The Newsroom: “Red Team III”

By Marc Price on Aug 26, 2013 to The Newsroom

The house of cards comes crashing down despite an obsessed builder cheating the architecture with tape and nails keeping the design sturdy yet ultimately sacrificing its all important integrity. In so doing, this impatient man not only degrades what he so impassionedly designed, he’s also removed what crucial components of the house around him keep the structure solid putting everyone at risk. What’s worse is he did a sloppy job hiding it. So when everything finally began to chip away the process wasn’t a slow cascade of dominoes, it was an implosion. Stupid Jerry.

Jerry stupid

I loved this episode, if for a couple things. But that’s for later. Right now, the broadcast. Finally, after constant scenes of toiling research to find the scraps of information that could do no more than hint that Genoa occurred, the report airs. All the evidence lined up in a nice succinct package for audience and viewers at home alike to take in. Everything adds up perfectly, but the air is somber. What they’re saying will change the world or flip theirs upside down. Once the broadcast finishes, all that’s left is the silence. Someone stands up, walking to the chalkboard, and erases a number from that perfect equation replacing it with another. Then another person gets up. And another. Before anyone can react the chalkboard reads numbers and symbols that don’t resemble an equation. The story is wrong. The formula doesn’t add up. Which is why when implemented, it blows up in everyone’s face.

Enough metaphors, it’s time to be more direct. This is the start of something important for the show. Not just News Night, the series itself. This is where it comes into its own, where it slips off the growing pains of adolescence, begins its journey through self doubt, and leaves the arrogance of perfection behind. The consequences of it all should be fascinating. So far, the show has coasted on an almost non-stop impossibly well informed streak even if they succumbed to Casey Anthony when it meant losing the majority of their viewers. This was where they stumbled in the sprint. Where they busted their ankle and where they decide if it’s worth it to step outside again. Okay metaphors make things easier to explain and can dramatize better than direct explanations, but the point is that here is where the news the show within the show starts putting out becomes more grounded, or becomes much more contentious. All you have to do is ask yourself which one is more likely to entertain an audience looking to a fictitious show for the strong arming journalism that real life won’t provide? Seriously, The Daily Show has said more than once that “The Newsroom” would be a better source for news than actual news programs because of how nutty everyone’s gotten for ratings. It’s what everyone’s been waiting for and the start of something much bigger than Genoa. But that’s all eggs hatching and chickens counting before the former can even occur. Firstly, there’s fallout to deal with. Chernobyl fallout.

newsroom team

That leads me to my big gripes with this episode. For all the evidence unwinding, one stuck out as a bit forced. Which isn’t to say it didn’t work so much as it wasn’t nearly as strong as everything else. The CIA spook Charlie talked with who offered up more bread crumbs for the trail to Sarin. He got to soliloquy about a son that Charlie took on the staff and subsequently fired. Of course he didn’t know about a drug problem and that this son eventually died. With all the new information mounting up at once, something wasn’t going to stick as well as everything else because there simply wouldn’t be any room left. In a story about a puzzle which can configure in two images, everything seems to line up all too well. But all the drama of the jigsaw reforming came in manic chaos control, and trying to figure out what went so wrong. This part stuck out with such a different tone. You’re heart isn’t beating fast with worry it’s beating heavy with the tragedy of revenge. I just feel like it didn’t match the rest of the story.

The other thing was basketball. Which is to say that they made it a point to point out basketball so much in the show that you know it’s going to be brought up, and if you watch even a little television you should know that if it’s brought up so much that isn’t by accident. It was fairly predictable that would be the misstep in editing the raw footage. It’s not a bad thing in itself, but it dragged in the episode, teasing the fact over and over again until finally Mac confronts Jerry in an elevator and finally, if a bit meekly, fires him.

It should have been over with much more quickly. Despite that, Jerry’s final moment with a career at ACN really worked. He was as stubborn as ever, only showing his true colors in a single line which to paraphrase was that he did it because he knew he was right. The story didn’t matter, being right mattered. Being true didn’t matter, being right mattered. You might not think he has a case for wrongful termination, but Jerry’s philosophy manages to hold itself together even as the house of cards collapses. There was no truth in his report because all the evidence was built up using its own supports like a Jenga tower. Jerry’s right because ACN was wrong, even with his name taking credit on the first image of the story. It’s unbearably frustrating.

red team

The show isn’t over yet, as Benghazi and the attacks on U.S. consulate in Libya rear up. Likely if you listen to conservative media you’re still hearing about this every so often. Unfortunately, we won’t be getting any of Sorkin’s wisdom on the subject in this episode. Also, did you see “Skyfall?” It was a lot better than “Quantum of Solace,” but it still wasn’t a great movie. Good, but not great. Daniel Craig was in those movies. He played James Bond. And Daniel Craig, forgetting that the quality of his trilogy was questioned by my previous comment, is a good Bond. I say Daniel Craig so much because Leona wanted to meet Daniel Craig and now she won’t get to meet Daniel Craig. It wasn’t because of Genoa though, Hurricane Sandy decided to be an idiot and ground his plane. Lamentations for Daniel Craig aside, Leona reveals a side to herself that only the help of inebriation can do. Quite similar to how Will’s mushy interior was briefly glimpsed in a hacked and deleted message to Mac about his feelings. She admits that she has some pride in the fact that her news outlet is doing a good job with the news. Even more surprising, that after everything the network has endured, she wants to keep Charlie, Will, and Mac a nice role reversal from the first season. I wonder how she’ll feel about that one when she sobers up in the morning.   

As an aside, is Don anyone else’s favorite character now? He’s my favorite character after everything he’s done so far this season.  

Here’s a preview of the season finale, Part I:


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