The Newsroom Recap: Skinner, We're Going Down Swinging

The Newsroom Season 3 Recap

One of the ACN family files the most final of deadlines in this week’s Newsroom. Sadly, it’s not jerky upstart Ray Pruit.

Nope, the series’ penultimate episode is marked by the passing of the bowtie-wearing, heavy drinking, Pruit-placating Charlie Skinner. He dies as he lived — screaming at the top of his lungs in the newsroom — at the exact same time a federal prison gives Will his walking papers.

Meanwhile, Moscow is for lovers, or so Jim and Maggie would have us believe.

Read on for what happens in “Oh Shenandoah.”

ORANGE IS THE NEW WILL | After seeing Will check into prison, we skip to Day 52, when he’s sharing a cell with a chatty, anti-Semetic domestic abuser who’s doing two years for his third offense. The guy (played by Kevin Rankin, Friday Night Lights) tries to pick a fight with the News Night anchor, who demands he stand and face him. “I’m not your wife,” Will growls. “Raise your hands above your hips, and I’ll knock you the f—k into next week.” (Careful, Will: I’ve seen enough Orange Is the New Black to know that kind of nonsense will land you in the SHU!)

That settled, the man proceeds to ask him about everything — the photo of him and his dad on a fishing trip Will has taped above his bunk, his “mission to civilize,” why Will thinks he’s better than him — and Will answers tersely. McAvoy gets a respite when Rebecca and Barry Lasenthal, the government lawyer, visit: Because Lily (Neal’s source) has committed suicide in front of the Department of Justice, all they need is for Will to say she was the leaker, and he can go home. But on the grounds of holding up Neal’s faith in him, the anchor will neither confirm nor deny, so back to his cell he goes.

Eventually, Rebecca submits an order for the court to vacate Will’s sentence, and she’s spoiling for a fight with Lasenthal… so she’s surprised when he’s on board with the action. Jailing Will was supposed to be coercive, not punitive, he notes, and it’s clear McAvoy has no plan to give up the goods. So Will is freed, and as we watch him clean out the cell, it becomes clear that he never really had a cellmate: The other inmate was Will’s dead father, whose face we see in the fishing photo. Makes it clear how he knew that Will’s dad was a drunk, plus all that stuff about the simplicity of the fishing trip, eh?

FROM RUSSIA, WITH… | Across the world, Maggie and Jim wait in a Moscow airport for a flight to Havana, Cuba — the same flight for which NSA hacker Edward Snowden allegedly has a ticket. (Can we talk for a moment about how Maggie speaks Russian? When girlfriend pulled her act together, apparently she really pulled her act together.)

Problem: The pair actually doesn’t have tickets from Moscow to Havana, Cuba; the network’s travel office booked them to Havana, Spain — which Maggie probably wants to rail against, but likely remembers when she very publicly thought “LOL” meant “lots of love,” and thinks better of it. Jim sweet-talks a Havana-bound honeymooning couple into trading tickets with them… but is it really sweet-talking if he also has to hand over his watch, suitcase and the clothes he’s wearing?

So Jim boards the plane wearing an oversize Sochi Olympics T-shirt and pajama pants, which makes what happens next seem all the more ridiculous. First: Snowden spooks and doesn’t get on the flight, meaning that Mags and Jim are headed away from the story rather than closer to it. Second, Maggie divines that her co-worker didn’t call Hallie to apologize when he stepped away a while before, and when she presses him about it, he replies, “I like you, and I don’t really know why you don’t know that.” The look on Maggie’s face is similar to the one on mine; both yell, “Oh dear Lord, we’re going to do this now?”

She says he hasn’t been clear with his feelings and that he never once called her from New Hampshire after their Season 1-ending debacle. She sends him away to sit somewhere else while she processes, but she eventually bids him return so she can kiss him and smile at him. (Side note: Anyone else with me on being very into this relationship in Season 1, not so much now? Or is it just that the standard for fictional airplane hook-ups has been raised?)

