The Newsroom S01 E06 – Bullies

This week, Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels) and company face the very real threat of a death threat against Will’s life on Aaron Sorkin’s brilliant drama The Newsroom. This week’s episode takes place in a 48-hour period from April 11 to the 12 of 2011.

After reading some of their website’s comments online, Will is infuriated, calling anonimity cowardice, as people can say whatever they want online, and hide behind their facelessness without fear of reprecussion.

Will has Neal (Dev Patel) get a third party screening in place for the website, which requires name, address, age, and level of education to be listed besides comments. His thought process is if you’re going to be involved in a grown-up discussion, you should be able to behave as such.

We learn fairly quickly that Will hasn’t been sleeping and decides to go see his therapist, who he’s been paying for the past 4 years, though he never goes to him. He’s stunned to learn that his therapist has passed, and his practice has been taken up by his son, played by David Krumholtz.

Through the course of the episode, we see more of what’s been going on, Will has had a bodyguard assigned to him, Lonny Church (Terry Crews), Sloan has made a huge on-air blunder, and Mackenzie (Emily Mortimer) has Maggie (Alison Pill) and Jim (John Gallagher Jr) do opposition research on him.

It is this research that leads Mac to confront Will over a deal memo for Fox which would’ve had him moving to LA in the midst of their relationship. She calls him on it, saying he was planning leaving the whole time, until he pulls a wedding ring out of his drawer, letting Mac think it had been sitting there for 5 years (we learn differently shortly after, something which says lots about Will’s character).

Will takes on Rick Santorum’s viewpoint on Gay Marriage, and how it could possibly be a threat to his own marriage. He has a guest on, who supports Rick, despite the fact that he is black and gay, and Will keeps pushing him, bullying him, in fact, about Santorum’s staunch and out-dated beliefs until his guest snaps. He rails against Will for being judgmental himself, attempting to define him in terms of his black-ness or his gay-ness. He stands by Santorum’s belief in the Church and his stand on abortion, but on a final question, Will makes his point.

Sloan (Olivia Munn) is brought in to translate (very fluently) with a Japanese rep about the nuclear reactors run by Tepco. On the record, they are admitting that there is a radiation level of 5 on their scales. Alone and off the record, Sloan gets him to admit that it’s actually a 7.

After an unenthusiastic pep talk from Will, Sloan, who has been asked to cover the 10 slot by Don (Thomas Sadoski), she decides to go after Tepco on air, in a brilliant, nerve-wracking and head-shaking squence. They deny everything, and she is villified, though they use Elliot’s (David Harbour) picture on a Japanese news program. It’s also announced that the Tepco rep, an old friend, is offering to resign to save face.

After the broadcast Charlie (Sam Waterston) chews Sloan out in the middle of the newsroom and suspends her for a breach of ethics, and is afraid all of her reports will have to be combed through and vetted to prove she didn’t violate any off-the-record conversations prior.

Charlie eventually organizes a safe way out for Sloan, requiring a lie on air, one that Will says is for the common good, but it is the guilt over this lie, and the way that he treated his interview, amongst other things, that has been keeping him up.

The writing continues to be top-notch for the series, I hope we see more of Krumholtz’s character, as he doesn’t taken any guff from Will.

I also loved a sequence where a guest on the show comments about creeping Islam in America, and Will turns it around, and asks about the equal issue of creeping Christianity. Awesome.

The show continues to promote discussion once it ends… this is a show I love to talk about people with, as well as the stories, and subjects they cover. It’s fantastic!

This week we learned more about Will’s personal history, and got a glimpse deeper into his psyche, as well as seeing the dark side of interviews, when interviewers bully and push their guests for the answers they want.

I love the character dynamics, and I love to see the way they chase down or break strories, I love the news side of it, but I love the personal interactions, and the crisp, sharp dialogue.

Please sir can I have some more?

The Newsroom airs Sundays on HBO.

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