The Newsroom Recap: Love, Loss and What Sloan Didn't Wear -- Plus: Concrete Genoa Proof?

The Newsroom Season 2 RecapAbsolutely no one, except for maybe Charlie, has a good time in The Newsroom this week. While the beetle-browed news boss blinks in disbelief over an Operation Genoa windfall, his underlings engage in petty bickering, day-drinking, wallowing, sniping, error-making, almost-job-losing and D-list-stardom-busting. Oh, and then someone dies. Put on a happy face – you’re gonna need it – as we review what happens in “News Night With Will McAvoy.”

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A LOT GOING ON | The entirety of this week’s episode takes place on March 16, 2012 – the day of coordinated bombings in Syria and the release of the recording of George Zimmerman’s 911 call. It’s also the day that Will’s dad collapses and is taken to the hospital for a heart issue, an update that the host receives during a commercial break in that evening’s show. Upon hearing the news, MacKenzie urges Will to leave a voicemail for his father, despite their contentious relationship. “Nothing bad is going to happen if you’re kind to him right now,” she says. (You’ll remember that Will talked about his father’s physically abusive tendencies during a session with Dr. Habib last season.) “I really do think that tonight is one of those nights where you should do everything I tell you to do,” MacKenzie advises, not long after shooing away a kinda bitchy Neal for bothering Will with a Twitter issue during the broadcast. “How exactly would that be different from every other night?” McAvoy deadpans back. (Heh. Also, side note: I’m going to start wearing a producer’s headset wherever I go. Then, whenever I’m losing an argument or someone is annoying me, I can get that faraway look Mac does, tap my ear and say, “30 seconds” as I bustle off to do something that is ostensibly more important than whatever currently has my attention. I think this is a solid plan.)

In the newsroom, perhaps still smarting from Mac’s dismissal, Neal is less than accommodating when Jim needs help unblocking a phone number. How can he do it? Jim asks. “By listening when I taught you to do it,” Sampat snarks back. Hey there, Grumpy Cat — It’s probably good to remember that underneath the moppet hair, and despite his utter inability to keep private conversations out of the workplace, Jim is still your boss. Though I see how you might forget that, especially as he suddenly has nothing better to do than hover over Maggie’s shoulder as they wait for the audio file of Zimmerman’s emergency call to download. It takes a long time – but let’s look on the bright side: If it were quicker, we might not have learned that Maggie is drinking to forget what happened in Uganda, and that her nightcaps are starting to bleed into her day job. (Side note: I’m a little sad. I liked Maggie’s mean, plucky streak – in all its anti-Hallie, pro-sluts glory – when I thought it was driven by anger and jealousy. What a letdown to realize it’s just fueled by good, old-fashioned booze and sadness.) Jim quietly corners Gary CooperNotThatOne and asks how long it took him to “straighten out” after returning from Africa. “I wasn’t holding the kid,” Gary responds. Touché.

DON’T DRINK AND EDIT | Later, Maggie makes an error while editing the Zimmerman tape; it sounds as though he’s offering information about Trayvon Martin’s skin color out of the blue instead of answering a direct question from the 911 operator. Did it happen because she was pressed for time and scrambling? Probably. Does it help that, when it happens, she smells like the floor of a bar and is still wearing her clothes from the day before? Not at all. When Jim disciplines her, she goes on the defensive, immediately bringing up his Romney interview giveaway from the previous episode. But her vitriol fades quickly, and she is certainly not OK as she says, “I never remotely prepared for this scenario.” Understatement of the year, honey.

IT GETS BETTER WORSE | So when News Night has to re-air the entire recording and apologize for Maggie’s bad edit, it means they have to bump their final guest: a Rutgers student named Jesse who was booked to talk about Tyler Clementi, the Rutgers student who committed suicide after his roommate used a webcam to spy on him kissing another man. Based on a tweet Jesse sends prior to his scheduled appearance, Mac realizes that he’s going to use News Night as a platform to come out to his parents… and she is not having that. When he calls her a bitch for preempting him, she calls him out for using the death of Clementi – whom he didn’t even know – to further his own screwed-up stardom. “I’ll put up color bars before I put you in front of my cameras,” she says, softening only slightly before bidding him goodbye with, “You were going to get killed. I did you a favor.”