NEW WORLD ORDER | Pruit is ruining ACN, from the hashtagged ads (“#uracn,” which is lame, but I don’t agree with Don, who claims it reads like “urine”) to demanding that Charlie have News Night bring on Lady Gaga’s manager to talk about her Defense of Marriage Act tweets. Skinner winds up in the classic middle-management conundrum: The man above him thinks he’s not doing enough to hew to the network’s new agenda, the employees below him think he’s doing too much.

Problem is, Pruit’s tactics have helped the network climb in the ratings and the demo, so it looks like his way of doing business is the new normal. This rankles Mac, who is ordered to give Gaga’s manager airtime; Don, who is ordered to have a college rape victim and the man she says attacked her into the studio for a he said/she said; and Sloan, who makes it her mission to take down ACN’s new acngage app — think Gawker Stalker — singlehandedly.

BETWEEN A RAPE AND A HARD PLACE | Don travels to Princeton to meet with Mary, the student who was raped and who started a Web site that allows other victims to post the names of their attackers. Though he is highly sympathetic to her plight, he point-blank begs her not to come on the show and repeatedly argues that her site — though noble in concept — could one day (falsely) be used by someone with an ax to grind against a jerky ex. Her rebuttal: If it saves even one other woman from having to go through what she’s gone through, the site is worth keeping up. At the end of the meeting, and against Don’s advice, Mary states that she wants to face her rapist on air. (Veep‘s Sarah Sutherland and Thomas Sadoski are great in this scene, by the way.)

SLOAN SUBVERTS AUTHORITY | Meanwhile, Sloan is on the warpath after she learns that ACN has an app that allows people to report celebrities’ comings and goings. She orders Don to talk to Neal’s replacement — her reference to Keefer being her superior “only in the sense of our organizational chart” was gold — but nuNeal does not care that she thinks the app is the worst form of “citizen journalism.” So Sloan does an abrupt course change and invites the guy on News Night to talk about the app, a move Don realizes will get her fired, because of course she’s going to lay into the dude. “I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it,” she says. “You usually blow up that bridge when you come to it,” her boyfriend sagely notes.

And indeed, Sloan skewers nuNeal (I’m not going to even dignify him by mentioning his real name) when he’s seated next to her at the News Night desk. Her arguments aren’t new — an app like that could be unsafe for its targets, doesn’t have any fact-checking measures and ultimately is ridiculous, because who cares if Jimmy Kimmel is drinking at a bar? — but she’s on fire, and it’s a thing of beauty to watch.

SKINNER SIGNS OFF | That is, until the broadcast ends, and Charlie comes bellowing into the newsroom, closely followed by Pruit. Mac reminds him she was ordered to include the segment about the app, Don lies that he couldn’t find the Princeton rape victim and Sloan is unapologetic about the interview she just conducted — all of which turn Skinner into a volcano about to explode. “Is this a mutiny?!” Charlie yells. “It’s an intervention,” Mac says sadly. But all of that gets lost as Pruit threatens to fire everyone who’s ticking him off.

Charlie reminds the oily little guy that he can’t — muttering something that makes me think there’s a protective clause in the contract Pruit signed — and says, “I’ll be back in a minute,” before pausing and falling to the ground, hitting his head on the way down.

As the folk song “Oh Shenandoah” plays in the background, an ambulance hurries the newsman to the hospital, and Will makes his final arrangements to leave the prison.

When McAvoy meets up with his wife later, she hugs him desperately, then tearfully fills him in: Charlie had a heart attack and died.

Now it’s your turn. What did you think of the episode? Ready for next week’s finale? 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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79 Comments
  1. Yoki says:

    As soon as he said I’ll be back, I knew. Heartbreaking episode. I hope they have more than an hour episode next week.

  2. Kevin says:

    Why oh why is this show ending. Love the writing

  3. G. says:

    “Side note: Anyone else with me on being very into this relationship in Season 1, not so much now?”

