Sloan: “Kerrie is freaking out.”
Will: “Who’s Kerrie?”
Sloan: “Two nights ago!”
Will: “What did she say?”
Sloan: “That you’re a womanising asshole and she hates you.”
Will: “I wasn’t womanising. I was dating.”
It’s New Year’s Eve and no one wants to greet 2011 as a singleton, least of all Will (Jeff Daniels – not Jeff Bridges as I mistakenly said last week) whose attempts to chat up a gossip columnist results in him having to wipe champagne from his face and $4,000 tuxedo. This leads to two more disastrous dates and Will becoming the talk of the gossip columns. Meanwhile News Night 2.0 gives some airtime to stories missed during 2010, and the Jim/Maggie/Don love triangle becomes a square, as Don sets up Jim with Lisa (Kelen Coleman), Maggie’s roommate.
Wow! After 3 episodes of set-up, Aaron Sorkin was finally able to stretch his legs, providing us with a supremely fun and spectacular hour of television. Needless to say it’s the best episode of the series so far, which is even more surprising given that it focussed almost solely on the soap-opera style storylines that had previously been the weakest elements.
Most of this success is down to Will taking centre stage – Jeff Daniels providing another assured performance as the asshole we can’t help but adore. His attempts to “civilise” his reality TV loving dates were hilarious, as were the scenes between him and Charlie. The dynamic between the two is a joy to watch – Daniels and Sam Waterston clearly having fun with the Anchor Rancor exchange. There was also room for drama too, with a few tender scenes between Will and Mackenzie – Emily Mortimer less annoying and more empathetic this week.
During broadcast the News Night 2.0 team focussed on the widely publicised “fact” President Obama wants to take away America’s guns, and that a trip he took to India cost the taxpayer $200 million a day. Both stories Will was keen to expose as lies.
As well as these stories, lies were an integral part of the episode, forming this week’s theme. This was clear with Will’s fight against the gossip mags; Neal’s attempts to get everyone interested in Bigfoot (the episode’s most pointless yet enjoyable storyline); and Maggie and Jim’s relationship which became rather juicy, due to Jim lying to Maggie about seeing her roommate Lisa, and Maggie lying to herself about her feelings for Jim.
Lisa’s arrival has provided a much-needed twist to push this storyline forward. It was also gratifying to see that any doubts about Maggie’s feelings for Jim were quashed, as the scenes between the two were full of such thinly veiled jealousy and palpable sexual tension that even Don noticed. This lead to an almighty spat between Maggie and Jim, which is the closest they’ve come to revealing their true feelings. You’ve got to think that time is fast approaching and the inclusion of Lisa makes this inevitable moment even more intriguing.
As this storyline came to a climax, so did Will’s, as his encounters with the ladies of New York ended up on the front page of gossip mag TMI. It’s here that Charlie pieces together that this is part of Leona Lensing’s plan to bring Will down. But all this is interrupted when a story breaks about a Congresswoman being shot.
Every single other news networks reports the Congresswoman has died, but Mackenzie wants to hold on until there is confirmation from the hospital. This doesn’t go down well with Reese, as he demands Will announce the death, savings his precious audience ratings. It’s here that Don of all people stands up to Reese, as he says: “A doctor pronounces her dead, not the news.” In the end it turns out she is alive and ACN the only ones to get the story right. It’s a dramatic, emotional whirlwind of an ending, which fires Will up; resulting in impassioned exchanges between him, Charlie and Mackenzie, making it crystal clear Will McAvoy isn’t going down without a fight.
After much teasing The Newsroom finally delivered on all its promise. Suddenly it is must see television and I can’t wait for next week.