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THE NEWSROOM, “Red Team III” Episode Recap

The Newsroom, where have you been all my life? This is an astounding episode with only minor kinks. The troublesome moments, embedded in some strange set-ups, are no match for the performances by the cast here. And everyone is on point. From the White Team to the Read Team. Everyone.

To wrap up the story so we can get into the meat and potatoes:

The deposition reaches its final lap as the members of the Red Team recount their story. Meanwhile, in the past, the Genoa story goes live on the air, leading to some (un) expected consequences.

These consequences are expected by the likes of Jim (John Gallagher, Jr.) and Don (Tom Sadoski), who do what they’re paid to do: be skeptics. Opening with Don’s deposition, a bomb of massive dramatic proportions is dropped. Sadoski, as per usual, is incredible throwing around deep-eyed stares and mellow anger. Marcia Gay Harden, as ACN’s lawyer, matches tit for tat. But that’s when the bomb hits. Jerry Dantana (Hamish Linklater) is the one suing ACN for an institutional failire leading to wrongful termination. I believe my jaw dropped. I was as astounded as Don. All this time, we’re expecting maybe the government is suing, but it’s something much more…shall we say…nuanced. I think I’ve changed my mind on how Sorkin has portrayed Dantana during the season. And yes, I am fallible, despite what my mother says. I’ve complained that Dantana is a 2D character. He is difficult to feel any sympathy for because he’s always been this go-getter who we’ve expected to cause problems for the team. Sure, he’s still a 2D character. However, for dramatic purposes, I feel that Sorkin played the long game. He introduced this outsider, not necessarily a villain, who we’re supposed to distrust. And when, in an episode such as this, people like Don and Jim speak with skepticism, we’re supposed to rally behind our “friends”. We are supposed to feel like part of the conference room, glancing to Will with resignation, determined to understand the vastness that is office politics….and then someone like Jim fights back and we can breathe and cheer him on, at least silently. Dantana is a virus in this group. He spread, truly, infecting people we love like Charlie (Sam Waterston) and Mac (Emily Mortimer) and finally Will. We’re supposed to distrust him and I feel that I finally realized that tonight. Sorkin won the long game.

The shot clock, from the basketball game, was set up as the little tidbit that would crumble this whole story. I’ll go ahead and give my wife credit for pointing this out last week. Because if I didn’t, she’d lump this in with all the times I apparently stole her jokes. I don’t think it was that obvious or shoved in our faces either. If you consider last week’s episode, however, those moments setting up the shot with the medals in the back, the basketball game, and Jerry editing the raw footage…okay, it starts to seem more obvious. As the revelation plays out this week, Will’s informative speech about sports, the “play clock” for Will on set…I’ll go with it. It’s not particularly effective, but damn it Emily Mortimer destroyed those scenes. My god.

Speaking of acting, did you guys happen to pay attention to Sam Waterston’s scene with Shep Pressman (Frank Wood)? This is a scene that had some wonky set up. The grieving father blaming everyone else but himself and his son to the point of destroying a man’s career by helping, by proxy, cook a story about sarin gas and the faking a helo manifest and using magic ink to give a big “fuck you” to Charlie. Sounds a bit preposterous when you say it out loud, eh? It is, but holy shit if those two didn’t knock it out of the park(ing lot). I paused the episode to take it in. Take in the immense stature of these two actors. Even that slap was powerful.

As Benghazi heats up in the background of this incredibly tight episode, the news team makes a few weak attempts to clean up the Genoa story. If nothing else, these little scenes help bed Will’s deposition and prove that the news team covers more than one story at a time. It also helps provide light distraction to us, the viewer, by providing a well-known, real story, and distract the team so Mac can stumble in and let everyone down about Genoa. This carries my thoughts on about Mac’s handling of the situation and Mortimer’s incredible acting in these moments. Mortimer deserves a ton of attention for her work on this show. She’s a fantastic talent and I hope people realize that. I love Waterston and Daniels and definitely Sadoski, but Mortimer shows flashes of brilliance more often than not.

This episode marks three in a row that’s changed my tune on the show in general. I’m happy about it too. I hate joining the ranks of whiny Internet trolls. I don’t want to spend my time watching something I don’t enjoy either. And despite this Genoa storyline, a fictional yarn in an otherwise fact-based show, starting off on weak footing, I am in love with where it’s ended up.

 

After-thoughts:

 

–       I am not a University of Kentucky fan, but I grew up around the program and it’s fun to see their game involved with the downfall of ACN.

–       Sloan and Don’s repartee in the control room helped remind us of their burgeoning relationship. I like that they allowed the main story to take center stage while allowing tiny moments to set the tone between these characters.

–       I’m also happy to report that the Jim-Maggie element was only referenced.

–       Leona Lansing (Jane Fonda) was amazing in the final minutes of this episode. Fonda is a treat and she’s rarely on the show anymore, but her drunken rant of loyalty and love put a fine endcap on this eventful episode.

–       “Get it back!” The team has some work to do. I feel like this should end with one of those Rocky and Bullwinkle moments: “What will happen to Will and gang? Will they lose the public’s trust forever or will Dantana see his day in court? Join us next week on, The Newsroom!

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The Author

Michael O'Brien

Michael O'Brien

Michael graduated with a degree in Creative Writing with a minor in Film Studies from Western Kentucky University in 2009. He currently lives with his wife, two cats (and Netflix account) in NYC. He has published short stories on 400words.com and asouthernjournal.com. He has published poems in The Poetry Gymnasium by Dr. Tom Hunley and in The Roundtable.