The Newsroom "Unintended Consequences" Review: Deus Ex Sorkina
Is it swagger or laziness to have a character wish aloud for a "preposterous stroke of luck" concerning the introduction of information that would allow a season-long storyline to advance? The exclamation from Jerry Dantana in tonight’s "Unintended Consequences" came seconds before OWS representative/News Night guest/sacrificial lamb Shelly Wexler coincidentally stepped out into the ACN hallway with a tip related to Dantana’s pursuit of the infamous Black Ops controversy. Sure, happenstance plays a part in real life all the time. Also, to have an established media entity like ACN be dependent on a routinely dismissed group such as OWS for what would become the most watched program in broadcast history is a clever dynamic to introduce. This otherwise strong episode similarly hinged on a small, unlikely story convenience. The annoying presence of a ruptured fourth wall (made more so with Hallie’s later reference to a hotel snafu as a "predictable plot twist") kept this installment from reaching its full potential and pointed to The Newsroom's flaws of self-awareness.
On the emotional front was Maggie, framing "Unintended Consequences" with her turn in the deposition chair. The last time Rebecca Halliday appeared to draw out a character's story and give an episode structure was in the season opener, with charmingly efficient results. Marcia Gay Harden is doing a fine job with what little screen time she gets ("Then FUCK you..."), and hopefully as the show moves forward, these legal scenes will appear more frequently. The characters on The Newsroom can come off a little larger than life, and an outsider's examination of such a sobering case reminds us that they all have, within them, toned-down personalities.
The subject of this meeting was whether or not Maggie had enough mental health to function as a credible witness, and whether a general involved with the use of chemical weapons had stated that "it happened." So anyway, she finally went on her trip to Africa and made a connection with a child named Daniel at an orphanage, by reading to him a ton of times. During an overnight assault, gunmen shot the poor kid in his spine, effectively saving Maggie’s life, but ending the boy's. Throughout their connection, Daniel had become enamored with her blonde hair, and this memory disturbed her enough that she chopped it all off and dyed it red. It was only after she returned home that Maggie learned the cattle bandits were in pursuit of Gary Cooper’s camera, causing her to feel extremely guilty for even fighting so hard for the story in the first place. Not that the circumstances of a child’s death need to reach a certain standard to psychologically damage a person, but this particular incident seemed especially devastating.
Such is the story of Maggie's Raggedy Ann-meets-a-weedwacker haircut.
Back in the office, Dan and Neal had hit a wall in contacting @Hamni8 and then theorized all the many reasons as to why the Twitter handle had ceased reporting on the military assault that was discovered at the end of last week’s episode: a lack of cell phone minutes, death, and even more unlikely, a government shutdown of the internet. As they hoped out loud for something to fall into their laps, exactly just that happened, as if Sorkin himself had parted the clouds and separated the real world from the fantasy to help out the News Night mortals, as if he were some sort of Olympian god. No sooner had Dantana expressed consternation than did people's champ Shelly Wexler nonchalantly suggest that someone down at Zuccotti Park was part of a non-governmental organization (NGO) that'd experienced an organizational shutdown by the Pakistani government. Said OWS dude/campfire attendant wrote a report that U.S. troops used chemical weapons on civilians. Awesome! Just the scoop they’d been waiting for.
Unfortunately, after a shameful interview with Will McAvoy on News Night wherein Will behaved as glibly as hell while Wexler floundered under a line of questioning related exclusively to the vague goals of her group, she was too offended to offer up her lead. Appeals by Neal brought Shelly to a compromise: She’d pony up the intel goods in exchange for an on-air apology from Will. Obviously Will wasn’t hearing it, so Mac sent Sloan, and then eventually Don, to smooth over the situation. Both encounters ended with the ACN employees insulting Wexler, and comedically highlighting McAvoy’s initial criticism of OWS. In refusing to acknowledge the current power structure, the fledgling movement faced an insurmountable first hurdle: How could they ever achieve change, in all their varied goals, if they were unwilling to support the source of power in place to effect it?
Wexler criticized Sloan and Don’s motives, they criticized right back, and all hope for an understanding was lost. That is, until the mighty Will finally emerged from the shadowed wings of this episode and apologized on a personal level. Ah Will, he always knows just what to say and how to say it. If only he could get over himself first! Argh! The two shared a heart-to-heart, mostly about how he was in a bad place and needed some emotional healing from his "crisis of confidence." She took the bait like all females on this show do and forgave him for being so damn charming. Oh, also the news team had already contacted the guy without her ("Leon Deet"), so her role in this episode was ultimately rendered even less important.
Miles away from all the concerned New York looks and globe-trotting traumatic orphanage experiences, Jim faced his own failures and successes out on the road: failure in the form of a slew of setbacks following last week’s bus stunt and success in scoring a poolside smooch from Hallie. The latter came at the cost of his gig on the road, after having finally tricked his way into that much sought-after 30-minute sit-down with Romney ("Go fuck yourself..." —Taylor), at which point he handed the chance over to Hallie. Hey, her boss was a real dick! Jim’s been screwing off out there pretty much anyway, and he’s way too talented to be parroting Romneybots while Mac and the gang could really use his savvy back home.
So all in all, an enjoyable episode! (Except for the part where characters got to wish parts of the the plot into being.)
– Is Occupy Wall Street legit?
– What was your favorite joke?
– Do you think characters joking about "Gary Cooper" is funny?
– Did Rick Perry lose because of his association with a ranch that had a racist name?
– What was your favorite storyline in this episode?
– Who is your favorite character on this show?
– What news from 2011 do you wish Sorkin would address?
– (Not a question): "Stillman's your first name?"
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