Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Woody Allen Reveals Cast of His Next Film Woody Allen Reveals Cast of His Next Film Teasing More Toronto Reveals: How the Festival Landed Opener 'Demolition' and that Secret Michael Moore Doc Teasing More Toronto Reveals: How the Festival Landed Opener 'Demolition' and that Secret Michael Moore Doc The Surprisingly Complicated Legacy of 'The Daily Show with Jon Stewart' The Surprisingly Complicated Legacy of 'The Daily Show with Jon Stewart' Robert Pattinson Follows Harmony Korine to Miami for Revenge Thriller 'The Trap' Robert Pattinson Follows Harmony Korine to Miami for Revenge Thriller 'The Trap' Weinstein Co. and Radius Figure Out Hybrid Amazon Release Plan for Fassbender's 'Macbeth' Weinstein Co. and Radius Figure Out Hybrid Amazon Release Plan for Fassbender's 'Macbeth' Top 10 Takeaways: 'Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation' Opens Strong, But Summer 2015 Has Peaked Top 10 Takeaways: 'Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation' Opens Strong, But Summer 2015 Has Peaked Arthouse Audit: Controversy Reigns as 'End of the Tour' Tops Limited Newbies and Weinstein Dumps Jeunet's Latest Arthouse Audit: Controversy Reigns as 'End of the Tour' Tops Limited Newbies and Weinstein Dumps Jeunet's Latest Friday Box Office: Cruise and 'Mission: Impossible' Do Their Part, But Grosses Lag Friday Box Office: Cruise and 'Mission: Impossible' Do Their Part, But Grosses Lag Fall Calendar Reveals Awards Itinerary and Stealth Contenders Fall Calendar Reveals Awards Itinerary and Stealth Contenders Sarajevo Film Fest Lineup Has Auteurs, Cannes Winners and Favorites Sarajevo Film Fest Lineup Has Auteurs, Cannes Winners and Favorites Jason Segel Takes On David Foster Wallace in Controversial 'End of the Tour' (VIDEO) Jason Segel Takes On David Foster Wallace in Controversial 'End of the Tour' (VIDEO) First Look: Cynthia Nixon Plays—and Narrates—Emily Dickinson in Two Films First Look: Cynthia Nixon Plays—and Narrates—Emily Dickinson in Two Films Troubled Western 'Jane Got a Gun' Rescued as Relativity Files for Bankruptcy (Updated) Troubled Western 'Jane Got a Gun' Rescued as Relativity Files for Bankruptcy (Updated) Read Martin Scorsese's Column on His Favorite Hollywood Leading Ladies Read Martin Scorsese's Column on His Favorite Hollywood Leading Ladies A Woman in Charge: Warner Bros. Names Sue Kroll Head of Global Distribution A Woman in Charge: Warner Bros. Names Sue Kroll Head of Global Distribution 'The Witch' Won't Open Until 2016, But Its Sundance-Winning Director Has a New Film 'The Witch' Won't Open Until 2016, But Its Sundance-Winning Director Has a New Film How HBO's 'Ballers' Fails Sports Fans How HBO's 'Ballers' Fails Sports Fans Showtime Chief on David Lynch's 'Twin Peaks' Revival: "It's His Show" Showtime Chief on David Lynch's 'Twin Peaks' Revival: "It's His Show" Toronto Film Festival Lineup: What Did They Get? Toronto Film Festival Lineup: What Did They Get? Jill Soloway Says "There Is an All Out-Attack" on Female Filmmakers Jill Soloway Says "There Is an All Out-Attack" on Female Filmmakers

'The Newsroom' Season 1 Finale: 'The Greater Fool' Rushes In, Can't Help Falling in Love

Photo of Beth Hanna By Beth Hanna | Thompson on Hollywood August 27, 2012 at 2:58AM

Though not a strong episode, the season finale of "The Newsroom" was weirdly likeable by virtue of its commitment to sheer rom-com craziness. Because that is, for better or worse, what the show boils down to: A large serving of romance, with a side of news.
7
Jeff Daniels in "The Newsroom"
HBO Jeff Daniels in "The Newsroom"

Though not a strong episode, the season finale of "The Newsroom" was weirdly likeable by virtue of its commitment to sheer rom-com craziness. Because that is, for better or worse, what the show boils down to: A large serving of romance, with a side of news.

What happened:

This episode used one of the favorite gimmicks of "The Newsroom": Shifting back and forth between a "present" time (in this case, August 8, 2011) and the days or months leading up to that time.

Will announces on air that the top story of the evening will revolve around one Dorothy Cooper, a woman ineligible to vote because she doesn't possess a driver's license.

Eight days earlier: Mackenzie and bodyguard Lonny find Will bloody and unconscious in his bathroom. After having him rushed to the hospital, they're informed that Will has a bleeding ulcer because he's been taking too many anti-depressants. A possible cause of his gloom? Brian Brenner's New York Magazine piece, a "hatchet job" describing Will as "the greater fool."

