The Newsroom: “The First Thing We Do, Let’s Kill All the Lawyers”
By Boyd Reynolds | Staff Writer Published: 07/18/2013 10:56 am EST
Season: 2 Network: HBO Creator: Aaron Sorkin
The Newsroom Season 2 begins with a terrifically written witty exchange between lead news anchor Will McAvoy and AWM lawyer Rebecca Halliday plus her legal team which provides more than enough evidence for the episode’s title: “The First Thing We Do, Let’s Kill All the Lawyers.” Seems several members of the ACN News Night team (ACN being under the umbrella of AWM) are in hot water, Will being one of them. He went on the air alleging that the US used nerve gas during a Black Op code named Genoa, which is a war crime. The story was later retracted as their sources apparently fell through. Interrupting this verbal exchange, there is a knock at the door. In walks Maggie Jordan and the lawyer said, “What happened to her hair?” which was exactly what I was thinking. Alison Pill, who plays Maggie, looks like she just stepped out of role in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. Her punkish ‘do strikes fear into Halliday, because if the legal issues go to the next level, they’ll need her for a character witness. Will counters that something happened to Maggie when she went on assignment to Uganda, something we can only read into being horrific.
Fourteen months previous, Will started the ball rolling when he called the Tea Party the American Taliban. As a result, the President of AWM was kicked out of a judiciary meeting on Capital Building, which deeply concern AWM and its CEO Leona Lansing, played by the legendary Jane Fonda. Next, senior producer Jim Harper goes on assignment because of his mixed emotions with Maggie. A new producer, Jerry Dantana, is now on the team for two weeks. During his first newscast, there is a panel set to discuss a US Drone attack in Pakistan killing five suspected militants. On the panel, Jerry puts his military man, Cyrus West a retired Air Force Captain, and the match is lit. Off air, West tells Jerry he has secret information that “makes careers and ends presidencies.”
I find West to be the most interesting of the bunch. He wants to be noticed. He’s overly concerned about being asked back when the panel doesn’t go over well. When he feels things slipping away, his shot at the brass ring disappearing, he reveals his secret. Yet he keeps reiterating to Jerry, “You have to use me to help you follow it.” His desire to be ‘a somebody’ drips of desperation. We don’t know all the details as they’ll come in future episodes, but we do know that this was the beginnings of “The First Thing We Do, Let’s Kill All the Lawyers.” What is it about fame that makes it worth all the costs for some? I understand that being seen on TV means you have a level of important. People see you and talk about you, they think you’re important. But, isn’t it getting harder and harder to be important in a world saturated with Facebook updates and Twitter tweets. Doesn’t everyone have the potential to be famous in their own little world? The one with the most Facebook or Twitter followers wins right? Not necessarily the case in the long run, but for short term ego gratification, it has a worldwide following.
“The First Thing We Do, Let’s Kill All the Lawyers” contains the beginnings of Maggie’s dismantling as well. Her live-in boyfriend, Don Keefer, shows her a YouTube video. It’s titled, ‘Another New Yorker Loses It.’ Seems when Maggie had her little tirade at the end of Season 1 and told a Sex in the City themed bus that she was in love with Jim, someone had taped it and now it’s viral. Don leaves Maggie, who as we can see with her hair cut at episode’s beginning, seems to have gone through a rough transformation. This appears to be the start of it. Although Maggie’s character has made me cringe more than once or twice, I felt genuine sadness for her. Is there nowhere left to hide in the world besides your own home behind locked doors? I was in my early 20’s once and did many foolish things. My transgressions could have easily become a YouTube sensation. And not for the right reasons. When you’re young, it’s easy to act like an idiot and not think anything about it until it’s too late. Not only is there nowhere to hide, but people over the age of 30 don’t appear to have any sympathy for the youth. They don’t remember what it was like in their 20’s and what would have happened if there were phones with cameras. We were once allowed some anonymity. If you act like Maggie, anonymity no longer belongs to you. You’re ridiculed and embarrassed for the whole world to see – a frightening concept don’t you think?
“The First Thing We Do, Let’s Kill All the Lawyers” is incredibly well written and acted. Beyond the obvious witty dialogue, the story-line is engaging. When the episode begins, we are thrown into a conversation about the past. There are clues there, and heightened interest. Smartly, we are sent back to where it all began to watch the events unfold. As well, the news stories act as if they are a character, carving plot lines for The Newsroom. It is fascinating to watch how the news is not only filtered, but which stories are chosen and the delicate process in which it is delivering the message. “The First Thing We Do, Let’s Kill All the Lawyers” continues the political and corporate fallout from last season’s change from sensational journalism to giving the news of old, and of course, shows the cost of having your own on-air opinions.
Summary:GREAT. “The First Thing We Do, Let’s Kill All the Lawyers” is written and acted with much care. A firestorm is brewing for many of The Newsroom’s cast, one which could cost them all they've worked for with News Night.
Starring:Jeff Daniels, Emily Mortimer, John Gallagher Jr., Alison Pill