    Uh, yeah, me. I find them both so incredibly gross and off-putting right now. I can’t even properly explain how much it feels like a waste to spend precious episode minutes remaining on their storyline.

    • rowan77 says:

      While I think calling it “gross” is a bit excessive – I do think they took too long to get these two together and now instead of it being something we’ve been waiting for, now it’s only shrug-worthy.

      • Mick says:

        Agreed and I actually liked the ethics professor.

      • Billie says:

        I agree too. I think the characters in season 1 had chemistry and were sweet together. Jim slowly got so insufferably superior and stuck up though so that I don’t find him charming anymore. And while Maggie’s toughness showed up very sparingly in season 1, it’s her default now when she deals with Jim because its the only way to handle what a dick he is. And they haven’t really shown Maggie interact with anyone besides ethics prof so maybe she’s just hard to everyone now. Who knows.

    • sorry if too intense says:

      Wait till next week when we find out the flight they’re on is actually shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17… How’s that for an interesting / thought provoking love story ending?

      • Eva says:

        I’ll accept any ending at this point, as long as it makes this exhausting love story go away…

      • Velocisexual says:

        You really need to get your facts straight buddy, MH17 was a flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, shot down over Ukraine.

      • plagiator says:

        I object to using the tragedy of this attack on my fellow countrymen and so many other including children to make a (not so) smart remark about a storyline of a tvshow. Shame on you

        • sorry if too intense says:

          Sorry if I offended you… but we are talking about a show that has used such real life tragedies as plot points and story lines in the past…. just this season they used the Boston Marathon bombings. So I don’t put it past them to use such a difficult subject to tell their story… I does draw attention and discussion both good and bad to the situation. Again, I apologize for offending you. But I am not ashamed.

    • Sharon says:

      Me too. And we can add my husband to that list.

  4. You had to know we were heading for heartbreak with this being the last season. Every episode I’d find myself braced for it. I thought tonight it was might be Maggie and Jim dying in an explosion on the plane bare seconds after realizing they were in love. I have to admit that what happened with Charlie totally blindsided me, and I am totally wrecked by it.

  5. Kenny M. says:

    i cannot believe Charlie died, The hero is not suppose to die. I really hope the Newsroom comes back. as far as the new way to distribute news I appluad Sloan for standing up to the lowlife geek internet app guy.

  6. Para says:

    Heartbreaking

  7. Christopher Cole says:

    Not ready for the finale. More importantly, however, I saw Charlie’s death coming a mile away. Anyone else watch Sports Night or West Wing? It would have been a shocker if it was someone else – Don, Sloan, even Pruitt. What would wrap this up nicely (and in a very kick-ass way) would be Will taking Charlie’s place and Sloan moving up to lead anchor.

    • rowan77 says:

      I hope you’re talking about Mrs. Landingham when it comes to deaths on The West Wing (which nobody saw coming), because the only reason Leo was killed off on the show is because the amazing, wonderful and glorious John Spencer died in real life.

      Who died on Sports Night? If you mean Isaac’s stroke – again it was art imitating life: Robert Guillaume had a stroke so when he was ready to return, so did his character.

    • Davis says:

      This is what my imagination conjured up as well. Maybe with Pruitt humbled into some kind of self-imposed redemption and stepping down (though I cannot imagine how anyone, let alone Mr. Sorkin, would convincingly write that script). Either this or everyone quits and it ends like a greek tragedy with the impending doom of ethical journalism. Oh, and I do hope Neal gets to show up at Charlie’s funeral.

  8. Rita says:

    Killing Charlie off was disappointing, predictable and mostly unnecessary. There are several classier ways the could have ended the series.

    • rowan77 says:

      I have to agree. You could see it coming a mile away and it’s unsatisfying. Waterston wasn’t given the chance to plumb the frustrations and inner turmoil of Charlie and while timing it with Will’s release from prison was a smart juxtaposition, I felt like I didn’t want to watch next week’s finale. I think we can all see what’s coming next week.

