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THE NEWSROOM, “One Step Too Many” Episode Recap

Is it just me or The Newsroom is season 2 finding its groove? After last week’s episode, we find ourselves treated with a patient episode. Jerry Dantana and the Genoa issue takes charge as we dig deeper into exactly what happened, who fucked up and what the hell might happen in the coming episodes. It’s about time this show got it together, too. The fifth and sixth episode of a ten-episode season is a bit late, if you ask me, but it’s better late than never.

 

Jerry (Hamish Linklater), Mac (Emily Mortimer), Neal (Dev Patel), Maggie (Alison Pill) and Charlie (Sam Waterston) present their case to the Red Team, consisting of Sloan (Olivia Munn), Jim (John Gallagher Jr.) and Don (Tom Sadoski). We understand that it’s been several months since this whole Genoa investigation began…seven to be exact…and they’ve gathered what Jerry believes to be enough evidence to go on. I’ve complained, in a past review, that Jerry was presented as this eager go-getter, but then wasted without much backstory as to why he is this way. There isn’t much meat to chew in terms of his backstory here either as he maintains this reprehensible attitude, chomping at the bit to present his case to the American public. It seems a little forced at least to make Jerry the unsympathetic fall guy, saving the rest of the team from fault. Charlie is supportive, but understands the need for more information. Mac is still skeptical. The Red Team, however, is fully skeptical, as well they should be. They come across as true journalists while Jerry is more reminiscent of an overzealous journalism major at a state college investigating the possible cover up of a new kind of toilet paper cropping up across campus. I just want to care about him more. The existence of this ‘fall guy’ is so telegraphed, from his arriving in New York to cover for Jim to presenting this investigation to his attitude concerning it, that we know damn well that he’s going to fuck up something. I want to care. I want to feel sympathy, understanding and sadness for this character. But I don’t. It gives this storyline, falsified as well, less weight as it proceeds.

 

Stephen Root! God I love him (notably as Jimmy James in Newsradio). He plays a retired general here who may or may not have an intimate knowledge of the Genoa situation. He never quite says, “we used sarin gas”, but Jerry decides otherwise. Root’s ability to navigate tense scenes with sidebars to himself and intriguing analogies is on display here. Despite being a well-recognized character actor, Root can dive into a character and I believe him as a retired military general living his days watching college basketball in suburbia. Jerry edits the video and audio to serve his purposes. This, again, proves that he’s just out to make a name for himself and we get zero reason to care about him.

 

This episode is tightly structured like last week’s, but instead of an intense real time hour, we have a well paced A plot, served by unobtrusive subplots. Will is re-focusing on his likeability. With the help of his girlfriend, the previously “un-civilized” gossip columnist, Nina Howard (Hope Davis), he plans to revitalize his image. This of course puts Will at the mercy of a sickeningly real morning news crew. Not one to disappoint his adoring, cynical fans (like me), he throws a football straight into the lighting rig. It’s classic Will. The normally stubborn and headstrong Will, uncharacteristically puts himself at the mercy of both Nina and Sloan during this episode. Maybe, rather than uncharacteristically Will, we’re seeing a form of growth. Will begins to understand, however, that he can’t always be on the attack. Maybe he’ll continue to try and grow. Maybe.

 

On the back burner is Jim’s relationship with Hallie (Grace Gummer), and by proxy his relationship with Taylor (Constance Zimmer) and Maggie. Jim and Hallie work all hours, sleepless jobs and their relationship fails to find a foothold. I still prefer Jim and Hallie than Jim and…oh…freaking Maggie. Jim eventually finds Maggie at the hotel bar. Here’s the funny thing: I actually was annoyed by Jim and just fine with Maggie. What? Yeah, weird. Jim accosts Maggie’s ability to keep her mouth shut despite her drinking problem. She’s kept her mouth shut on Genoa for seven months despite this so Jim just comes across as a dick here. I don’t know what to believe anymore.

 

I’m feeling more optimistic with this show. After last week I was high on Sorkin. High on The Newsroom tonic. But I quickly came down and reminded myself to be skeptical, cautious and aware that all of that excitement could be completely undone. But these last two episodes have softened by harsh view of the season as a whole. Maybe those earlier episodes were uneven for a reason? Probably not. But we’ll see where things go and where they end up and maybe we’ll all carry Sorkin off on our shoulders, cheering the man’s genius and ability to spin a yarn based on last year’s news.

 

After-Thoughts:

 

–       I love the discussion of Santa’s reindeer. Rudolph!

–       “It’s always 50-50 when you ask Charlie to be the voice of reason”. – Sloan. But that might be because he’s an old drunk.

–       I feel like the Soho Grand wouldn’t leave burning candles just for a romantic evening…seems like a fire hazard.

–       Yes, John Carter (2012) is one of the biggest flops in cinema history. I do find it fascinating that the movie industry, unlike most other American industries, has found a way to safeguard itself from bailouts and the like. Poor Taylor Kitsch though. What’s a handsome, blue-eyed devil to do?

–       Ron Paul. Ugh. I’ll keep my opinion to myself past “ugh”…but I will also thank Neal…and whatserface for summing up that whole…mess of mindset.

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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.