After opening the season with two strong episodes, it’s perhaps no surprise that this week’s entry of ‘The Newsroom’ is a little weaker. However, it’s still a good episode that continues the major storylines of this final season and puts the pieces in place for what will follow.
This episode begins right where last week ended, with the FBI raiding the ACN newsroom and collecting everyone’s hard drive. Charlie’s pretty upset with all this, so he makes a call to Los Angeles and warns the FBI that he’s about to go live on the air with their office raid. Don tells some coworkers that Charlie is bluffing – and he is, though the FBI doesn’t know that. Agent Levy (Mary McCormack) gives the order to stand down. Not long afterward, Rebecca Halliday informs the staff that they’ve negotiated a one-week “cease fire” with the feds.
Maggie returns from her Boston trip with the EPA report, and wants Jim’s assistance in helping it get on the air. Jim points out how boring environmental stories are, and we get a good five minute back-and-forth between the characters that just reminds me how annoying their relationship has been on this show. The gist of this scene is that Jim gets Maggie’s report into the Friday news, where Will will interview the EPA official that Maggie met on the train.
Leona and Reese visit Charlie in his office and inform him that they’ve tried everything they could to raise the $4 billion they need to buy out the twins, but they’ve only come up with one solution: they have to sell off the news division. A man named Lucas Pruit is interested in buying ACN, and Charlie is supposed to meet with him at the upcoming White House Correspondents’ Dinner in Washington, D.C. Charlie tells Will that he needs to go as well, despite the fact that Will gave a rant on the air the previous year about what a waste of time the dinner is.
Jim finds himself in the doghouse with Hallie when the two get into an argument about her new job. She’s been offered a position at an online news site named Carnivore, where she’ll earn a $45k salary but also get bonuses depending on how many page hits her stories get. Jim doesn’t want her to take the job, then makes the mistake of suggesting that Hallie might be tempted to write about Neal and the leaked documents, which sends Hallie into an angry tizzy.
Don is in his office eating a salad and meeting with the company’s new Vice President of Human Resources, Wyatt (Keith Powell). Gary Cooper and a female staffer are called down to the office, where Gary has to explain his recent treatment of the girl, whom he dated in the past. Once those two leave, Wyatt asks Don if he’s dating Sloan and suggests that if he is, one of them will have to move to an office in another city to avoid the conflict of interest. Don denies dating Sloan, but once Wyatt leaves, he rushes up to Sloan’s office to tell her that they’re not dating – which Sloan affirms without so much as a blink.
Mac meets Agent Levy in the steam room of a hotel (I think it was a hotel), where Levy tells her that the FBI has found some very incriminating evidence about Neal’s dealings with the source and that he should be turn himself in immediately. Mac then goes to meet Jim and Don in the hotel’s bar, where she asks if either of them has a way to contact Neal. Jim volunteers that he does. Mac tells him that they need to get Neal a message to surrender to the authorities.
In perhaps this week’s most entertaining scene, Will interviews the EPA official, Richard Westbrook (Paul Lieberstein from ‘The Office’). Instead of offering solutions to the current environmental crisis, Westbrook keeps repeating over and over again that nothing can be done and the world is pretty much doomed. It’s funny stuff, if a little unlikely that this kind of guest would ever be allowed to go on and on about how civilization is about to end on a national news broadcast.
Will, Mac, Charlie and Rebecca meet with a lawyer representing the Justice Department. He tries to play hardball with them, and reveals that Neal is hiding in South America. Will, however, points out that he also knows Neal’s source and has intentionally made himself a target of the federal investigation because he doesn’t believe the government would throw a TV star in jail.
At the Correspondents’ Dinner, Charlie finally comes face-to-face with Pruit, who turns out to be Ryan from ‘The Office’ (in other words, he’s played by B.J. Novak). Pruit has some odd ideas for ACN, suggesting they crowd-source the news and spin off the network into what basically sounds like a bunch of different Reality channels and series. He even has a pitch for a show about who stalk Danny Glover, which I’ll confess I’d probably tune into.
Sloan and Don run into Wyatt at the dinner. Despite Sloan’s insistence that she’d never date someone like Don, Wyatt promises that he’s going to nail the two. Meanwhile, Mac is approached by a woman (Clea DuVall) who reveals that she’s Neal’s source. She’s upset that the story hasn’t been aired yet, and gives Mac 96 hours until she uploads the story to the internet herself.
Finally, Will is served with a subpoena to appear in front of a federal grand jury. He asks the others if it’s possible that he’s not as big of a TV star as he thought he was.
While this episode doesn’t provide as many big laughs or tense moments as the first two this season, I can’t say that it’s a bad episode either. It’s just not quite up to par with what’s come before. Aside from all the Maggie, Jim and Hallie stuff, I’m really enjoying this season of ‘The Newsroom’ and the story arc involving Neal, Will and the leaked documents. It’s going to be a shame to see this show disappear forever in a few more weeks, but at least it seems to be making a strong run towards the finish line.