The Newsroom Review: “Election Night, Part 1” (Season 2 Episode 8)


After taking a week off for Labor Day, we return to The Newsroom under siege. Through a combination of one government worker seeking revenge on Charlie, and Jerry Dantana’s selective editing, the Genoa story came apart, and despite the best efforts of Will, Charlie and Mackenzie to get themselves fired, and thus saving face for the network, Leona refused to accept their resignations. Heading into Election Night, not only is there the pressure of covering all that news, but the gang is awaiting the dawn and the filing of Jerry’s wrongful termination suit. So what does our intrepid band of crusading reporters have on their minds? Amongst other things, romantic entanglements and fraudulently autographed books for charity.

This first part of “Election Night” checked in at a slim 48 minutes, which suggests that it’s going to be a bit weighty on the back end. Still, the episode went by like a light breeze despite all the heavy developments. Charlie accosts Reese, who agrees with Charlie and desperately wants Leona to fire everyone at News Night, but his mother won’t let him, and lawyer Rebecca Halliday is backing her up on that. Also, Reese has got some serious mommy issues, but that’s another story. Mackenzie, meanwhile, is losing sleep over Genoa, she’s losing sleep as she waits for Will to explode, and she wants to know what her punishment’s going to be this time now that she’s ruined Will’s career.

Speaking of Will, he’s decided to make himself morale officer, and the irony of, as Charlie puts it, having “the unhappiest guy in the building in charge of moral” is not lost on anyone. But even Will’s morale is tested though as Mackenzie keeps pushing him to punish her, as in fire her. Leona may have refused to fire the triad en mass, but Will has the ability on his own to terminate Mac’s employment. Mac keeps pushing and she tells Will that all he cares about is his image, and that image is of a nice guy, so he won’t fire her. Will takes that as I dare and fires Mac as of the end of the election coverage.

In other parts of the newsroom, Jim continues his torrid Skype affair with Hallie, while Jim’s old Romney bus nemesis Taylor is taking part in the ACN Election Night panel with Will, Sloan and Elliot. (Are there any other people on this network?) Maggie, meanwhile, is looking for a scoop to outdo Jim in an apparent, never-before-mentioned vendetta against her former, would-be suitor. Hallie notes that Maggie changed her hair, and Jim says it was a week ago, but after two years of working together, and so much pining, Jim still couldn’t name Maggie’s original hair colour.

Neal is once again put upon. Along with trying to change a Wikipedia entry about Mackenzie that says she was president of the Oxford student union instead of the Cambridge student union, Neal has to track down a book signed by Sloan and given to a charity raising money for Sandy victims. The problem is that Sloan didn’t sign it, and she charges Neal the responsibility of finding the buyer before, in her words, the trail gets cold.

Don’s in slightly more trouble. Rebecca seeks him out during a break in coverage and tells him that Jerry will be bringing an additional suit against him personally. Don, ever the charmer, called Jerry a sociopath in a job reference to Kickstarter. It was a tactic to squeeze ACN for more money and Don fell for it. On the bright side, Don might only loose a couple of thousand dollars in legal fees; Jerry wants $20 million more.

Back at the anchor desk, it’s a four-way free-for-all as Taylor continues to spit out Romney talking points and slams against the mainstream media. She points out that Will is a Republican who spends a lot of his air time ragging on crazy Republicans, and while Will says it’s fair, he doesn’t want her to make him part of the story.

I’ve got to say that if more of those Election Night panels were like the ones on News Night it’d make for infinitely more entertaining viewing. Bonus points for Sloan trying to steal Elliot’s elaborate Election Day human interest story and getting all the details wrong.

As for Maggie’s scoop, it comes in the form of a quote from a Republican candidate for Congress who condemned Todd “legitimate rape” Aiken, even though years earlier he had remarks published about women faking rape the were much worse. When Don contacts an old friend who works on the campaign, the friend asks him to bury it in exchange for a tip-off about another story: David Petraeus’ upcoming resignation after the leak of his affair with his biographer. It’s a helluva gamble, especially since ACN has already angered everyone in a military uniform, so what is Will going to do? “Take me apart,” he tells Taylor.

So once again it seems that cosmic coincidence it about to save The Newsroom’s butt. I’m not sure how this is all going to play out, but I’d wager that Jerry will be back and see the light (and the irony) and not sue considering how wrong he was, Will will renege on his firing of Mackenzie and they’ll come to some new understanding, and Maggie and Jim will either kiss and make-up or have some kind of cliffhanger like showdown where Maggie accidentally shoots Jim when he gets snarky with her one too many times. That last one might be an exaggeration, but I wouldn’t put anything past The Newsroom.