Normally a recap would be filling this space as the FOX network aired their final episode of “Gotham,” for 2015, as the show will go on hiatus and return with new episodes in February. Regular readers of these pages are well aware that I have a soft-spot for “Comic-Book Series” in general and I’ve written before that I believed that Gotham had the potential to be the best of the lot. Since the series is a prequel to Batman, the show’s creators and writers have been able to put their twist on a tale that first appeared in Detective Comics in 1939.
When you decide to reboot an iconic story, there’s certainly room for some flexibility in the new version. We’ve seen Jimmy Olsen morph from a freckle-faced ginger-haired photographer into a Black Man in the CBS show “Supergirl,” and the change got accepted eagerly by the fans. Jeri Hogarth is a shark in stilettos in the new Netflix series “Jessica Jones,” even though the character’s a man within the pages of Marvel Comics. These are minor changes that leave the big picture unchanged and even the staunchest traditionalist won’t be bothered by moves like that.
However over the last decade or so, we’ve seen the creative community expand their visions of familiar tales by breaking continuity with what should be hard and fast rules. You can set Robin Hood in ancient China populated by Shaolin Monks or in Alaska with a cast of Eskimos, as long as you stick to the constant. Robin Hood takes from the rich and gives to the poor, want to change those parameters then give your story and characters other names.
Back in 2013 director Zack Snyder released “Man Of Steel,” the reboot of the Superman series and broke continuity with every other version of the tale ever told. One of the changes was relatively minor and likely scoffed at by the casual fan, the fact that the Son Of Krypton grew a beard on Earth. Kal-El/Superman’s beard not growing on Earth’s been a constant through comic-books, Radio and TV shows and in movies since the character’s creation.
The second deviation from the “Superman Bible,” however altered the character and made this version of Kal-El different from all his predecessors. Kal-El broke the neck of his Kryptonian opponent General Zod, killing him and violating one of foundation blocks of tale of Superman. Superman Never Kills. There’s no room for negotiation in that statement. Zack Snyder’s creation can never truly be Superman in my eyes.
Which brings us back full-circle to the subject at hand, the final episode of Gotham for 2015. The creators of this series can play as hard and fast with the characters as they choose to, however when the series airs its final episode when ever that occurs certain paths have to remain unchanged. Selina Kyle will grow-up to become Catwoman, Alfred Pennyworth will live to see Bruce Wayne go deeply into his adult years. Of course Bruce will either be on his way or actually donning his cape and cowl in the series finale and Jim Gordon will become the Commissioner of the Gotham City Police Department.
Everything else is up for grabs, they can throw a fake Joker on the screen and the fans will accept it. They can give young Bruce a doomed romance that forever affects his heart. They can have Harvey Bullock turn on Gordon and fall back into the corrupt cesspool that Jim first found him floating in. However they can’t alter those four tent-pole storylines, otherwise it’s a different tale.
The majority of the episode entitled “Worse Than A Crime,” was fast paced, gripping and entertaining as it all came down to a battle between Theo Galavan and the Brothers from the Order Of The Dumas and Jim Gordon, Alfred, Harvey, Cat, Penguin and his crew to save Bruce Wayne from imminent execution. Galavan sneaks away as Team-Gordon takes out all their opponents, culminating in the death of Father Creel as Harvey finally reaches the battle after struggling with the stairs.
At this point the story turned sideways and though it seemed puzzling one could make sense out of it. The only ways out for Theo, his sister Tabitha and his niece Silver are by greeting the police or by parasailing out of their penthouse window. Problem’s they only have two chutes and three people who need to escape. Theo expresses his disappointment in his niece and goes to choke her but he’s stopped as Tabitha comes up from behind and knocks him out with a blow to the top of his skull. Suddenly a devoted sister turns on her benefactor brother, without any real indicators? Strange but acceptable.
However what came next was not as Gordon finds Galavan in his office and tells the Mayor that he’s under arrest and to cuff himself. Galavan smiles and says you scared me there for a minute I thought you were going to shoot me. Gordon says this time he’s not getting away and Theo asks the detective if he’d like to wager on that, as that’s what Jim thought the last time he arrested him. The detective glares at Theo and says maybe he’s right and perhaps he should guarantee that Galavan never sees freedom again and puts his service revolver against the billionaire’s head. Galavan goes into begging mode quickly saying he was just talking big.
Just then Gordon’s commander Captain Nathaniel Barnes arrives on the scene with a uniform and orders Gordon to step away from Galavan. Barnes earlier in the episode issued a warrant for Gordon’s arrest, not knowing where his detective was located and he’d been charged with assaulting Galavan, still the city’s mayor. Barnes tells Gordon to put his service revolver on the floor and to put his hands on his head until Barnes gets the stories straight. Seconds later Barnes hits the floor as Penguin’s snuck up from behind him and hit him in the head knocking him out.
Cobblepot tells Gordon they can’t just let Galavan go through the system again and once again get set free. He reminds Gordon that he’s got all the judges in his pocket and he’d soon be back in his penthouse and running the city. We then see Gordon opening the trunk of a car and helping Galavan to his feet. Theo says you’re a moral man Jim, you’ll regret this and Gordon says he has greater things to regret than him. Penguin raises a baseball bat over Galavan as he lies on the sand near the ocean and says this is for his mother and beats Theo until the mayor pleads for his death. Gordon lets Oswald hit him another couple of times and then screams enough. He then pulls out his service revolver and executes Theo Galavan.
Gordon meets Lee Thompkins in a park, he sent her out-of-town just before the gunfight. She told him she’s carrying his child and he was about to leave Gotham City with her when he found out Bruce Wayne got kidnapped by Galavan. She sits on a cement bench and he walks over to her and says it’s all over then asks her to marry him.
Do the creators of Gotham expect the audience to accept this brutal execution as part of the baptism by fire that helped shape James Gordon into the man who’ll become Commissioner of the GCPD. Gordon killed a man earlier in the season when he did a favor for Penguin to get reinstated on the force, but that was in self-defense. This was a premeditated act of execution and I don’t know how the character or the series recovers from this move.
I’m certain that there will be plenty of discussion from the creators of the series as well as from other observers. I’m hoping that there’s a rational explanation behind this event that allows us to forgive and to root once again for Jim Gordon.
Looks like our old friend Oswald Cobblepot’s going to have a challenger as King Of Gotham City’s world of crime. In the second episode of the second season of the FOX hit series “Gotham,” we watched Theo Galavan’s band of escapees from Arkham Asylum make their presence known in grand fashion. Galavan’s the ultimate marionette, keeping his identity in the shadows as his escapees wreak havoc and getting Gotham City Mayor Aubrey James to publicly disappear through pure intimidation. Can the Penguin and company stand up against Galavan, his sister Tabitha and his escapees?
Published reports during the summer stated that two major characters would get killed off in the season’s first few episodes. One of those deaths took place in this episode and unfortunately our prediction in our season preview article turned out to be correct, ushering in a new day in Gotham City.
The episode opens with a meeting between Galavan, his sister Tabitha and Gotham City Mayor Aubrey Plaza, who finds himself in the uncomfortable position of having a wooden box covering his head. Theo tells James that he’s going to open the latch in the front of the box and one of two things will occur. Either James agrees to call his secretary and tell her he’s run off with a woman and he’ll send her written instructions of what to do, or Galavan will put a tarantula in the box and close the latch. Naturally the Mayor chooses to make the phone call.
James asks Galavan why he’s doing this to him and the businessman and community leader tells him that he’s just a part of the great endeavor, the great cleansing. Theo tells the Mayor that monsters are coming, who’ll cleanse the city in fire and blood.
We head to the offices of the Gotham Gazette and we see the editor in chief turn up his nose at the paper’s headline asking Where’s The Mayor. The editor starts shouting at his staff that he could care less where James is or whom he’s sleeping with, he says that’s not news. As he gives his lecture, we see bodies coming from the roof, dropping past their windows. The reporters rush to the windows to find out what’s going on.
On top of the roof we find the four men that Galavan and his sister busted out of Arkham Asylum, in the first episode. They’ve got seven hostages up on the roof, in straight-jackets and Jerome spray-paints a letter on each of their jackets and Aaron Helzinger picks them up and throws them to the street below. When they’ve finished the dead men on the ground spell out MANIAX! They’ve introduced themselves to Gotham City.
