The Newsroom, Season 2, Episode 6: “One Step Too Many″
Written by Aaron Sorkin
Directed by Julian Farino
Airs Sundays at 10:00 PM ET on HBO
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.
The exploration of Will’s need for external validation, and where it stems from, was fascinating to watch this week. Will’s attempts to reconcile a public image of likeability with an attempt to report the news truthfully regardless of whom it might anger is one of the more intriguing elements of the series as a whole, and this week was a great example of why. Will’s apparent self-loathing at his constant obsession with his approval ratings is a great turn for the character, and it will be interesting to see how this turn affects his attitude towards Mackenzie and Charlie in particular, and news reporting in general, particularly with the Genoa story, which promises to hit Will’s reputation in a unique way, as the cause of dislike this time will be a story reported wrongly, making it an arguably more justified reaction than any prior instance on this show. Whether Sloan’s words help Will shift his need for validation from external sources to internal ones is also something worth looking out for.
Jerry Dantana’s manipulation of General Stomtonovich’s testimony is also an interesting insight into a character who has, by and large, been a plot device to introduce the Genoa story to the ACN team. Dantana’s insistence on getting the news story out to the public by any means necessary, even if it involves deceit by manipulation, is a fascinating idea, particularly in how it paints him as a more extreme version of the ACN crew itself. Among those giving their testimony to Halliday in the flash forward, a notable absence has been Dantana himself, despite being the most ardent pursuer of the story. How Dantana reacts to the reveal of the story’s falsehood is something worth looking out for, as it could be particularly telling of his character; if he justifies telling the story despite its falsehood, it will reveal his true agenda all along was to shine a light on the administration’s terrorist-fighting policy. If, however, he laments being unable to properly verify the story, it might indicate his position as a more emotionally driven journalist whose ultimate objective has always been the truth.
Overall, this was a very solid episode. The combination of Mackenzie and Don was an interesting idea, as the characters are professional equals, yet rarely interact, allowing for further insight into both individuals. Likewise, it was good to see Sloan and Will bond over the latter’s insecurity, particularly in light of the identity crisis Sloan went through last episode. Having characters run into people within the show they do not usually interact with also adds to ACN’s sense of workplace community, a natural byproduct of several people working together for an extended period of time, and hopefully Jim and Neal will have more conversations with each other in future episodes. It was also good to see Hallie and Taylor make their return, and hopefully Taylor’s firing doesn’t forecast the end of her time on the show, as Constance Zimmer has done a good job with a character who could have easily become shrill and two-dimensional if played poorly. Stephen Root is a welcome presence in any tv show, and The Newsroom was no exception. How Charlie comes to the realization of the falsehood of the Genoa story, and how this affects the rest of the ACN crew, particularly Will and Jerry Dantana, as well as how events unfold that necessitate the presence of Rebecca Halliday, is worth tuning in for next week.
– Deepayan Sengupta