She re-enters the studio to prep Will on the correction, and he tells her that he got word his father died about 12 minutes before. But we already knew that, no? Will had no fight in him for the latter part of the broadcast; something had to be wrong. Though Mac tears up, Will assures her he’s fine and he wants to continue the show. But when they return from the break, he takes too long of a quiet moment. The control room freaks until he looks into the camera with red-rimmed eyes and says, “Well, I guess it’s just us now” before launching into the Zimmerman tape explanation.

PICTURE IMPERFECT | Reese has nude photos of Sloan that were posted on a revenge porn Web site. She initially claims someone superimposed her head on another woman’s body but soon comes clean: She’d been dating an AIG consultant around Christmas, she’d given him a camera, they’d had a few drinks and they’d christened the gift with their own little Hustler shoot. She dumped him the night before this episode, so he’d gotten even in a very public fashion. (Side note: Raise your hand if the small similarity between this storyline and Olivia Munn’s real-life alleged photo entanglements made you a little uncomfortable.)

The humiliation is so crushing, Sloan ends up sitting on the floor of an office in the dark for much of the episode. That’s where Don finds her when he, too, starts to freak about something stupid he did. (Shorthanded: He made a stupid joke, someone at a Web site took it seriously and wrote a post about it and now he’s worried that he’s ruined someone else’s life.) But Sloan’s screw-up way trumps Don’s, so we spend most of their scenes watching her try to get her groove back. “There was no way to see this coming,” she cries. Sloan, bubbeleh. While I do not think you – nor any woman who is confident in her body, life, relationship or all three – should ever feel bad about anything she does consensually, there have been enough cautionary tales about this sort of thing that you’re going to make me do something I do not like to do: agree with Don. When he sad-flirts with you and says you date losers because you don’t have a high opinion of yourself, he’s exactly right. (Though when you choke out, “I want to die,” I can’t stay stern at you, you pretty little mess.)

When she finally gets a little gumption back (see? it only took an hour!), she solves Don’s crisis with one sentence and then shows up at her ex’s place of business. She interrupts a meeting, punches the offending jerk in the nose and kicks him in the crotch. (I’m no financial analyst, but I have a hunch his… stock isn’t going to drop for quite some time.) She snaps a pic with her Blackberry – you go girl, I guess? – and then strides out, Don there to stop the d-bag from following her.

THE MOST IMPORTANT NUGGET FROM THIS SECTION IS THAT CHARLIE WAS IN AN A CAPPELLA GROUP IN COLLEGE | Yeah. It was called The Whiskey Sodas, and they used to smoke a lot of weed. Only they called it “chicken” on the expense report so they could get reimbursed – and using that totally unshakable logic, he determines that the puzzling substance listed on a helicopter requisition doohickey he gets from a mysterious government source is actually sarin gas… meaning that Operation Genoa really happened. Oh Charlie, I hold you to a higher standard. Don’t get caught up in this hoopla, I beg you! (And I really, really need a copy of The Whiskey Sodas’ entire oeuvre.)

Now it’s your turn. What did you think of the episode? Didn’t Mac seem a little meaner than normal? What was that “Tonight, I root for your failure” nonsense about? Any thoughts on the pranksters? 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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  1. Timothy McNeil says:

    Sloan kicks him in the groin and then punches his face.

    I really do have a need for the facts to be right (especially if there is minimal insight or critical evaluation given).

  2. May says:

    I just have no idea what happened. I get it, some times you have to cut back on the seriousness and give the viewers some romance. But what on earth was this episode? Where were the news? I understand the need to hold back on the Zimmerman trial (with half the press hoping they wouldn’t be able to cover it [the onion says hi], Sorkin really was waking on eggshells), but they didn’t really report anything. We got Don and Sloan and their budding relationship, a messed up Maggie, and some room for more Will/Mac, but nothing of meaning. It was a complete waste, and in a nine-episode season, every hour counts.

  3. M3rc Nate says:

    Totally agree with “May”…this episode just wasnt…idk…i hate to say “not good” but it felt preachy, and weird. First off the Sloan nude pictures…that all makes sense except the ending where she resorts to committing a crime (a typical one for women to do on TV and real life and it be laughed at or not be seen as serious). Dont get me wrong what was done to her was HORRIBLE, but responding with physical violence?