New GCPD Commissioner Sarah Essen’s working out of her old office in her old precinct. She addresses her officers and informs them they’re dealing with a massive problem, then turns over the floor to reinstated Detective Jim Gordon who gives a rundown on the MANIAX personnel. Jerome Valeska killed his mother, Arnold Dobkins’ a schizoid, a thief and rapist. Robert Greenwood murdered and then ate six women, Aaron Helzinger murdered his entire family with his bare hands and Barbara Kean killed her parents. The seven victims were all from the Yellen shipyard.
Galavan’s meeting with the four men planning their introduction, he says what they did was just the overture. Jerome impresses Galavan the most and when the boys get into a spitting contest over whose the boss, Valeska bests Greenwood in a game of Russian Roulette and winning the title.
Barbara and Tabitha enter the room with James in tow, still with the box on his head and the lid’s latched. The women are taking turns whipping him and tell Theo they’re bored. Kean asks when it’s going to be her turn to do something dastardly and Galavan smiles and says soon. Them he asks her what she knows about Jim Gordon?
Alfred and Bruce are down in Wayne’s father’s secret cave located below Wayne Manor and Alfred’s distraught at what he’s finding in there. There’s a cache of weapons and a bullet-proof vest with two slugs embedded in it. Bruce wants to turn on his father’s computer, but Alfred asks him to think it through. Wayne responds he’s thought about it enough, this contains all his father’s secrets. He turns it on, but Pennyworth destroys the server with a sledge-hammer, saying that what’s inside the computer likely cost Bruce’s father his life and he won’t let Bruce get killed. Wayne tells his butler and guardian that he’s fired and for him to leave and never return.
Jim heads down the bar that Harvey bartends at and he has an unpleasant reunion with Bullock’s fiancée Scottie Mullens. She asks why he’s there and tells Harvey he’s going to ask him to go back to being a cop, but Bullock tells her she’s mistaken. Jim says she’s right, that’s exactly why he came and Harvey tells him he’s got a life now and won’t go back. Before Gordon leaves Harvey tells him to look for a connection with Yellen shipyards, where all the hostages got taken from.
Alfred comes into the library with a small suitcase and bids goodbye to Bruce, Wayne tells him if he needs a reference that he’ll give him a great one. Alfred’s hoping the boy had a change of mind, but he leaves the mansion and heads to the train station.
Harvey’s hunch panned out, the MANIAX stole a filled-up fuel truck from the shipyard and the guys have chosen their victims, a school-bus filled with cheerleaders from Gotham City High School. Jerome soon has all the cheerleaders manacled to their seats and then sprays them all with gasoline from the truck’s hose. He goes to light the gasoline, but his lighter doesn’t work, so Arnold Dobkins tries his, just as the police arrive. The MANIAX fire on the GCPD realizing they won’t receive return fire, standing in front of the schoolhouse. After shooting some officers they take off leaving Dobkins whose lighter’s failing to spark. Gordon grabs him but it’s a second too late as he finally lit the gasoline trail on the ground leading to the bus.
Jim knocks Dobkins to the ground with a punch in the face and then drives the bus to safety, seconds before the gasoline fire explodes. Gordon grabs Dobkins and asks who busted them out of Arkham, but before Arnold can respond Tabitha shoots him through the head with a high-powered rifle from a nearby rooftop. Now the MANIAX are down to four.
Bruce heads down to the train-station and finds Alfred sitting on a bench and sits down next to him. He tells his guardian he doesn’t want him to leave and he understands he did what he did to protect Bruce. However he says that Alfred’s either with him or against him, Pennyworth responds that of course he’s with him but he believes Wayne’s too young and not ready.
Wayne tells him that’s cool, so he wants Alfred to make him ready to teach him how to become a warrior. He says that Alfred’s lived a dangerous life and he can prepare him, the boy even says he’ll go back to school. Pennyworth agrees to the deal if Bruce follows his instructions completely and when Alfred tells him to hold back he’ll restrain himself. Wayne shakes Alfred’s hand and says he’s got a deal, but Alfred has to get the computer fixed. When Pennyworth asks how he’s going to do that, Bruce responds it’s Alfred’s problem since he broke it.
Regular readers of these pages, are well aware of my admiration of Sean Pertwee’s portrayal of Alfred. Although I enjoyed Michael Caine in the role in the Dark Knight Trilogy, Pertwee brings an edge to the part. He’s a dangerous man and when the situation calls for it, Alfred freely reveals that side of him. The next scene showcases that part of Pennyworth’s personality, as he tracks down Wayne Enterprises executive and confidante of Thomas Wayne, Lucius Fox in his favorite watering-hole.
Alfred makes it seem at first that their meeting’s accidental, but he soon tells Fox that he’d been thinking about him. Fox asks him what his thoughts pertained to and Pennyworth tells him the way he figures thing, the world’s made up of two kinds of people, those you can trust and those you can’t. Lucius agrees with him and then Pennyworth tells him that he needs to confide in him, but if Fox betrays him he’ll wind up dead. Lucius says perhaps he should pass on being Alfred’s confidante and the butler tells him that ship sailed, when he told Bruce his father was a stoic.
Lucius looks Alfred in the eyes and tells him he’s got only the best intentions in regards to Bruce. Pennyworth smiles and says he’s glad to hear that. Then he asks Fox if he can fix a computer?
Back at the precinct Gordon gets a call from Barbara Kean and he tries to play things cool asking her how she’s doing and what’s going on. Kean calls him on it and Gordon tells her she’s sick and she needs help. He says she’s really a good and loving woman and that he wants to help her. Suddenly he sees her in the doorway of the precinct, calling from a cellphone and she asks him how she looks. She leaves the precinct and he follows her out holding his pistol and aiming it at her.
As soon as he leaves Jerome and Greenwood enter the station wearing uniforms. Jerome ties up Commissioner Essen and then he and Greenwood open fire on the precinct. The pair kill almost all those in the building, Nygma, Kristin Kringle and Lee Thompkins, are among the few not badly injured in the incident. Essen’s witnessed this all before Jerome turns his attention to her.
Meanwhile Gordon’s following Barbara down an alley and he calls out to her to surrender and he’ll do all he can to help her. She says that’s just going to get her sent back to Arkham and Jim throws up his hands and says let’s talk this out. Kean says it’s too late for that and we hear a scream and Helzinger jumps down and lands on Gordon and starts pummeling him. Jim picks up a steel pipe and hits Helzinger in the head with it and then just stares when he doesn’t react. After a couple of seconds, Aaron softly says oww and then continues beating Gordon to a pulp until Barbara tells him to stop.
Jim’s on the ground on his back barely conscious and Kean straddles him and tells him she kept saying this is what she’s really like, but Gordon wouldn’t listen. She says I’m not sick I’m free, then tells Jim he best get back to the station in a hurry.
Greenwood and Valeska now concentrate on Commissioner Essen, Greenwood picks up a video-camera and starts taping Jerome’s conversation with Essen. She looks at him and through gritted teeth tells him that he’ll soon be dead and nobody will remember his name. Jerome laughs at her and says that’s where you’re wrong, I’ll leave a mark and it’ll spread like a virus throughout the city. Greenwood shouts out there’s nothing as contagious as laughter and Jerome shoots him dead saying that’s his line. Now just three MANIAX remain.
Essen head butts Jerome in the head and he says he likes it and tells her to do it again. The second time she breaks his nose and says that’ll leave a mark. Valeska laughs as blood spurts from his nose, then says now it’s my turn. When Jim arrives back at the precinct, a couple of uniforms are still alive as well as Ed, Kristin and Lee. However Sarah’s dying, her blouse covered in blood. Jim grabs her hand and says it’s a new day Jim and dies.
Lucius Fox is with Bruce in the cave as Lucius inspects the computer and smiles and says it’s certainly broken. Bruce asks him if he can fix it and Fox says he imagines so, but it’ll take some time. He then tells Bruce that he loved his father and he never got a chance to tell him that and he wishes he’d helped him more. Alfred enters the cave with a somber expression and some news for Bruce.
