The Newsroom, S1 Ep6 – Bullies


We open with Will struggling to finish a broadcast, making all kinds of slips of the tongue and generally not sounding anywhere near as put-together as he usually does. Mercifully, it ends without him saying anything too awful (we’ll see that later, on purpose). Mack pulls him aside to ask what’s wrong. Will admits he hasn’t been sleeping well lately. As in, hardly at all. Mack says he needs to do something about that, and he says he has an appointment with his therapist tomorrow. It’s the same guy he’s been seeing for four years — except, as it turns out, Will’s been paying him for four years without actually going to any appointments. I cannot imagine having that disposable of an income.

That makes David Krumholtz one of a handful of actors who have worked with both of my favorite TV showrunners (Joss Whedon and Aaron Sorkin).

The next day, we see Will get out of the passenger seat of a nice SUV. Terry Crews gets out of the driver’s seat and follows him inside the building to his therapy appointment. In the waiting room, they banter most excellently about how Will doesn’t really want to be here but didn’t go see his regular internist for a sleeping pill so perhaps he not-so-subconsciously knows he should be here. Then, the doctor comes out. It’s David Krumholtz! I love you, David Krumholtz. He does not play Dr. Abraham Habib, whom Will thought he was coming to see, but the late doctor’s son, Jack (who took over his practice). Will’s been paying Jack for two years without knowing that Abraham died.

So he finally goes into the office, learning by-the-by that Charlie Eppes — I mean, Jack Habib is only 29 and was therefore something of a prodigy. And having the therapy session be the background setting for this episode works well, although I’m afraid this is no “Noel” (which remains some of the finest 45 minutes of television I’ve ever seen). Anyway, Jack gets down to business, asking what’s going on. Will says he just needs a prescription for a sleep aid and Jack agrees, but continues to ask questions. It comes out that Will’s diet hasn’t changed since college — he eats a scrambled egg, bacon, and cheese sandwich every night before bed — and it’s not a change in exercise regimen, either (Will doesn’t have one). Also, it comes out that Will was on anti-anxiety meds four years ago, but he’s “cured” now. When Will tells Jack that he doesn’t have any extra stress at work, though, Jack stops accepting all his answers and asks him what he’s doing wasting Jack’s time.

^ The above pictured man is not actually able to fix the internet. Nor is Aaron Sorkin.

Clearly, Will is experiencing extra stress at work — namely, a death threat (among other events). Will doesn’t think that’s a big deal; in his experience as a criminal prosecutor, if someone’s serious about killing you, they won’t send you a threat first. However, Terry Crews (whose character’s name is Lonnie Church) is, in fact, the bodyguard that AWM’s insurance company has assigned him. Will seems alone in not thinking the threat is real — partly because it came via comment on News Night‘s website after Will changed the rules so that no one could post anonymously. And here we get a flashback explaining how that came about. We learn that Will is frustrated with such things as the stupid user names people post under, and how cowardly it is to hide behind them. Also, according to Neal, the ratio of discontent to content people who post online comments is about thirty to one. So Will wants anyone who posts to have to say their name, age, occupation, and level of education. This is possible, says Neal, if they use a third-party verification system like the IRS uses when you file online. Mack wonders if that won’t just mean no one posts on their website, but Will thinks that would be fine, and anyway, it will mean their website will “ghettoize every other website.” Yes, he thinks he can singlehandedly fix the Internet. Oh, Sorkin. Just get over the TWoP thing already, will you? Seriously.

Then there’s a segment where Will addresses the controversy of the plans to construct a mosque—actually, as Will points out, a Muslim community center—near Ground Zero in NYC.  It’s a pretty good segment.  It includes Will saying, “The US is in no more danger of coming under Shariah Law than it is the rules of Fight Club.”  Heh.  He also counters the guest’s arguments about “creeping Islam” with many examples of truly awful things done in the US by Christians and/or in the name of Christianity. His point is that 9/11 (and these awful things such as acts by the KKK, abortion clinic bombings, and the assassination of MLK, Jr.) were attacks by sociopaths—not a matter of religion. And, it is after this segment, that Will gets the death threat online, even with the new rules about how to comment. This whole death threat plotline, including Will’s reticence to accept protection, is reminiscent of CJ and the Secret Service agent in S3 of The West Wing. Just don’t get shot in a mundane convenience store holdup, Lonnie.

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