The Newsroom, S1 Ep3 – The 112th Congress

Jim & Neal

Seriously, though, Jim, Neal, & Maggie are giving me Sam, Josh, & Donna flashbacks all over the place. Not a bad thing.

And now it’s Election Night 2010. It’s just like old times, with people scurrying around communicating election results as they come in (but unlike The West Wing, there’s no Josh bellowing, “I need numbers!”). Sloan, Will, Elliot, and an analyst are all on the show covering the results. Apparently, Elliot has been repeating how they’re looking at the beauty of American democracy in action, which is annoying everyone. *Elliot really has less charisma than, like, Keanu Reeves at his most wooden, so I am left wondering again how he got his own hour of TV.

Anyway, when the show goes to a break, Don takes Elliot aside and reams him out for being “so fucking enthralled with the act of punching a ballot” when Don is working as hard as he can to get Mack and Will to help Elliot become a star. And while I can grasp Don’s frustration after only having seen Elliot on the air for a few seconds, I also agree with Elliot that that was a terrible pep talk. He angrily tells Don he has three options: get back together with Maggie so he can go back to being not quite as much of a prick, don’t get back together with her but get over it, or he’s fired. Don assents.

Maggie comes over to Will to give him some notes. She also inappropriately suggests that he meet his women at the restaurant instead, to give Mack a break. Will says he can’t get the image of Mackenzie with her ex-boyfriend out of his head, but he’s not trying to rub her face in it — he’s “just not considering her feelings at all.” Then he pauses and admits that he did just hear himself say that. Heh. Showing admirable maturity, he then goes to apologize to Mack in the control room. But of course before he can do more than start to say sorry (man, this episode could have been called “Apologies”), Mack’s boyfriend comes into the room. His name is Wade, and he’s blandly okay on first impression. Mackenzie at least has not been rubbing him in Will’s face, though. They’ve been going out for three months, she tells him after Wade leaves. She says sorry, but he just says that this is exactly what’s supposed to happen, and departs after telling the control room folks that they’re doing a great job.

After the broadcast is over, Charlie invites Jim to come have a drink with him and Will and some of the others. Jim agrees. Meanwhile, Neal points out to Jim that Maggie is over on the stairs. Jim goes to tell her she did a good job … aaaand then Don comes down the stairs and the two start kissing. Jim looks crushed. Despite the fact that he says he has “no words” to describe how brutal that was, Neal babbles on about how brutal it was for a bit until Jim stops him. Heh.

Leona

Don’t mess around with Leona.

Back in the board meeting, the presentation on the last six months is over. Leona asks to have the room. Everyone but Reese, Charlie, and Leona leaves. Leona starts to tell a long joke. Charlie listens in amusement; you can tell now if you couldn’t before that he likes her and doesn’t think of her as an enemy. But when he laughs at the punchline, Leona explodes, demanding to know what has happened to News Night. Charlie explains about the irrelevance of “balance” instead of facts when doing the news. She fires back that Will has humiliated congressional candidates on her air, and she has business in front of this congress, no matter how dangerously stupid they might be. That gives Charlie pause. Reese is ordered to leave at this point. Thank God. Leona and Charlie have a brief exchange about Reese and how he’s going to be in charge of the company one day (Charlie hopes he’ll be dead by then; Leona says she can arrange that). Then they get down to business.

Leona says that although she and Charlie (and Will) agree on the stupidity of the newly elected congressmen, some of them will need to be AWM’s friends on the House Subcommittee for Communications and Whatever blah blah, so Will can’t keep making fun of them. Charlie reveals that these two have known each other for twenty years and asks Leona if she would have told Murrow to lay off Joe McCarthy if McCarthy had been on the House Subcommittee for Communications. Of course, Leona wouldn’t. But she remains unmoved. In fact, she plays her trump card, threatening to fire Will. Charlie is stunned that she would consider this. She says she’s not asking him to cover anything up or lie, but he needs to tone it down. She would even go so far as to manufacture something to make it look like firing him was a noble step the company would take to sacrifice ratings for integrity. Man, Sam Waterston and Jane Fonda are masters.

The toast

“To the 112th Congress: Godspeed, and God bless America.”

Next scene is Will, Sloan, Jim, Neal, Charlie, Gary Cooper, and Elliot all out for post-election night drinks at the bar where staffers normally hang out. Will is clearly sad that Mack isn’t there to join them, but he moves past it. He proposes a toast to democracy — but Charlie is interrupted by a chime on his phone. It’s Leona, telling him to see her for a meeting. When Will asks what he thinks it’s about, Charlie just smiles and says she probably wants to say, “Good job.” Liar. Will proposes a toast to the 112th Congress, and we fade to black. Certainly the best episode yet.

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