Jim enters Essen’s office and suddenly we see Harvey in the doorway and he says she was a Hell of a lady and Gordon responds she was a Hell of a cop. He then sees Harvey’s sporting his shield and he says he appreciates but Harvey’s not obligated to come back. Bullock says he doesn’t want to talk about it, we are what we are. Jim asks him how Scottie took the news and Harvey says she’ll understand, or she won’t.
As they head out of the office and into the main precinct, Bruce and Alfred arrive. Bruce tells Jim that he’s sorry for the losses but he’s glad Gordon’s okay. He then says he’s sorry he was so rough on Jim the last time they spoke and he gives Gordon a hug. One of the cops turns on a TV and we see a news report containing footage that Jerome sent to the station that he taped during the massacre. He tells the city they’re all prisoners, just cogs in the wheel, then tells them to hang onto their hats as they ain’t seen nothing yet!
The Story Continues Next Monday Night at 8:00 pm on FOX.
Welcome to the Comic-Book Era of Television! While movie-screens are currently dominated by characters hailing from the Marvel Universe, the small screen’s embraced the world(s) of their rival DC Comics. Marvel’s represented on network television with their two entries on ABC “Marvel’s Agents Of Shield” and it’s winter replacement “Agent Carter,” however their competition will air five shows, on three different networks in the upcoming season. The CW will add Legends Of Tomorrow, likely in January to its schedule joining mainstays Arrow and “The Flash.” CBS brings Supergirl to its lineup in November, in a series that looks very promising judging by its pilot.
The FOX Network comes out of the starting gates first as “Gotham,” returns to the airwaves for its highly anticipated second season, Monday September 21. After setting the story and introducing integral characters in season one, expect the series to go into hyper-drive in the upcoming campaign. Events will occur at a fast and furious pace from the onset according to published reports by “TV Guide,” saying that two major characters will die within the new season’s first few episodes.
One of those characters will likely be Captain Sara Essen, as the actress that portrays her Zabryna Guevara doesn’t appear in any of the preseason publicity package Fox put together. Combine that with the news that veteran TV actor Michael Chiklis joins the cast as a character named Captain Barnes and it seems to be an obvious conclusion. The other character could be Kristin Kringle, part of Edward Nygma journey in becoming the psychopathic criminal we know as The Riddler.
Season Two’s been labeled “The Rise Of The Villains,” Gotham City’s old guard criminals are gone, either dead like Sal Maroni (and presumably Fish Mooney) or left the city and retired following the example of Don Falcone. As season two opens The Penguin appears to be the King Of Gotham City, but that could be changed very quickly. Along with Oswald Cobblepot and Nygma, other familiar faces that we watched go to the Dark-Side in the first season return. Barbara Kean and Jerome meet each other while incarcerated at Arkham Asylum and realize they’ve got something in common, patricide.
Detective Jim Gordon and his partner Detective Harvey Bullock will try to keep the city’s citizens safe, while fighting corruption within the department. Over at Wayne Manor The Boy Who Will Be Batman Bruce Wayne, discovers secrets about his late father with the help of his guardian and family butler Alfred Pennyworth and an ally from Wayne Enterprises Lucius Fox. Last season we watched a sheltered boy turn into a savvy young man, after Bruce witnessed his parents’ murder by a lone gunman. Wayne will continue the search for his parents’ murderer on his own in the upcoming season and try to rid Wayne Enterprises of corruption that dates back to his grandfather’s days with the company.
The Story Resumes Monday September 21, at 8:00 pm on FOX.
There are many reasons why the FOX series “Gotham,” may evolve as the best network series ever based on comic-book characters, one of those reasons being the ability to juggle stories covering the present, the near-future and the long-term future of those characters. The latest episode “The Anvil Or The Hammer,” illustrated that point perfectly, as the GCPD attempted to apprehend a serial killer, Bruce Wayne had “The Talk” and the criminal element finally engaged in a long simmering war. Yes, this is the war Oswald Cobblepot predicted early in the season and it looks like his vision of the conflict was spot-on.
We also witnessed Edward Nygma losing his fear and starting to embrace his destiny as the Riddler, as he gets rid of GCPD Officer Tom Dougherty’s body in the GCPD lab. His logic’s that without a body there isn’t a crime and he learns that being dishonest with people, might serve him better than being direct.
Along with that we got our first meeting with another familiar and in this case friendly face, as Bruce Wayne got introduced to a man that will prove to be one of his most trusted allies, one day. Once again young Bruce’s bond with his guardian and family butler Alfred Pennyworth, showed to be unbreakable as the boy confessed to keeping secrets from Alfred. All and all, it made for another entertaining and fast paced hours.
The immediate issue that the show had to deal with, was the whereabouts of serial killer Jason Lennon, otherwise known as the Ogre. Detective Jim Gordon’s aware that his former fiancée Barbara Kean’s being held captive by Lennon, but the GCPD doesn’t have any information to help them track the killer, except for a sketch drawn by Lennon’s plastic surgeon.
It’s the morning after the Wayne Enterprises Charity Ball and Kean walks downstairs from Jason’s bedroom to his kitchen, as Lennon puts the finishing touches on the breakfast he prepared. She says she’ll skip breakfast and though he talked a great game at the ball, she knows he was pretending. He tells her he was pretending, but not the way she thinks he was. He tells her he was going to murder her the night he met her, until he discovered the real Barbara Kean. He tells her that she embodies everything he’s dreamed of in a woman. He then says he’s going to let her go, then they’ll have breakfast together. However she bolts for the door, which she can’t get out of. He puts a black bag over her head and carries her away, saying he’ll have to do this the hard-way.
Gordon’s at his desk at the precinct when Lee walks over with some breakfast but he refuses it. She tells him it’s not his fault that Barbara’s with the Ogre, but he responds that the serial-killer warned him. He says that if Barbara dies, her blood’s on his hands.
Ed enters the station dragging two steamer trunks and brings it into his lab. We watch him open one of the trunks, revealing Dougherty’s body cut up into pieces. His plan’s to use the GCPD facility to help him cover-up the murder he committed outside of Kristen Kringle’s home the night before.
Harvey walks in with a teenager whose been bragging on the streets that he knows who the Ogre is. They inform him that he’s got another intended victim in his grasp and she’s a good friend of theirs. The kid asks how much she’s worth, after Gordon scares the punk to death, he reveals that the Ogre was a regular at a traveling brothel, the Fox Club.
Our first visit of the evening to Wayne Manor, as Alfred delivers an envelope to Bruce, that came via a messenger. The boy puts it aside and continues reading the sheath of papers in front of him. Alfred says he’s off to identify the body of Reggie Payne, it just doesn’t make sense to him that his old mate’s dead. He tells Bruce he’s going to take care of the funeral arrangements and he won’t be back until the evening. As soon as Alfred leaves, Bruce opens the envelope containing the key to Sid Bunderslaw’s safe. There’s a note attached: Hope you find what you need. Be careful. Selina.
Butch Gilzean pays a visit to Lydia’s restaurant, the dump that Penguin recently became a silent partner in. This is the day that the hitman Connor, that Penguin hired will knock off Sal Maroni and all his gang-leaders. Gilzean plants a revolver under the bar and a machine-gun behind the jukebox. Their discussion ends as Gordon walks into the Umbrella.
Gordon says he needs the location and an invitation to the Fox Club, Cobblepot’s surprised at the request. Gordon asks if he can help him or not, Oswald says he enjoys their give and take relationship, but he seems to be the only giver in the tandem. Gordon grabs the Penguin by the lapels with one hand, and aims his pistol at Butch with the other. He says to Cobblepot, that he thinks he knows him, but he has no idea what Jim’s capable of. Cobblepot says this is a big day for him, so he’ll accommodate the detective’s request, but now Gordon owes him a huge favor. Jim smiles cruelly as he lets got of the Penguin’s jacket.
Bruce’s being guided around Wayne Enterprises by a public relations employee, when they get to the division that Bunderslaw runs. He excuses himself to use the restroom, but instead pulls the fire alarm. This is the chance for him to enter Bunderslaw’s office undetected and to find out what the executive keeps in his safe.
Jim tells Harvey that the Fox Club’s now in the old Klondike Building, he’s got one invitation and Bullock will pretend to be a John. He’ll bust them and then they’ll squeeze hard until someone gives up the Ogre.
