The Newsroom Review: “Willie Pete” (Season 2, Episode 3)


It seemed like someone opened hunting season this week on The Newsroom: Will hunted for signs of humanity, Jim hunted for allies in his war against campaign spin, Neal hunted for some respect concerning Occupy Wall Street, and Jerry hunted for confirmation concerning Genoa. There was success on all those fronts this week, but a little success can sometimes be a dangerous thing.

The episode opens with Aaron Sorkin, using Will McAvoy as his mouthpiece, going to town on an auditorium full of Republicans booing Captain Stephen Hill, the soldier who asked the GOP candidates for president via You Tube their stand on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” while on duty on the frontlines of Iraq. “How many different kinds of disgusting do you have to be to boo a man that volunteered to fight and die for you?” Will asks in summation, and after at least one good Corporal Klinger reference. I understand Will’s (and Sokin’s indignation), but really, shots at the former primary candidates is like shooting pigeons at one of those ranges that binds the birds’ wings so they can’t fly away. In other words, it’s easy pickings.

Speaking of easy pickings, we catch up with Jim again on the road with the Romney campaign. And if you thought a dozen scenes so far of Jim pointing out the contradictions of Romney’s taking points with previous comments, while trying to get some fresh and original reporting out of the campaign spin masters was great so far, then you’ll love this week’s adventures. But really, I was as bored watching Jim cover the Romney bus, as Jim was actually being on the Romney bus. In the end, Jim had a Spartacus moment, and managed to recruit two more to his cause, including the ultra-cynical Hallie. Sadly, for Jim and friends, the result wasn’t a revolution, but expulsion from the Romney bus. But on the bright side, the three reporters were able to liberate a number of turkey sandwiches. Small victories, I guess.

Back in New York, the touchy subject of Will’s voice mail to Mackenzie on the night of Osama bin Laden’s death comes up again just when you thought that maybe Sorkin heard the criticism and decided to drop the whole thing. But alas, Mackenzie’s bound and determined to get Will to tell her what he said in the message, and Will is equally bound and determined not to tell her, and play the “I was too high to remember” card. But Mackenzie can’t leave well enough alone, prompting some of that old Will McAvoy wrath to bubble to the surface, which makes Mackenzie comment that she had thought that Will had forgotten about his pledge to be mad at her for the rest of his life.

But that wasn’t the only instance where Will was in fine form. As he was getting reacquainted with his cruelty to Mackenzie, Will decided it was once again time to raise the standards of humanity again. Everyone’s favourite gossip columnist Nina Howard has a scoop about Will not having the flu during ACN’s 9/11 coverage, and rather than confront her, Will decides to drown Nina in the civility of mimosas and Burt Bacharach. To everyone’s surprise Will’s combination of civility and honesty wins Nina over, and she aggrees not run the story. Will, surprised by Nina’s agreeableness, asks her out on a date. Nina hedges, as she remembers the Will’s message to Mackenzie verbatim, but this definitely went better than the last time Will and Nina met over drinks.

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