The sixth episode of the second season of The Newsroom covers a lot of ground as we get to zero in on the crux of the season long arc, the airing of the News Night special that reveals that the United States military was guilty of war crimes when it turns out it actually wasn’t. Last week’s episode gave me hope that Aaron Sorkin was getting closer to working out the kinks – the whole Sloan sex scandal, which played to the writer’s baser, season one instincts, notwithstanding – and this week’s episode seemed to confirm that maybe The Newsroom was showing the promise we always wanted it to.
This week, we opened with the Red Team. Jerry Dantana was back, and along with Mackenzie, Maggie, Neal and Charlie, he gave Don, Sloan and Jim the rundown on the Genoa case so far. Despite five sources and photos of a massacre from the NGO, the Red Team is sceptical that there’s a story, and in truth, Mackenzie is too. Jim makes the point that America has never used Sarin gas in even worse conflicts than the one in Afghanistan, while Jerry points out that post-9/11, anything goes.
Despite the Red Team’s reservations, Charlie believes that the story is two inches away from being proven, and the final gap may be closed by General Stanislaus Stomtonovich (guest star Stephen Root, fulfilling his contractual obligation to appear on all HBO shows). General Stomtonovich is a retired munitions consultant at White Sands, and if anyone can confirm if Genoa involved the deployment of chemical weapons, it’s him.
Naturally, there’s other drama afoot. Jim and Hallie re-unite as the Romney campaign blows into town, but Jim’s romantic evening with the girl from the tour bus hits some bumps. First, Hallie wants to double date with Neal, who she wants to hook up with Aubrey, a reporter covering the Ron Paul presidential campaign, and to say she drank the Kool-Aid is something of an understatement. Things get even more awkward when Taylor, the Romney spokesperson who tossed Jim off the bus, tags along as a fifth wheel.
You can imagine what happens next: Jim and Taylor get into it about the insular nature of the Romney campaign, and it’s revealed that Taylor was fired that day for making many of the same points Jim was making. Meanwhile, Neal and Aubrey don’t hit it off nearly as well as Hallie would have liked when her enthusiasm for small government prompts Neal to point out that Paul’s a “batty old crank that wrote a manual on how to shoot the black kid stealing your car and get away with it… he’s not Betty White.”
As for Maggie, she continues to drink alone in hotel bars and tonight, she’s coincidentally in the same hotel that Jim and Hallie are spending the night in. Hallie and Jim try to play it cool, but Maggie knows why they’re there, and Jim knows why Maggie is there. Unfortunately Jim and Hallie’s romantic evening is cancelled when the Romney campaign adds another event that requires Hallie to be on a plane in 90 minutes. Instead, Jim finds Maggie in the bar, reminds her that loose lips sinks ships in regards to the whole Genoa story (as in maybe she’s drinking too much), and catches her just in time to see her leave the bar with some random guy.
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