Jason’s got Barbara hanging from the ceiling by her wrists and a gag around her mouth. He enters his playroom, apologizing that he’s left her alone for so long. However he says he wanted to give her time to realize the situation’s she’s in is real. He tells her the walls are sound proof, so don’t waste her lungs, she spits in his face instead. He unbinds her hands and lets her stand on the floor unchained, she slaps him in the face, once she feels her legs are recovering.
He says that she’s scared and that’s why she slapped him, she says Jim will rescue her and he slaps her in the face, her legs give way. He says the only time he’ll get angry is if she says Gordon’s name. He then calls her over to look at something, when she looks down he says you have to kiss a lot of frogs on the road to love. She sees the pictures of his victims, then asks if he killed them all there. He says yes and she crumbles to the ground, but her eyes remain open, he says he won’t kill her he’s going to set her free.
With the complex being evacuated due to the fire alarm, Bruce sneaks into Sid Bunderslaw’s office, finds the safe and opens it, to find the safe’s empty. Suddenly he hears Bunderslaw’s voice, saying he’s been expecting Bruce, since the boy’s friend borrowed Bunderslaw’s key. He then offers Bruce a cookie, saying when he was a boy he never turned down the offer of a cookie.
Wayne finds his voice and accuses the executive of trying to kill Alfred, Bunderslaw counters that he sent Bruce’s guardian’s comrade to the home to determine what Bruce knew. He says he never sanctioned anyone getting hurt. Bruce says that Wayne Enterprises is involved in criminal activity. Bunderslaw sounds somewhat jovial, when he responds Oh my yes. He says they’re a multinational corporation, that would usurp the laws of every nation if it could to make a profit.
He then says he told the board that Bruce was special and needed to have “The Talk” early on. He tells him when members of the Wayne family reach a certain age, they are sat down and informed of all the dealings of Wayne Enterprises. He says his father was just like Bruce at first, coming to Sid with his secret files. But Thomas Wayne as Bruce’s grandfather, eventually came to accept the criminal activities, as part of the price of doing business.
Just then, a younger man enters the room and he introduces Bruce to another Wayne Enterprises employee, Lucius Fox. The character portrayed in the Dark-Knight Trilogy by Morgan Freeman, is played by former cast member of The Newsroom, Chris Chalk. He tells Bunderslaw that the Public Relations employee’s looking frantically for the boy, Sid tells Fox to escort Bruce to her.
As they leave the office and head towards the lobby, Lucius says to Bruce try not to let your face react to what I’m about to tell you, as it will be picked up by all the security cameras I installed here. Fox tells Bruce that he was very close to Thomas and he knew things about his father that others in the company had no knowledge of. He says your father was a good man, a true stoic, that kept lots of important information secretive. They shake hands and go their separate ways.
Barbara’s asleep on Jason’s couch he kisses her on the forehead and rouses her awake, once reality sets in she starts crying uncontrollably. He puts her on his lap and tries to calm her, but she says he’s going to kill her. He asks her if she wants her to kill him and she cries no, he asks her whom he wants her to kill instead. He then says she’s wanted to kill someone forever, but never found the strength. She whispers into his ear who the person is.
Bullock’s busted the brothel, telling everybody to stay where they are. Gordon speaks to the Madam and asks her to identify the sketch. She says you might as well arrest me, because I don’t talk about clients. Jim tells her he’ll call the Gazette and have them send a reporter and photographer, then all her clients will get their pictures in the paper. She tells the detectives to talk to Sally.
Turns out Sally was Jason’s first victim, but he just scarred her face instead of killing her. She says his name’s Jason, he assaulted her nine years ago. She remembers he lived in midtown and there was a neon sign across the street from his loft, but she could only see the last four letters, O-Y-A-L. Bullock recognizes it’s the sign for the Gotham Royal Hotel, they thank Sally for her help. She asks Jim to promise to kill Jason instead of arrest him, he says alright.
Maroni’s holding a getting out of prison party for one of his men Tommy Bones over at Lydia’s, when Connor and his man enter the restaurant. He says that Falcone sent him over as a sign of respect and gives Sal a jug of his favorite wine. Maroni says that he appreciates the gesture, then invites Connor to have a drink with them. Connor says that there’s a message with the present, he says Falcone said it wasn’t easy to decide to kill Maroni, then the pair grab the guns. However neither work, the man with the machine gun goes down in a flurry of bullets. Maroni says now Connor’s going to deliver his message to Falcone, that Connor messed up and now Sal’s going after Falcone. Tommy Bones then shoots him dead.
Harvey and Jim arrive at Lennon’s loft, but both Jason and Barbara are gone. Suddenly the phone rings and Gordon picks it up. Jason’s on the other end as Bullock and Gordon triggered an alarm when they entered. Lennon tells Jim that Barbara’s safe as milk, much safer than she ever was with Gordon. He hangs up, but the two detectives determine that he was driving on a bridge, that had a train nearby. The only bridge that meets the parameters, heads to upstate which is where Barbara’s parents live.
We’re at Barbara’s parents’ house and Jason has his gun pointed at them while they sit side by side on the living room sofa. Mrs. Kean asks her daughter what’s going on? Jason replies that their little girl’s finally woken up. He then pulls out his knife and looks at them coldly.
The Umbrella’s packed to the rafters as Butch gets off the telephone and tells Penguin that Maroni’s alive. Cobblepot laughs and says he set Connor and his man up, by removing the firing pins from their weapons. His plan all along was to draw Maroni and Falcone into a war, hoping the situation works out well for Oswald after the shooting stops.
Harvey and Jim enter Barbara’s parents’ home and encounter the butler’s dead body sprawled across the foyer. Harvey stays at the entrance near the staircases, as Jim enters the living room and sees Barbara’s parents’ bodies sitting upright on the couch with blood covering each body. Bullock thinks he hears someone, but turns the wrong way and Lennon knocks him out, then Harvey tumbles down the stairs.
Barbara walks into the living room disoriented and asks Jim why he’s there, she says he’s not supposed to be there. Lennon charges Gordon with his knife but Gordon side steps him. The two battle on the floor for control of the knife, but then Jason gets up, grabs Barbara and puts the knife to her neck. Gordon aims his gun at Lennon’s head and tells him to put down the knife. Bullock comes up from behind, Jason turns and Gordon shoots him in the forehead. Barbara falls to the ground but she’s unhurt, Jim tells her everything will be okay.
Back at Wayne Manor, Bruce confesses to Alfred that Selina pushed Reggie out the window, when he threatened to tell Bunderslaw about what they were doing. He then tells Alfred about their meeting in Sid’s office, he says that Bunderslaw told him both his father and grandfather kept quiet about the criminal activities that Wayne Enterprises engage in. Alfred says that Bruce’s father was a good man, Bruce responds even good men have their secrets.
Maroni goes on the attack, starting with sending Don Falcone Connors head in a box. Captain Sarah Essen addresses her squad-room, telling them that all leave’s are cancelled for the foreseeable future. Three of Falcone’s businesses were shot up badly, reportedly by Sal Maroni and his men and Falcone should soon respond. She says we’ve got a shooting war people.
The Season Finale For Gotham Airs Next Monday Night at 8:00 pm on FOX.
The freshman FOX series “Gotham,” keeps expanding the Batman Mythos, as “Deadline.com” reports that the series hired Chris Chalk, to portray a young Lucius Fox, in the final few episodes of this season. Chris just completed his run on the HBO Original Series “The Newsroom,” portraying camera-man and ladies-man Gary Cooper. The Wayne Enterprises employee, made his debut in DC Comics back in the late seventies. According to the report, Chalk will debut in the next-to-last episode of this season. Chalk also appeared in the Academy Award winning film, “12-Years A Slave.”
Fans of the Dark Knight Trilogy, are familiar with the older version of Fox, who became CEO of Wayne Enterprises, in Batman Begins. Legendary actor Morgan Freeman portrayed Fox in the three movies. Fox’s a moral man and spoke out against corruption in the corporation, which cost him his job in the first movie, however Bruce Wayne brought him back as CEO as the film concluded.
