The Newsroom Recap: Screw YouTube

The Newsroom Season 2 RecapWhat do a Laundromat, the continent of Africa, a lack of hairdryers, YouTube’s privacy policy and universal voicemail settings have to do with this week’s Newsroom? They’re all part of Maggie Jordan’s emotional downfall, which in this episode gains momentum like a pebble rolled from the top of Kilimanjaro. (At least she’s got Sloan around as a hilarious emotional – and literal — Sherpa.) Meanwhile, Will takes out the frustration from his latest identity crisis on New York’s finest and Jim grumbles in the Granite State. Read on for the major developments of “The Genoa Tip.”

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LAUNDRY BASKETCASE | On the morning immediately following the events of the previous episode, Sloan shows up at the office to find Maggie asleep on her floor. After a half-hearted attempt to pretend she hasn’t spent the night at ACN, the blonde blurts that she left Don’s immediately after their break-up. (Please note the “Oh hey now” look on Sloan’s face when Maggie mentions that she’s moving back in with Lisa, meaning that Don is as free as can be.) Sloan sympathetically suggests that Mags call Don, but he’s not taking her calls, and here’s how Maggie knows: “If it goes to voicemail after two rings, they saw your name and sent you to voicemail,” she says flatly. “OK, I have to retrace my entire life now,” Sloan observes. (Heh. And wait a minute – I do, too.) She allows Maggie to hide her bags in the office, then invites her down to the company gym to shower. (Not like that, guys… though I’d bet there’s plenty of fan fiction that would prove me wrong.)

Speaking of fanfic, Maggie’s figured out that the person posting the incriminating YouTube video is a Queens resident named Erica who writes a blog filled with Sex and the City fan fiction… and who is at that exact moment watching her delicates tumble in an Astoria fluff-n-fold. (Thanks, FourSquare!) Sloan grabs some of Maggie’s bags and declares herself sidekick when Ms. Jordan announces her intentions to ask the woman, in person, if she’ll kindly remove the vid before Lisa sees it. It’s not the worst idea ever – especially because YouTube apparently takes five days to respond to video-removal requests, and time is of the essence – but Maggie’s crazy eyes and unfortunate choice of words totally spook Erica. So then Sloan proposes that Erica, who’s hesitant to part with the traffic Maggie’s video has brought to her blog, tweet something that Sloan will then retweet, thus drawing her 400,000 or so followers’ attention to Erica’s faux-SATC exploits. After some negotiation (with Sloan’s “I like Charlotte” as hilarious punctuation), the deal is done.

ROOMMATE RECKONING | Next on Maggie’s smooth-things-over checklist: Get back to normal with Jim… except Harper (as he stated last week) is uninterested in returning to the way things were. She calls him on the campaign trail, ostensibly to ask for help with ideas for a story that she and Gary CooperNotThatOne can cover in Africa but really to make nice. Their conversation contains the following exchange – MAGGIE: “You’re lost.” JIM: “You know what? Look who’s talking.” – soooooo… we’re just gonna label that one a work-in-progress. (But watch out, Miss Maggie; blonde and bitchy Romney reporter Hallie may be exactly the kind of distraction Jim is going to need in the near future.)

Next list item: Become a go-to person at News Night. On anything. Africa’ll do. So after Jerry all but gift-wraps a good angle for the Africa trip for her – “It’s the next place U.S. soldiers are going to go to die” — Maggie pitches it to MacKenzie, who reluctantly says yes. (The news that violence is ramping up in the area they’re planning to visit puts a bit of a damper on Mag’s joy, though.)

Finally, she returns home, where Lisa’s waiting for her roomie with a hug and a reality check. “You’re so full of s—t, Maggie,” she whispers. Just guessing, but I think Erica might’ve re-posted the video. The ladies have an argument in which Lisa demands to know how far things went between her boyfriend and her best friend, then informs Maggie that because neither of them can afford to live alone, their relationship will be strictly landlord-tenant from now on. Then she storms off to her room to break up with Jim by sending him the link to the post. (P.S. Kelen Coleman is awesome; I’m glad the girls are still living together, because it gives me hope we’ll see more of her this season.)