    Im confused by Genoa…all the “proof” so far has been understandable in how we know since episode 1 they got it wrong..but with this official guy coming and saying its legit…i mean im hoping and expecting it will be tied up in a way that makes sense, but i dont get how someone like that guy could have it wrong.

    The Maggie section was just weird…

    Im really not looking forward to a Aaron Sorkin view on the upcoming (in the shows timeline) topic of Zimmerman and then gun debate. Thankfully the main character is written as a respectable reasonable republican so it wont be insanely lop-sided.

    Overall, weird episode, felt like filler, felt very very different then any of the other episodes, felt like it was ABOUT nothing other than just jumping between characters for 2 minutes at a time.

    Oh and PS. The tech guy mega annoys me with how insanely slow he tells Will the tweets. That “oh …okay let me read it *reads it super slow* oh ill just tell you later” etc…during a commercial break? I dont get why he wouldnt run up “Got a tweet, it says: ______, what do you think?” super fast.

    • GottaHaveEmAll says:

      I’m with you and May. This episode seemed very filler, which quite frankly is a disservice to the audience. The section with Genoa helped to (slightly) move that forward, so now we have Charlie (President of the News division) on board — which is definitely key. The next four episodes have to go a little something like this for any hope of wrapping up this storyline/season in a meaningful way:

      Episode 6: Final interviews with Genoa leads/witnesses. Debate to run Genoa story. Decision to run Genoa story.

      Episode 7: Run Genoa story. Maggie cuts hair.

      Episode 8. Fall-out from Genoa story/chaos ensues/all hell breaks loose. Jerry Dantana firing (how awesome is that name? Don’t like the character though, which I think was the point)

      Episode 9: Dantana lawsuit. Still more fall-out. Fate of Newsroom and all associated with the broadcast hanging in the balance — outcome to be determined in Season 3.

    • Steve says:

      “Im confused by Genoa…all the “proof” so far has been understandable in how we know since episode 1 they got it wrong..but with this official guy coming and saying its legit…i mean im hoping and expecting it will be tied up in a way that makes sense, but i dont get how someone like that guy could have it wrong.”

      Operation Genoa sounds like it is real life’s Operation Tailwind. So far everything is an exact fit. Read how that went and you’ll understand how Operation Genoa will go. (SPOILER ALERT?) Basically, it turned out that while Operation Tailwind was likely true, there wasn’t nearly enough proof to run the story. The important people who said it happened will later deny it, and without that they have nothing.

  4. Sounding like a broken record but this really should have been the last straw for Maggie. The screw ups she’s made in her less than 2 years on the job disqualify her from working for a major cable news program. The excuse of her trip to Africa and the events that occurred can’t be used anymore.

  5. gr8law says:

    I’m confused. Didn’t Maggie cut and die her hair? How come it is blonde and long again? Or was that scene in last weeks episode a flash forward?

    • wordsmith says:

      All of the lawyer interview scenes are flash-forwards, as was the bit with Maggie cutting her hair. This episode was after Maggie came back from Africa, but before she broke down.

      • Myke25 says:

        I was confused by that, too, @gr8law. I thought we had almost caught up to the flash forwards of the previous weeks…or that we had at least caught up to Maggie’s hair cut. And I was getting the sense that with the banter about Maggie’s living arrangements, they were setting us up for Maggie to move in with Jim. I would kinda hate that…a lot. She’s damaged and in need of repair and Jim can’t fix her.

    • Ben says:

      I was also very confused. I realize that the lawyer scenes are flash forwards but in the scene with Charlie and the “spy” he asks why Jerry Dantana has been snooping around regarding Genoa for the past 7 months. Since he only got the tip when he was filling in for Jim that led me to assume this episode was obviously 7 months later. Jim came back after a few weeks which is when Maggie came back from Africa and I thought that is when she cut her hair so again, that would have all been 6 – 7 months prior to this episode. Maybe I am totally wrong but I totally got the impression from the previous episode Maggie cut her hair immediately upon returning from Africa and this episode was far from when she had gotten back. Very confused!

      • Steve says:

        Yeah, I expected her have to have red hair in this episode too. Last week’s episode made it look like she did that soon after she got back, which obviously wasn’t the case. But there’s still 7 months between this episode and the depositions, so that’s plenty of time for her to snap and cut her hair.