This announcement, comes on the heels of an interview with Jada Pinkett-Smith’s leaving the show at the end of the current campaign, a move that didn’t surprise many regular viewers. Pinkett-Smith’s character Fish Mooney was created specifically for the show, portraying the last of the old-time criminals, that will make way for villains such as the Penguin, Riddler and in the not too distant future, possibly the Joker. The series is on hiatus until April, at which time it will air the season’s final four episodes.
Here we find ourselves on the doorsteps of a series finale we all hoped we could delay. The Newsroom has been every bit the Sorkin gem we’d hoped it would be. Even at its most unimpressive moment, The Newsroom still stands head and shoulders above 90% of what television has had to offer during it’s run. Jeff Daniels has been amazing. Sam Waterston has been career defining good. Each and every character has found a way to pull us in.
Thinking back to the pilot episode, there was about a 50/50 split. There were characters I liked immediately and ones that took time to grow on me. Reese Lansing, Don Keefer, and even Maggie Jordan. As we look back before the series finale, even the people I did not care for, have found a way into the proverbial heart. An ability that very few writers have, Aaron Sorkin accomplishes with resounding results.
Tonight is the last episode of the journey in the ‘mission to civilize’. The swan song for raising the collective expectation for what delivering the news should mean. The swan song for that dying breed of the honorable newsman. One last hurrah for us the viewer to experience something fictional, seldom found in day-to-day non-fiction.
Mack: Reclaiming journalism as an honorable profession. A nightly newscast that informs a debate worthy of a great nation. Civility, respect, and a return to what’s important; the death of bitchiness; the death of gossip and voyeurism; speaking truth to stupid. No demographic sweet spot; a place where we all come together.
I don’t mean to belabor the point here. The Newsroom took us on a journey of what could and quite frankly, should be the way things are done. We live in a place where ratings and appealing to the lowest common denominator is a blueprint for success. Whether it’s news or reality television, we are satisfied with the sound bite or deplorable. Not because it’s accurate or important. Because the requisite amount of people would tune in to watch this unimportant thing. And that number of viewers sells enough soda or car insurance or toys. The Newsroom, beyond the show, was a metaphor for where we are versus where we came from. At least within the construct of television news.
As recently as today, I saw on social media someone posted a link to the video of Will McAvoy’s first speech about “Why is America the Best Country in the World”. This person had no idea that this was from a television show currently running. And that becomes the bigger issue at hand. This is a remarkable show created by a remarkable writer. And that would be enough. This show like a few Sorkin shows before it will prove to measure beyond the scope of entertainment. This show vividly shows us a great many things about ourselves, good, bad or otherwise.
Everything Aaron Sorkin does has tremendous merit. Every mainstream project he’s ever completed increases in value. Like a great artist, his work is normally not truly appreciated until it is too late. I could have easily watched The Newsroom into a 6th season before even considering when it should end. So today is a bittersweet day for me and I imagine anyone who is a fan of The Newsroom or Aaron Sorkin. At the conclusion of tonight’s episode some will reflect and move on to whatever is next on their DVRs. The rest of us will wallow in re-runs of The West Wing, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, Sports Night, A Few Good Men, American President or whatever Aaron Sorkin works they may have at their disposal. Without any further delay, let us look forward and see exactly how this story ends.
We begin the series finale exactly where we should. At Charlie Skinner’s funeral. Everyone is present. All those we expect and some we might not have. Everyone except Mackenzie, because she’s outside having a very cryptic phone conversation. She quietly sneaks back into the funeral service. She attempts to whisper something to Will, who if famous masculine fashion misses it the first time. Mack tries again and only two phrases (under the circumstances) are required. “My Doctor” and “blood test”. A natural and convincing smile grows on Will’s face.
We immediately follow-up that great news with a three-year flashback that starts with Will yelling for ‘Ellen’. Those viewers who go back to the beginning know what this is. This is the Show Runners for The Newsroom taking a moment to show us exactly how detached Will McAvoy was. Not knowing Maggie’s name. Not knowing what Neal even does. Strong arming his executive producer. And Charlie Skinner watching the broadcast moments before the decision not to right the ship, but to rebuild the ship.
During this flashback we get something I thought we’d never see again as of last week. Charlie Skinner in a benevolent manner giving it Will regardless of how Will feels about that. He beats around the bush asking if Will ever plans on kids. Will gives some reply about being afraid to pass down some of his father’s demons and questioning if it’s worth it in the long run. Charlie then redirects the conversation back to the current state of the show. He is going news segment by news segment, pointing out deficiencies and missed opportunities on Will’s part. Trying to get passed the ratings and to begin talking about content. Charlie walks us all the way up the line in the sand. He even asks bluntly, “what are we doing?” Then just before concluding the flashback, Charlie leans back in his seat and says, “Being a father…it lives up to the hype.” The flashback washes away to reveal a truly joyous Will McAvoy smile.
When the funeral service concludes, Will and Mack struggle to get passed the lines and into open space. Will then, in first time Dad form, pulls Mack aside to ask 20 questions. We, in this moment, run down a relative checklist. Then in typical Will fashion he declares that the next 7 months will go smoothly because he is in charge of morale.
Will: Do we know if it’s a boy or a girl?
Mack: Yes. It will likely be one of those two.
Leona Lansing wants Mack to ride with her to the cemetery. She then ‘invites’ Pruitt to join them. Pruitt is clearly still ticked about the interview prior to Charlie’s heart attack. In a different limo, Maggie hold Jim’s hand in silence. Jim breaks out the ‘nice service’ line before Maggie interrupts him. Maggie was recommended for a promotion to ‘Field Producer, Washington DC’. An interview she would not likely be in line for, had Jim not recommended her.
In the Lansing limo, Leona outlines Pruitt’s problem. Pruitt owns a company that is not worth explaining. Multiple news stories have surfaced with allegations that Pruitt pays the woman of this company less. Less even that the national average. This then sparks an impromptu debate over the subject of unfair pay, conceptually. Mack gives her piece even though she doesn’t know why she was invited. Leona then informs Pruitt that today, she will help him out.
In yet another limo we find Will, Don and Sloan. Don and Sloan are almost having a non-verbal, eyes are screaming at each other conversation. Then Sloan speaks up. They think it’s important that Will know exactly what happened leading up to Charlie’s heart attack. It sounds exactly like you’d think it would. Sloan speaking a mile a minute and Will just taking it in. Then there will be a portion of the story that Don tells, which should alleviate any fault away from Sloan and onto Don.
New flashback takes us to Charlie and Mackenzie’s first meeting. At 11:30am on a Monday in a dark bowling alley. She is bad at bowling and it is apparent that she has been drinking. The two of them sit down and before you know it, she’s explaining the lack of career options she has. Then Charlie suggests that had she not been drinking and her head was clear, she might ask why Charlie was there (she is aware of who Charlie Skinner is).
Mack: …Hang on…YEAH. That’s for sure what I would have done.
Charlie: I want you to take over News Night.
(Mack stares blankly then leans back in confusion)
The flashback continues with Sloan Sabbath talking to Don and ripping Will’s interview pertaining to a news story that is right in Sloan’s area of expertise. Don let’s her rant and then fires back. Pointing out that she only talks about one subject for one hour. Don and his host are responsible for much more than that. He then goes on to explain how nothing she’s said makes any sense to even an informed person so maybe she should work on her job instead of ripping them for doing theirs. To look in her eyes, that might have been the moment that opened the door for their eventual relationship.
After trying to process what Charlie has just said, Mack begins to break down why it can’t work. She gives up the previous ‘romantic’ relationship. A relationship that has long since ended. She cites reason after reason and each time she does, Charlie agrees with her. Charlie points out that when the two of them worked together, they really put something special together. She keeps resisting based on her relationship with Will, or lack thereof. Charlie is pursuing her because of that very relationship.
Mack: Don’s a smart guy and from what I hear a good EP, what makes you think I have better luck than Don making your car go fast?
Charlie: Because Will doesn’t care about impressing Don.
Mack: You’re not offering me the job in spite of my history with Will, you’re offering it to me because of it.
Charlie: I’m offering it to you because you’re my best hope of turning our flagship news hour into something we can be proud of.
Mack: He hasn’t returned any of my phone calls or emails or letters in…years. I don’t think he’s all that interested in what I think of him.