WILL MCAVOY’S A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS | Unfortunate Thing #1: A convicted cop killer Don believes is innocent is nearing the end of his time on Death Row in Georgia. Don wants Will, a former prosecutor, to use News Night to push for clemency in the man’s situation. But Will says he won’t. First of all, he points out, journalism’s role is to inform, not advocate. And second, there’s Unfortunate Thing #2: Pleading for the life of someone found guilty of offing a police officer isn’t going to do much to help Will’s post-Tea-Party-as-Taliban public image, which is currently fodder for hate sites that Will can’t help but read. (The one calling him “Will McAdouche” is my favorite.) Both of those developments have a direct effect on Unfortunate Thing #3 – Neal getting arrested while visiting an Occupy Wall Street protest – when a frustrated Will stalks down to the station and gives the desk officer an earful of high-volume, slightly unhinged legalese, then pulls himself together and convinces the cop to void Neal’s arrest.

Later, at Hang Chew’s, MacKenzie dumps a drink on Will. “Use your words!” he says. (Ha!) She’s mad over his earlier refusal to hold the Obama administration accountable for the drone strike that killed Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen who was highly active in al-Qaeda. But Mac doesn’t know that Will has already drafted the next evening’s show, which will demand that Obama release the memorandum authorizing the attack. And as Willie Nelson croons “You Were Always on My Mind” in the background, Will and MacKenzie share a moment. Later, back at the studio, Don gets word that the Death Row inmate has been killed via lethal injection. (Side note: How are you guys feeling about Don these days? I swing from thinking he’s a huge tool to kinda digging him, though my pendulum hovers near “tool” more often than not. Not sure where I stand on him after this episode.)

STORM’S A-BREWIN’ | The story on Operation Genoa, the faulty story that will eventually land News Night in a world of hurt, moves forward when MacKenzie gives Jerry the go-ahead to pursue it, even though she doesn’t believe his tip. After all, as she points out, what are the chances that an American black op used nerve gas on civilians in Pakistan and that all of the people involved in the operation would be able to keep the secret all this time? But by the end of the episode, Jerry seems to have found the silver bullet: a former Marine named Eric Sweeney, who tells the producer and MacKenzie that he can verify the story because “I was there.”

Now it’s your turn. What did you think about the revelation that Sept. 11, 2001, was Will’s first day as an anchor? Are you hoping Sloan and Don become a thing? Is Hallie just a little too mean? And as far as beats go, does Africa seem like a sudden – and kinda arbitrary – interest for Maggie? Sound off in the comments!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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40 Comments
  1. Frank says:

    This show is exhausting. Not fun.

    • Adam says:

      This show is smart and very fun

    • Leanna says:

      I disagree with it not fun, I found Newsroom this summer on HBOGO and saw last season (LOVED the 1st episode).. Love this program, it reminds me of my youth when news was controversial-Morrow, Cronkite, Jennings, Severide, Brinkley, and to all those countless reporters during the Viet Nam and NIXON era…what happened to “TRUE NEWS”, now it all seems to be owned by one source—no variety

  2. Chablis says:

    I love this show. I love this recap. It’s so Sorkin and since I am a fan it’s awesome. Great recap.

  3. kate says:

    I’m really interested in this Genoa storyline. How does something like this go wrong? How do you deal with it? It’s fun to watch it unravel.

    • Britta Unfiltered says:

      It’s supposed to be based on a true story too, of something that happened with CNN. I saw Aaron Sorkin on The Daily Show talking about it last week.

  4. Brian says:

    I love this show. I’m really looking forward to seeing what happens next. We need to see more of Mac and Will sparring though, like last season. The show and the writing are at its best when they are verbal going at each other.

  5. Tim says:

    Like the show. Seems a bit more balanced this year which is nice, but I honestly don’t really care too much since it’s not like any of my opinions are formulated by a TV Show

  6. Scott says:

    I watch a lot of great TV (HBO, Showtime) and this one has taken the cake as best out there right now. Thanks for the right up. Will use it again.

