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This week’s episode of The Newsroom is of course filled with loads of drama, in this case focused even more on the relationships between characters than the news. A number of issues are touched on in this episode in relation to the characters as well as the important news stories. Neal continues to pursue his coverage of the Occupy Wall Street Movement, although the movement still seems to be a joke to everyone else. Troy Davis’ execution is also a main plot point during the episode, as Don wants to fight for him and talks to the rest of the station about his innocence. This seems to cause a bit of trouble for him and he even gets emotional as the story is being presented on screen. Surely these feelings are unavoidable, but Don needs to do a better job of distancing himself from the material, as Will points out to him in a key moment during the episode.
The story with Maggie and the video posted of her on YouTube continues in this episode, causing problems for her with multiple people, amplifying the struggle in her personal life. There has been in a constant struggle between her involvement with Jim and Don, which escalates, taking a turn for the worse, after a video, showing her feelings for Jim, is made public. Lisa, who is best friends with Maggie and dating Jim, also sees the video, finally realizing what is going on, and feels humiliated. Maggie tries to do all that she can in order to prevent Lisa from seeing the video (she wants to save their friendship), but her efforts are in vain, since Lisa sees it anyway and is very hurt. Either way, Maggie is in an awkward position, since she eitehr has to lie or engage in deception, and it would not be right to keep something like that from Lisa. Maggie just can not catch a break lately, now that she’s lost both of the guys in whom she was interested, and now she’s lost her best friend as well. Later on, we see Maggie move on to more important things like planning her trip to Uganda, where, as we found out last week, something tragic happened while she was away.
Maggie is first shown sleeping in an office at News Night, post break-up up with Don, and soon she goes adventuring with Sloane to find the person who posted the video in hopes of getting it taken down. In an odd and uncomfortable encounter, she ends up finding the poster’s location by tracing her account and linking it to Foursquare. She and Sloane then find poster and awkwardly have to confess who they are and how they found her. Only after Sloane agrees to tweet a plug for her blog does Erica, the girl who posted the video, agree to take it down. We find out later in the episode that it seems that, for some reason, Erica didn’t hold up her end of the bargin. I find this a bit confusing and wonder why she did not take it down. It’s not as if she posted it with the intention of anyone getting hurt, so why keep a video like that on the web knowing that it could end a friendship?
The Occupy Wall Street story line continues to build as Neal is arrested toward the end of the episode. He was mocked and teased for even being interested in this story originally; meanwhile he ended up pursuing the infamous rumor, provided to him by a source, that Radiohead would be playing during the protest. He proves the office and others wrong when he shows up, not to find Radiohead playing, of course, but a chaotic mob of people whom he ends up joining. Even though he reveals that he was with the press, he is still arrested, and Will comes down to the station to personally get him released (luckily, Will has footage that Neal was able to record while he was being arrested).This particular story is very interesting to look back on since it is one of the ones that received a lot of coverage at the time and was also a story of the people. Neal is also mocked mercilessly before he is arrested. At one point, it even seems that he has given up on the story, and only returns to the issue after being told about the Radiohead rumor. What if he had never pursued it? It’s a bit of a scary idea to think about, knowing that news networks could dismiss important stories just because they seem unlikely.
The title of the episode, “The Genoa Tip,” also relates to the incident in which it was discovered that the American military was responsible for spraying sarin gas on civilians. This rumor originated with Jerry, who told Mackenzie, who got it from a source that was there at the time, which is a shocking relevation with which to end the episode. A man who revealed himself to a Special Forces soldier shares dangerous details regarding Americans’ actions regarding civilians in the Middle East. It is incredibly disturbing to think about things like that happening to innocent people and to know that people were poisoned for no reason. This conversation plays over the depressing coverage of Troy Davis’ execution ending the episode on a very dramatic note. The story of Troy Davis was one that was certainly under-reported, and some people may have easily frogotten the story already. This may be why Sorkin included it, while acknowledging the challenge and controversy involved with the issue.
Thoughts and Quotes
— Jim exclaims, “You guys are running for President, you have to get used to bad press!” after being denied a spot on the bus again. Things just are not going well for Jim lately. Although another reporter does reach out to help initially. Following her help, she continues to remind him that she is his competition.
— Will: “It was clear that he was lying, so it didn’t matter that he was lying?”
— Neal: “There’s more rambling and less focusing than when I met you four weeks ago…whoa, something’s going on out there!” Neal is complaining that there is no real story to cover and it is good to see Neal finally get a good story that actually works out. He is such a great character and it was hard to see him struggle so much pushing for the Bigfoot story during the first season.
— In his frustration at the jail, Will goes crazy about the fact that Neal was arrested, “A US citizen was targeted, and others are on death row, for the crime of not being able to afford a good lawyer, and a bunch more have been arrested for wearing Halloween masks, so obviously what I’m doing is dealing with the easy one.” Will, rightfully so, attacks the officer for arresting innocent people who have done nothing wrong. Jeff Daniels deftly shows his dramatic side and takes charge in this scene, a very powerful one for the viewer.
— In a funny moment when Maggie walks in on Mackenzie at the gym, she sarcastically tells her, “You might want to try to not scream the words ‘national security.'” Maggie comes to her with urgent news of national security, but in this case it seems that maybe she could have waited since it is obviously hard for Maggie to contain her emotions, as viewers have seen frequently on the show.
— Maggie: “I want to be the go-to person in something around here. If you had to start a news team with five people, I wouldn’t be one of them.” Good for Maggie for sticking up for herself. It is a little troubling knowing what this trip will bring for her ahead of time, but we still do not know what happened and just know that she gets into trouble somehow. It is great that she is attempting to get out and do something important at least, in order to avoid all of her personal problems at home.