Charlie: That may be the only thing he’s interested in. (Charlie stands up) An offer’s on the table, Midterms are in six months, and another Presidential campaign in two years. Take the offer and you’ll have a chance to frame the debate. Or pass, but then you never get to complain about the news again.
The very next shot is Mack walking up to will call at a venue to pick up her ticket to the debate at Northwestern. We even find Jenna (the student who Will will eventually rip on stage, and who will eventually work for Will) outside getting her ticket as well. While they wait in line, Mack notices Jenna writing something down. She’s curious so she asks if the lady will ask a question to the panel? This is where Mackenzie gets the question that Will is destined to obliterate and he does so because Mackenzie provides him with the answer while he thinks of a way to sidestep the question.
Back in real-time Pruitt tries to spin to Leona what he and his PR Firm are going to do about his perceived problem with women. Pruitt believes he has all the steps in place to make this go away. Leona leans in and suggests that Pruitt has a PR problem because he has an actual problem.
The part of the story Don was going to tell Will that would take the pressure off of Sloan was the college girl who created the website for those victims of sexual assault on campus. As Don tells it, it was a bad story that Pruitt wanted. Pinning victim vs accused in studio live. It would have been Jerry Springer on network news. Don explains how this was a standoff between Don and Charlie and Charlie lost. Then Will asks if they should go bury Charlie now or if Don and Sloan believe they’ve already done that.
Back in the past Charlie views the Northwestern speech via YouTube like the rest of the planet. Then we find Will (on vacation) explaining to a bartender who honestly could not care any less that the ‘lady in the crowd’ that provided an answer to the question like a producer would, was a hallucination. The bartender’s phone rings. He asks if his patron is Mr. McAvoy and hands him the phone. It’s Leona. Will apologizes for the embarrassment, but Leona doesn’t care.
Leona: You’ve made a career out of being likable.
Will: I’d like to make a career out of doing the news.
(a long pause)
Leona: Who’s stopping you? (she hangs up before he can respond)
Sloan shows up again a Don’s office (still 3 years ago). She is there to adequately explain what she tried and failed to do before. She explains it in a way that most people should understand. Don follows it wonderfully. Right as she begins to bring her explanation to a close, he cuts her off. Admits that he is no longer the EP of News Night. He then goes further by admitting that Will doesn’t like to come off as rude on camera. Finally a step even further, admits that Will blew the interview. That everyone concerned would have been better off if they let Sloan keep the interview. We’ll call this moment #2 that opened the door to their eventual relationship.
Here’s a fun fact, Jim Harper is impressively good at playing the guitar. I did not know that. Mackenzie shows up at Jim’s apartment. He’s recently broken with a long distance girlfriend and he’s been drinking. Mack lays it out rather quickly and he is resistant. Then Mack pulls out the book Charlie sent her as a metaphor of his intentions. The book was Don Quixote, which as we know plays a relevant part in a future episode. So, Charlie really did orchestrate this in the most literal terms.
Will is outside Charlie’s wake talking to three female staffers and one male. He says that it is “suddenly” important that he monitor his health. That’s when he realizes he’s smoking a cigarette and puts it out immediately. Then removes all the others from the pack. The Martin asks why ‘suddenly’? Will deflects. Then Tess figures it out. Then Kendra and so on. Martin still has no clue. Fearing he’s violated some spousal trust, he immediately backpedals and insists they are forget the conversation ever happened.
Maggie is getting mixed signals or misinterpreting signals that aren’t present in regards to Jim recommending her to DC. I was really starting to come around to new and improved Maggie Jordan. If she messes this up, I’m going to be significantly upset with her.
Leona’s angle to help Pruitt continues but with marginal clarity. Pruitt explains what happened with the Bree interview and asks how can he not fire Mack and Sloan. Then Leona transitions back to Charlie. She explains that he wants a news director he will fight with. He also doesn’t want the ACN he thinks he wants. He wants the fight, because the fight means both sides are doing their jobs. It feels like Leona is leaning towards a recommendation for Charlie’s replacement that Pruitt probably won’t like at first glance.
At ACN the ‘digital team’ are working. And by working I mean not working and ripping movies for the fun of it. The one of the ‘digital team’ computers suffers an error. Then another. They frantically scurry to find the problem. One guy suggests they got hacked. Then Bree says, “this wasn’t a hacker, somebody just walked in”.
Neal: I shut it down from my phone.
Bree: Are you Neal?
Bree: Welcome back man…
Neal: The nine most overrated movies of all time?
Bree: We thought it’d be fun.
Neal: For who?
Bree: For movie fans…?
Neal: I see you went all the way back to the Matrix. 1999. All time and 14 years are two completely different units of measurement, but my question is why is overrated more fun than overrated? You embarrass me.
Bree: I what?
Neal: It took me a long time to build ACN Digital. I was laughed at by the people in this newsroom. People I respect did not respect what I did around here, but I built this into a tool. I gathered, expanded upon and disseminated it into information that is useful. I kept telling my colleagues and my bosses that the internet is user sensitive just like most things. And I watched from a thousand miles away while you proved that. You embarrass me.
(Neal turns slightly to the other guy)
Neal: Build a page that says the site is down for repair.
Guy#2: For an hour?
Neal: For a week. We’re going to rebuild the whole thing.
Mackenzie finds Will staring blankly from the middle a young boys room. Then he demands that they finish the renovations on the apartment so they can sell it, buy a house, with a pile of leaves in the front yard and a flat street for riding a bicycle on.
Charlie’s widow escorts Don into Charlie’s home office. Don interrupts. He quickly blurts out that he may have contributed to Charlie’s heart attack. He begins to outline the circumstance, she cuts him off and explains that Charlie didn’t want the story. Charlie was banking on Don fighting him over it. Her words of what Charlie thought of Don are moving. Don’s non-verbal reactions are that of a figurative son unaware of his figurative father’s affection. Which is made more poignant when you remember that Charlie needed to be restrained from Don in the pilot episode. Mrs. Skinner passes Don a large manila envelope. She wanted Don to have Charlie’s yellow bow tie.
Will makes his way to the garage where Beau is strumming a cello. Earlier, Charlie told a story of his grandson Beau and that he was a musical savant. There was a story about a song called ‘How I Got to Memphis’. Memphis being a metaphor for wherever you are. Will starts to play the song and sing the lyrics. Beau joins in with the cello. Jim comes around the corner. He picks up another guitar and begins to play as well. They are joined by spectators, Gary and Tess. And more join them. There is a large crowd that gives a large ovation. When the crowd dissipates, Will looks to Beau. Acknowledges that he knows that Beau would confide in Charlie. Will makes an offer to do the same, if he’d like.
Mackenzie approaches Will and asks if he told anyone. Memo to new mothers who give the news to the new father. You need to specify that we aren’t supposed to say anything. Otherwise we will out of excitement. His scolding is preempted by Pruitt. He would like a word. It is a short conversation and before they depart for the car, Mack asks one last time if Will would like to say anything on Charlie’s behalf. A running line throughout the episode.
Will: Excuse me. Excuse me. Excuse me everybody. I just want to say…I’ve been trying to piece together what happened last Monday night. People keep giving me their accounts, seems everyone feels responsible for Charlie dying and of course ridiculous. It was Sloan. Charlie Skinner was crazy. He identified with Don Quixote. An old man with dementia who thought he could save the world from an epidemic of incivility simply by acting like a nut. His religion was decency. He spent a lifetime fighting its enemies. I wish he could be here. To learn the name of his successor, like I just did. Our new boss. The new President of ACN is Mackenzie McHale. (Long pause) So this fight is just getting started. Because he taught us to be crazy too. You were a man Charlie. A great big man.
Back at the studio, Mack offers the EP job to Jim. He hesitates as he believes it should go to Don. Don turned it down in favor of building something at ten o’clock. Jim accepts. Jim immediately finds Maggie and tells her to cancel the interview in DC. As Executive Producer of News Night, he is promoting her to senior producer. As excited as she is, she informs him that she will still interview for DC because it is what she wants. Jim replies with a lovely confession. That he doesn’t care how many states away it is, this is something more. Maggie agrees. They agree to travel arrangements that would suggest a real effort to make a long distance relationship work.
Maggie: Have you been in many long distance relationships?
Maggie: Did any of them work?
