Episode eight: The Blackout Part 1: Tragedy Porn

By Huntress Thompson

This episode reminds us that the dark clouds that gathered over News Night a few episodes ago aren’t by any means clearing.

Chris Messina as Reese is a tremendous screen presence, and he confirms early on in the episode that News Night is far from in the clear. Mackenzie and Will’s agenda to reject incendiary media and present the news is always threatened by ratings, and by the powers that fund. The grand, quixotic principles that Will proclaimed over and over again earlier in the season are moved aside, as Mackenzie as EP is forced to give priority to the moment’s more incendiary stories. These are battles they concede, hoping to win the war and keep Will in the anchor’s chair, but none of it feels like the right thing to do.

Paul Schneider on The Newsroom is the hottest of all the Paul Schneiders. This is a hotly contested category. As journalist Bryan Brenner, he is seething and incisive, and we’re only told of his full agenda a third of the way through the episode.

For all his associations, Bryan sees the essence of News Night’s dilemma with laser precision: Will has recruited him as an independent journalist, hoping he will uncover what has been haunting him for the last few episodes. The coincidences are too many to ignore. As head of the network, Leona is using her tabloid connections to discredit Will, making it easy to relieve him of his anchor position.

Charlie meets his cryptic phonecaller, who turns out to be a former government employee with some scandalous news about Reese Lansing that will shake the foundation of Atlanta’s World News. The kind of news that would make fantastic leverage in a negotiation.

The website death threat story arc offers Dev Patel’s Neal (the website admin) a bit more to play over the coming episodes, which is a relief because he was criminally underused early on. I’ve been wishing his earnest little drama student face would be given more key lines, instead of just routinely beaming for the heart-warming cut-away shot whenever the more important characters hug.

I should’ve said this at episode 6, but – David Krumholtz as the psychiatrist! (Let’s say ‘analyst’ rather, it makes me feel like we’re in Annie Hall.) Since Sidewalks of New York, we’ve known The Krum has secret wells of dramatic aptitude – this dude HAS to be in more things, so his most memorable screen image isn’t the one with a penis drawn on the side of his face.

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One thought on “Episode eight: The Blackout Part 1: Tragedy Porn

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

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