With the conclusion of “Main Justice,” the third episode of The Newsroom’s final season, we’re halfway home and nowhere closer to running a story that will expose the US government. Really, we’re just stuck watching the feds do a neat song and dance—trying to spook ACN into reveling their sources—while the blowhards blow extra hard to ensure that their freedom of speech is protected.
The tradeoff in the boardroom of the Justice Department was a microcosm of what this truncated final season has been: watchable but unspectacular. We’ve talked about the show’s inconsistency ad nauseam in the previous seasons but we can’t say that here. To Sorkin’s credit, he’s mostly kept the focus on two strong arcs.
The newest twist in the Atlantis World Media hostile takeover is the possibility that the Lansings can only keep the company if they sell off one of its shiniest trophies, ACN. The Newsroom flat out gets today’s web trends – all the cool, rich kids in Paolo Alto want to own a news network so the perspective buyer is a Silicon Valley tech titan named Lucas Pruitt, who is interested in throwing out the book on how cable news is sourced. B.J. Novak of The Office fame plays the bizarre, stiff Pruitt, who in his short time on screen already gets under Charlie’s skin.
Updating the season’s other major storyline, we’re briefly introduced to Neal’s source, who gives Mac an ultimatum – run the story on her timeline or she’ll leak the documents on a website. Luckily, we ran out of time before the peanut gallery could debate the merits of this latest question of journalism ethics.
Less Don and Sloan makes a more enjoyable show. That said, I’m amused by how they need to hide their relationship. It could be a fun little wrinkle to the final three episodes rather than having them spar at any given moment.
Heat check is starting to sizzle again thanks to Jim Harper’s big, condescending mouth. His girlfriend, Hallie Shea, didn’t disappear from the series like I thought she would. Instead, she’s been offered a decent-paying job with a startup company. Everything would be all well and good, but Jim is a stickler for old-fashioned, by-the-books journalism and doesn’t want Hallie to compromise her reporting because her bonuses are reliant on page views. It’s a worthy debate—especially when Hallie brings up Will, who in a way is also incentivized to bring in viewers to earn his fat paycheck—but Jimbo, it’s best to save your burn-the-roof-of-your-mouth hot takes for the morning. Don’t send your girlfriend to bed mad.
The Newsroom’s creator and main scribe has been on the defensive since the series debuted. He again spoke to the show’s “woman problem” in an interview with The Independent:
What does get his goat, however, is the repeated accusation that he has “a woman problem”, and that his female characters in The Newsroom are incompetent ditzes, played for laughs. “I respect that, but I disagree with it,” [Sorkin] says, before quickly changing his mind. “Actually, no, I don’t respect it, and I don’t think it helps a real struggle for equality of opportunity when there is a shrill sound of nonsense coming from stage right. The people who see that the women on the show are somehow less capable than the men are looking for that,” he continues, with increasing indignation, “and it’s not there”.
I still think Sorkin may have listened to the show’s critics and used this final season to right the show’s perceived culpabilities. The evidence is there. Just look at Maggie’s character arc, and that major “source” leaking government documents? It’s a WOMAN!
Jim Harper Watch:
Where is Jim’s head at right now? “The Mets need power, the Mets need speed, the Mets need pitching.” Check your facts, Jim. The Mets have pretty good pitching.
Does anyone else want to see Will do jail time?