The third episode of The Newsroom season three (“Main Justice”) was clearly the worst one this year and one of the worst in the show’s history. It had several unbelievably ridiculous situations and an unpalatable dose of Aaron Sorkin’s disdain for newness. That said, it was also the sexiest episode in the show’s history, with a beautiful new addition to the cast and a scorching steam room scene. Here are some random thoughts on The Newsroom s3e3.
Anything Goes — The episode starts off with Atlantis Cable News producer Gary Cooper singing “Anything Goes” as he strolls into the office on a Saturday. After Gary turns the corner and sees the FBI raiding the office, “Anything Goes” quickly becomes, “What the f@ck is going on?!?”
I’ve always liked the Gary Cooper character and always been disappointed that he’s a background player. That’s true for this episode too, but the audience learns more about Gary this episode. He has a nice voice, he knows show tunes, and — thanks to a wonderfully awkward meeting with the new human resources VP — he’s the office lothario. Gary Cooper is cool.
News Night vs. the FBI — One of the most unbelievable scenes in The Newsroom’s entire run, the News Night gang engages the FBI in a game of chicken. Unhappy with the FBI’s search, ACN president Charlie Skinner pretends to call the Los Angeles studio with the intention of breaking in with a live report on the search of the New York office. The rest of the team follows his lead in an absurdly perfect way and the FBI falls for the ruse. I don’t believe for a second that a newsroom team could outsmart FBI agents through impressive improv skills. Come on now.
ACN For Sale — On the Atlantis World Media level, CEO Leona Lansing and president Reese Lansing go to Charlie’s office with the unfortunate news that they have to sell off ACN in order to retain control of AWM. Leona looks genuinely disappointed and touches Charlie’s hand in a subtle, but meaningful way. The guy the Lansings intend to sell to, Silicon Valley millionaire Lucas Pruitt, has all sorts of ridiculous “new media” ideas for the network. He’s also an unlikable prick. It’s another example of Aaron Sorkin’s disdain for the modern world. While I agree that a lot of modern reporting is wretched, the writing here is way too preachy. It’s the “good and pure” old-fashioned way of reporting the news vs. the “crap and tainted” way that new media does it. Like I mentioned in my last recap, modern media has introduced many excellent things along with a lot of trash. Writing about a “people stalking Danny Glover channel” is preposterous and I can’t believe that a Silicon Valley millionaire would propose such a preposterous idea.
Slumdog Millionaire’s Venezuelan Vacation — The audience learns that Neal Sampat is hiding out in Venezuela (no extradition!) by way of Cuba by way of Calgary. His situation has gone from bad to worse. The News Night superpowers and their awesome lawyer have been summoned to Washington for a source shakedown. News Night anchor Will McAvoy believes that his star status will protect him from the worst. Unfortunately, he’s served a subpoena at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. The law is coming down hard on Neal and the News Night staff. Apparently the government doesn’t like journalists assisting in espionage and (accidentally) coercing sources to uncover classified government documents.
The Source is…Hot — At the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, the source of the leaked documents revealed herself. She’s played by the lovely Clea DuVall. I’ve always been a fan of her and I was thrilled to see her on the show. She stole my heart in But I’m a Cheerleader and now she steals classified government documents in The Newsroom. Clea has come full circle (not really). While seeing sexy Clea DuVall was fantastic, she wasn’t the sexiest part of this episode. That distinction goes to the…
Sexy Cougar Steam Room — News Night executive producer McKenzie MacHale had a clandestine meeting with her longtime friend, FBI special agent Molly Levy. The scene was…hot. Watching two beautiful cougars discussing serious matters in a steam room while wearing nothing but towels leaves a lot to the imagination. I can see the fan fiction now. “Special agent Levy searched Mac, caressing her in a commanding and sensual way that made sure that Mac knew that she must have her now.” Hold on. I’m going to go watch that scene again.
Jim Harper, Doormat — Senior producer Jim Harper had a lot more screen time this episode, but spent most of it getting his ass kicked by the women in his life. Associate producer Maggie Jordan treated him like dirt (more on that later) at the office, while his girlfriend Hallie Shea (Meryl Streep’s daughter) treated him like dirt at home.
The argument between Jim and Hallie touched a nerve with me. Hallie received a job offer from a website that awards its writers bonuses for traffic. That’s a common thing these days, but Jim was shocked by the practice. On one hand, it fits into Sorkin’s “I hate the Internet!” ramblings. On the other hand, traffic bonuses are responsible for millions of crappy articles. I hate the practice for lowering the standards for Internet writing and introducing the clickbait phenomenon, but I’ve also accepted that that’s how the Internet works these days.
New Competent Maggie — Oh Maggie…what have you become? Once the awkwardly charming girl in the office, Maggie has become a confident and successful woman. She has also become completely unlikable (at work, anyway). She’s belligerent, insubordinate, and violent in the office. I hate the message that sends. It’s as if you have to be an a-hole in order to be successful. While that’s true in many cases, there are plenty of nice people that have accomplished great things. Hopefully it doesn’t get to the point where the audience is thinking, “I wish you died in Uganda, Maggie!!!” With two episodes left, there might not be enough time to redeem her.
Human Resources Hates Love — The aforementioned new VP of human resources has it out for interoffice romance. While Will is too big of a star to go after, the HR guy takes aim at 10PM executive producer Don Keefer and his sometime replacement anchor Sloan Sabbith (played by the dreadful Olivia Munn, but you already knew that). This storyline seems like filler. It feels so unimportant with the FBI raiding the office and the team reporting on the end of the world. Speaking of which…
This is the End — The Environmental Protection Agency admin that Maggie met last episode was a guest on the Friday edition of News Night. On the show, he looked and sounded like an utterly defeated man that had given up all hope. He “shared” his hopelessness with News Night’s viewers, saying that the environment has been damaged beyond hope and that there are people alive today that will die because of what humans have done to the planet. While Don and Sloan dating is unimportant compared to the FBI vs. News Night, perhaps none of it matters if the world is coming to an end.
That would be funny if he was an intentionally crappy guest just to get back at Maggie. Then again, maybe it wouldn’t be. It would annoy the hell out of me if Maggie gets depressed over the dramatically dire story she produced and jumps lovingly into Jim’s waiting arms. Ugh.