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The Newsroom S02E06: "One Step Too Many"


Tonight’s Red Team intro delivered exactly what one hopes for in watching The Newsroom: intelligent discussion and quick-witted asides, all within the context of professionals whose gut decisions based on limited facts could change the world. The sparkling "One Step Too Many" gave the staff of News Night plenty to do outside the context of producing a broadcast, letting personal stories breathe alongside the impending Genoa broadcast greenlight. The shift away from individual news-item pursuits in favor of a larger group focus on the alleged cover-up allowed for some heartfelt and humorous character groupings while still providing the ACN journalists with an assignment worthy of their expertise.       


Which is not to say the events of March 21, 2012 went unrepresented. Rather, the Romney campaign’s infamous Etch-A-Sketch flub, and related discussions of appropriate religious consideration, colored both Jim’s group date with Hallie (and Taylor) and Will’s continued efforts to mend his reputation. The former included the sort of variables that make for a potentially disastrous evening to experience, albeit one that's enjoyable to watch: a drunken MTV journalist with a passion for Ron Paul, a professional enemy, and the whole calamitous event standing in the way of Jim and Hallie’s "discretionary times." 

What hit most about this thread was how the execution of all these elements never reached for anything more than a simple playing-out of expectations. Jim and Hallie's effort to maintain pleasantries kept the overall tone enjoyable instead of squirm-worthy, so that a confident, unpredictable obstacle felt authentic and surprising when it arose later on. Neal told off the drunk Ron Paul woman, but not too harshly; Jim conversationally butted heads with Taylor, and Taylor nonchalantly admitted to being fired for making strategical campaign suggestions in line with Jim’s. Her noble removal made an already engaging character more sympathetic, and it's seemingly in line with a major Newsroom theme that pops up every once in a while: Sometimes an unmet goal is the fault of people who refuse to pursue it, and sometimes that pursuit fails because of stronger forces. And so, it wasn’t for lack of trying that Jim and Hallie’s night at the hotel got put to a stop by a last-minute assignment from her superiors, because sometimes hey that’s just how things go in this business.     


Stephen Root’s portrayal of Stanislaus Stomtonovich was a highlight of the hour, and made for a pairing of Charlie and Mac that offered comedy ("foul him—foul him now!") as a lead-up to some expertly paced shop talk ("General, we never mentioned sarin"). Stomtonovich’s insistence on watching March Madness was both charming as a character trait and seamlessly folded into the night’s second-best metaphor (blue ribbon goes to the "reindeer" opener). The possibility of a Genoa confirmation created in Dantana the same impatient energy an audience feels moments before a huge revelation, and it’s to The Newsroom’s credit that the show was able to harness such an element. Whereas we the viewers can’t alter the outcome of events, Jerry couldn’t bear being so close to his story without secretly nudging the needle in a true, manipulative Iago moment that felt in keeping with two other Shakespearian references (Mac's "Mrs. Macbeth," and later in the episode, Will's quote). 


Mac shared another favorite runner of the night, sitting down to drinks with Don in a rare tete-a-tete that casually covered Don’s insecurities with Sloan, the trustworthiness of Jerry Dantana, and Don’s history with potentially peace-threatening news. The producer scored major likability points last week in talking Sloan out of her funk, so it was nice to still see him express self-doubt about whether she’d go for him or not. Guys do this! Pro-athletes are intimidating, Sloan is a real catch, and workplace romances don't always yield the best results. That Don boasts a resume with the 2005 Newsweek story about a Quran toilet-flushing at Guantanamo Bay only makes him more appealing of an expert, and gives stakes to a story that already seemed pretty devastating. Not only will careers end, but there will be an international backlash. News Night had better be careful not to "break one of God’s rules."    


It’s not necessarily Nina’s fault that Will had a humiliating time on ACN Morning, but her encouragement didn’t help his situation either. After all, he was the one holding his own focus groups. Every trip down to ACN’s frothy program feels queasy in a sensational way, and Will’s unease immediately registered on his face. Sure, he wants to be likable, but not this way. Which was why it was so satisfying to see him peg that light tree and come to some agreement with his "little sis" Sloan during another entertaining—and psychologically illuminating—bit of back-and-forth (even though we kind of knew everything she told him, it’s nice that he knows it). "Self-love my liege is not so vile a sin as self-neglecting," quoted Will from Henry V (more Shakespeare), hinting that McAvoy’s acceptance just might be around the corner, probably in the same neighborhood as his "Goldilocks planet."     


