The Newsroom, S1 Ep6 – Bullies

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Anyway, next we find out what Will is actually feeling guiltiest about.  The anonymous comments that first got Will so riled up were in response to an interview he had with the African-American gay man who is the former deputy chief of staff to Rick Santorum (IIRC, he is based on a real-life member of the Santorum staff).  Santorum has just announced his run for the presidency.  And this segment causes me to cringe even more than watching Sloan’s mostly well-intentioned train wreck.  Will wants to understand how Mr. Sutton Wall, his guest, feels about Senator Santorum’s views on gay marriage, which are well-documented.  Mr. Wall cannot give a specific answer as to how gay marriage threatens the Santorums’ marriage.  Will could have left it there,and let Mr. Wall end the matter by stating firmly but politely that he was proud to serve under Santorum even though doesn’t agree with the Senator on every single issue.

Not only does this scene effectively illustrate the dangers of being so sure we’re right, but it also features someone telling Will to shut up, which is satisfying.

Instead, Will pursues the issue to the point of cruelty. He interrupts his guest when he tries to actually state why he supports Rick Santorum.  He refuses to listen to Mack when she tries to get him to stop, and moves on to suggest that Mr. Santorum must hate him as a human being because he’s gay.  Basically, by the time Mr. Wall finally forces him to stop beating the dead horse, Will has lost the right to argue his point.  In fact, it is Sutton Wall whom we cheer for, when he shouts, “You will not interrupt me again, sir! I am more than one thing. How dare you reduce me to the color of my skin, or my sexual orientation? … How dare you presume to decide what I should think is important?”  He agrees that the former senator’s position on gay marriage is wrong, but then adds, “I am far more insulted by your high-handed implication that I need your protection,” and if his own definition of who he is doesn’t fit what Will thinks it should be, Mr. Wall doesn’t give a damn.  He finishes, “Get this through your head: I.  Don’t.  Need.  Your.  Help!”

Back with Dr. Habib, Will looks pretty disgusted with himself and his actions.  He recognizes that in that situation, he was the bully and he’s supposed to be the one who hates bullies. It brought back memories both for him and for people online of his tirade against the student at Northwestern.  He’s guilty about scaring her, too.

Not News Night’s finest hour.

So yeah, back to the Sloan story.  The team sees on a Japanese news report—translated by Sloan, who has started to pack up her office—that the TEPCO spokesman has offered to resign following his on-air interview with her.  Later, Charlie, calling her “girl” again (which I find totally unnecessary and degrading), informs her that he has a solution to the problem.  The Japanese words for “four” and “seven” sound alike – ‘shi’ and ‘shichi’, respectively. So they’re easy to mix up.  Sloan sees where this is going and says that wouldn’t be easy for someone who’s fluent in Japanese.  Charlie retorts that she’s not, to which she snaps back that she is.  Will steps up and says that she’s not anymore.  Charlie says that’s how she mixed up the two during the pre-interview with the TEPCO spokesperson.  If she goes on the air tonight and explains the ‘mix-up’, and adds that it was actually on the record, her friend at TEPCO won’t have to resign and Sloan won’t have to be suspended.  And, by the way, the radiation levels are confirmed at a seven now.  So, she just has to look stupid and incompetent and lie on air, and it will save her job and her friend’s honor.  She confirms with Will that this is what he wants her to do.  He says yes, and if there’s any fallout on her, he’ll be standing next to her and in front. “We fucked up.  Let’s just live with that now.”  Okay, but that’s still easier for you to say than for Sloan.

In Jack’s office, Will apologizes to him for being a jerk during the session, since it’s obvious Jack really knows what he’s doing.  It’s clear this was about the Santorum aide, and, as Jack interrupts to say, “Bacon.”  Hee.  That’s almost always the best interruption.  Jack goes on that eating bacon every night before bed isn’t a great idea, since it contains a chemical that acts as a neuro-stimulant. Jack has known this ever since Will first mentioned it, but he also actually does know what he’s doing as a therapist so he let Will talk.  Nice.

I still ship Will/Mack, but I hope Will’s ego shrinks a bit before they get back together.

He writes Will a prescription for a mild sleep aid, and tells him to keep seeing a therapist—either him, or someone else.  He should also attend Al-Anon meetings.  Furthermore, based on the ring, Jack thinks Will still has plenty of unresolved issues with Mackenzie.  Will denies this, but onscreen, we see that after Mack saw the ring and left his office, Will took out the receipt for the ring and tore it up.  Hmm.  That plus the fact that he tells Jack that Mackenzie is a good friend and a trusted partner gives me hope that he’ll stop beating her up about the cheating.

I enjoyed this episode even more on rewatch, but the issues I’ve mentioned also stood out even more. I’m hooked and I love the cast, which is no surprise, but I still think Aaron Sorkin needs a brush-up on how to write women who are flawed but not caricatures (which seems to be Maggie’s chief role at this point).  Maybe he could study Joss Whedon’s work or, perhaps, he should just go back and watch the first four seasons of his own West Wing with an eye on CJ Cregg.  With a little work, Sloan could approach the awesomeness of CJ.

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