On the Frontlines:
Sorkin Watch is no more. With only a few episodes remaining, The Newsroom is building to a climactic finish and I’m keeping the focus on what the show is doing to ensure that we’re not losing faith in its take on television journalism.
“One Step Too Many” begins and ends with the egos that muddle the ethical boundaries that reporters of the news must adhere to – better known as the exact reason why most people have lost faith in television journalism. All season Sorkin has written in both subtle and blatant digs at the criticisms the show received after season one. On last night’s episode, Sorkin chose the obvious when Nina Howard questions if Will is being sacrificed to do the show Charlie and Mac want him to do. Whether it’s being taken off 9/11 coverage or staying focused on the broadcast while his father is in the hospital, Will feels a responsibility to be there for his audience. As Sloan spells out, Will wants to be likable. The problem is he won’t be that guy as long as Charlie and Mac are pushing him to be the prosecutor of cable news.
Ethical dilemmas in journalism don’t always have a right answer. For now, Sorkin is still tied up in the romanticism of Will being the last lone ranger in news media. Could a more likable Will help The Newsroom? The short answer is: yes. The episodes where Will comes out of his shell, even for just a moment, allow Jeff Daniels to take the character to a place where the show needs to be. That could become a moot point as Will’s “News Night” is clearly in jeopardy in part to the real lone ranger of ACN, Jerry Dantana.
For the better part of five episodes, Jerry was neatly pushed off to the side. He was minding his own business, pursuing a lead for months on end. When you’re putting your heart and soul into a story, the stakes are raised because, well, you want it to actually run. As The Newsroom reveals more and more pieces of the “Operation Genoa” arc, we don’t need to be on the “Red Team” to understand that there are quite a few holes in the story. With Jerry begging Mac to pursue the story in the first place, then insisting that the story is ready to go to the “Red Team,” he essentially has his job riding on the outcome of Genoa. So when Jerry’s key witness refuses to specifically state that sarin gas was used, he makes some nifty audio work to doctor the footage. That’s an easy way to get people to not trust your reporting. The framework is there for Genoa to explode like a firework in the newsroom. We know the who, when, where and why of the situation. Now we’re waiting for the what’s next.
Jerry erupted like Mount Vesuvius, backing up empty claims and flashing a little anti-Obama sentiment toward the end of the episode. That can only be expected from a character that Sorkin bottled up. Now that Jerry has incited a huge mess for the news team, we’ll see if the season ends with mass layoffs and a total reworking of the dynamic of the show. Right now, The Newsroom is definitely still watchable. If people are fired as promised, the show could become benefit from a change of direction, rather than sticking with the flawed premise as is currently constructed.
Den of Geek Rating: 2.5 Out of 5 Stars