FOLLOW-UP QUESTIONS:

– Was Jim just pulling rank on Maggie after his night with Hallie didn't work out?

– Was it rude of Jim to advise Maggie on how to keep secrets?

– Who had better advice: Don to Mac, or Sloan to Will? 

– Was Dantana's outburst at the end of the episode refreshing or unwarranted?

– What was your favorite metaphor of the night: Goldilocks, Reindeer, or Knife-Basketball?

– Will the basketball game in the background be the giveaway that Dantana edited the video?

Previously Aired Episode

AIRED ON 12/14/2014

Season 3 : Episode 6

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Great show and brilliant writing. You have to let reality be stretched somewhat with Aaron Sorkin's work, it's a bit too fairytale, but it's worth it. And it hits home more than any other show I've seen recently.
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Poor little Newsroom. Barely fifty posts, while the moronic show Dexter has over 300.
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One thing is clear to me, Ryan, I have no idea what qualifies as a good or bad Newsroom episode for you. Plenty of critical commentary last week but seemingly loving this week. I thought both episodes were solid and easily on par with each other {shrug} to each his own.

That said, much like last week with the show asking me to believe that Maggie would spend all this time with a roommate who hated her, I'm having a hard time believing that Jerry would selectively edit the video with the all but certainty he'll be caught. Does he really think that a retired 3 star general isn't going to see the piece and say, "Hey...wait a minute?!?!? I never said it like that!!!".

The game in the background being the smoking gun for anybody who decides to look. The cut can be scene. The referee is jogging up the court and suddenly he's out of frame with a group of players having replaced him. It looks like just a switch to another camera, except the angle never changes. I've got to think an easy tell for somebody trained in editing film footage who's looking for something.

The sloppiness of it aside, I'm just not quite buying it. Jerry's a little crazy and certainly passionate about following this story, but he's going to spend all this time trying to get people on his side and now that he's got Mac, Charlie and Maggie believing the unbelievable, he's going to try and short cut now? I could see him pulling a stunt like this AFTER being told at the meeting that it's still not enough, but a pre-emptive strike? I'm having trouble swallowing this from what it, by all accounts, a HIGHLY accredited and respected journalist.

Will's awesome, Sloan's awesome, Don's awesome, Taylor's awesome AND reindeer are most definitely awesome!
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Actually Jerry is smarter than we give him credit. I watched again and then watched afterbuzztv and they said 'you'd think there would be a slight jump cut as well.', 'well, you saw he cut the frame out and placed it back where he made the edit, so it looks the same and it looks consistent.'

but she does say if you analyze it that there will have to be someone to catch it.

We as an audience have the pleasure of viewing it over and over but the 'red team' saw it once and quickly so how can we judge their 'knowledge'? No one was over his shoulder during the editing process and it never exchanged hands with anyone else.
I also think since Hamish signed with The Crazy Ones debuting this fall on CBS that Aaron was put in a difficult postion and had to rush/change the orgibnal storyline to finsih his character.
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So Hamish Linklater left Newsroom to be in a CBS sitcom with Robin Williams. Robin Williams.

Phew.
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its amazing how don became the likeable good guy this series and jim became the d*** in terms of their relationships with maggie. im not saying maggie's never done anything wrong or is perfect

but - first jim grags hallie over to speak to maggie when he sees her at the bar alone and makes up some stupid lie about fixing hallies computer.

then he finds maggie in the bar and has to pull-rank about keeping the secrets; which is basically just kicking her while shes down. he knows she hasnt got anyone because her roommate is still being a b****. i dont care what maggie did in the past, if one of my friends went through what maggie did in africa i would do my best to be there for her and forgot all about my inane problems.
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I'm not a big Jim fan but I don't blame him. He's not pulling rank, he's commenting on that she's "boozing it up" too much. Just last episode she was saying how she was handling things: getting completely hammered and going home with some random guy... every single night. That's a leak waiting to happen.

Now he's actually seeing it in action. Honestly, if a friend of your's has a secret and they're boozing it up every night then chances are they're going to spill the beans. That's his fear.

Meanwhile, there's the wonder of whether her boozing it up and such caused her to screw up the Zimmerman 911 tape. She had a decent excuse: supposedly only had 6 minutes to listen to a 5 minute tape and shrink it down to 45 seconds. But perhaps the booze did play a role.
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This was a pretty good episode. Lots of overlaying stories and themes.

?'s

No, Maggie is on a downward spiral. Both personally and professionally, eventually it is going to catch up to her. She is going to get too drunk and something is going to happen to her. Or she is going to get too drunk and she isn't going to be sober enough for the the next day. Granted that she was probably ok to work. But that lawyer, once she finds out about the drinking can and likely will lay a lot of it at her feet.