  7. Maggie says:

    loved Maria Dizzia (also in Orange is the New Black as Piper’s best friend Polly) as Erica, that was a funny scene! I think my favorite scene might have been the two guys in the control room watching the footage of Will on 9/11, then Will seeing them watch it, that was powerful.

  8. rowan77 says:

    9/11 wasn’t Will’s first time on the air. He was the on-air legal consultant and the only one who could get to the studio as Manhattan effectively shut down after the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers. This was his first time anchoring – and he apparently did it for about 24 hours – which eventually led to Charlie giving him his own show.

    I like this season more than that last. The women are much better written this year – Maggie isn’t a miniature of Mac anymore and Mac doesn’t suck at her job anymore. Sorkin always seems to take a little while to settle his female characters. They all start out fairly two-dimensional (although the guys are always layered from the word go), but over time, I think he stops seeing them as “Girls” and just thinks of them as people.

    The death row story was a little bit of a retread from The West Wing where the president could have pardoned a man slated to die by lethal injection that night, but prevaricated and did nothing while waiting for a sign from God (Karl Malden as a Monsignor told a great parable about not seeing signs from God – I’m sure it’s on Youtube). That said, I liked the different angle – wanting to help, but is it ethical to use your profession as a bully pulpit?

    I like Don more this season. Last year he really was an A-hole. Sloan’s assessment that someone must have told him he was a bad guy, so he believed it, was I think on the money. He’s still very flawed (thank goodness), but he not only let Maggie stay in the apartment for a little while, he cleared the path for her to move back in with Lisa, so she wouldn’t be without a place to live. That was stand-up of him. And he finally admitted he didn’t love her and since she didn’t love him, he didn’t have to pretend in order to make her happy. That was a big step or him to say that. So yeah – I like him more.

    • Meg says:

      The death row story was real. So….maybe a retread from West Wing but it was a real life story.

    • Eli says:

      The parable you’re thinking of is The Man and The Flood. Where a man is sitting on the roof of his house during a flood and several rescue options present themselves (boat, chopper, etc) and the man says no because he waits for god to rescue him, then he dies and in the afterlife he asks why god didn’t help him and god tells him he did, by sending all those rescue options.

      • rowan77 says:

        Yes! Thank you! That was a great episode. And a good lesson about how doing nothing can be just as damaging as doing the wrong thing.

    • Daven says:

      I don’t think Don will ever NOT be a douche to me. However I love the way the breakup was done. And I think Maggie’s determination to get to Africa is part ‘want to be more than a lackey’ and part ‘my life here sucks, can I make it better by running away?’
      My fear is that Gary dies while they are over there and thats one of the things that Maggie goes wacky over.

      • rowan77 says:

        I think you are absolutely right about Maggie. She wants to be more important to the show AND she’s hypocritically wanting to do the same thing Jim is doing.

        I’m worried that she’s going to be sexually assaulted like that correspondent who was assaulted in the Middle East. Maggie drove me nuts last season (this season she’s better) but I don’t want her to get hurt either.

    • Sharon JJ says:

      Very interesting point that Sorkin’s female characters take a while to become multi-dimensional. I think you’re right about that, more right than the commonly-held POV that Sorkin’s females are always one-noters. Sloan and Lisa both had great moments on this episode, moments that I don’t think we would have seen in Season 1.

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  10. Ming says:

    Love this episode. It’s a great show with great story, actors, actresses, & music. It’s great to learn about Will’s backstory regarding the 9/11. Mr. Sorkin, please keep it coming!

  11. Sam says:

    Big fan of the show, I checked and all the Sloan fanfiction is with Don. speaking of which Don is usually pretty cool.

  12. Aprilcot says:

    It feels terribly shallow to say this, but when Alison Pill is onscreen I just want to give her some mascara and an eyebrow pencil.

    • JoMarch says:

      And brush her hair… I don’t get the Maggie character; she works for a big network news program and she seems so incompetent and weak, like a perennial victim of circumstance. I can’t see why she would have her job. I suppose she gets raped and beaten in Africa as that did happen to a US news person and why Will said to the lawyer “if you went through what she did…” If that’s the case, that will give Maggie some gravitas, although it will make her a victim yet again.

