The Newsroom: “Unintended Consequences”

By Marc Price on Aug 6, 2013 to The Newsroom

And so began the interrogation of red and short-haired Maggie. In one episode gone from quirky and klutzy to “the world is going to dislocate something if it keeps resting on my shoulders,” which isn’t to play up some sort of dry wit concerning what caused the transition but… okay happy thoughts and spoiler warning.

cafenewsroom

So Shelly got some time in the spotlight for the Occupy movement and before it could even be properly angled she was dragged right out from under it by a long, hooked cane held by Will McAvoy. Now Aaron Sorkin, the show’s writer, has a habit of building straw men with hindsight so it’s easy to pick apart arguments from two years ago that, frankly, were easy to pick apart back then as well. And while a little confirmation bias is fun and all, sometimes it comes a little heavy handed. Which is to say I believe in a lot of the things Occupy tried  to do it’s just that, like Sorkin believes apparently, they did their things kind of badly. Optimistically and naively perhaps, but quite poorly. In the end it’s up to Neil to keep her happy after something that might be more than a little humiliating for her because what she conveniently reveals right before going on the air is that she coincidentally happens to know of a man who might know something about Genoa. As if something like that just falls out of the sky, right? And it’s fun to watch some people who need their own lesson in humility try to teach it to someone else. Try as they might, everyone at ACN has a bit of an oversized ego. It’s why they all get to have such eloquent conversations.

bar newsroom

Meanwhile, on the Romney campaign, though Jim’s  having a tough time having been evicted from the press bus with but two noble companions in tow, it seems like he can endure. Until everything starts to pile up on him. What’s different about Jim, and what makes him (made him?) perfect for Maggie though, was that he piles on problems voluntarily for other people, even when they sometimes forget that they asked him to. And so he turns and pisses everyone off with integrity and kindness. He gives away his potential thirty minutes with candidate Romney and lets the person who benefits believe they earned it on their own. Because for all the integrity she gave to him in return, all she’s gotten was lost in a car with him, almost killed, and sexually harassed in a big way by her boss. But it’s okay. Because for all the vitriol Jim gets that all important silver lining; A kiss from a pretty reporter from Colorado who cares about abortion (I call her abortion reporter because I can never hold onto her name long enough in my head when someone says it but I do think she’s more important than one subject [I remember her speech at least]). After all how could they have played that if he got the thirty minutes for himself? Romney never actually offered that much in the way of substance and to have a main character write up something detailing fictitious views that the show could very well portray as truthful would lead to all kinds of problems.

maggie africa

And then, there’s Maggie’s story. I’m sorry but her hair and the fact that this takes place at an African orphanage is all the information you need to know that this ends in tragedy. The question is; How many of you thought Gary Cooper was the only who was going to bite it? That and how many of you had to look up Gary Cooper because you didn’t get the reference (I had to)? Either way she’s on a trip to find prove to herself and the newsroom that she can be “someone to go to”. And in the beginning things go pretty well. She can handle herself among the soldiers and the orphans they meet better than her partner. She even connects with one much more deeply than she thought she would. Then things don’t go very well. The orphanage is threatened by raiders. And unfortunately because of the many languages spoken in Africa, they have no way of communicating with that they are only an orphanage. And the raiders have no way of communicating if they want anything. So quietly the children are led out to their bus in order to escape before anyone is injured, killed, or kidnapped. But one scared child stays behind. And Maggie goes back in to help him. And when she finally brings him outside, moments before they get on the bus, Gary trips and…

All the raiders wanted was their camera.

Maggie’s always been a divisive character among the audience of this show, mostly because she tends to make bad choices that everyone who can see two moves past know is a bad one. Unfortunately, she doesn’t play much chess so usually she’s moving so much can’t see one move ahead. Here, her life is slowed down to a crawl. She’s been matured in one episode by the most painful surgery a writer can use to quickly develop and flaw a character; A scar on the heart. And it might sound cliché or melodramatic but that’s what happened. The people who don’t like Maggie got what they wanted and it only took this episode to get us there, with a small child’s death jarringly juxtaposed to trying to convince someone at Occupy Wall Street they need leaders in order to come off more legitimate. Is that a harsh over simplification? That’s entirely possible. Either way that’s what happened. And Sorkin pulled it off very well with very smooth transitioning. But it spoils any fun to be had in the light comedy because something so wholly dark is right around the corner. At least that’s how I see it.

P.S. Happy again! From the transitive property (which I think applies here)  I don’t think that Aaron Sorkin will be so willing to apologize to a specific section of the public for what was said on this show so I’ll say it for him, “Sorry Evans of the world.” Y’know, I like the name Evan. Seriously, I do.

P.P.S. Kony 2012!

Here’s a preview for episode 5:


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  • http://hbowatch.com/ Jacob Klein

    I’m liking the show as much as I did last year. It’s great! I understand why some people don’t like it and that’s okay. Not every show is like Game of Thrones where 100% of human beings love it.

    This episode was very different from others with 1/2 of it being in Africa as opposed to the shiny newsroom in NYC. I liked it but I’m excited to go back and watch Will rip into dumbasses some more :)

  • http://thebrothersclegane.com/ MJ Snow

    This is the first Newsroom episode that’s actually held my attention! Really good all around, especially the Maggie story line!

    • Jose

      How did the Osama Bin Laden episode not hold your attention?? haha.. This was a good episode, but I liked the week before better – that was the best of the year so far IMO. :-D The show still rocks!









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