No it wasn't rude. It is irresponsible. He knows her problem, he knows her underlying problem, not just with the PTSD but her established anxiety issues. She has problem, he sees her starting to spiral. I can understand why he wants to stay out of it. But with that he might as well be pouring the gin down her throat. He needs to tell Mac, he needs to tell Will. She needs professional help.

Sloan to Will. The man is so unbelievably insecure that despite being liked for the things he should be liked for, it just isn't enough for him. The relationship with Nina is kind of a microcosm of that. Initially he didn't like her because she was beneath him. But she didn't like him either and he desire her liking him.

Knife Basketball. The "goldielock zone" (circumstellar habitable zone) was kind of on the nose. And the reindeer was too adhd. And for crying out loud what adult doesn't know there are 9 and their names.

The basketball game will give it away. His hubris was Jerry's undoing. He wanted to get the medals in the background because this was his shining moment. With that he had to include the Tv. And with that he indirectly gets himself caught. Which is good, because he is a crooked, bottom feeder and has wanted to run with this story since he has come across it. Because he wants to jump to the top of the heap. And he doesn't care if it is wrong, because he knows it is right. Luckily it can all be laid at his feet. He did not only defraud the viewers he defrauded his colleagues.
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Booo. Hisss. Oh, Dantana, you just had to go and be stupid.

I find myself really liking Constance Zimmer's character. I liked her in Entourage too. Is it weird that I keep thinking she and Jim should be hooking up? Meh.

Munn/Sloan was pretty great, again. Don was cool too.
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I totally agree! Great chemistry I saw like two episodes ago!
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I know, right? I very much admire Linklater as an actor, but Sorkin apparently does not. There he goes off the show, I guess.
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I was worried when the General was giving his interview that the timing of his pauses lent themselves to easy editing of his answers. Even though I was not surprised, it still made me feel uncomfortable when Jerry edited the footage. When they asked him to play the unedited version, and he played a still edited version I was disappointed in him as a person. It makes me wonder if he deleted the original version of the interview.
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Yeh, I knew it was coming but it was uncomfortable to watch him do something that low.

We already knew that the airing of the segment was a disaster and when it became apparent that Stephen Root's character wasn't going on the record saying that it happened I knew a "bad edit" storyline was coming up. But actually watching him sink so low... uncomfortable.

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and I want to make it clear that my comment is not sarcastic, I honestly believe so
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OH the basketball game in the background of that interview is ABSOLUTELY what's going to reveal the truth!!!!
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Agreed, it was obvious that the basketball scene "blipped" and such. Though it was mostly noticeable when they were watching the "raw" recording because the two "questions" were strung together. I don't recall how the edited version was strung together so maybe it was less noticeable there.

Still, I guess from a story's sake they couldn't have the characters notice it before-hand if the whole point of the season is it went "live" But the viewers knew what to look for and were thus yelling at their screens "NOOOOOO, look at the basketball game you morons!"
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Brilliant! really!! they have to keep me on the edge of my seat everytime... and what's the deal with only 9 episodes this season?
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Well if it's a choice between 9 good episodes and 22 kinda meh episodes, I'll take the 9
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well that's for sure ;)
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I got SO annoyed at Dantana... I know he's a new character and we haven't exactly had oodles of time to invest in his character but I was really annoyed by what he did.

Even before the Newsroom show EVER aired, one of my pet peeves was journalistic integrity. Even just lightly massaging the facts to give an editorial makes my skin crawl. Out-right modifying of sound bytes is quite horrible.

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So the original military guy told a lie, and the tweeters told a lie, and the live dead guy told a lie, and the other source they met told a lie, and the general told a lie?

All of those people told a lie?

Why?
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If you watch the 25-Aug episode they explain it. Ultimately not as many people "lied" as you might think. The operation did happen, but whether sarin was actually used is another story.

But I won't spoil the specifics since this thread is an older episode.
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Given that this 'evidence' was likely to get a little bit of scrutiny, so it seems a slightly odd thing to do.
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Agreed.

He obviously thought this thing was real, and I guess was tired of them spinning their wheels. And a clip from next week went along the lines of "I did it because I knew it was true" or something. Great, good job... I'm sure the media during the Trayvon Martin thing said the same thing. See "Steve Colbert's word-of-the-day: Truthiness"

But how did he not think this would stand up to scrutiny? It's the biggest story of the decade, if not the century. Even if he hid the basketball game, how long before someone realized the pitch-tempo-tone-etc of sentence A matches sentence B around 100% down to the millisecond which is impossible in a person's speach.
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P.S. I'm not commenting on Zimmerman's innocence / guilt in the above. Just how the real-life media went about things: twisting facts and recording and photos to tell a narrative even though by doing so they knowingly put lies or at least incorrect truths out there.

