Over the past few episodes of “The Newsroom” since she debuted on the scene, we haven’t quite understood Olivia Munn’s character of Sloan Sabbath that well, largely because Aaron Sorkin and company really weren’t feeding her enough in the way of strong material to justify her existence. However, all of that changed Sunday night on one of the show’s best episodes yet — an hour that featured Munn having to show more range and gravitas than she has in any other work to date.
When it came to her storyline, the entire crux of the conflict really came down to one mistake that she made as a replacement for Elliot on Don’s show — putting words in an interview subject’s mouth from a conversation that was supposed to be off the record. It was a colossal gaffe on her part as a journalist, but how it was resolved was truly fascinating from a moral standpoint — she was basically pigeonholed into lying in order to save herself from suspension, eliminate the negative headlines for ACN, and also allow the source in Japan to keep his job. It was a moment of falsity that we have no seen Will McAvoy endorse much, and the acting all around here was superb. While Sorkin has been under fire at times for making his female characters mistake-prone, we liked that Sloan’s only true mistake was that she was desperate for the facts to hit the public eye about an issue as life-threatening as radiation in Japan. Unfortunately, the work she did was in disregard of someone else’s livelihood and honor halfway across the globe., and this was a debate of right vs. wrong where no solution fell within either category.
As for the rest of the episode, what made it shine the brightest came in the framing — with Will looking back at his past few days while sitting down with a new therapist, one who he originally wanted to see just to get new sleeping medication. He’s been just as busy as always in between a number of key problems — whether it be attacking an adviser to Rick Santorum on the air, getting a death threat, or positively having unresolved issues with Mackenzie that led to making her believe that he once had an engagement ring picked out for.
Perhaps what made us love this episode of “The Newsroom” is really rather simple — the hour was entitled “Bullies,” and it was interesting to see it refer to the characters we are supposed to love rather than those we barely do. In focusing on the flaws, Sorkin has allowed us to see beyond the headlines and into the core of what some of these people really believe in when it comes to business and in life.
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