The Newsroom: “Election Night, Part 1”

The First Thing We Do, Let’s Kill All the Lawyers.

This was the title of the first episode of The Newsroom’s second season – a statement that has finally come to fruition in “Election Night, Part 1.”

The fallout from the botched Operation Genoa story and firing of Jerry Dantana has led to a legal mess at ACN News. Charlie and Will want to resign but Leona won’t allow them. If they do, she’ll sue them for breach of contract. Adding to this mess, on the night of “Election Night, Part 1” Mac presses Will to fire her. On the following morning, Dantana’s suit will be filed against ACN News, a report which will be open for public consumption, embarrassing many members of the team, including Mac. An extremely weathered looking Mac pleads and pushes Will to either settle with Leona or fire her. Will, being the only one who can release her, won’t. This leads to things getting nasty between the two exes, setting the stage for a powder keg igniting in next episode’s season finale.

627Furthering lawyer squabbles on “Election Night, Part 1,” this time it involves Don. Seems Don was asked to be Jerry’s reference. When Don told the would-be employer that Jerry was a sociopath, he is now being sued for 20 million in damages for tortious interference. It seems like a laughable, absurd charge. Not being a lawyer, I’ll have to take writer Aaron Sorkin’s word that this can actually happen. Which begs the question, can you say anything mildly funny/snarky to anyone in the workplace anymore without it being a potential lawsuit. The lawyers are sucking all the fun out of it. As Don listens to this shocking information, he tells ACN lawyer Rebecca Halliday, “You are a member of a godless, soulless race of extortionists.” To which she retorts, “That’s fair.” See, they know.

They know!

Humor aside, Sorkin is telling us something about the world we live in. It is a world so overly sensitive, so legally driven that you really can’t say anything disparaging about anyone (as funny and off the cuff as it might be) and get away with it. Either you have the potential to be sued or ridiculed, embarrassed, and harassed publicly on any of the shaming sites – Facebook, Twitter. Pick your poison; no one is safe to speak.

newsroom-finale-pt-1-topGetting that depressing rambling out of the way, “Election Night, Part 1” as another great episode of The Newsroom. Again first and foremost, the writing was superb. The dialogue is not only fresh but done at real speed. At first viewing, Sorkin’s style seems odd, but its likely how we all talk – quickly, cutting over the top of one another, bantering back and forth. The acting is tight as well, each character weaving seamlessly though the Obama/Romney Presidential Election. But stealing the show is Sam Waterston. Continually, his character Charlie is a delight to watch, but in “Election Night, Part 1,” he was on absolute fire. Whether pleading with Reese to let his mom fire him, swearing in the middle of the newsroom or walking away from Will with a smoke dangling out of his mouth, Charlie was pure brilliance. Yet perhaps his best moment was walking past his busy staff with the application test for the New York Sanitation Department, going to the first person to, as he says “eats it tonight.”

Terrific stuff.

“Election Night, Part 1” ends with a lovers showdown. Will and Mac are beginning to remind me of Sam and Diane from Cheers. Will Sorkin have them kiss at season finale or is it too early in the game for that? Don’t want to potentially ‘jump the shark’ with a clear winner in your midst. Something tells me they’ll be at each other’s throats by the end of Sunday’s episode, but what that will look like is anybody’s guess.

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