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This week's episode of The Newsroom features a greater focus on Will's broadcast and the inner workings of the station. Much more is shown of the behind the scenes part of the show and what goes into the broadcast than we've seen in other episodes. We also take a break from the future court proceedings with the lawyer and Maggie's craziness to focus on the present, which also includes Jim back at the station, having interesting interactions with Maggie. This episode almost sits alone in a wild ride of a season that does little to cover the big news stories we've recently seen, such as coverage of Occupy Wall Street and the drama surrounding Maggie. Jerry, the new anchor who brought in the Genoa story, was also not shown or mentioned throughout the episode. I am not quite sure how I feel about the episode's structure, since it somewhat takes away from the show's excitement and makes it feel episodic.
Will receives an incoming call from his father in the opening seconds of this episode. Will knows that something must be wrong and this suspicion leaves him rattled throughout the episode; he doesn't know what to do, so he consults with Mackenzie on a number of occasions. She continually tells him to call back and at least leave a message for his father even if he is not able to talk. As the story progresses, Will finds out that the call was not actually from his estranged father, but from someone trying to inform him that his father is in the hospital. This puts Will on edge, making him uneasy throughout the broadcast and he is unable to act as himself. Audiences are also able to see the episode play out in real time, which is an interesting way to convey the events on this show.
Throughout the episode, the major news story that everyone is focusing on is the Trayvon Martin case, which of course everyone is familiar with by now. The episode is taking place just after the event happened, analyzing the event and talking about whether they feel that it is racially motivated or not. One of the reporters dared to utter the phrase that "he was armed with a bag of Skittles" and I can't help but laugh and cringe every time I hear this information. The language is also a factor, and one detail that I did not quite remember about the case is when Zimmerman was asked what race the boy was, saying that "he looked black." The characters on the show are rightfully troubled by this wording and wonder how someone would not be able to tell whether a boy was black or not.
The other major issue that arises in the newsroom involves Sloan and some new drama that could affect her career once again. She is on edge and freaking out just as much as Will after ACN president Reese reads her the riot act for posing in supposedly private photos that end up going very public, which caused her to be trending No. 1 on twitter. We are never made fully aware of what these photos show, but we know that the guy she was dating is the one who leaked them and betrayed her. Sloan tells Don about how she did not see this coming and totally trusted him. Don spots her cradling herself in the darkness of his office and they proceed to have an emotional talk, while Don criticizes her choice in men and tries to help her. After this, Sloan and Don go to the office of the guy who betrayed her, and she enters her "rage phase," as she puts it, giving him a serious punch to the face. Don then stands in the hallway preventing him from coming after her. The relationship between Sloan and Don is always enjoyable to see, often offering comedic moments, and they are an interesting pair when they work together.
Maggie and Jim work together to download the file of Zimmerman's 911 call, which also gets her into trouble later. Obtaining the file also seems to take forever, with Maggie claiming the reason is because all of the other networks must be trying to get it at the same time. Maggie and Jim have a bit of duel and talk about her state since her return from Africa in their downtime during the download. Jim accuses her of being an alcoholic, telling her that she should use vodka instead, since it hides the smell better. It seems like Maggie deserves a bit of a break this time, and Jim is pushing too much and unnecessarily. After Maggie finally downloads the file, the staff listens to it in the sound room before airing it on television. Maggie also makes a mistake, cutting one of the operator's questions out, which Neal notices when he is transcribing the tape. After he confronts her about this, Maggie simply walks out of the room, and that is all we see from her in this episode. While she seems to be more collected during the episode, when Neal asks her about it, she says that she just made a mistake, so maybe she is back to her old self.
In the closing moments of the episode, Will is then forced to correct this mistake that Maggie made on air. In an uncomfortable finish, the episode ends very abruptly, seemingly going to the credits in the middle of Will's sentence. Just moments before, Will reveals to Mackenzie that his father died, news that he hid for part of the broadcast. He did call his father, and when he went to leave the voicemail, his sister answered, giving him the news. This leaves Will emotional to an extent we have not seen him before and he's left in silence after returning to the broadcast, a period of time that feels like an eternity for live television audiences. This episode is well done and emotions are certainly flying high throughout with the news of Will's father and Mackenzie, who also seemed to be much more aggressive than usual.
Thoughts and Quotes
-- After Jim stands over Maggie during the important download of George Zimmerman's 911 call file, she sarcastically tells him off, saying, "All I want in the world is for you to be standing over my shoulder for the next 99%." I kind of wish he would just leave after what happened, although if that did happen, where would the drama come from?
-- Sloan: "There was no way to see this coming. He was a really nice guy, totally trusted him." Sort of feel bad for Sloan, after everything that has happened to her. She confesses to Don during this episode, and at least she has someone to be there for her, which is nice.
-- Mackenzie is really losing it in this episode and I am not really sure where she is coming from when she totally attacks Neal aggressively saying, "I know it's not rational, but I really do hate you. Tonight, I root for your failure." After becoming one of my favorite characters on the show, I hate to see Neal get treated like this. He is valuable to the team and sometimes Mackenzie just does not seem to realize that.
-- Mackenzie: "I really do think tonight is one of those nights when you should just do everything I tell you to do." As Will replies to this ludicrous statement, how is this different from any other night? Mackenzie tells him this when advising him to call back his father, which is good advice, but the way in which she tells him to do it is just not right.
-- Sloan: "I made it to the rage phase." She says this when encountering the guy who betrayed her and leaked private pictures of her. This statement comes just before she punches him in the face; this level of aggression is rather impressive from Sloan.
-- Mackenzie: "I'll put up color bars before I put you on our cameras." This is a powerful statement coming from Mackenzie, telling a young boy that she would rather have nothing on her program than let him say what he wants to say. A young boy, Jesse, simply wants to honor another boy who had recently committed suicide, after not being able to deal with the fact that he was gay. Jesse wants to use this moment to come out to his parents and the rest of the country, but Mackenzie will not let him, telling him that this is not that kind of show. While I agree that a news program is not the way for this kid to come out to his parents, Mackenzie makes the decision in a very aggressive fashion, making audiences feel bad for the kid.