The Newsroom: Everything Unravels Except Will McAvoy

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Episode recaps
Courtesy of HBO

Warning: Spoiler Alert

Right out of the gate, the News Night team reacts to Will getting subpoenaed. Rebecca runs him through a quick day-to-day rundown of what will happen next. Will spins it again and Mack rejects his premise. She believes he’s been wrong every step of the way on this. Everyone’s phones go off. There has been a press release and everyone has it. Including Jim’s girlfriend, former social media reporter for ACN. Mack pulls Don aside and tells him to be ready by Wednesday night. It’s the story that has Neal on the run and Will in trouble. That’s the time-table the source gave Mack.

Jim and Hallie attempt to leave the Correspondence Dinner early. Maggie’s date (the ethics teacher) jumps into a social question about a friend of Maggie’s dating someone who just signed on with a gossip rag, not knowing that he’s talking about the woman (Hallie) directly in front of him. This leads to an issue between Jim and Hallie because Jim talked about it with Maggie at work. Hallie takes offense to his disapproval of her new job. She claims she had nothing to do with leaking the story about Will at the Correspondence Dinner. Then comes the admission that she may have told her colleagues what to look for. Ironically, this was not the immediate end of their relationship.

Mack attempts to let Charlie and Will in on her little pow wow with ‘the source’, she opts to meet with Pruitt instead. They walk into the room and it is made very clear that they media circus that is now Will McAvoy at the Correspondence Dinner was all perpetrated by Pruitt. Done as a power move on his part to separate him from the Lansing’s.

Lucas Pruitt then goes ahead and gives his relative mission statement, which I have to believe he’s rehearsed many times. Again, he plans to put the power of reporting in the hands (or phones) of the viewers. Integrating social media, not as an after thought, but as the primary source of information. And that is when he loses Charlie. Charlie sits down and gives a rant of Charlie proportions. I would love to transcribe it for you, but it just wouldn’t do it justice. The last part of it would read:

Lucas: The air up there on that pedestal must be pretty thin because you are delusional sir.
Charlie: If I am, I plan on staying that way. And my network is staying too. We’ve got a problem now, you and me. Have a good evening.

The first hearing of Will McAvoy in front of the grand jury goes exactly the way Rebecca said it would. Lots of yeses and one very critical no.

During a staff meeting, the HR guy enters with a very dumb question that reveals a very clever ulterior motive. He asked Don why he hasn’t accepted his friend request on Instagram. Don writes something on a notepad and hands it to one of the associate producers to take to Mack. Instead its a note for Sloan. Which she immediately interprets as she needs to delete anything of her from his Instagram page.

Just as the associate producer was leaving, Charlie was entering. He badly wants to find another buyer that isn’t named Lucas Pruitt. He presents Sloan with a list of rich people. She resists, but she goes down his list. When she gets to the last name on the list, the light bulb in her head turns on. The wife of a wealthy businessman had shown interest in an article two weeks ago. Sloan hopes to set up a meeting so that she and Charlie can gauge interest, quietly.

There is a snag to get the story run on ACN by Wednesday. One of the contributing sources, they believe is still on the ground. If a national network airs a story of Kundanese Islamic radicals rigging an election to ensure the preferred outcome and the guy is still there, best case scenario is that he dies. Best case.

Jim runs home to have a quick sandwich before heading back to the office, where he finds Hallie working on a piece for work. He avoids anything that might precipitate an argument. She resists as she believes he’s baiting her. Eventually she reveals that the piece is an op-ed about her experience with the ‘plan b’ pill. All seems fine. Then Jim sits down and says, “does your piece start with dear Penthouse?” thus pouring gas on a flame.

Will (with Rebecca) and Lasenthal are compelled to meet with a judge. After hearing what the two lawyers had to say, the judge moved to Will. They are familiar. Will tried cases before this judge long before either of them made it to where they are today. The judge does as was predicted and orders Will to meet with the grand jury again.

The staff is having trouble getting the reporter on the ground out. His youngest doesn’t have a passport. Don all but demanded that Mack tell him why they have to run it on that particular day. It looks like she might tell him. Then she says she’s leaving but will return. They have four hours to make this work. And when she comes back, not to ask where she was.

The meeting with Sloan, Charlie and this ‘Toni’ goes exceedingly well. For Charlie she expresses her desire to keep the news professional relying on integrity. So Charlie’s in. Then the two women have a sidebar conversation about finances and projections. Full disclosure, did not get half of it. When the waitress arrives as asked what they would like, Toni has a great response.

Waitress: Have you decided what you would like.
Toni (slightly under her breath): A news network.

Mack traveled to Langley, Virginia. To meet with the source in the hopes that should would ‘lift the deadline’ of Wednesday night. The source is resistant. Idealistic and downright high and mighty about what’s at the core of this circus. Ultimately Mack is more persuasive. They will run the story. Lift the deadline or she will quit her job at ACN and walk to the FBI personally and give them her name. The source is less than polite with her response. There absolutely has to be something bigger at play. The source is guarded about her identity. But she also gets almost emotional charged when talking about the ideology of the transgressions. Revenge? Helping a loved one? Something else has been there beyond doing what she thinks is right.

Will meet with Mr. Lasenthal and the grand jury. When asked if he will comply with the court order to reveal his source, as predicted, Will does not.