Meanwhile, a number of storylines turn. Nina Howard tells Mackenzie that she's one source away from running another exposé on Will, this time revealing he was high while reporting the news of Osama bin Laden's death. Charlie meets with Solomon Hancock and requests proof of tabloid TMI's hacking practices, but Solomon won't relinquish it without guarantee that his NSA story will see light. Sloan plans on accepting a lucrative job offer at a rival network, and Don attempts to dissuade her. He also mentions that he'll be asking Maggie to move in with him, at which point Sloan reveals that she's remained single because Don never asked her out.

This reveal was completely out of left field, but nonetheless in keeping with the unabashed, even giddily preposterous romantic threads throughout the episode. Don needs someone to be paired with once Maggie finally (perhaps in Season 8) realizes that she must be with Jim, by order of Screenwriting 101. Here's hoping Sloan retains her calm intelligence next season, despite having outed her long-burgeoning crush.

Charlie learns that Solomon has jumped off the Queensborough Bridge, killing himself.

Will's nurse is the niece of Dorothy Cooper, and orders Will to report on her aunt's story. A few minutes later, Will, Mackenzie and Charlie figure out that Nina's one source for the marijuana article is actually Mack's cell phone, from which TMI stole a voicemail. The voicemail was from Will, presumably betraying his highness. This lights a fire under Will's ass to get out of the hospital bed and back to work, to bring justice to Dorothy Cooper and continue his attack on the Tea Party. Cue upbeat montage set to "Baba O'Riley."

A pleasant dinner between Maggie and Lisa comes to a halt when Maggie suggests that Jim hoped to begin a relationship with her, and not rekindle his relationship with Lisa. As Maggie leaves the restaurant alone and forlorn, a "Sex and the City" tour bus soaks her as it drives past through a puddle. Maggie then delivers a screaming monologue about the trials of being a single working woman whose best friend is dating her one true love. Jim's on the bus, hears her cries, exits bus and they kiss on the sidewalk. But: Maggie's with Don, and Jim's with Lisa, apparently an irreversible set of facts that cannot be altered by the wonders of either party breaking up.

I marveled at this entire sequence's batshit wackiness. First, that Maggie would go to Lisa with a hunch, via Don, about what Jim would have said had he not been interrupted, pushed the bounds of plausible scenarios past implausibility into a new, special realm. But then again, moments later, Maggie gives a speech to a bus, so perhaps plausibility is not the order of the day. Sending up "Sex and the City" is en vogue at HBO right now (see: "Girls"), and Maggie's pointed jabs at the glamorous lifestyles of SATC's single gals seemed to be Sorkin's attempt to endear Maggie to viewers who have grown tired of her wide-eyed, cutesy antics throughout the season. If anything, I appreciated her complete loss of sanity in this scene because it finally clarified for me that "The Newsroom" is, above all, a rom-com.

Will, Charlie and Mackenzie have lunch with Leona Lansing and her rat son, Reese. Charlie accuses Reese of ordering hacking for TMI, and produces a folder sent to him by Solomon before his death. Leona and Reese exchange a few incriminating words, and Charlie reveals the recorder hidden in his pocket. Leona now lacks the ammunition to fire Will, and instead advises him on the upcoming evening's broadcast: "Don't shoot and miss."

I liked Charlie's moment in this scene of imploring Leona Lansing to turn away from the dark side. Given the lovey-dovey overtones of the entire episode, I half-expected Charlie to betray some past feelings for her. But we do get a sense that Leona, like Will at one point, has been steadily lured away from her first love, the news, toward the gleaming, lucrative promise of good ratings and friends in high places.

Once the Dorothy Cooper/Tea Party "News Night" episode has wrapped, one question remains: What was the rest of Will's high message to Mackenzie? Will admits that, now so long ago, he thought he saw Mack holding up signs from the crowd immediately before his viral blowup (the opening scene from episode 1, "We Just Decided To"). Mackenzie reveals, via a folder conveniently in her hands, that she did hold up those signs.

There's one other thing Will mentioned in that high voicemail. During the episode's closing montage, Nina listens to the message file on her computer for a moment before choosing to delete it and not run the hit piece. The fragment of the message we hear before it's forever emptied from the trash bin? Will to Mack: "I've never stopped -- "


Bits and pieces:

  • This episode was directed by Greg Mottola, who also directed the season premiere. This makes a weird sort of sense, given all the bizarre callbacks to the season's first episode (Mackenzie's sign-holding, the sorority girl applying to be an intern on "News Night").
  • Best quote goes to Charlie: "Pussy-ass, coward-ass, pussified pussies!"
  • Jim must like Lisa more than he lets on if he's willing to ride a "Sex and the City" tour bus so that he can later chat with her about the show. I think he knows something Sorkin doesn't.
  • Don asks Maggie to move in with him by filling his apartment with lit candles. He must be getting "Will you move in with me" confused with "Will you go to prom with me."
  • The Solomon Hancock folder that Charlie produces during the lunch with Leona and Reese actually contains a recipe for beef stew.
  • Neal's trolling adventures didn't amount to much, plot-wise. Just more death threats for Will, which means that Terry Crews will be back for Season 2.

This article is related to: HBO, The Newsroom, Aaron Sorkin, Television, TV Reviews


E-Mail Updates








Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.