Episode nine: The Blackout, Part 2: Mock Debate

By Huntress Thompson

In the last episode, just as News Night geared up to sell its morals and earn back some lost viewers, divine (or electrical) intervention struck and the studio was plunged into a blackout.

And what happens when spectacularly bad things happen on this show? The moment is ripe for a giant Sorkin monologue. At this point, The Newsroom takes the piss out of itself a bit, and the show may find its critics accusing it of trying to be a tad too clever for its own good. For anyone who doesn’t find this sort of mechanism intellectually threatening, you might find it’s actually quite funny.

This episode (and the last) features 2 ex-Parks and Recreation alumni – Shauna Mallwae-Tweep and Mark Brandanewicz. Luckily they never share any scenes together, or Leslie Knope would lose her shit.

Neel is enlisted to troll the interwebs, in the pursuit of a serious story. To do this, he needs to be accepted into the troll hierarchy, and this means he’ll need to perform some moderate comments section sabotage. After various failures, it occurs to him and Sloan that if he were the mysterious web assassin who left a death threat on News Night’s page, he would be king of the trolls. Sloan warns that this is a dangerous area.

Journalist Bryan Brenner, observing all the activity for his enigmatic article, delivers the episode’s biggest revelation: Will McAvoy is lonely. This is why he is spearheading the drive to become more commercial, and why he stayed on the show for years when it was commercial – the viewers make him feel less alone. He’s so lonely that he’s taken to frequenting dating support websites late at night – but that’s strictly between him and his analyst.

Meanwhile, Maggie reveals that her roommate Lisa (yes, that Lisa) went to high school with Casey Anthony. As Jim and Maggie visit Lisa at work to beg her to do an interview for News Night, something that Mindy Kaling called ages ago is confirmed.  Jim Harper’s appeal is exactly that he’s too clever to be cool, but so clever that he’s really attractive. “I don’t know if it’s been clear from my emails and phonecalls,” he says, “but I’ve been wooing you.” He’s witty, sharp and talented, but there’s no chance that any of that will help him navigate the world socially – not even the world of The Newsroom.

The magnificent Adam Arkin enters as Adam Roth, an old friend of Will’s, who is accompanied by RNC representative Tate Brady, there to review the mock debate that the staff has been working on for weeks. After witnessing it briefly, Tate is appalled at the format News Night are proposing, describing is as an ‘attack’ on political candidates, and shuts it down.

Will and Mackenzie, on their last collective nerve, decide to stick to their guns and report the news the way they original intended – regardless of ratings and viewership.

Mackenzie spots a vase of flowers in Will’s office, and the romantic drama boils quietly in the background of the episode. Who are they from? Who are they for? Both precarious love triangles are on edge with what the flowers might represent. At the end of the episode, Jim arrives in the middle of the night at Maggie and Lisa’s flat. He is about to reveal that he signed for the flowers – they were for Don, from a girl he saw while Don and Maggie were off-again over the last year – when he is interrupted by Don himself. Lisa assumes Jim is there to see her and they leave without Jim finishing his sentence, but Don comes clean with Maggie regardless as the episode closes.

One thought on “Episode nine: The Blackout, Part 2: Mock Debate

  1. Pingback: Season one recap: The Newsroom | VTTH

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