      • Meredith says:

        She does seem incompetent and weak but she knows it, she even told Mac she knew Mac wouldn’t pick her to start a new team. I appreciate that she at least realizes it and is trying to change it. And I may be wrong but when the series started I think she was either an intern or some kind of very low-level position. She got promoted when everyone left Will’s show after his “breakdown”. It makes sense that she’s still learning and not very good at what she does yet.

      • Yanez says:

        I bet Gary, the guy that went with her was killed.

        • GottaHaveEmAll says:

          Definitely. When he read that Reuters report about the violence that just occurred in the area of Africa he and Maggie were traveling too and then put it in the folder instead of giving it to Mac his death was sealed. I really liked Gary too, but he’s totally going to be killed in Africa.

        • Carla says:

          Yeah… Gary might as well start wearing a red shirt…

  13. Pancake Bacon says:

    How do I feel about Don? I like him the most on this show. He’s flawed and might be considered a jerk by others, but I feel the character is written with a bit more reality. Characters like Will, Mac, Jim, etc are supposed to be “right”, but it doesn’t feel earned. Someone like Don is written as supposed to be “wrong,” but when he gets to the crossroads, we get context for his decisions and actions. That’s MUCH better drama than “Poor Will — the Internet hates him! Journalism is all the poorer for it! Wah!!”

    • Sharon JJ says:

      I don’t necessarily agree with your critiques of some of the other characters, but I do agree that Don seems compelling and real. I felt gutted along with Don when he gets the news that the man on death row had been executed. Very powerful.

  14. HAP says:

    One of the best shows on television right now. It’s a shame that so many in the critic’s community seem to have an anti-Sorkin bias.

    Yup. Sorkin, the guy responsible for one of the best TV shows of all time, The West Wing.

    • will says:

      Sorkin does it to himself by pushing his mightier than thou opinions on everyone. He makes great shows, but when they are as biased as his then he has to expect he’s going to get crap for it. You can’t make a story about a news channel that is bucking the trend of paparazzi reporting and stating only the facts, and then only state the facts when they support your opinion.

      I love this show for the banter, but grin and just shrug it off when they get on air and pretend they are actually being unbiased when they report. Putting Will as a republican is just Sorkin trying to tell Republicans that they should be mad too…so basically saying that no one should want to be a Republican. Again, pushing his agenda.

      • rowan77 says:

        If you watch the show they made it clear from episode one that Will’s show was an opinion show – which means there is bias. The previous version of his show was a Jay-aleno-middle-of-the-road-don’t-offend-type of show. And it was killing him to not be able to spout his true thoughts, even though his ratings were great. If he hadn’t seen Mac in the audience at that university panel and let loose on that girl with the dumb question, he would still have a show that had no opinions.

        I’m not sure you watch the show. If his opinions are educated and not just spouting cockamamie views (like Beck, Limbaugh, Hannitty, the fools at Fox & Friends, etc.) then I say let the character say what he has learned is true.

  15. Eli says:

    I agree with the recapper, Kelen Coleman is awesome. I really hope we’ll still keep seeing more of her, especially since I suspect her new show starting this fall will not do well and is likely to get canceled at some point. :(

  16. Alex says:

    I like the show but can’t stand Emily Mortimer. She’s so whiny.

  17. TVMAN says:

    Episode was better than season 2 premiere. Overall, it was O.K…. U really have to pay attention to get the episode. And the storylines ( Drones, Death Tow Guy, Africa) are for the most part- dry. I understand it’ll unfold as season goes on, but unlike season 1, I get no sense of urgency or motivation in the episode. Drags too much.

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  19. Gabriel says:

    In reference to the question about Don: he’s still a tool. He was tool-like even in this episode … Maggie dodged a bullet, but I’m also hoping Sloan does too.

  20. Meghan says:

    I thought Maggie actually said “Your loss,” which is what Jim replied “you know what? Look who’s talking” to …?

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