‘The Newsroom’ (Season 1, Episode 9): “Blackout Part II: Mock Debate”
Dress fittings, thirty dollar pants, and hideous sweatshirts. Help me, Rhonda!
Tonight’s episode of The Newsroom–I’m not even going to restate the episode title, it’s too absurdly long–picked up right after last week’s cliffhanger. Although I guess it’s not a cliffhanger if it’s right in the episode title, but, let’s just roll with it: mid-blackout, Mackenzie starts to rally the troops and proposes an inventive and resourceful way of doing the news broadcast despite the power outage. But then…it all comes to nothing, because within ten minutes, the power is back on. I waited to see if “The Blackout” these last two episodes referred to would maybe be more of, I don’t know, like a metaphorical blackout or something. But nope! As with almost every episode of this show, and including the premise of the entire show itself, there was a lot of buildup and it could have been really really great and interesting but then…it was over-speeched and under-written into submission. And really, Sorkin could have given these episodes a title that was much more relevant to their content, like “You Guys I Hate Nancy Grace So Much” or “Hahahahahaha The Best Joke Of The Show Is When I Keep Trying To Claim My Main Character Is Republican, Part II: Hahahahaha DEBATES!”
Now ANYWAYS, on to the recap. There’s a lot going on in this episode, but somehow the pacing managed to make juggling at least like five storylines…feel glacial. Paul Schneider was still there, and that was about all he did this episode–he just hung around, kind of hovering in the background of some scenes. Just a presence, if you will. He yelled at Mackenzie for a bit but mainly he was just there, so that people could talk about Mackenzie cheating on Will some more, and so that you could wonder who else from Parks and Recreation has been on this show, and think about how this episode arc would be totally different if we were dealing with Rob and not Paul.
Jim continued to try and woo Lisa , totally certain that she was the one he wanted, at least until the last twenty minutes when that kind of changed his mind? And then nobody was quite sure what was going on with them, because Don had to finally reveal his affair to Maggie. Terrible Don, weren’t you bad enough already? Poor Lisa got a lot of face time this episode when she was pressured into appearing on NewsNight because of her high-school connection with Casey Anthony. After protesting that she has nothing to say on air because she only went to the same high school and that doesn’t mean anything (thank you!), she is bullied into going on (aw) where Mackenzie and Maggie leave a visible notecard of child abduction statistics on the desk in front of her, in case she’d like to conveniently recite them during the interview to criticize the media’s coverage of the case. And then that leads to her veering off into abortion territory, and then as a result, someone spray paints “Baby Killer” onto the shop where she works. But apart from that, there’s really no impact, because it was one of seven things going on this episode and the show didn’t even care. Which sucks, because I like Lisa, a lot, and it would have been an interesting story line to explore with proper depth.
But alas! We had no time for that, because we were busy with Neal’s quest to track down internet trolls, which was fine except for the part where in order to gain the acceptance of the internet bullies, he must demean Sloan on the internet and call her a whore? Because yo, if there’s one target that the internet hates, it’s definitely an economics expert on a basic cable news network rather than, say, Scientology or spoilers for the new season of Sherlock. But by the end of that little side quest, in the last minute, Neal somehow makes contact with the anonymous online user who posted the death threats about Will.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Sam Waterston is trying to figure out if his NSA source is legitimate or crazy. He could be crazy! Or he might not be. Excellent suspense, we’ll check in later with that.
And throughout the last forty minutes of the episode, Will and the crew are also trying to stage their mock debate for the representatives of the RNC. The debate consists of Will angrily questioning all the candidates directly and demanding answers of them. Obviously, the representatives don’t take that well. So by the end of the episode, that sort of just fizzled away into thin air as well.
And towards the end of the episode, Will fell over while putting his pants on…tipped right over in his boxers in the entire newsroom. It was so schizophrenic and out-of-left-field, which really is this show’s problem. You have no idea what it’s going to do, but not in an interesting or engaging way–in a literal, “what are you doing is this episode going to be good or is it going to be a trainwreck what are you doing why are you doing it don’t put that in your mouth!”
Also of note this week:
-Where is Chris Matthews’ son???
-That’s all there is for this week’s bullet points.
-Where was he?!?!
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