When we heard about the plans for “The Newsroom” season 2 to frame their story around a litigation and a fictional operation that “News Night” tried to break and failed at, we were nervous that this was going to lead to the press dogpiling Aaron Sorkin and company like they tried to do last year. This has become a feeding ground for cynical hipsters at times, but regardless of whatever they may say or think, the show had one of its best episodes ever last week. Our fears about the season’s structure are now unfounded, and the show has our Episode of the Week honor for the very first time.
There are a few reasons why this episode rose above the traditionally-strong “Newsroom” hour, and could even be one that we remember at the end of the year.
1. Journalism politics – What happens when you burn a source, only to later realize that this source could be the key to your kingdom? Will McAvoy was forced into exploring this courtesy of the Occupy Wall Street protest, and the connections between one picketer and Genoa. Also, the Jim plotline further exposed the sort of trickery and politics that goes into landing interviews, and how leverage is just as important as anything in getting the big story.
2. Great performances – Maggie has often been a scatterbrained character, and not one that we always particularly found interesting. But this episode changed that. It got her away from the romances and into a real situation, one where she had to feel pain that was far worse than anything with Don or Jim: A child died because of her, and many others were put in danger. This is something that will damage her for the rest of her life, and to think that the entire event in Africa occurred despite good intentions is even more harrowing.
3. Pacing – This episode really blew by, and one of the major reasons was because it darted to one plot to the next, then back, and never felt like they were trying to fill out a full hour of airtime. This episode could have been a full hour and a half, and we really would not have minded.
Let’s just hope that “The Newsroom” keeps it going moving into next week, given that the previews featuring Sloan have us a little anxious. But we’ve always been among Sorkin’s greatest proponents here, and even on a night that features the return of “Breaking Bad,” we’re saving a spot in our heart fro Will and the rest of the team.