Ah kisses, that immortal expression of love. Known throughout humankind as intimacy distilled to one soft gesture. In the right context, delivered by the right people, kisses make the heart soar. Otherwise it’s just lips touching. A sugar rush without the nutrition. There’s got to be a good story behind the action, some sweet fuel for the wordless passion. Tonight’s Season 2 finale offered two momentous kisses: one a surprise and the other an affirmation. Combined with the other victories of "Election Night Part II," these feel-good smooches helped set the tone for an agreeable exit, even if one act of affection was more effective than the other.
Yes, I’m talking about Sloan kissing Don and Will kissing Mac. The former was the response to a truly caring move on Don’s part, who bid on the book without any hope of reward. He just did it out of the goodness of his own heart. So for things to align for him in the form of a steamy declarative statement from a person who herself had been getting the short end of the coverage stick felt like the kind of wholesome television catharsis Aaron Sorkin is able to excel at. As entertainment, it worked.
Will, however, used Mac’s apology as an opportunity to explain the true story behind the engagement ring of Season 1’s "Bullies," hurting her feelings in such a way that it was hard to believe she’d ever forgive him, much less marry the guy. I get human folly, or the idea of putting your foot in your mouth, or that telling Mac something devastating kind of made them even in hurting one another, but at some point Will has to stop savoring his victim status and just forgive Mac for something she did six years ago. That’s a long damn time. And if won't, Mac has to recognize that he's terrible.
So yeah, their particular kiss didn’t hit for me, even though it followed a text-book charming proposal, all bumbling apology, and a promise to love forever. Will McAvoy is fragile, and it’s understandable he’d have a hard time navigating matters of the heart, but he’s also a grown-ass man, and Will and Mac’s relationship isn’t a full-fledged romance. It’s come and gone to make room for Will’s self-image drama and various Genoa discoveries, so while I’m not going to say the two shouldn’t get married, my reaction to the decision was just indifferent.
To be fair, Will did have his moments in this finale. Who can argue with the fun dynamic established between he and Taylor, and his Republican explanation made an articulate case for shifting perspectives within political affiliations. Whatever party you hail from, I'm not sure I agree with Charlie’s claims last week that our elections are the envy of the world, but the event at least created an interesting upstairs-downstairs situation within ACN. Jim finding Lisa didn’t need to happen (thanks for telling her she’s not stupid?), but there was some comedy mileage in the champagne-savvy assholes she had to serve at the party. Leona should obviously be stoned all the time, because she’s still pretty put-together when blazing, and just a real sauce-pot otherwise. Cool boss characters are the best, especially when they cap off a universally supportive team, as was the case with the "we ain't leaving" News Night crew.
So even though the Petraeus tip ended up not mattering, because ACN still had some integrity to prove, the information at least helped to further unify the team. Reese coming in at the end with his Rockette girlfriend to split hairs with Charlie about resignation was good times, even if it did gain a little momentum from the previous scene’s half-enjoyable proposal kiss. The final sequence continued this celebratory trajectory by wrapping up all the threads of the night, like each one was worth rooting for, but seriously, did anyone pump their fist when they saw that screen shot of "Benishek" or Maggie talking to Lisa in the hallway? Still though, glad to see everyone enjoying cigars and libations.
And that was season 2 of HBO’s The Newsroom. Looking back, I definitely enjoyed the unraveling of Genoa as a structural spine for the whole nine episodes, and I became routinely perturbed with a lot of the smaller diversions away from that thread. Overall this season felt disjointed, and at times downright frustrating. In any case, it's not my place to tell you how to feel about a show, because we live in the 21st century, and liking stuff is your inalienable right.
This is Ryan Sandoval, signing off.
– Does cutting your own hair mean you're disturbed?
– Wasn't Mac's handling of that D.C. correspondent pretty awesome?
– Was Season 2 better than Season 1?
– What did you like the most about Season 2?
– What did you think of "Election Night Part II"?
AIRED ON 9/15/2013
Season 2 : Episode 9