      On another note – I totally dug Will’s plotline this week with his father as his cellie. I didn’t see that coming. I was beginning to think he was a plant by the feds to get the name of the informant.

      Don has become absolutely awesome – and Sloan continues to be. Can we have a spin-off about these two. Maybe a web series of them having breakfast at that buffet once a week. That’s would be fantastic.

      • Jessie says:

        I totally second the spinoff starring sloan and don, I never thought I would say Don Keefer has become one of my favourite characters after the him and maggie fiasco in s1.

      • Jennifer Bruckler says:

        Your breakfast buffet webcast suggestion = sheer brilliance.

  9. Jay says:

    the episode did not disappoint, Sloan showed she is smarter than all of us and probably the successor for Charlie, and it truly is a shame there are only a few episodes left until this show leaves the airwaves for a permanent vacation. Perhaps will the be the odd reincarnate but I somehow doubt it. Am really going to miss the snappy dialogue.

  10. I’m pretty sure I’ve thought at least once an episode that Charlie was going to give himself a heart attack and die one of these days. Guess I was right?

  11. Tom K says:

    Another fantastic episode…so well written & thought provoking. It’s a crime that more people care about zombies & Kardashians than this fantastic show. Will be sad to see you go next week The Newroom.

    • canadian ninja says:

      Please don’t lump classic horror monsters like zombies in with modern horror realities. Have some perspective, please.

  12. Robby Horine says:

    Put this dog to rest. Just like every other Sorkin show. Overwrought, overacted and OVERRATED!

  13. BL says:

    The real tear jerker moment for me was seeing that Will’s cellmate was actually his father.

  14. William Thomas says:

    This is the best season yet. Excellent plot, dialogue, and acting. It’s sad to see it go. Who sang the version of Shenandoah at the end?

  15. Charlie is having a drink right now with Leo and Mrs. Landingham.

  16. Jenna says:

    This season has been amazing, and this episode was soooo good. Sloan was awesome, and the ending heartbreakingly well done. I hate that this show is ending. It truly is one of the best written and best acted shows on TV.

  17. LT says:

    Kinda bummed the show is ended. Thought the episode was true to the characters and the journey seems to be coming full circle. The old way vs the new. The education of a people vs the entertainment of a people. The battle vs the war. America is not the greatest country in the world. Hopefully, we’ll remember what made us think so.

  18. greysfan says:

    I can’t believe this show is ending next week :( Its an incredible piece of television and i am going to miss it. Poor Charlie too. Such a heartbreaking episode. Really going to miss this show.

  19. Ross says:

    Spoilery headline much?? I mean, I’ve seen the episode, so I don’t care, but what about others who perhaps hadn’t seen it?? Normally you guys are so much better about not spoiling in the headlines.

  20. Lauren says:

    WTF Sorkin…wtf. How is he gonna write his way out of dismantling the entire newsroom…RIP Charlie.

  21. elle says:

    Oh whatever, some people are so pedantic. I was thrilled that Jim and Maggie finally happened. There was a zero percent chance Maggie was ending up with the cameo ethics professor who was introduced for all of two episodes, and Jim was always his best with her & his worst with Hallie. There are really only three main couples on this show and all of them have been clear since season 1. If you seriously weren’t expecting it, I’m not sure why.

    I’m very sad that Charlie died, however. That’s heartbreaking. He was a wonderful character.

    • Well, I can’t speak for everyone else, but I’d hope Harper had more self-worth and enough of a spine to not want to get with a woman who’s treated him like a piece of trash, IN THE WORKPLACE, for years. But clearly he doesn’t.

  22. evconvent says:

    I am truly sad to see this show go. They are packing so much into the last few episodes I don’t even know where to start to talk about it. I’m gutted by Charlie’s death (even though it was easy to see coming doesn’t mean it hurt any less), I’m happy for Maggie and Jim (though I agree it would would have been more satisfying in season 1), and I needed to rewatch the scenes with Will and his dad because I didn’t catch it right away. I love this series, I really do. I can’t believe it’s over next week.