  6. Brendan says:

    The depth of this cast is astonishing, top-notch acting on display across the board tonight. The subtlety of Will’s reaction to the news, Mac’s calm yet powerful words, the facial expressions as Jim and Maggie banter, and the chemistry between Don and Sloan (Olivia Munn’s performance good enough to stand out among a host of really really good performances). Great episode overall.

  7. Sophonisbe says:

    That Sloan story was strange. That she would be surprised considering all the “nude pics” stories is illogic, and then to see her cry on the floor of a dark office is out of character. And then, they make her punch a guy. Of course what he did was wrong, but what is it with this show and women punching guys (cf. last week’s episode…)? That’s still assault, and it doesn’t tell us that she’s strong – just violent, not the same thing…
    All in all, I love this show, but the way it portrays women in general is beginning to bother me.

    • Dmac says:

      I disagree, you don’t know what you would do if faced with the same situation. I am a pretty calm person, but when I put myself in her shoes I could imagine me doing something similar. Yes, technically it was assault but come on if nude pictures of you were up for the world to see… I say he deseved it!

    • Keith Germann says:

      You have to think the Sloan pictures part of the story was done as a favor to Olivia Munn. She was reported to have engaged in sexting with her real life boyfriend and claims it was all untrue. Using this story line makes you think she was telling the truth when she claimed foul. I thought her reaction was perfect. If she had been even a casual friend of mine, I would have puched out the creep for her.

    • Liz Clarke says:

      I think the point of Sloan’s predicament was simply that when something like this happens, the first thing we say is “How can people be so stupid as to let themselves be photographed nude?”. The answer is, the person posing may not be stupid. Maybe the only thing they did was trust a friend, and that trust was betrayed. In this story, Sloan was betrayed publicly – as so many women and girls have been. The cruelty with which it is done, the humiliation and suffering it intends, the enjoyment it brings to those who push “post” and those who laugh and revel in another’s pain, isn’t entertainment. It’s internet gang rape – ugly, vicious and devastating. Fortunately, Sloan was able to take back control in a confrontation with her twisted ex. Perhaps the message is that a kick in the groin is the only right to this wrong.

    • Catherine Cogdill says:

      I agree that what Sloan did was an assault. I keep thinking that if a women had posted nude pictures of her ex and then the guy kicked and punched her, we would be horrified and he would be in jail. Of all the story lines on this episode, this one seems to be overlooked. I can’t understand why there is not more outrage. What don’t I understand?

  8. Cassie says:

    With Sloan and the pictures, it fits to a certain point. I truly believe no matter how low her self esteem is when it comes to men, she would be smart enough to know that those would eventually get out one way or another. However she was hurt and embarrassed by someone she “bared all” to and he got revenge by making money off of a gift and her body. The groin shot to make herself feel better, I buy. But now I feel that someone recorded the whole thing and we are going to have another viral video posted by some bystander who recognized her.

    • Meredith says:

      I agree on all your points, but I have to say that I’d forgive her fast. I’m not a violent person by any means. I’ve never punched or kicked anyone, but if I knew some guy leaked nude pictures of his celebrity/public figure girlfriend, and that right afterward she did what Sloan did? I’d shrug and think that sometimes people reap what they sow.

      • Jon says:

        Sloane’s Ex will be so embarrassed by her revenge, he won’t press charges or sue her. It is unlikely that the handful of people in that room took a live video. I don’t expect any follow up in the next few episodes.

        I think rather than the false reporting of the Genoa, ACN management decides to bury it in the interest of national security. Jerry can’t take his Pulitzer to the grave and goes half-cocked. He gets fired, and files the law suit to expose Genoa.

  9. M says:

    I’m not feeling like the Maggie breakdown is as organic as they’re expecting it to be. Mac was randomly evil. And now I’m loving Don this season. Everything is upside down!

  10. Jessica Klein says:

    This show gets worse every week. The performances are great. But the stories make no sense. The banter is endless and annoying, and ultimately I just don’t care. The only one I like is Sloan, and it just feels sexist and wrong for her not to have known better. Charlie is the sexiest guy on the show, which is just sad for the others.

