Aaron Sorkin must be listening. After last episode’s dip in this season’s momentum, “Unintended Consequences” offers another great hour from The Newsroom.
“Unintended Consequences” begins with Maggie. Let me be more specific; the after-Africa Maggie. She is in discussions with AWM lawyer Rebecca Halliday and her legal team about what happened in Uganda and the present ACN News quandary. The dialogue is quick, witty and humorous, but it goes by at such a frantic pace, I found myself rewinding so I could follow. This is not a complaint; the scene is written impeccably. It is interesting that the lightning speed of the dialogue was similar in this season’s first episode between Will and Halliday, where yes, I had to rewind then as well.
One of the unintended consequences of Maggie going to Uganda is finally revealed in this episode. Sorkin gives us a day in the life of a child in Uganda. It is near impossible to comprehend what it would be like to live under constant threat, let alone be a child in the middle of it. Maggie declares vehemently in her interview with Halliday that she is not messed up. But how could she not be. Knowing her from last season, she is a highly emotional and sensitive person. The kind of person who would be messed up from what she witnessed. It appears that Maggie has shut down a part of herself likely to cope with coming to terms with the events in Uganda. Allison Pill must be commended on her portrayal of Maggie, as we are privy to Maggie both before and after Uganda. Her character transformation is as striking as her short hair.
One enjoyable aspect of Sorkin’s writing and a ten episode season is that story-lines are not dragged out. Take “Unintended Consequences.” Not only do we find out why Maggie has cut her hair (which had far more depth and symbolic significance than I expected), but Jim is off the Mitt Romney campaign trail. I have definitely had my fill with Jim away from the newsroom. Perhaps on another show with more episodes, this could have dragged out, but thankfully, it didn’t.
A surprisingly terrific story-line coming out of “Unintended Consequences” was Will verbally slicing Occupy Wall Street leader (oh right, they don’t have leaders) Shelly to shreds. After being humiliated during the newscast, Neal and Jerry both need Shelly’s help with their Genoa story. An unintended consequences of Will’s on-air actions manifests when she won’t give in unless she has an apology from Will and socks Neal in the stomach for asking. One thing is for sure – Dev Patel, who plays Neal, can take a great on-camera punch.
It’s the small, human moments that make The Newsroom so special. When Will goes and sees Shelly near the end of “Unintended Consequences” to talk about his mistreatment of her he gives her, and us, a piece of himself. In a tremendous line Will says, “I’m not smug. I’m having a crisis of confidence.” Jeff Daniels opens his character up in a tiny way and in only a few words, we understand the magnitude of the crisis within him. He is consistently enjoyable to watch.
Besides being the engine moving The Newsroom forward, Will also provides a balance to Sorkin’s writing. McAvoy is a Republican and capitalist and is not shy about being either. While he may seem more relaxed than the stiff conservative persona (playing the guitar and ingesting marijuana), he is on the right wing. While Sorkin doesn’t tip-toe around slamming the Tea Party, he uses McAvoy to add some balance to his political drama. This is commendable, as many of Sorkin’s story-lines take a liberal slant. Putting an incredibly likeable Republican as The Newsroom’s main character is bold, something The Newsroom itself has been since inception.