Bolstered by the best script of 2015 and masterful performances from Michael Fassbender and Kate Winslet, director Danny Boyle’s propulsive character study is a fascinating glimpse at the evolution of a cult icon.
With the exposure of News Night’s major story of chemical weapons use by the American army turning out to be a complete fabrication last week, the team as a whole, and Will and Mackenzie in particular, face a long road ahead in rebuilding what they had before the Genoa report, despite the surprising vote of confidence from Leona Lansing. This week’s episode focuses on the aftermath of Leona’s unexpected decision on the news team, examining the toll the story takes on the emotional state and decision-making capabilities of various members of the team, in a well-done setup to the end of the season.
The possible story of illegal chemical weapons being used by the US against enemy combatants has been a looming issue over the ACN team over the second season of The Newsroom, particularly as the discussions with Rebecca Halliday and her team indicate a massive failure. The first signs of the breakdown became visible in the closing moments of last week’s episode, and this week explores the full scope of the fallout from the discovery of the story’s falsehood, delivering an episode that, while not necessarily divulging any new information, nonetheless is a fascinating one that leaves several characters in interesting places by the end.
The US military’s apparent use of chemical weapons has been a looming story over much of The Newsroom’s second season, with the story of the Genoa mission and its implications not escaping anyone who learned of the case. Previous episodes have indicated that something goes terribly wrong with the story, necessitating the presence of a high-priced lawyer to clean up the ensuing mess, casting a shadow of dread throughout the developments. The story comes to a head this week, with the ACN team going live with the news of Genoa as the final pieces click into place, leading to a compelling episode that explores the idea of bending small truths to get to a larger one.
To date, the only female character to receive significant screentime but not get embroiled in a major personal life storyline is financial expert Sloan Sabbith. While this has made the character a breath of fresh air, and allowed actress Olivia Munn to excel in the role, it was only a matter of time until her out-of-work life infringed in some way. This episode sees the infringement occur in an interesting manner that unfortunately sees the show pull itself back from meaningful character development in an area where it is sorely needed.
One of the more intriguing aspects of The Newsroom’s second season premiere was the physical transformation of Maggie Jordan. The change, along with hints of a traumatic event, promised to pull the character out of the romantic triangle subplot she was mired in for most of the first season, and add some more dimensions in the process. This week’s episode dives into what led to the change, in a promising episode that also saw the team face their own inability to communicate well, correcting many of the downsides of last week’s episode.
One of the big weaknesses of the first season of The Newsroom, alongside the poor characterisation of many of the show’s women, was the often preachy tone that would accompany storylines, as the writers often struggled to balance the show’s depiction of a fearless news team with an ability to humanise the opponents to the debate, or a portrayal of the core cast as three-dimensional characters rather than simply mouthpieces. The exploration of real-world consequences and conscience attacks suffered by the team at ACN did a lot to mitigate this issue, and while the second season premiere showed promise in further exploring this storyline, this week’s episode manages to fall down the rabbit hole once again, taking a few steps backward from a lot of character progression the show has made, and delivering an unpleasant episode this week, where the bad qualities outweighed the good.