Maggie: Why is this going to be different?
Jim: I wasn’t in love with them.
Sloan is clearly having a hard time processing Charlie’s death. Don walks towards her and picks up a large manila envelope and says, “Nancy wanted me to give you something.” Don gave Sloan the bow tie that Nancy gave to Don.
Mack is pushing back slightly on the promotion to News Director. Citing that it’s only the articles uncovering Pruitt for being gender biased that he would give a woman such a promotion. Will’s point is why does it matter? She’ll get to do the job.
The remainder of the episode is a cleverly shot slow crawl of each of the major contributors to the show. From Will to Mack, Jim, Don, Maggie, Sloan, Neal, the graphics guys, etc. It is slow and lacking any audio polish. This is these people doing the job they were all brought along to do. Journalism was supposed to be a calling. These men and women are simply answering the call. And there is a swelling of pride that comes with the privilege to do just that. Close up of Will at the News Night desk just as the lights come up. Will looks directly in the camera and says…”Good evening.”
. . .
“You know what kiddo, in the old days. About ten minutes ago, we did the news well. You know how? We just decided to.” -Charlie Skinner
Gary Cooper comes strolling into work singing a song from the musical “Anything Goes”. Oblivious to what has happened since our last episode. He turns the corner expecting to see a quiet newsroom. Instead he finds more FBI agents than employees.
Gary is met almost immediately by the lead agent. The exchange obscenities. The agent trying flex his authority and Gary flexing his grasp of legality. Eventually, Will jumps in to toe the line between we’re cooperating and don’t say anything.
The power struggle continues. The agents demanding that everyone do exactly as they say, while the staff tries to casually make their lives easier by suggesting the proceedings don’t have to go down this way. Will suggest that they are just doing their jobs. Then Charlie Skinner steps up and does his job. By calling the LA control room and informing them that ACN will be going live in 3 minutes.
Don and Jim head into the control room. Don claims that Charlie just called Domino’s and they need to make it look like they are about to go live even though they are not. Maggie jumps into the control room to get the ball rolling and question how they have never picked up on how to actually run a news broadcast. Meanwhile, Gary comes out strapped to a camera and Charlie asks the lead agent for his first name so they can put it in the banner.
With the fake special report about to not go live in the next 10 seconds, agent Molly tells them to stand down. And for a moment, ACN-1, FBI-0.
Rebecca (the lawyer) with every one of legal consequence on the phone negotiated a relative ‘cease fire’. The FBI and any agencies of authority will stand down until Friday. At such a time as all of the pertinent people will meet at Main Justice to tell the authorities everything they know minus the name of the source in the hopes that the Justice department can connect the dots without the name of the source.
Rebecca (to Charlie): That stunt with the cameras? That was not cool.
Charlie: Neither am I.
Maggie attempts to hand off her EPA report to Jim. Jim is difficult, but in a comedic way. The end of the world as we know according to the EPA in a report that is an inch thick is not exactly riveting television. Jim reluctantly agrees to try to move it up the pecking order. So this feels more like a Jim Harper segment and less like a Maggie Jordan segment. His words.
Meanwhile, Charlie’s assistant informs him that Leona and Reese Lansing are on their way down. Which is odd in that Charlie always goes to them. Leona does not have 4 billion to throw at the twins. And they have exhausted any conventional means to get it. The only way to get it is to ‘spin off ACN’. AWN is the parent company that owns ACN. If they sell ACN they could get enough in the sale to fight off the twins. There is a tech analyst who left Goldman Sachs to start-up his own company. He has the requisite money, but he also has ideas.
The last thing the iconic desk man of a successful news network wants to hear is that new ownership has ‘ideas’. Ideas mean change. Ideas mean lack of control. Considering that the alternative to this guy buying ACN and maybe making some changes is that the twins will dissolve all of AWN including ACN. A lesser of two evils situation. But now we are faced with Will and other being forced to attend the Correspondence Dinner. Normally a hard ticket to get. The problem here is that last year Will ripped the Correspondence Dinner and promised that ACN would never return.
Don has the new HR rep in his office. The scene is about Gary Cooper and the amount of romantic escapades with subordinate employees. The end of the scene is more critical. The HR rep is probing Don over his alleged relationship with Sloan Sabbath. Denying everything Don appears calm. The rep leaves headed for Sloan’s office. Don taking his time, wipes his mouth with a napkin, calmly stands up, then frantically races to Sloan’s office just to say, “we’re not dating”. Which Sloan replies with her monotone, “okay”.
Mack and Molly met in secret in a women’s sauna. This allows Molly to give Mack just enough information to help her make the right decision concerning her people. After work with the seized hard drives, the FBI is compelled to believe that they can tie Neal to an attempt at more documents. Molly strongly suggests that Mack do whatever she must to get Neal to come in. Mack then meets with Don and Jim. She asks them to get Neal a message to come in however they can.
Maggie’s EPA story and interview for Will. As Maggie predicted it was a story about the end of the world. More specifically, a child has already been born that will die at some point in its life due to the planet failing. This was literally a laugh out loud situation. As I’m watching this and hearing this dire end of the world narrative, the reactions around the room make it very funny. Almost as if the people not in the interview look around every few seconds and say, “did he really just say that?”
Will, Mack, Charlie and Rebecca sit in a conference room at Main Justice. The Assistant District Attorney for National Security enters the room. He is brash and forceful. He takes shots at everyone at the table to display the idea that he is in control. Anything short of giving up the source will not be good enough. Then he claims that Will is the one who orchestrated all of this. That is the point where Will has a moment that only Will can deliver. Transcribing it would be great, but it would lose its gravitas. Suffice it to say that Will said only what he needed to a that the ADA for National Security bungled this whole situation and now Will can’t help him anymore.
The entire staff is in the White House for the Correspondence Dinner. Up to and including the new HR rep who really believes he will catch Don and Sloan as an item. Charlie wants to meet with the staff before meeting their new ‘option’. Except he just walked through the door. Lucas Pruitt (played by B.J. Novak of the Office and Mindy Project fame) may put a halt to that idea. He is abrasive to say the least. He wants to turn ACN into a large family of networks that get their news from crowd sourcing. He’s a quirky rich guy who thinks he’s buying a new toy.
Outside a woman walks up and sits down next to Mack. She is the source. Not only that, but she also is applying her own pressure for Mack to run the story within the next 96 hours or she will post the story herself.
The staff has gathered in a room where Will McAvoy is graciously taking his picture with whomever happens to be at the party who wants to. It’s Will gladly radiating his own fame. Mack walks in like she’s seen a ghost. Charlie picks up on it. The kid at the front of the line finally gets Will’s attention by flashing a folded piece of paper. Will empties the room of ‘fans’. The kid has a subpoena for Will to appear before a grand jury.
Will (looks to Mack and Charlie): You think it’s possible I’m not as big a TV star as I thought?
I cannot express how excited I am for this third and final season of The Newsroom. Season two was different to say the least, but there are a series of questions still unanswered. There is also a great deal of drama and conflict about to befall ACN. And all of this needs to be addressed, dealt with, and all tied together into a nice conclusion inside of ten episodes. So, without any further adieu, let’s get into it.
The season begins with the natural next step from the close of season 2. Will and Mack planning their wedding. To be honest I could just watch an hour of just this. Mack asking for straight answers and Will discrediting her concerns with stuff like, “If Charlie’s my best man, can’t he just keep going back and forth walking with bridesmaids?” And on a different level, are we really supposed to believe that the only men Will feels comfortable in his wedding party are the men that work at Newsnight? Will never befriended Tom Brokaw? or Brian Williams? or some average Joe he went to college with? Just a random observation.
Ironically, I just typed the above without finishing the scene. And Brian Williams’ name was mentioned. I’m either ridiculously lucky on that one, or have crossed over out of the Aaron Sorkin fandom and into the unimportant Nostradamus realm.
Less than four minutes into the episode and Mack spots an explosion at the Boston Marathon. Here. We. Go. Immediately Jim starts dividing staff into groups focusing on various agencies (FBI, Homeland, etc). A quick shot of Maggie working out intensely feels like the imagery that suggests she will spend this season rebuilding herself (metaphorically), which is something I’m not terribly concerned with at this point. I sympathize with the character, but I don’t enjoy the character. Back to the story, we all know they are watching the evidence of the Boston Marathon bombing. The beauty of this show is that generally, we know more than the characters. It’s really a wonderful device to play off of. In this case, they have images and no answers to go with the images.
