The Newsroom Review: “Unintended Consequences” (Season 2, Episode 4)


Briefly, let’s just say that this episode was the origin story for Maggie’s new look, the “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” motif we’ve seen glimpses of since the season premiere. I’m sure you thought you knew where that story was going, and frankly, so did I, but I think Aaron Sorkin satisfactorily subverted expectations, and it’s rather something of a relief that he didn’t go down that somewhat more obvious route.

This episode of The Newsroom begins back at the deposition, and it’s Maggie’s turn to be cross-examined by Rebecca Halliday, played by Marcia Gay Harden. Rebecca is trying to size Maggie up as a suitable witness for the wrongful dismissal suit that Jerry Datana has brought against AWM. I’m not sure it was revealed before that this courtroom crisis was about Jerry’s firing, but it makes sense, come to think of it, that someone had to pay for the eventual fuster cluck Genoa’s been implied to be.

Maggie recounts the events in Africa, and how that might have affected her when she later interviewing a general connected to Genoa. Rebecca’s sure that Maggie’s not going to be a good witness because she’s “messed up,” while Maggie wants to abudiate on the notion that she is messed up (even though she’s sure “abudiate” isn’t even a real word).

Flashing back to September, we catch up with Neal’s Occupy Wall Street friend Shelly, who’s about to go on the air for her five minutes with Will. That’s one piece of good news for Neal, considering that his search for “Hamnee8,” the person who supposedly tweeted about the “Genoa” operation, witnessing first hand the U.S. Army’s use of Sarin gas, has hit a dead end. But in another case of weird coincidence that The Newsroom sometimes likes to revel in, Shelly’s encamped in Zuccotti Park near someone who says they wrote a report for a Pakistani NGO that got it shut down when the report said that the U.S. used chemical weapons in the area.

Awesome news, right? Too bad then that Shelly’s interview with Will goes as predicted. Will is kind of dismissive of Occupy Wall Street hitting Shelly on all the main points: no leaders, too much direction, lack of any possible solutions and proposals, and just what is the best case scenario on when this will end? Although he was his usual smug self, there were some legitimate questions that Will was trying to raise, and even Neal points out to Shelly that she didn’t perform that well under Will’s barrage. Shelly storms out, so no new Genoa info for the rest of the gang.

Back on the road, Jim, Hallie and Stillman are still on the outs with the Romney campaign. No longer being on the campaign bus means they have to handle their own accommodations too, and by the time they get to the hotel, in what even Hallie observed was a predictable plot twist, there was only one room left for the three of them to share. Admittedly, there’s a funny kind of show within a show potential to seeing three reporters on the outside looking in on a presidential campaign, but sadly the situation just proved another easy set-up to make the Romney people look petty and dickish.

As for Maggie’s trip to Africa, it begins with a stop at an orphanage being constructed by some U.S. soldiers also taking part in the hunt for Joseph Koney. Maggie and Gary interview the soldiers, talk to the man in charge of the orphanage Pastor Moses, and meet some of the kids. Maggie takes a particular interest in a boy named Daniel, who reads by himself separate from the other kids. He has Maggie read to him from the book, while Daniel stares at Maggie’s hair somewhat enchanted as he’s never seen anyone with blonde hair before. With night falling, and it being unsafe to travel on the roads, Maggie and Gary end up spending the night at the orphanage.

Meanwhile, Jerry’s pushing to get the name of Shelly’s friend. Shelly’s willing to help if Will goes on the air and apologizes for his conduct during their interview, but you can imagine how well that went down. (“As a courtesy, I was dismissive,” Will tells Mackenzie about the interview) Mackenzie decides to use Sloan, who just saw Titanic for the first time, and will never let go of Kodak stock in the memory of Jack Dawson or something, as an honest broker. When that doesn’t work, Neal tries to use Don who also dismisses Shelly saying he “can’t produce revenge fantasy.”

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