  11. Keith Germann says:

    Does anybody else get as sick as I am over Sorkin’s nonstop infpomercial for liberal politics? NBC’s editing of the 911 call to make Zimmerman into a racist could have been a mistake by low level staff instead of the malicious attempt to carry the water for the liberal agenda that it actually was? Romney staffers are mean spitited morons? Anyone with a conservative bone in their body is stupid? The acting is good and the writing works even through a lack of story line, but every episode makes me want to throw something at my television because of the intentional twisting of actual events to fit Sorkin’s political views.

    • scooby says:

      That’s the thing. It didn’t happen to NBC here. This is fiction (can’t stress that highly enough, I swear it’s like people forget that), it happened to Maggie, and it happened for a different reason than what NBC may’ve been thinking. He doesn’t have to mirror everything that really happened. Have you never heard of historical fiction? That’s basically what it is. He’s borrowing the real world and changing things for a dramatic purpose, inserting fictional people who are having their own responses based on their character motivations. Some of those responses he’s borrowed and tweaked from things his journalism advisers told him about, but it’s not a ‘here’s how things ought to be from my liberal perspective.’ He’s flat out admitted he doesn’t know enough to have an informed opinion about the things you think he’s making statements about, so it seems to me when a guy isn’t proclaiming to have a more worthwhile point than the professionals, it’s rather silly to claim he’s broadcasting with his liberal mouthpiece. He’s put a disclaimer on himself and qualified what he’s saying as being for the sake of pure drama. I have a problem with the show from a storytelling standpoint so you don’t have to stop grumbling if you don’t like things, just shift it to things that he’s actually responsible for, okay? Quit comparing the show to real life. It isn’t. It. Is. Fictional. (rinse, repeat) I bet you’re not out there condemning David Mamet because you’re more likely to agree with him. Bill O’Reilly’s made comments using information his own staff told him wasn’t true, but he didn’t like the truth because it spoiled his narrative so he kept going with the original information. Do you criticize things like that? Both sides do bad things. Try to go after all of them or it feels as if you’re just spoiling for a fight against things you don’t like.

  12. Bill Saidel says:

    This episode was good, maybe great, but mostly it was consistent. The issue was not the obvious: not Sloan’s self-esteem (we can argue about that), nor was it reporting about a shortened telephone call. Those are the theatrics. The issue underlying the entire episode was informing “social? media” and considering its impacts compared with real-time events occupying real people (well, actors in the guise of real people). Notice the contrast between Will’s phone calls to a real person in real time vs Don’s and Sloan’s and Maggie’s internet travails and the twitter issue. Will is temporarily and immediately shattered before he recovers. All the other events were not person to person (although I agree people did them) and eventually all the individuals responded. Those issues represent person to social media and then to whomever noticed them. I salute Sorkin for writting a particularly acute episode highlighting the differences.

    • tnsmoke says:

      Very thought out comment. I, for one, am totally hating how people are losing their “one on one” skills due to all the Twitters and eMails and cold interactions nowadays.

  13. HAP says:

    Hmmmm. First time I ever thought that Olivia Munn had any acting ability. She impressed me last night.

  14. tnsmoke says:

    Not a stellar episode but I’ll take it. Still think Jeff Daniels is wonderful and I find that Don, Sloan and Charlie are right behind him as far as best acting. Maggie and Jim have NO chemistry. Don is slowly stealing my heart. I love Emily Mortimer (so great in Lars and the Real Girl) but can barely understand what she’s saying half the time on here. They need to adjust the sound and crank up her volume.

  15. Chloe says:

    I think Charlie and Sloane have chemistry…but I guess they are going the Don route.

    • Thea says:

      Agreed about the chemistry, though more in a student/mentor kind of way. My favorite moment of the night, besides Don’s “no no” to her douche of an ex, was when Sloan and Charlie briefly grasped hands as she walked out to confront said douche. His silent support of her was very touching.

  16. LoriT says:

    I loved episode 6 . Will ‘s reaction to his dad’s death was so natural and played so real …and Mac’s caring and emtional tone when comforting him . I think the chemistry between these two is GREAT . We need more of it . They should definitely get together before breaking up again.

  17. Steve says:

    Flash forwards, flash backs, and Maggies flip flop hair color drive me crazy. They jump around more than Marty McFly when he went back in the later movie to help the Marty from the earlier movie.