The first part of the broadcast goes smoothly. The interview with the crazy people, however, is so very painful that I could hardly watch, much less recap it. Will really tries to carry it, but these folks are so much the opposite of reasonable experts that it’s pretty nigh impossible. You can feel the shame of everyone in the studio, too. Mack eventually tells him to dump the segment, but Will presses on until it’s clear he’s punishing her and probably everyone else who messed up, as well. Thankfully, even he can’t handle much longer and finally the segment is over. But the shame doesn’t end there, because the Sarah Palin footage comes up and it’s even worse than I imagined and aaaagh, there’s no reason to think that it isn’t real footage of her response to the oil spill. Mack purses her lips and leaves him to try not to mock it. He fumbles around to try to come up with a valid point Palin could have been making, and fails pretty badly.
At least he goes right away to apologize to Charlie for the night’s show. Charlie agrees that it was pretty bad. He also informs Will that, not only has Charlie seen Mack’s email, but the rest of the 178,000 people who work for the company saw it, too. Will brushes it off, saying it can’t be worse than what actually happened. Charlie wishes Will had told him, and when Will asks how that would have helped, Charlie says he would have found a way to make Will feel better because that’s what he does. D’awww. Whatever his faults, Sorkin does write some beautiful male friendships. Anyway, the upshot of their conversation is that Will needs to get it together and also? He needs to stop meeting with Reese.
Before Will leaves for the night, Mack confronts him – and this time, she does have some moral high ground which she will not give up. She asks whether he’s in or out on the plan they’d made for the show.
Will can’t believe she could dare to be mad at him. But she pins him down about the Palin footage. Their catastrophe was a mistake, while Will on the other hand acted out of fear and his need to be loved by strangers. Yes, she knows about his reliance on Reese and the ratings. She wants him to step up and lead with integrity, and she gives him until Monday (it’s Friday) to tell him if he’s in or out.
Neal has invited Jim out for drinks with the rest of the crew, at the karaoke bar where they all usually hang out. 2010-appropriate music is sung while one of the guys (whose improbable name is Gary Cooper – he’s the one whose phone Mack destroyed) encourages the rest of them that they really can pull off 2.0 . Maggie, meanwhile, is drinking alone and looking quite sloshed. Before Jim can go over to her, though, Don comes over and is very supportive in all the wrong ways. He tells her Will and Mackenzie are going to fail and when that happens he won’t be able to help her anymore. She tells him they should break up and gives a pretty great rant about the state of her life. Yet when he agrees about the break-up, she apologizes… except by that time he’s already left.
That’s when she approaches Jim and, quite drunk, demands to talk to him. He takes a drink and joins her. She’s angry that he covered for her and says he and Don have this fantasy that she needs protecting. Jim, however, says it’s because he covers for her, Mack covers for him, Will for Mack, and Charlie for Will. He didn’t yell at her today because he knows she feels worst of all so she won’t do it again. This mollifies Maggie somewhat until he can’t believe she wants to go to Don’s apartment to apologize for nothing so they can get back together. She rants at him a bit, but admits she still doesn’t know why she’s being mean to him. I guess that’s a bit of a different spin on Josh and Donna, then, because it was rarely Donna who was mean to Josh. Anyway, Jim gets Tess to give Maggie a ride to Don’s place after all. First, though, he tells the assembled group that if they fuck up again this badly, he’ll get angry.
Then Neal gets a call on his cell. It’s Will. He wants Neal to find the info Neal mentioned at the first rundown of the day about an illegal immigrant in Washington state who had his driver’s license taken away. He wants to anonymously pay for the man to get a taxi to and from work. Neal is astonished, but agrees. Then Will tells him to hand the phone to Mackenzie. She starts in on an apology. He won’t let her, though – what he wants to say is that he’s in. Smiling slightly, she wants to know if he’ll still care about ratings. He will, but the main thing is that he’s in. And then the camera pans away from Will’s apartment balcony to his view of the Statue of Liberty. I guess that’s probably cheesy, but it sure worked for me.
So, I guess it didn’t take long at all for us to learn about Mack and Will’s back story. Still, I’d wager we might get a flashback episode to fill things in, all the same – and that’s an even bigger possibility now that the show has already been officially picked up for season two!