The Newsroom, Season 2, Episode 4: “Unintended Consequences″
Written by Aaron Sorkin
Directed by Carl Franklin
Airs Sundays at 10:00 PM ET on HBO
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.
The idea of the ACN crew’s smugness and poor attitude nearly costing them a story was an interesting one for the show to explore. McAvoy’s abrasive nature has often been touched on in the show’s run, but only as it relates to his staff, particularly Reese and Leona Lansing, and Mackenzie, so to see how an outsider reacts to experiencing it firsthand helps reinforce the idea that McAvoy and the ACN news crew aren’t perfect, even if they might think they are. It will be interesting to see if their near-miss with the Genoa story via Wexler leads to policy changes in the future, particularly when dealing with guests, or an insistence of higher accountability from Will, particularly from Jerry Dantana, who is in the perfect position, as an ingrained outsider, to push for this kind of change, and perhaps alter NewsNight’s image along the way as well.
It’s fascinating to compare how Will’s insistence on pushing a point nearly costs the crew a story this week with how Jim’s insistence on pushing a point nearly gains him one. There’s a poignant point that ends up getting made about how different approaches work in different circumstances, something the ACN crew isn’t quite able to grasp as yet, but which may be coming to light. Romney’s eventual selection as the Republican candidate for the 2012 election means that Jim and Taylor are bound to cross paths again, and whether Jim deals with her differently in light of their interactions this week, or if Taylor changes her tune with regards to how she views Jim, is worth looking out for.
Maggie’s storyline this week was also compelling. It was good to see the show not go down the route of having Maggie raped while in Africa, which is a path many shows have previously gone down, unfortunately reducing a traumatic event into a character building moment. Instead, her guilt at indirectly causing the death of a child adds an interesting nuance to the character, while giving the audience a chance to see Maggie on her own terms, rather than in relation to Don or Jim, as she was last season. It will be interesting to see how much of an impact Daniel’s death will have on Maggie going forward, not just in terms of her mental health, but in how she approaches her professional duties, and how her guilt and feeling that the bullet was meant for her affects her relationships from this point onwards.
Overall, this was a strong episode, and one that in many ways course-corrects the missteps from last week. It was somewhat disappointing to see the show miss the opening afforded to them by the news of Rick Perry’s ranch to discuss racial equality in the workplace, particularly as the brief exchange between Mackenzie and Kendra during the news meeting hinted at such an issue coming to the forefront. How the trip to Africa affects Gary Cooper going forward, especially since it was the presence of his camera that brought the cattle raiders to the orphanage in the first place, could also be intriguing, and give Chris Chalk an increased presence on the show. The show’s antagonistic relationship with Occupy Wall Street, despite serving a purpose to the larger story this week, still remains somewhat baffling, particularly as the characters hold up the mirror of the Tea Party as an example of a similar movement done correctly. Despite the overall issues with the story of Jim on the Romney bus, Grace Gummer and Constance Zimmer were both interesting to watch, and hopefully both make substantial return appearances. The same goes for Marcia Gay Harden, who has seamlessly fit into the world of The Newsroom in her two episodes to date. Whether or not Jerry and Jim clash now that the latter is back with the ACN crew, and how the Genoa incident escalates to the point where Rebecca Halliday needs to be called in, are both promising stories that are worth tuning in for next week.
– Deepayan Sengupta