In the series finale of ‘The Newsroom’, Will McAvoy gives up being a news anchor and joins a Country-Western band! Well, that’s exactly what it may have felt like to viewers who tuned in late to the episode. As series enders go, there isn’t a whole lot to complain about here. The episode serves very much as an epilogue to everything that came before it.
The episode begins during the church service for Charlie Skinner’s funeral, where we see most of our characters, except for Mac, who’s outside taking a phone call. When she returns to her seat in the church, she tells Will that she’s seven weeks pregnant.
The finale then flashes back (as it will numerous times) to the events of the show’s very first episode – beginning with a scene we’ve seen before when Will first runs into Maggie. Soon, it shows us brand-new scenes, starting with a post-work dinner that Charlie has with Will, in which Charlie asks Will if he’s ever had any desire to become a father.
Back in the present day, everyone gets into limos to take the drive to the burial site. We learn that Maggie has been offered an interview for a Field Producer job in Washington, D.C., and that Jim recommended her for the position. This, naturally, leads to some additional angst between the two. Maggie believes that Jim may have recommended her for the job because he doesn’t see a future for them as a couple.
Meanwhile, Don and Sloan ride in the car with Will, and tell him what happened shortly before Charlie’s death. Sloan hopes that Will will tell her that Charlie’s heart attack wasn’t her fault, but as Don humorously points out, Will likes to slowly plot out his revenge.
Leona (Jane Fonda) pulls Mac into Lucas Pruit’s limo. Leona gets on Pruit’s case about some of the sexist things he does, and advises him that the best way to run his news organization is to put someone in charge that he’ll fight with all the time and want to fire every day. That, my friends, is Aaron Sorkin’s idea of a subtle hint about who will get Charlie’s job.
Flashing back to the past once again, Charlie visits a bowling alley where he meets MacKenzie and recruits her for the job as Will’s Executive Producer on ‘News Night’. Also, we see Sloan meet Don for the first time, and Mac goes to the campus interview that got Will in so much trouble way back in the series opener. A later flashback has Mac calling Charlie and telling him that she’ll take the job, then going to visit Jim (who’s living in an empty apartment because he just broke up with a girlfriend and let her take most of their stuff) to recruit him to work at ACN with her.
In case you’re wondering if Neal ever made it back to the U.S., we get a scene where he returns to the newsroom. (It’s mysterious why he didn’t go to Charlie’s funeral instead, but I’m guessing that Dev Patel’s footage may have been shot weeks prior to the rest of this episode. He confronts the ACN Digital team and rakes them over the coals for running a story about the most overrated movies of all time. Yeah, any web site or blog that would do that is clearly evil (cough, cough)! Neal tells them he’s shutting the site down for a week to do a complete overhaul of the Digital department.
Things move from the grave site back to Charlie’s home, where the post-funeral wake takes place. There, Skinner’s widow (Joanna Gleason) gives Don an envelope she says Charlie wanted him to have. Inside is one of Charlie’s bow ties, which Don will pass on to Sloan before the finale wraps up.
Now for the fun (some would say bizarre) part of the finale, where Will meets up with two of Charlie’s grandchildren and starts jamming with the oldest one in the family garage, singing “How I Got to Memphis,” which was a song playing on the radio in a flashback scene earlier in the episode. Jim (whom we’ve also seen playing a guitar in a different flashback) soon joins the duo. Who’d have thought that McAvoy was actually a better singer than he is a newsman? I didn’t dislike this scene, but it seems odd and (one guesses) was probably only inserted into the finale because Sorkin wanted to show viewers that Jeff Daniels’ actually has some musical talent.
The episode… and the series… ends with everyone back in the newsroom. Pruit has given Charlie’s old job to Mac (like we didn’t see that coming, though personally I would have given it to Don), while Jim gets Mac’s old job as Will’s Executive Producer. Maggie tells Jim that she’s still going to the interview in D.C., and Jim tells her in return that if she gets the job, he still plans to visit her every weekend. The final shot is of Will going on the air and saying “Good Evening.”
The finale is basically Sorkin wrapping everything up in a bow (or is that bow tie?) for fans of the show. It’s a little sappy and sentimental (especially that musical number, which really seems out of place), but there’s nothing here that should rile up critics the way last week’s rape subplot seemed to. It was also nice that the finale found a way – via flashbacks – to give Sam Waterston a chance to play a few final scenes as Charlie Skinner, since he was really the heart and soul of this show, even more than Jeff Daniels’ character.
On the whole, I think that this final season was much better than Season 2, which I didn’t much care for at all, but still not quite as good as Season 1, which many viewers disliked but I thought was close to perfect. Aaron Sorkin has claimed that he’s done with TV for a while. Let’s hope that’s not the case. As controversial as it could be at times, I loved ‘The Newsroom’ for its witty banter, sharp dialogue, and for taking a stand (whether I agreed or disagreed) on topical issues. I’ll miss this show quite a bit.