The Newsroom: 5/1 Review

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Tonight’s episode of The Newsroom was arguably the best of the season. The way that Aaron Sorkin is able to create a contagious buzz that transfers from the News Night staff to the viewers when a big news story breaks is phenomenal, and he did an absolutely perfect job of it again tonight.

The episode begins with a one year anniversary of “News Night 2.0”, which basically means Mackenzie’s arrival on the scene. Will and Jim have a guitar jam session; Neal’s girlfriend shows her exemplary Guitar Hero skills. And however minor a character Kaylee may be, she is a charming addition to the cast. Courtesy of Kaylee, Will indulges in some marijuana. Basically, everyone at the party is having a great time.

Everyone that is, except for Charlie and Jim. While Jim is fielding awkward video chats with Maggie and Lisa, who he later breaks up with because of a premature confession of love, Charlie is on the receiving end of an anonymous phone call informing him that there would be news from the White House that evening. And sure enough, there was.

Charlie receives an e-mail saying that the president would be speaking about a matter of national security. He instinctively feels that it is about Bin Laden, but the staff entertains numerous other possibilities. Everyone heads to the office to get to work.

Everyone that is, except for Sloan, Don, and Elliott, who are stuck on a taxiing airplane. Between a snarky flight attendant, a young man infatuated with Sloan, and the perfect witty exchanges amongst the group, the scenes on the airplane come together as some of my favorites from the series so far. The three are unbelievably frustrated both at their lack of information, and their inability to be in the thick of things. Olivia Munn as Sloan seems to have embraced her role as a Sorkin character perhaps more than anyone else in the cast, and she delivered a funny poignant performance again in this episode.

After escaping from the car he shared with his bodyguard and running to the office, Will is so high he’s unable to even tie his own tie. Mackenzie is furious, but Will makes it clear in no uncertain terms that even in his intoxicated state there is not a chance of him not reporting the story.

Other networks begin mistakenly reporting that Gaddafi is the one who’d been killed. Despite confirmation from two sources that Osama Bin Laden was in fact killed, Charlie insists that News Night not report without the go ahead from the White House. He lays out all of the legitimate and very noble reasons why in yet another inspirational monologue. (A wisdom filled speech is one Sorkin tool I don’t mind him reusing as many times as he sees fit.)

Don’s increasing frustrations come to a head when he too receives confirmation on Bin Laden. However, when he realizes that the captain of the plane had probably been more affected by 9/11 than most and gets to be the one to tell him the news, it seems to take the sting out of not being in the newsroom. And it was the first of many times I got chills during the last half of the episode. The second was when Will tells his bodyguard, another former military man. And that seemed to take the sting out of Will ditching him earlier in the night.

Charlie receives another anonymous call insinuating that the tabloid sector of corporate had been using advanced methods to spy on members of the News Night staff. But that’s for another episode, because as Charlie fully realized, nothing could possibly mar what happened next.

An e-mail from Joe Biden sets the News Night staff back in action, and Will McAvoy gracefully reports the death of Osama Bin Laden just before President Obama’s speech, which they brilliantly aired almost in its entirety over the closing credits.

This episode could not have been more perfect. Finally acknowledging social media dominance by showing that Twitter reported the story before the news did, The Newsroom proves that it knows its viewers and can keep up with them. But beyond that, this was an episode that held the viewer’s hand through an array of emotions, and ignited excitement in a news story that occurred more than a year ago. That’s nothing short of spectacular. When the episode was over, I found myself just as excited as when I had actually heard Osama Bin Laden was dead. Only I found myself wishing that Will McAvoy had been the one to tell me. (10/10)

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