If last week’s episode of The Newsroom chronicled the impeding doom for Will and his team, this week’s “The Genoa Tip” is the beginning of the end. All around the ACN office, staffers are self-sabotaging. Don’s frustration surrounding Troy Davis’ death penalty appeal is tempting the otherwise sardonic newsman to go rogue and expose a member of the clemency review committee. It turns out that Don, previously the resident bureaucrat, is as idealistic as the rest of his colleagues, and has been collecting newspaper clippings and sources on the inside of the investigation. (This seems to be one of the first points plotted on the new Don-as-good-guy arc.) Jim is continuing to waste time in New Hampshire on the Romney campaign trail, even though he’s clearly needed back on the ranch. Maggie is shipping herself off to a war-zone in Uganda, but to be fair, after the week she’s having anything would be better than staying in New York. Will is feeling sorry for himself, and MacKenzie is ignoring her gut instinct to watch out for ol’ Peabody Jerry.
Naturally, most of these decisions are driven by ego, a signal that the News Night team is straying from their true Don Quixote mission to just do the news. In pursuing the Occupy Wall Street story, Neal is the only staffer keeping to the game plan and his colleagues, including his boss, make fun of him for what they assume will be a bust of a story.
But these developments are nothing next to the latest report from YouTubeGate. Just when you thought the fallout from the video shot by a Sex in the City tour bus passenger couldn’t get any weirder, Maggie is heading to an Astoria laundromat to confront the videographer. She has determined, through a complex calculation involving Four Square, gentle cycle and the seven train, that the woman who posted the video will still be washing her underwear by the time Maggie gets out there. (More like Maggie’s dirty laundry.) Amazingly, the attempt to negotiate with a woman who a) uses Four Square and b) checks-in at the laundromat fails. She leaves the video up, Lisa finds the link and there’s a nasty fight between Maggie and Lisa. Who was right? It’s tough to call. Maggie was a jerk, but Lisa was lying to herself and probably ignoring the warnings from her other friends. Maggie, who now doesn’t have any friends who will take her calls, thumbs a textbook on Africa and decides to head to a different battlefield.
To make matters worse for all parties, ACN’s love dodecahedron gets another angle when the blonde babe-reporter Hallie Shea (Grace Gummer, Meryl Streep’s daughter and Mamie’s sister) finally gets Jim on the Romney bus. Her cold banter and Harriet the Spy sixth sense will most likely prove to be an irresistible distraction for Jim as he blogs poolside in New Hampshire.
Will is still taking the same bummed-out cigarette drags he was taking last week, still upset he was removed from the 9/11-anniversary coverage. We learn he actually got his break ten years ago on 9/11 when the other anchors couldn’t get to the desk. His role that fateful day was to protect and inform the American people and now, a decade later, he’s discovering just how much the internet hates him, and feeling increasingly compelled to go softer in reporting the administration’s questionable counter-terrorism efforts in an effort to get people to like him. Neal is still on the OWS beat – partially out of ambition and partially because Shelly Wexler is a passionate woman with shiny hair – and gets arrested during a protest. With this dramatic call to action for our hero, Will storms the police station and is back to fight injustice and report the news.
Meanwhile, Jerry Dantana has located a former special ops officer who claims the U.S. used Sarin gas on foreign targets during an extraction of U.S. forces, and Mac continues to pursue the story against her better judgment.
Unfortunately, between last week’s spoiler-heavy deposition and Sorkin’s admission on The Daily Show that this plot is actually the re-imagining 1998’s Tailwind scandal in which a CNN producer reported the use of Sarin nerve gas during the Vietnam war based a tip from a psychologically distressed Admiral – we now should be able to predict everything that is going to happen this season. (Matt Weiner must be slapping his forehead somewhere.) I don’t mean to sound like broken Willie Nelson record – by the end of this episode we’ve already heard enough of “Always on My Mind” to hammer in the melodrama – but to be honest, I could really go for a cheap Hollywood cliffhanger right about now.