The Newsroom, Season 2, Episode 2: “The Genoa Tip″
Written by Dana Ledoux Miller, Adam R. Perlman, and Aaron Sorkin
Directed by Jeremy Podeswa
Airs Sundays at 10:00 PM ET on HBO
The second season premiere of The Newsroom last week hinted at a major catastrophe that engulfs the station, but buried amidst the discussions of the events that led to lawyerly intervention was the question of why Will McAvoy and the news crew would take on such a volatile story in the first place. This week’s episode dives deeper into the psyche of the individuals who comprise the news team, and their emotional and psychological state leading up to the Genoa revelation, in an episode that unfortunately brings back large chunks of previously problematic storylines, but nonetheless gives a better idea of what makes certain characters tick.
The varied professional scenarios that engulfed Will, Don, and Maggie this week were fascinating to watch. Will’s concern over his public image was one of the more interesting aspects of last season, particularly when it was coupled with his insecurity over the collateral damage that his reports were causing, so it’s good to see the show explore that further, particularly in light of both the hearing the show flashed forward to in the season premiere, and the hard consequences McAvoy is beginning to face, such as being taken off the 9/11 coverage. How his ego fares as the season progresses and controversial and polarizing issues such as the drone strike on American citizens continue to come up, particularly if both his reputation and career take hits, as they have in the first two episodes of this season.
Watching Don work with the Troy Davis case, as well as Maggie explore the volatile situation on the African continent further, is also a promising development. Maggie, in particular, spent much of last season mired in the midst of a romantic storyline between Jim and Don, a storyline that did not allow her to display any real professional competence, and while said storyline has carried over in large doses this year as well, her pursuit of the stories of conflict in various African countries allows her to have an independent storyline, and the frustration she expressed at not having a niche of her own, as well as her decision to hide the newswire from Mackenzie, both represent leaps forward for the character. The effective demolition of her relationship is perhaps a signal that the character will not be bogged down in such things, and how Maggie goes from the person she is now to the person we see at the lawyer hearings is a promising storyline.
Similarly, Don’s emotional response to the Troy Davis case gives the audience a fascinating glimpse into what drives his career as well. While his professional competence was better illustrated in season 1 than Maggie’s, with Don getting highlights to rival both Jim and Mackenzie, there has never been any real indication of how he handles issues that are near and dear to him, something the Troy Davis case effectively shines a light on. It will be interesting to watch how the lack of support Don receives with regards to reporting inconsistencies and suspicions in the Troy Davis case weighs on him as the season progresses and people like Charlie and Will require his assistance for their own volatile stories, such as the Genoa incident.
Overall, despite being a step down from the season premiere, this was still a compelling episode. One downside of this week was the unexpected and unfounded mean-spiritedness that manifested itself, both in how Hallie treats Jim, and how Erica interacts with Maggie and Sloan, as no real motivation is given for either of their antagonistic behaviour, unlike the bus gatekeeper’s reactions to Jim, which were explained both last week and this week. It was good to see the Occupy Wall Street storyline move forward briskly this week, and whether or not Neal’s involvement in the movement goes beyond just journalistic interest is worth keeping an eye on. Kelen Coleman’s return was also a positive aspect of the episode, as she did much with a thankless role in the first season, and her return hopefully signals stronger material for her to work with this time around as well. Likewise with Chris Chalk’s Gary Cooper, who seems set for a larger storyline that utilises the actor’s talents, which is always a welcome development. How these storylines come together, as well as how Mackenzie and Will deal with the Genoa incident, particularly since the source, in the form of Jerry, comes from someone who’s not a permanent member of their news crew, is worth tuning in to see next week.
– Deepayan Sengupta