The Newsroom, Season 2, Episode 7: “Red Team III″
Written by Aaron Sorkin
Directed by Anthony Hemingway
Airs Sundays at 10:00 PM ET on HBO
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 unraveling of the Genoa story, which takes up the entire episode, was fascinating to see, particularly in light of the buildup that came before. The tendency to look back and see what could have been done differently is a natural human reaction, heightened by a particularly disastrous outcome, such as the case of Genoa to the ACN team. By exploring the story and letting it build over several episodes, however, the viewers have been present every step of the way, beginning with Dantana receiving the Genoa tip for the first time. This, alongside adding emotional weight to the story, also allows the viewers to see for themselves the clues that were missed the first time around, instead of passively following along.
With the episode now catching the show up to the hearings with Rebecca Halliday and beyond, it will be very interesting to see where the ACN team progresses from here, particularly with regards to Mackenzie, Charlie, and Will. In many ways, this is the most severe blow that could have been dealt to the core team of News Night; not only does it affect the professional reputation of everyone publicly involved in the story, it also puts a dent in the zealousness with which they will chase future stories, much like someone is more cautious around a stove after burning themselves on it. How this affects the crew going forward, particularly if a story as obscure as Genoa crosses their desks again, is worth looking out for. In addition, how the battered public image of News Night in general, and Will McAvoy in particular, affects the news stories they choose to report also promises to be compelling. McAvoy’s reaction in particular will be interesting, as his public image has been a source of constant concern for the character since the show’s beginning; yet last week’s episode seemed to indicate there were limits to how far he would go to remain likeable, and whether those limits stay or move in light of Genoa can be compelling.
Overall, while this episode largely covers ground that could have already been inferred from the season to date, it is still an interesting one. Jane Fonda’s Leona Lansing is always a welcome presence on the show, and her appearance at the end of this week’s episode is no exception to that, as she adds to a particularly effective scene on the fate of ACN and News Night. Marcia Gay Harden continues to be a highlight of the season as well, displaying chemistry with every member of the cast she has interacted with to date, including Leona, and hopefully this is not the last time the two of them have a conversation. Mackenzie’s discovery of Dantana’s alteration was a good way of bringing back the seemingly inconsequential point of the basketball game in the background. Similarly, Charlie’s source revealing his personal vendetta against the network was an interesting touch of unforeseen circumstances to the Genoa story. How the ACN crew recovers their confidence following the Genoa crisis, as well as how they earn back the trust of the viewing public, as well as whether Jerry Dantana makes a return appearance, are all worth tuning in for next week.
– Deepayan Sengupta