We knew it from the opening moments of the pilot, and we continue to see evidence displayed throughout each episode of Aaron Sorkin’s The Newsroom. What we know is that Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels) is deeply troubled emotionally. Perhaps these are the effects of having one’s heart broken, added with the stresses of a high-pressure job in the public eye. Constant interactions with his former lover and current executive producer Mackenzie McHale (Emily Mortimer) only exacerbate these troubles, as she is one large source of the problems. So how do you solve these problems? You go to therapy!
Borrowing from the styles HBO’s In Treatment, a therapy session was used as a centre point in last night’s episode. Of course, events were recounted in flashback form rather than two characters talking for the duration of an episode. The purpose, like any therapy session, was similar though: we were meant to learn about what is getting at Will. And we do learn this (though it may have been wrapped up with too much ease in the final minutes.) Will’s troubles stem from his heartache and the guilt that he feels from immoral actions that he is apart of, as well as his continual attachment to Mackenzie.
Both Will and economist Sloane Sabbath (Olivia Munn) unravel and become unhinged in this episode. Both go too far in their on-air reporting and questioning, and both are left with the mess that follows. Sloane and boss-man Charlie (Sam Waterston) have a particularly intense yelling match after she probed an interview subject regarding the unfolding Fukushima nuclear power plant meltdown. The exchange between the two displayed impressive vocal chords and facial contortions from Munn and Waterston and provided the weekly dose of brilliant Sorkin rants that we all wait for with baited breath.
As news events unfolded, they were included in a different format than usual, where one single story takes up the main focus of an episode. Mosques at ground zero, Rick Santorum’s homophobic stance, and the Fukushima meltdown were all stories that allowed behaviours in the characters to be exposed. Having shown how news media could have handled situations with grace and integrity, news events taking a slight sideline was a welcome change. My Newsroom’s biggest criticism has always surrounded the staunch idealism that can sometimes be a bit too much to swallow. Indeed, the news stories now clearly seem to have two purposes within the series: 1/ creating an inside look at how a story develops, and how it could ideally be presented; and 2/ serving as a external factor to invoke change or action within the primary characters during crisis point.
Though The Newsroom hasn’t risen to the same impressive heights as Episode 4, the series is still a delight to watch, with a strong balance between character development, humourous moments, and an inside peak at how a newsroom may operate.
The Newsroom airs Monday nights on the SoHo channel. Read more episode reviews of this season.