitch meeting. And because there are no DVDs or video streaming services that would allow you to watch the entire six-season run on your own schedule. If only TVLine recaps had been around back then, eh Harper? Neal suggests the NY tours based on the series, but I prefer Maggie’s reaction: “Mother of Moses.” Meanwhile, Don wants to ask Maggie to move in with him, which Sloan (who’s thinking about leaving ACN for a venture cap job) tells him is a really bad idea… because she’s got feelings for him. Um, huh? Don’s look of surprise at her admission mirrors mine. Yes, they were friendly and flirty throughout the season, but no more so than they were with other characters. Whatever. If this outta-nowhere attraction helps split the ridiculousness that is Maggie and Don, I’m on board. Meanwhile, Maggie’s post-work drink with Lisa turns bad when Mags spills her suspicions about Jim’s true intentions the night he came to their apartment. Lisa leaves in a huff and Maggie follows her out onto the sidewalk… where she’s splashed by the Sex and the City tour bus a la the SATC opening credits. She launches into a fantastic, shouted tirade about what being single is really like – including falling for someone who then dates your friend – only to see that Jim is on the tour. Mother of Moses! He runs after her and they kiss, but her remark that Don’s failure to commit is the reason she and Harper are where they are sours the moment for Jim – who knows that Don wants her to move in. Maggie walks to Don’s, scribbling out a speech as she goes. She’s disheveled, her hair is a fright, she’s quibbling over definite articles and word choice – throw in a bag of Kit-Kat minis and a cluttered workspace, and you’ve got a good picture of my Sunday nights. But when she shows up at Don’s, he’s got candles everywhere and he asks her to live with him. Jim calls, and she lets it go to voicemail. A kiss in the newsroom later in the episode seals it: Mags and Don are still very much together, which Jim (who himself is still very much with Lisa) finds hard to stomach. But Sloan’s changed her mind – she’s staying at the network to fight the good fight – so methinks this isn’t quite as done as it seems.
MUSICAL THEATER MOMENT | Unsurprisingly, Don Quixote and Camelot were hit hard and often throughout the hour. Can someone buy Sorkin a copy of the Book of Mormon soundtrack?
Now it’s your turn. Where do you think the show will go with the death threat storyline? Thoughts on Nina’s sudden transformation? Are you looking forward to Northwestern Question Girl’s presence as an intern? And do you think Nina and Reese will really back off in Season 2 – if so, who would you like to see as the Big Bad? Hit the comments and sound off!Follow @kimroots