Episode of the Week: ‘The Newsroom’ season 2, episode 5, ‘News Night with Will McAvoy’

We ran into an interesting stumbling block when it came to cultivating this edition of the Episode of the Week feature; you have two strong choices, and only one show to give it to. The popular opinion here is probably going to be the “Breaking Bad” season 5 premiere “Blood Money,” which was an excellent hour that teased the future of Walter White while also showing us the early stages of his likely downfall.

However, we decided to look at this debate with one primary thing in mind: While “Breaking Bad” got off to a great start, it was far from the show’s best episodes. Meanwhile, “The Newsroom” delivered its best episode ever in “News Night with Will McAvoy.” It would have been very easy to make an episode themed in real-time a gimmick, especially one that literally showed everything that can happen during an episode of fictional ACN show, but it didn’t feel forced n us; it almost felt natural. There were also a great number of story threads thrown in here, and they focused on what makes the show great rather than its weaknesses:

1. Great emphasis on the headlines of the day, and on Will flexing his best newsman muscles.

2. A scene involving the death of Will’s father, and how his decision to not pick up his phone ended up causing him to miss his final words.

3. Sloan and Don having some great scenes together that were supportive on an emotional level rather than drippy or overly romantic. They were moments of pure friendship.

4. Maggie focused on something other than Jim, and something much more traumatic.

5. Mackenzie denying a young student his chance to turn a gay student’s death into a moment that was instead all about him, and doing it with as much grace as she could.

Overall, it was “The Newsroom” as it really should be every episode: Fast-paced, sharp, emotional, and also grounded. We just hope that some other critics can turn off their cynical switch long enough to give hours like this one a chance.

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