  23. Britta Unfiltered says:

    Ah, I thought that was Catherine from Veep. Man, that episode was a heartbreaker. I was not expecting the death twist. Sorkin doesn’t usually go that route. The only reason he killed off Leo in The West Wing was because the actor died in real life. I thought we would get more of a Robert Guillaume in Sports Night thing where he has the heart attack, but comes out fine. So sad. I just can’t make myself get excited about Jim and Maggie no matter how hard I try. I kind of liked her with Liam McPoyle.

  24. M3rc Nate says:

    Theres only one episode left so who knows, but im curious to see how this effects Olivia Munn’s character. While shes not guilty morally or legally for his death, there is cause and effect, and she did that interview knowing (whether consciously or sub) that he (and the big boss/owner) would be EXTREMELY upset. So i wonder if she will feel strong guilt because of that, have a line like “i…..i killed him…” (to which of course everyone will say no you didnt, which she didnt, but cause and effect, would you knowingly do something that got your grandfather EXTREMELY upset? eh, maybe yes, maybe no, but if you did and he had a heart attack and died…would you feel guilty? Feel like you should be cognizant of the heath of people you get extremely upset?)

    • I think Mac and Sloan both know they somewhat contributed to what happened, tangentially — Keefer too. There’s a scene in the preview with Sloan and Don where they say they want Will to know exactly what happened. I’m sure they mean with Charlie.

  25. Coal. says:

    Normally I hate it when characters have full on conversations with people who aren’t there, but on this occasion it was well done. On a side note I like to view Charlie’s death as Sorkin’s way of telling us of conforming to what as currently trendy in the landscape of entertainment today (How to get away with murder, Gone Girl) is what will “kill him” and he should to stick to his core nature. Or it could just be killing off a character for the sake of doing it.

  26. Jane says:

    The first season I liked Jim, found Maggie silly, Sloan annoying and disliked Don. Now I can’t stand Jim or Maggie and fast forwarded through all of their scenes last night. I now really like Sloan and Don and really like them together. Poor Charlie. I would have gladly just watched he and Will rant for an hour with Rebecca referring occasionally.

  27. Jessie says:

    Killer ep!! Jeez, Sorkin is really spoiling us with these last 6 eps. Best writing in a long time, it was so intense. I loved all the storylines except Jim and Maggie’s. I really do agree with you Kim, I was all for their relationship in S1 but I am kind of rallying against it now, I think its because jim’s relationship with Hallie seemed really genuine and nice at the start and I was really rooting for her (Grace Gummer is awesome) but moreso, they made Jim seem like too much of a douchebag this season, his sympathetic qualities are gone I think. He used to be an asshole for the right reasons and he would get hurt for it but towards Hallie, he was just a plain asshole so I would think now Maggie deserves better or that there is unfinished business between him and Hallie like he needs to redeem himself in front of her. Jim making it up to Hallie is really what I would prefer. Great episode though and I am so excited but dreading the last ep, I never want it to end. Hands down, my favourite show especially because it is about new, did anyone else watch The Hour? Cancelled too soon :(

  28. sergioim35 says:

    there is no Havana in Spain

    • cuius says:

      Agreed – my sat-nav only shows an Havana pub in Madrid – Sorkin getting desperate

    • apagaycierraalsalir says:

      That´s true. There is not a Havana in Spain, trust me. The one in cuba didn´t get it from a spanish city/region/place… it´s really weird that they couldn´t get anything better to excuse the error in the tickets.

  29. Joe Foley says:

    Does anyone know who sang the song Oh Shenandoah on newsroom?

  30. Did anyone think of the rolling Rolling Stone about Virginia and the rape web site story line?

  31. Denis Donovan says:

    The Song is Shenandoah by Sissel

  32. Deborah Palladino says:

    I love this show. I hate to see it end. It’s simply brilliant as is everything Aaron Sorkin writes. Was that Joan Baez last night?