Hallie has posted a new article. This time a personal introspective on her relationship with a man who loves her but doesn’t like her (i.e. Jim). She doesn’t use his name. She instead refers to him as ‘Tim’. This is discovered while Maggie and Jack are on a date. She defends Hallie while Jack defends Jim. This goes further than it should, but in the end, Jack informs Maggie that she’s into Jim and defends Hallie to cover it. It would also be a good idea for them to talk about how that makes Jack feel. Knowing any man not named Jim Harper will be playing for second place.

Hallie shows up at ACN to ask why Jim hasn’t returned her calls and texts. Jim doesn’t say much. Then suggests she leave that room as there more than 20,000 classified documents there. They head to the rooftop balcony. The fight ensues. At every turn Hallie throws out a cliché about the ‘digital revolution’ or ‘fear of technology’. After a while it becomes clear that she is trying to make excuses for the work she’s doing. Jim’s real only problem is that it is reality TV in word form. It does appear the breakup is official. Thank goodness.

Somehow the reporter and his family are safely out of the country, thus giving ACN a little clearance to run the story. Then Mack is asked to meet with Reese. Reese informs her that they can’t run the story at all. Pruitt is going to sign the papers to buy ACN tonight. They’ve been informed that if they run the story, the Justice Department will enforce ‘crippling’ fines. Mack is indignant about this. With the source, Neal and Will all hung out to dry the very least they should be certain of is that they are doing the story. Then Reese has a moment that is very un-Reese like.

Reese: The fight with the grand jury isn’t over. They still want his source.
Mack: I know.
Reese: Since the day you got here, Will’s been having a battle with himself. Is he a rogue journalist or just good on TV? You ever think he may be doing this for you? Because I don’t think there’s not a chance he’s going to jail.
Mack: I’ve got his ring on my finger, he’s not doing this to win my approval…
Reese: Then it would be the first thing I’ve seen him do that wasn’t.

Mack tells the staff and tries to hide in her office. Don follows her in. Suggests that they proactively try to leverage not doing the story to get everyone off the hook. Mack suggests they find a responsible reporter who needs a break. One must assume to pass the story off to someone else to run. Don gives her a name then leaves the office. Sloan is there to offer support which involves a hug. A hug that the HR guy witnessed. Not important because back in the first couple episodes, Sloan sent a letter to the HR department citing that they are a couple to avoid any impropriety for what may appear to be insider trading from Don’s purchase of Chipotle shares.

Don gets almost uncomfortably close and fires three very specific things at the HR guy. 1) Sloan would choose her job over Don in a heartbeat 2) Don really likes her and they make it work and 3) the HR guy’s company is only going to own this network for another few hours. The HR guy admits that he did it for fun. The life of an HR rep is a boring one. And for the record he hopes it works out and that he’s a fan.

Charlie runs up to Sloan wanting know exactly what is taking so long as Pruitt just entered the building. An hour early. Sloan does a little digging and finds enough bread crumbs to believe they will announce ‘an exciting media acquisition’ tonight at 5. Don is still in the dark and now he knows it. As the swell of excitement overwhelms, Sloan sees something on her Bloomberg terminal. Halifax is trending up. Toni wasn’t meeting with them to buy ACN, she met with them to create negotiating leverage.

Sloan charges into the board room to intercept Charlie but she’s ten seconds too late. Pruitt knew all about it. Being in a position of perceived power, Pruitt has some comedic and condescending words for Charlie. Which Charlie takes the exception to and has to be restrained because let’s not forget, Charlie is a %@#&ing Marine.

At home Will and McKenzie are having dinner, if you can call it that. Mack charges into this inner struggle to figure out what’s what. Then Will again refers to the source as a ‘he’. Mack tells him he can stop calling it a he since she’s met with her on two occasions. There is a long pause and Will says very calmly but sternly, “You cannot repeat what you just said to anyone”.

It’s now Friday and Will sits in a courtroom to show just cause for his refusal to comply with the court order to produce the name. Mr. Lasenthal and Rebecca go back and forth. Then the judge asks Will what he should do. Then we have a lovely response from Will that illustrates his belief in the necessity of the clandestine services and the integrity of a journalist to protect their source. And finally, that no number of days in prison will change that stance. The judge finds him guilty of contempt and orders him to surrender himself to US Marshall’s by 5pm that day.

Once they exit the courtroom, most of the immediate staff is waiting. Up to and including Mack. Who not jokingly, suggests they get married at 3:30 that day. Will hesitates for half a heartbeat. Then when he realizes she’s not joking, he jumps all over it.

We see what appears to be people wheeling in crates. My first assumption was refreshments for a make shift wedding reception. As it turns out the crates are boxes that have all of the 27,000 classified documents being delivered to Don’s responsible reporter lady who currently works for the Associated Press. The staff run around town trying to secure the essentials for a wedding. All to a contemporary rendition of Ave Maria.

The ceremony is as elaborate as humanly possible with only a few hours to plan. At its conclusion, Will and Mack depart together. Down the hall, the US Marshall’s wait. Will and Mack do their goodbyes. Will takes the slow handcuffed walk. With only two episodes remaining, there are a lot of loose ends to tie up. Join us next week to see where this heads.

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