Charlie Skinner: If I learn what happened by watching the news I’m going to lose my fucking mind!
The staff is undermanned in part because Don Keefer is in jury duty. Which creates a wonderful scene Don being Don moment and quite possibly is the best way to get out of jury duty I’ve ever seen. Will tries to inspire confidence in a speech about why they won’t report fast, they’ll report accurate and it fails miserably. In addition, Elliot Hirsch (the other prominent anchor on this show) wants badly to fly to Boston and be their reporter on the ground. He’s from Boston and it only makes sense. They can’t part with Jim or Don, so Jim suggests they send Maggie. If you are unfamiliar with last season, you will not fully grasp the risk of sending Maggie. However, Jim feels she is ready. That this story at this time is specifically suited to her. Will doesn’t feel as strongly. Regardless Maggie and Hirsch are en route to Boston.
Gary Cooper is the first staffer to get confirmation on anything. Two devices detonated near the finish line. FBI and Boston police confirm. Mack gets the control room ready in seconds. In the air studio Will prepares to go live. Don, Sloan, Mack and Charlie join him. Charlie jumps right in. If it was a suicide bomber there will be a body. If not this will go on for a while. A manhunt like we haven’t seen since Dallas in ’63. Then they all go their separate ways.
What follows is a cinematically intriguing montage of Will anchoring what information they do have and Mack controlling the chaos in the control room. Clearly this story is affecting all of the ACN major contributors. Despite popular opinion, Maggie is on her game getting real news confirmation.
Amidst the chaos of the bombing, Neal enters a password to decrypt a sensitive email sent to him directly. I know we alert you with “spoiler alert” but this I’m not willing to go into just yet. Suffice it to say, I know exactly where this story line is going (and I’m sure I’m not alone). It’s a story line I’m not thrilled with because I like the character Neal. And am concerned with what this will mean for him long term.
Sloan finds Reese Lansing in his office avoiding his siblings. Hold on to that one. His two younger siblings are set to become major stock holders in ACN when they turn 25. From what I know and what I can infer, there will probably be a shift in priorities once these two are introduced to a position of influence. That and Sloan is being informed of just how bad their quarter financial projections are.
Mack heads off her basic staff meeting. Everything is typical. Tips that aren’t confirmed. Eyewitnesses who don’t want to go on camera. Everything is typical. Until Mack throws it to Neal. Who is sitting calmly and matter of factually mentions the motivation of the encrypted email.
Mack: Neal, tell us what’s going on with the Nocturnal Nut Brigade.
Neal: Somebody is trying to give me classified government documents.
(Everyone stops everything and freezes)
Neal: Somebody asked for my encryption key.
Mack: That’s not uncommon is it?
Neal: No but then they asked for a higher level of encryption. Less common but not unprecedented. We use a site, cryptoheaven which is for–
Neal: Yeah. And he told me to get an air gapped computer. It’s a computer that’s–
Mack: Never been linked to the internet.
Neal: Yes. There is literally a gap of air between the computer and the rest of the world. Once I do that, he’s going to give me a flash drive.
Mack: How’s he going to get it to you?
Neal: Look, I know you guys think I live in a world of crackpots, and I’ll grant you that there is a troubling normal to crackpot ratio in my field…
Don: How’s he going to get you the flash drive Neal?
Neal: He’s going to tape it to the inside of the tank of a toilet of a public men’s room.
Don: Bulls eye.
I transcribed the previous because through a number of reasons, I have been lead to believe that this will be the defining story line of season 3. I could very well be wrong, but if I’m right, this is major. We’ll call this the “Snowden” story line for the time being. After the meeting breaks, with most of the staff thinking this is another Twitter Troll gone crazy, Neal walks back to his desk looking dejected. Then Will pulls out his wallet, calls Neal over and tells him to buy an ‘air gapped computer’ as he extends a credit card.
Sloan has been working on an angle that some financial group is about to buy another. She has no concrete evidence, but is working to solve the ‘puzzle’. In typical Sloan fashion the financial story takes priority in her own head. This feels like something is going to get muffed down the line.
CNN had to retract their previously reported story that they had arrested a suspect. Giving a little breathing room to why ACN hasn’t reported the same as of yet. Charlie and Will tag team a quick speech about if anyone should empathize with getting knocked down by misreporting it’s ACN. Then he and Will share a subtle behind the back hi five for dodging a bullet.
Neal ventures out to the restaurant that is to be the drop for the flash drive. There’s a little speed bump, but Neal gets in. And as predicted, the flash drive is there. In the tank of the toilet. Back at ACN, Neal opens the brand new ‘air gapped’ computer and inserts the flash drive. Anyone who’s bought a new laptop knows there are some realism issues with him reading the flash drive 10 seconds after taking the computer out of the box, but I digress. Immediately, the flash drive spits out what looks like 40-50 documents. The range of topics are vast.
Elliot has unknowingly eaten walnuts, which he is seriously allergic to. His prevailing wisdom is that while his face blows up like a balloon, Maggie needs to go on camera and report the story. Maggie puts on the clothes found in Mack’s go bag. She gets ready and looks incredibly nervous. To my significant surprise, Maggie was as close to flawless as one can expect their first time on camera. And a wave of pride swept the ACN studio.
Reese invites Will and Charlie to an office balcony where he is drinking a beer and enjoying the nice night. This is where Reese says he’s proud of the job they’ve done this week as an ice breaker before he and Charlie relay the information of just how far in the ratings News Night has fallen. Reese explains that he wants Will to do the news and do it well, but they can’t do the news if the station doesn’t make money. This is where Will’s personality brings upon our first real shocker of the season.
Will: Well… … …I think it’s time for me to quit.
Neal makes his way out to the terrace and begins to tell Will and Charlie (and Reese who is close enough to hear) that he is in possession of a little over 27,000 stolen government documents. Half of which are classified.
Reese: Yeah…I’m just going to jump off this railing.
Neil tells the story of exactly how he came to be in possession of these documents. Three times. On the third time, Will hears a new detail that Neal neglected to mention. By asking for a couple documents to pass along to his bosses, he in fact is an accomplice to commit espionage.
Throughout this entire episode, I have hesitated on the Sloan Sabbath story line because it feels slow developing. Like her digging and Reese’s concern over the numbers is something that will take time to come to a head. I was right that her digging in the numbers would unearth something. I was wrong about the time table.
Sloan: What is everyone doing out he–Reese!
Reese: We’re kind of in the middle of–
Sloan: When’s their birthday? The twins?
Reese: Why don’t we meet in my office?
Sloan: The Twins! When is their birthday?
Reese: The party’s…
Sloan: Not the party. Their actual birthday. When do they turn 25?
Reese: I honestly don’t…sometime next week. The 25th or 26th.
Sloan: Get your mother on the phone. She has to call the board to an emergency session. Right now. Tonight.
Reese: What are you talking about?
Sloan: You went to Wharton Reese. Wake the fuck up. You’re in the middle of a hostile takeover.
Sloan: Somebody is trying to buy this company.
Just then Jim walks out with the newest development that they have one of the suspects, but he’s hiding in a boat in someone’s back yard. Then we get our Will McAvoy eruption of the episode. You may have seen this in our preview article or even on the promos aired by HBO. The culmination of which is “there’s a guy in the back of a boat in someone’s back yard. I’d like confirmation on that before I say it on the news”.
Just like that ladies and gentleman, the stage is set. Set but with inevitably more conflict and drama to come. Neil needs a lawyer because he’s in a lot of trouble. Two other financial institutions are vying to buyout ACN, presumably so that the ‘twins’ can profit off their trust fund quick enough so they don’t actually have to work. News Night is at the bottom of the relevant news shows and will need to fight their way out to stave of television death. And at the very least there is a Will McAvoy and MacKenzie McHale wedding to plan. Wrap your noodle around that, and make sure to join us again at notjustanothertvsite.com following the conclusion of each Newsroom episode. As well as all of the other top notch high quality shows we’re covering for you. Only at NJATVS.