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The newest episode of The Newsroom features a return to the main story of this season, which is the issue of whether the United States used sarin gas on a group of civilians in Pakistan. The events that occurred in the past episode aren’t mentioned, since as the episode begins, it appears that we have fast forwarded seven months into the future. The episode begins with the first red team meeting, called to discuss the sarin gas story, with everyone on the show appearing to be a part of the team, except for Will. Everyone in the room continues to discuss the story, and we find out that due to the severity of the story, many people are still not willing to accept the fact that it really happened. It really does not seem possible that a story like this would be able to be kept a secret for such a long time, making it hard for audience members to believe the story too, I am sure.
In the meeting, we learn that a new person has information about the story; Jerry reveals that General Stomtonovich is the source. In the scene that follows, Mackenzie and Charlie go to his house in order to find out more information about what he knows and if they will finally be able to validate their story. General Stomtonovich, played by guest star Stephen Root, appears to be very confused and does not even remember that they were coming over that morning. Root plays the part excellently; while refusing to talk to them about what they want to hear, he defiantly watches a basketball game on television. He does not seem to answer any of their questions about chemical weapons, and later in the interview he flips out on them, telling them they should not be coming into his house asking about sarin gas. The interesting part about this is that they had not mentioned sarin gas up until this point. It seems that Stomtonovich’s past has finally caught up with him, and even without saying what they were really there for, he has stumbled into a confession regarding what happened. He then agrees to an interview and Jerry is the one to do it later on, albeit in a very uncomfortable fashion.
Meanwhile, back at the station, Will is covering the Republican primary, and he continues to battle with his crisis of negative feedback from the audience of his show. He features an interviewed guest that is one of Rick Santorum’s supporters, while the topic of conversation is soon turned to the idea of religion and how it seems to be affecting the candidates in different ways. Santorum seems to embrace his religion and talk about how important his faith is to him, while Will points out that Romney wants to shy away from the topic. Will tries to attack this man on the air and does a good job of it, at least as The Newsroom audiences would assess the interview, although it seems that his viewers still do not agree with what he is doing. After he gets home to Nina, who he is apparently dating now, she tells him that he should really just stay away from the topic of religion altogether, although she also tells him to go on The Morning Show, and her advice backfires when that appearance turns out to be completely miserable; he messes up his performance on purpose and proceeds to break up with her directly thereafter.
The other continued storyline featured prominently is the love story that seems to be developing between Jim and Hallie. The two of them are attending some sort of dinner sponsored by the Romney campaign, who Hallie is still working for. Hallie has a friend that is also planning to attend, and Neal is awkwardly roped into the situation as her blind date. It soon becomes clear why this woman was in the situation in the first place, as she is very outspoken and seems a bit crazy. She also appears to be Ron Paul’s spokesperson, going on and on about his policies and then after we find out that Taylor was fired from Romney’s campaign she even suggests that Taylor come work for Paul instead. Taylor tortures Jim by coming along on their dinner date, and she proceeds to question him about why he was even on the bus with Maggie in the first place. This causes a backlash where he complains about Romney and all of his policies and finds out that Taylor actually agreed with something he said and got fired from the campaign because of it. Good for you, Taylor. Even though she has been a part of Romney’s campaign during her time on the show up until this point, I knew there was a good side to her somewhere and she definitely did the right thing.
A second red team meeting is held at the end of the episode, following the General Stomtonovich’s interview with Jerry. Jerry interviews him, and without actually getting him to admit that sarin gas was used, Jerry takes it upon himself to edit the interview to pretty much get him to say what he wanted him to. It seems that Jerry is willing to do anything in order to get this story published, breaking all sorts of journalistic ethics. It almost makes audiences wonder what his involvement is…does he have some sort of personal connection to someone involved or something? Charlie refuses to count it as enough information and Jerry erupts with a wild monologue about the atrocity of the crime committed, ending with a frustrated “what the f**k is going on?” What is going on with Jerry and why is he so concerned with this story? Stay tuned in the coming weeks to find out more.
Thoughts and Quotes
— General Stomtonovich: “Here are my conditions. You’ll black out my face, alter my voice. We’ll do it right here, tomorrow.” Mackenzie tells him that Jerry will be responsible for doing the interview since it has been his story from the beginning.
— Taylor: “How do you know that Reagan’s horse didn’t dance?” The topic of Ann Romney’s (we all remember this story) comes up between when the group is on their way to the Romney dinner, and Taylor defends the idea with this silly comment. Previously, Jim and Hallie talked about the fact that Nancy Reagan had a horse, too, but they did not make it out to be a dancing horse. Up until this point, Taylor was not a very likable character, but at least she brought the humor.
— Fearing that Will has lost his power as an anchor, Nina questions him, saying, “Are you being sacrificed in order to do the show that Charlie and Mackenzie want you to do?” It seems that as of recently Nina would be very correct in this questioning; Will has certainly sacrificed some of his ideas in order to do what they wanted from him.
— Mackenzie: “Nothing that happened to her is your fault.” Mackenzie says this to Don at the bar, when everyone else seems to be away and Don is criticizing himself for not going after Sloan; at the same time he feels that getting involved with co-workers is a bad idea, after what happened with Maggie. Mackenzie assures him that what happened to Maggie was not his fault in a touching moment that. We have not seen a moment like this between these two characters before now. It also seems like a bit of an odd comment coming from her too though, knowing her past with Will.
— Charlie: “We had a story that the US had used sarin gas on a village in Pakistan and we went. Anybody would have, most people would have went earlier…these were war crimes.” Charlie makes an interesting confession to Halliday and the other lawyers that are present. While he continues to assert that there is not enough information at the time the story is developing, it seems that something convinced him and he is now having to defend their decision…wonder what happened with this story.
— It is interesting how each of the different characters seem to find themselves in the briefing room with Halliday at different times, as more continues to get revealed each time. What really happened? Will we find out in some sort of shocking finale?