[Review] - The Newsroom, Season 2 Episode 2, "The Genoa Tip"

Courtesy of HBO
Considering how little the Genoa storyline took up this episode, perhaps a better title would have been "How To Ruin Your Life." Of course, for these characters, that could be the name of every episode. But it was a episode deeply sunk in self loathing and desperation, and for one character, taking the first steps down the road that will cause them to completely self destruct. And, oddly, without any of the framing device we were introduced to last week, almost certainly evidence of the last minute rewrite and reshoot for this episode.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that weren't as good performed by Elvis.

Perhaps the most significant thing we learned this week was that Will made his name on the back of 9/11. No wonder he's such a control freak glory obsessed wreck, he climbed to the top (or, to the middle of the top) of his profession via the single worst day in modern American history. Somewhere deep in his mind, he must be racked with guilt over being a war profiteer, considering how unflinchingly moral he proclaims himself to be the rest of the time.

Sorkin, in describing this season, said that Maggie would be destroyed as a human being over the course of the run, her hair glimpsed in the flashforwards proof of something having happened. I thought that Dan dumping her last week was the first stage of that plot, but no, it began in earnest this week, with her attempt to remove the video of her proclaiming her love for Jim from the internet. And credit to Sorkin, he wrote that scene in the laundromat pretty perfectly, with Maggie saying all the right things in the wrong way, and the reaction of the Sex and the City fanficer understandably wary. Her refrain of "why would you say that?" is an excellent example of what people refer to when they discuss Sorkin's writing. No one in real life would say that, because it keeps the conversation doing while making the audience aware that the character isn't an idiot. It extends the scene, and is a very stage piece of dialogue to boot. In real life, as soon as Maggie said the first seemingly benign, "it sounded alright in my head" vaguely threatening thing, a person would have made for the door, taser in hand. "Why would you say that?" keeps the character in place, makes them wary, and is a very funny line. I wish people talked like that in real life.

Her actions were to no avail, and now in quick succession she has destroyed her relationship with Don, driven Jim to New Hampshire, and possibly into the arms of another, and ruined her (apparently) only friendship with another human being. In that state, I understand her desperation to contribute something of worth to the newsroom, and see a certain logic in hiding the evidence that the region she'll be travelling to is unsafe, though I had to stop and wonder, if it came across the wire, isn't there a better then excellent chance Mac would see that report anyway, or anyone else in the bull pin and bring it to her attention? It seemed like one of those things that made dramatic sense, like Mac's email blast last year, but made no actually sense in the confines of reality. Either way, Gary is going to die. I'm calling it right now. A minor character, which enough appearances and recognition to have an emotional impact on the audience and the characters, and Maggie. As Will said last week, "she went to Africa, and stuff happened." Mark my words, Gary's going to die.

Now, I'm a person familiar to the internet, so maybe I was just aware of things for longer then I thought, but much like last week's mocking of the Occupy movement (which I'm all for and in favour of), this week's entire newsroom staff complete ignorance of Anonymous seemed... off. Surely Anonymous had made the news, real not reddit-based news, before then? The movement was known enough by September 2011 for at least the Guy Fawkes V masks to have become associated with them. I get that organisations like ACN were and are slow to understand social media trends, and having a character like Sampat is necessary, but I don't buy that absolutely everyone else would have a complete blind spot when it came to the internet. Especially considering how young the majority of the staffers are. Sorority Girl should have at least recognised the name. It's one of those little details that Sorkin adds either to unnecessarily accentuate the humour, or doesn't fully understand himself, that makes the show in those moments, harder to buy.

In the end, this episode wasn't as strong as last week. It was low on Charlie, Sloan only had a couple scenes, and while Don's obsession over the death penalty case humanised him further, most of the scenes concerning it were repetitive and it all just seemed like giving the character something to do for this particular hour. But it did have some excellent advice for other writers, the sort that believe good TV means shallow characters and lots of action. As Will had yet another drink turned over on him, he said "use your words." And despite the tendency for the characters to speechify, you cannot fault Newsroom for making fine use of words.
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About MR. Clark

Adopting the descriptor of "successfully unpublished author", MR. Clark began writing things on the internet in 2012, which he believed to be an entirely reputable and civilized place to find and deliver information. He regrets much.


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