The Newsroom, S1 Ep10 – The Greater Fool

It's Not

Well, it took all season, but this was finally an episode that I would call Sorkin Great.  Both character and story arcs from the season were nicely tied up or made good progress, it was optimistic while not ignoring real-life difficulties, and it made some good points.  I could have wished that the greatness came sooner, but honestly I’m thankful and eagerly anticipating seeing how the show works next season.  (I mean, it’s no “What Kind Of Day Has It Been?” or “Two Cathedrals,” but it’s a pleasure to watch over again.)

We open on Will beginning a broadcast.  It’s not about S&P downgrading the US credit rating, or the austerity riots in Europe, or statements made by any US politicians.  Instead, it’s about a 96-year-old African American woman named Dorothy Cooper.  She’s been voting for 75 years but can’t anymore because of Tennessee’s new ID laws to protect from voter fraud.  Will rips into the new laws in TN and other states.  He says voter fraud isn’t so much a non-issue, as the laws are ways to disenfranchise Americans who are extremely unlikely to vote Republican.  Though he is ashamed of this, he is not ashamed to be a Republican.

I’ll admit I was surprised it wasn’t a shooting.

Now we go eight days earlier, where Lonny, Mack, and Will’s building’s doorman searches frantically through Will’s apartment.  He’s missing.  Lonny finds a spot of blood and they trace it to the bathroom, where Will lies unconscious, blood all around him.  It’s grim.  Mack’s cry of “Billy!” is rather heartbreaking.  At the hospital, Lonny, Charlie, and Mack find out it was a bleeding ulcer.  Will’s out of immediate danger, but the bad news is this was an overdose of painkillers and antidepressants.  They deduce that this was because of Brian’s “hatchet job” of an article in The New Yorker, which Will took very hard.

The next day when Will wakes up, Mack is there to literally beat him about the head with his bloodstained copy of The New Yorker.  Then she wants to know why this bad press is so different from the other times.  Will quotes some lines from it: other folks in the business calling him ridiculous, antiquated, irrelevant, and pompous.  Well, I can’t argue with that last one, certainly.  (Also, it’s amusing that those are similar to what real-life critics have said about The Newsroom.)  Will says the reason he cares so much is because they’re right.  It’s like Don Quixote—it’s the mirror that brings him down.  Mack won’t have that.  She’s especially shocked and dismayed when Will insists that he doesn’t want to come back to work at all.

Oddly, when the walk-and-talks take place outside, it takes me a while to realize that’s what they are.

Later, Nina tells Mack that she has a very reliable source who says Will was high the night he reported on Bin Laden—she doesn’t want to write and print the story, but will if she gets a second source.  She’s giving Mack a heads up because she used to want to do what Mack does, not be a gossip columnist.  There’s also another reason that we find out later.  Anyway, Mack tells Charlie (who somehow didn’t realize what was wrong with Will that night).  They agree that this is what Reese and Leona can use to fire Will.  They just don’t know what TMI is waiting for, since journalistic integrity isn’t normally what they’re known for.

Then Charlie has to go tell Hancock from the NSA that they can’t consider him a credible witness for the reasons we learned last week.  Hancock is depressed and rambles about beef stew and his kids.   He still won’t give Charlie the proof of hacking he mentioned before.

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