Will: “Nealmani Sampat. It means blue jewel.”
Neal: “I didn’t know that.”
Will: “I did. I took the time. I care.”
Don: “Are you asking him out?”
Will: “If he wants me to. I’m nice. And what are you still doing here?”
This week attentions switched to Arizona adopting a controversial new immigration law. Mackenzie wanted Governor Jan Brewer for an interview, but Maggie’s attempts to secure her failed. This resulted in Will having to interview three individuals who had no business being on TV. Will and Mackenzie tried desperately to cover-up why their relationship broke down, but of course that didn’t happen. And Jim and Maggie’s relationship developed, as the two bickered with each other throughout, however with a glint in their eyes suggesting the inevitable is bound to occur.
The most striking aspect about episode 2 was the overwhelming and at times contrived attempts to make us realise Will is actually a great guy – despite spending the entirety of the pilot making him look like a five-star arsehole. This means hardly any fire and brimstone rants (just a few wobbles), Mackenzie forever telling anyone that will listen that Will’s the greatest man that ever lived, and Will learning everyone’s names in an effort to look swell. This was the episode’s funniest scene and where Sorkin’s attempts to make Will look like less of an arse worked best.
A lot of time was also spent setting up what the characters stand for, what News Night 2.0 is, and what The Newsroom is actually about. As Mackenzie says: “News Night 2.0 isn’t about the most colourful or most outrageous version of the argument, but the best version.” This embodying the theme of the episode: Popularity vs. Integrity. This is also in stark contrast to two of the more unlikeable characters: douchebag Don and, new character, ratings man Reese (Chris Messina). Both of these characters are the epitome of what Mackenzie and Will are fighting against.
The conflict between Will and Mackenzie and why they broke up comes from this theme too, as Will wants to do the popular thing where as Mackenzie is a woman of integrity. This is why we’re lead to believe Mackenzie told Will she cheated on him – a reveal I was expecting to be kept from us for a while but am rather pleased it has been dealt with.
The other major storyline revolved around Maggie, who was largely relegated to the background in episode one. Her scenes with Jim are some of the strongest, as she stands up for what she believes in, showing Jim she has fight in her that he wasn’t expecting.
The scene where Maggie reveals she hid under a bed whilst the guy she was seeing at college was having sex with his ex was fun, well written and said a great deal about her character. From this we learn Maggie lacks courage. This is manifested later as she says she doesn’t need protecting, but doesn’t seem to have it in her to follow through, especially when she dumps Don and then backs out of it. I audibly yelped for joy when Maggie dumped him, only to feel utter dismay when she told Jim that she was going to find Don to apologise. The fact Maggie couldn’t come up with an answer as to why she was going to apologise was frustrating for us and clearly for her. This internal battle between her lack of courage and not wanting to be protected is going to run and run. It seems Maggie is an interesting character after all.
A couple of minor issues I couldn’t help but notice in this episode included the criminal lack of things for Charlie to do – other than being beaten by a child at internet poker – and Emily Mortimer becoming rather annoying as Mackenzie. I don’t know if this is because of how her character is written or Mortimer’s performance. Either way I’m hoping she’ll chill out a bit.
So, all in all a solid if not spectacular second episode, saved largely by Jeff Daniels. His scenes during broadcasts remain The Newsroom’s high points. Even if the pieces around him aren’t entirely firing on all cylinders at the moment, The Newsroom is addictive viewing for Daniels’ performance alone.