One of the few emotional threads in tonight’s "Election Night Part I" involved Mac and Will’s ongoing professional and personal tug-of-war, while the rest of the News Night crew stressfully (albeit humorously) navigated a six-hour broadcast in what might have also been their last night with ACN. The first half of split narratives usually err on the side of set-up, and by nature tend to be less exciting than the conclusion to come. With these expectations in mind, the misadventures of Will’s team provided exactly what was needed by offering one last chance to hang out with them in their fun-loving/falling-apart-at-the-seams-but-keeping-it-together element, even if this meant a few production missteps, before moving toward a more serious send-off.
Via legal acrobatics, Leona Lansing had prevented the News Night gang from resigning, but a loophole in Will’s contract granted him the power to fire Mac. His refusal to do so, and in turn to spare her from professional blemish, possibly stemmed from his six-year grudge over Mac cheating on him, reopening old wounds that these two should’ve moved past but haven’t for one of two reasons: Either Will, like he admitted while high, is still in love with Mac, and that obsession has stagnated into resentment, or he doesn’t love her at all anymore but still wants to hurt her. Evidence suggests the former, but at some point they're going to have to have a serious conversation to sort this all out. As it stands, the conflict still feels ripe, so its resolution can remain a ways into the future.
Of course, as Reese suggested to Charlie at the viewing party, a dialogue doesn’t necessarily resolve anything if the two parties can't reach an agreement. In the evening’s funniest scene, Leona’s son recreated an exchange with his mother in which he asked to let the staff resign, and her response amounted to "mommy says no," as well as some extraneous motherly questions about his sexuality and lack of grandchildren. The normally villainous Lansings have become a little more likable this season, and a good part of that’s due to Chris Messina’s talent for bringing out the comedy in a rich kid still under his mother's thumb. My only complaint is that I wish we could’ve seen this scene with Fonda, because it sounds like one in which she would’ve shined.
If Dantana wasn’t unlikable enough already, he just had to go and file a separate case against Don for calling him a "sociopath" during a job reference call from Kickstarter. Keefer’s acquitted himself well this season, what with his merciful break-up with Maggie, his charming crush on Sloan, and his general level-headedness about Genoa. It sucks he’s getting shafted for thousands of dollars at the hands of a "godless, soulless race of extortionist," but catching such a tough break only makes his character more sympathetic. Keefer’s whole plot with Sloan got put on hold this episode, with the two barely even interacting, but I’m guessing there’ll be some acknowledgement of it in "Election Night Part II," or maybe she’ll at least show some support for him as he enters legal hell.
Speaking of Sloan, she was pure goofball this episode. The story with Gary signing her auctioned book in mistaken German might as well never have happened, and her calling Eliot’s story on anti-gay Democrat Jan Pauls just amounted to her later getting the facts wrong on air. But that’s kind of Sloan’s deal, right? She’s one of those super smart types in one area, and in others, she's just a regular person who messes up. Or, maybe screwing up was just the general tone of the night. It’s got to be very hard to cover one of the more important news events in the country (or as Charlie suggested, the world), much less to do it with the knowledge that you might not have a job tomorrow.
Jim’s Mississippi/Michigan error might’ve been for this very reason, and his interaction with the blindfolded statistician proved briefly humorous, but the combination of such lightheartedness with an impending career bomb momentarily defanged the suit against ACN. I guess I didn’t know what to take more seriously: the idea that these professionals are actually threatened by Dantana’s case, and the comedic excursions function as a welcome relief from that legal stress, or that the team doesn’t think the threat is that real in the first place, as indicated by their ability to engage in silly scenes.
Overall, "Election Night Part I" showed a team struggling to do its job under terrible duress, and barely succeeding. While we’re used to seeing Will and company deal with personal strife behind the scenes, the fun of watching it all normally comes from seeing the crew pull everything together despite these hurdles. With Don’s late-in-the-game Petraeus tip, News Night has one last chance to gain the public’s trust—or, failing that, at least to go out on top.
– How will the second half of this broadcast turn out?
– Is Taylor here to stay?
– How will News Night regain the trust of the public?
– What was your favorite storyline in this episode?
– What did you think of "Election Night Part I"?
AIRED ON 9/15/2013
Season 2 : Episode 9