  33. garybehan says:

    Who on the editorial staff at TVLine signed off on the use of “Between a rape and a hard place” as a sub-heading”

    Bad, bad. Using that word for humour is the lowest of the low and it’s not ok.

  34. Karen says:

    RAY Pruit?! Isn’t that the singer/songwriter who threw Donna down the stairs on 90210??

  35. Stephen says:

    Gah! Please don’t put spoilers in the headline that appears in Google searches!

    All I did was search ‘The Newsroom Season 3’ to see when the next episode is on in the UK and the first thing I see is ‘Charlie Dies’. Anyone who’s seen it knows that, so just put ‘Shock Death’ or basically anything other than the only two words that completely give away the major event in the episode! Seriously, did anyone at TV Line actually consider what use there is in putting a spoiler in the headline?

    I’m avoiding your site in the future.

  36. Cheryl N says:

    I like Maggie and Jim. In the 1st season he was ready but she was immature, a child clinging to Don at the expense of her dignity. In the 2nd season she was one step from the asylum, trying to process the African slaughter. Jim clearly cared about her (sitting with her in the hall when she couldn’t function). In season 3 Maggie has finally gotten it together, getting strong physically, becoming an adult in demeanor and dress, and has fulfilled her promise.
    They’re now equals, and ready for a grown-up relationship.

  37. Cheryl N says:

    I am mourning Charlie’s death, the end of the show, and a future where Aaron Sorkin doesn’t have a show. His writing is beautiful, his idealism inspired, and his is a world in which I choose to live.

  38. Jim says:

    A great episode in a wonderfully well written and executed series. I will miss the series, the cast and the thought provoking dialogue. Let’s hope the void will be filled by another intellectual offering — and not another reality POC.

  39. Frank Tate says:

    It’s a very good, very long remake of His Girl Friday…in my 71st year on this planet, I’ve never met ANYONE who thinks as fast as EVERYONE on this show, and yeah, you ain’t,t allowed to be swapping’ no airline tickets, but Kudos to Sorkin and his mob for some very fine entertainment.

  40. Paul says:

    How dare you post such a spoiler in the damn Google link?! I Google “Newsroom season 3”

    At the top of the page…. THE TOP OF THE PAGE…. THE SPOT YOU PAY FOR… It reads “Charlie Dies”

    You people are EXACTLY what this show preaches against. And thank you for ruining the best show in decades for me.

    I will be damn sure I never come to this tripe site again.

  41. Loved the episode and the series. The series matured over the three seasons and developed a cadence that was very enjoyable to watch. I will miss it.

  42. Rebecca Allen says:

    Please don’t end this show. It is nice having a show on television with sophistication and that doesn’t treat the viewer as a moron. Love the characters.

  43. Who sung ‘Oh Shenandoah’?

  44. Only just finish the last two episode of Newsroom series 3 last night [18/11/2016]. Became hooked to the series after Google gave away the first episode of Season 1 for free and before long I bought up the entire block. This penultimate episode was a big shock. Seeing Charlie go down like that was extremely sad and reflects some things I’ve seen in the media world myself, which perhaps is why it was so gut wrenching. The whole series was extremely well written and reflects so many of the dilemmas faced by individual journalists and news organisations alike. Charlie represented the old school who rejected the facile nature of social media – though he did succumb before Pruitt with the suggestion of running a Twitter feed along the strap. I know it’s only a TV series, but one did feel an almost real sense of loss as Charlie went down. The characters had taken on a very real persona over the course of the three seasons. This was as much to do with the quality and passion of the actors as well as the writing. Sad to see the season come to end, though I don’t think one could expand on what had already been covered. ACN for me wouldn’t be the same without Charlie, and for the characters in the series I’m sure many would feel the same – if this were a real company. Pruitt et al [i.e. the corporate elite] had essentially killed off the passion and driving force and made ACN yet another corporate news gathering organisation. Best TV I’ve seen in years. Goodbye Charlie, ACN and the team.