Because, who cares about facts when you have truthiness on your side.
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My guess is Maggie is going to get some evil glares when the truth about the interview comes out. Sure, WE know that she wasn't even in the room...

But it was just an episode-or-two ago that Maggie accidentally butchered the 911 call in a similar fashion. Granted it was an innocent mistake: she had 6 minutes to listen to a 5 minute call and shrink it down to 45 seconds due to cruddy download speeds.

But considering the end-result was so similar I wouldn't be surprised if someone on the team wonders if she was involved... even if it's just for 10 seconds.

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It appeared to me that Maggie was leaving the room at the precise moment the General said, "It happened." I don't doubt that she heard the General say that, or heard the question to which he was responding. However, my recollection is that the General's response was to the question of whether Operation Genoa happened, and not whether the U.S. military used sarin gas during the operation.
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Sorry all I got from this show was the feeling I had just watched the most pretentious soap opera of all time.
Season 1 was tiresome as it was so obviously a vehicle for partisan politics during an election year but at least that gave it a reason, however wrongheaded it was, it had a purpose.
Season 2 has made a feeble try at promoting both halves of the US Global Corporation party & failed (it still sounds like a pastiche of democratic soundbites) but that has made the show even harder to watch because it has no real purpose now. Why are the writers trying to re-litigate an election they won?
We get that the show is trying to convince the rest of us that journalists aren't really publicity seeking truth twisters who would sell their children for an increased audience, but since no one actually believes that crock, why even watch 'Newsroom'?
As twisted & easily anticipated as the love lives in the afternoon soaps are, even they aren't as boringly predictable as Newsroom's silly little seductions.
I keep wondering "How is it the actors keep cramming those words into their mouths?"
What makes it really crazy is that they always manage to fit a piece of another actor's anatomy in there as well.
The show is candy coated mush designed to fool the unthinking into believing the half truths & outright fibs the funny little box in the corner of their room spouts at them come 6pm every day.
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lol I take it you watch Fox News.
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I don't think Jim was pulling rank on Maggie, I think he was just continuing their conversation from the previous episode: staying out all night drinking and having fun-times could lead to her accidentally letting it slip about their story. I know a couple of people that let a secret slip when they were too wasted.

So it wasn't so much like he was talking down to her because parts of his anatomy were blue and he was annoyed about the whole situation, but after finding out they're holding onto such a huge secret that one of them is still boozing it up gave him some pause
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the best part of the episode was the conversation between will n sloan. The whole analogy of perfect planet n john carter movie was incredible. Love the creative input in writing and acting. And after watching next week trailer i have to say " that $*it just got real "
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That, and anytime Waterston opens his mouth.
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true.. the banters about beating the $hit of don n acn president were the classic moments in season 1
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The basketball game in the background will definitely be the giveaway
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Agreed. I was expecting them to realize it after they wanted to see "the raw feed" but I guess they were too interested in what was being said than what was actually ON the raw feed.
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I'm confused: did Maggie cut her hair or not? or when??
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In a lot of ways I hope the show does take this direction but Maggie does seem "mostly" over the African trip or at least is putting up a good front while at work, but getting drunk and going home with a different person every night might not end well.
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There were conversations about this after the previous episode. While the flashback implied it was after her return and still feeling the guilt over the kid dying, it's apparently later.

My guess is she has a mini-breakdown at some point (soon). Perhaps over the Genoa thing. Heck she's probably suspected at screwing up the interview at one point, since she recently butchered the 911 call about Trayvon Martin in a similar way (by accident).
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I'm also confused by the hair thing, but maybe she cut it after the Genoa special aired, maybe that made the last straw for her (or maybe something else), but it would be within the timeline, i think...
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me too
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Couldn't agree more about the metaphors. Great stuff all around on that. I will say that I didn't enjoy this episode as much as last weeks, although I honestly can't say why.

In the beginning of this episode I was just starting to think how much I was starting to like Jerry, and that Hamish Linklater (I believe that's his name, yeah? If not, sorry) was killing it. But by the end, my view had totally changed (on the character anyway). Dick move man. Also, how could ANYONE not figure out that was Stephen Root there? Terrible job shading his face Jerry.
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