Monday, July 29, 2013

'The Newsroom' Review - 2.03 Willie Pete

        On the newest episode of HBO's The Newsroom, Will continues his mission to civilize by telling Nina Howard the truth; a new witness to the Genoa story emerges on Twitter; and, in New Hampshire, Jim's efforts to have his questions answered continue to fall on deaf ears.

        This hour marked the return of Hope Davis as Nina Howard - one of the more excruciating additions of the first season. She simply was unlikable and brought out the worst sides in many of the characters. Here, the show tries to do a bit of character rehab. But it just does not work at all because I have no inherent interest in the pettiness of it all. Will is upset that someone leaked that he wasn't sick on the 9/11 anniversary coverage and then spends the entire hour in a rage over who would do such a thing. He takes some time to clear out a restaurant and serve Mimosa's to Nina while someone played the piano in the background. That scene is nice and civilized - with Will bringing up his dreadful Mission to Civilize plan yet again - but goes on far longer than it should. Additionally, Jeff Daniels and Davis have little sexual chemistry and now the show is forcing them together in that way so it could be more than just him pining after Mackenzie - who has had some great character retooling this season. Will's voicemail from after the Osama bin Laden broadcast was brought up again but was quickly answered and then thrown away - as it should but probably won't.
        Jim was kind of in a meaningful and poignant plot in this episode. Yes, I'm as shocked as you are because a portion of his story is still entangled with romantic beats. And yet, it just works for some reason. That is largely due to his larger story being about journalism and what it means to cover the beat on the road. In this environment, he is expected to cover the talking points distributed by the Romney campaign because at the end of the day he only has two minutes to talk for a brief segment. On this beat, days can go by without much new news and information being released. But Jim is not the type of person to sit back and follow. He wants answers to all the hard-pressing questions and demands that more of his fellow journalists do the same. He wants to change the system but that is just not going to happen. He ends up getting kicked to the curb with Hallie and the mustache guy whose name I do not know unsure of what to do next. That was a great ending note because it showed that just because these characters make a lot of questionable noise doesn't mean they are in the right and should not, in turn, be questioned or punished or taken down a peg.
        The Operation Genoa story is still largely unimpressive because we know it will end terribly. And yet, its presence in this hour was the most meaningful it has been to date. Jerry and Mackenzie bring Charlie in on the story as well as Maggie and some of the other people who work at the newsroom. It was entertaining because it featured actual reporting and an honest depiction of how many people work so tirelessly to get all the information for the story. And there is some great disagreement amongst many of the characters. Charlie is very skeptical of the whole idea. When Jerry's efforts initially come up short, he and Mackenzie are quick to cut ties with the story. Only does a last minute fax keep the story alive and makes it much more challenging for anyone to disprove it. We all know its a hoax which cuts the proceedings from being very tense but the depiction of journalism work ethic was something the series hadn't tackled before and yet it worked great in this moment.

Some more thoughts:
  • Charlie: "We're made men, like Joe Pesci in Goodfellas." Will: "He got shot." "Before he got shot." "Before he got shot, he wasn't a made man." "We're like James Caan in The Godfather." "Also got shot."
  • Maggie: "I can feel my mood changing. I can feel it. It's happening right now." Alison Pill is a great comedic actress and sells this line very well. Her character remains irredeemable though.
  • Mackenzie: "There worst crime is making the Tea Party look good." And we all know what this show thinks of the Tea Party.
  • Don repeatedly falling out of his chair. Because men can be fools too!