By Boyd Reynolds | Staff Writer Published: 08/14/2013 6:30 pm EST
Season: 2 Network: HBO Creator: Aaron Sorkin
Fathers and sons. “News Night with Will McAvoy” explores just that. Moments before going on the air, Will receives a call on his cell phone from his dad. He doesn’t answer, but while on camera, he trips over his words. When MacKenzie makes a few cutting remarks over his ear piece, he reveals the culprit of his hostility. During a commercial break, Will checks his messages. His father has had a heart attack, and Will is the emergency contact. Quietly and mostly internally, Will deals with his emotions. He doesn’t want to call back to check how his father is doing. MacKenzie acts as his conscience, prodding him to not wait until it’s too late to call. Last season, we learned that Will’s father was abusive. Will, being the oldest, had to protect his siblings from him. But even with that, Will struggles within to deal with the fear, loneliness, and helplessness of a parent dying. The emotion is real, the acting powerful. It’s never over the top; it is a quiet, silent storm wrestling inside Will. Relations between fathers and sons can be difficult, if not impossible to bridge. Writer Aaron Sorkin reminds us that even through terrible histories there is still a bond though, perhaps, there shouldn’t be.
Another story-line in “News Night with Will McAvoy” pulling on our heart-strings surrounds Sloan. Posing for nude photos, her recent ex-boyfriend has posted them on a website called revenge porn. The photos were taken one random night after a few drinks. Here’s where the world has changed. No longer are we allowed to make mistakes, especially if you are a celebrity, without the potential of a public shaming. Is it the fact there is now an avenue (i.e. hate filled websites) for people tobecome meaner, quicker to hurt someone or embarrass others? Sloan’s indiscretions cause her to be the #1 Trending Topic on Twitter. Maybe the blame lies in all the browsers of the internet. It’s too easy to pop in for a few seconds, laugh at someone, call them an idiot, then go to the next fool. I include myself in that. This is a compelling storyline as Olivia Munn, who plays Sloan, does a great job conveying the initial shock and inevitable breakdown of an event like this. It gives us the other side, the side of the person who made a mistake and now has to pay the price over and over again. Sloan does get partial revenge on the ex-boyfriend. Hers isn’t as public but is satisfying nonetheless.
Thankfully, the engine pushing this season of The Newsroom, Operation Genoa, was explored again in “News Night with Will McAvoy.” Yet, this time it’s Charlie who gets the scoop. He has a meeting with a secret contact high up in the channels of government and espionage. The contact probes Charlie about Jerry who has been asking Genoa questions for months now (fast-forward: this episode takes place six months after the last). The contact probes Charlie directly about the story they are following and explores the greater implications if this story was to get out. Is it better for the world not to know even if it makes it potentially safer, at least for Americans? We know the inevitable answer the ACN News team came up with, but not without great struggle. And it should be a struggle. The contact asks tough questions about American soldiers in distress and desires a shift in public perception on such acts like the ones used in Genoa, allegedly. Should the soldiers not be helped with all means necessary?
Very tough questions indeed.
While “News Night with Will McAvoy” was a good episode, it did follow a few stories strands that ran a little dry. Two car bombs go off in Syria. A wife calls ACN News, as her husband is trapped in the rubble. Throughout the episode, Jim follows the story trying to do some good, but with a twist. An interesting story of a couple with way too much time on their hands, but not one to be followed as much as it was, at least for this viewer. We get further insight into Maggie’s deterioration. Inevitably, her job begins to suffer as she makes a critical mistake on a story. But, Maggie’s story-line has suffered a hangover; its force has slowed. And what would a News Night with Will McAvoy be without Will himself fretting about a negative tweet, this time from a chance encounter outside the office.
Perhaps I am spoiled by The Newsroom. Being treated to such excellent writing week in and week out, when there is a lull in the season, I can’t help but whine like the little Boyd I am.
Summary:GOOD. “News Night with Will McAvoy” is solid, pursuing a number of story-lines. Operation Genoa has a new pursuer, and Will and Sloan deal with personal, yet unrelated crises, which give the episode its emotional kick.
Starring:Jeff Daniels, Emily Mortimer, John Gallagher Jr., Alison Pill