The Newsroom: “The Genoa Tip” Season 2 Episode 2 Review

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About 80% of this week’s episode was probably the worst and most boring material The Newsroom has delivered. But there were a handful of very strong scenes, one of them was perhaps one of the most powerful we’ve seen from the show.

I’ll begin with the unquestionable peak of the episode, which was a flashback to Will’s first anchor broadcast. The date of that broadcast, due to a set of extenuating circumstances, fell on September 11, 2001. I loved seeing a brief early interaction between Will and Charlie from long before they reached their easy and familiar dynamic we’ve become accustomed to, but far more significant than that was the broadcast itself. Will McAvoy was incredible, he connected with his audience to such an extent that I felt on the verge of tears myself. And we finally see what a toll it must have taken on him being pulled from the 9/11 anniversary coverage.

Will had another pretty great moment towards the end of the episode, a moment where he almost seemed like himself again. Neal was wrongly arrested when he went to cover an Occupy Wall Street rally, and Will goes to bail him out armed with footage from the arrest and a lot of pent up angst. His rant to the police officer was an example of how the writing on this show can still be great when it wants to be, and so can its characters.

I can’t really talk about Maggie too much without getting angry…but the large amount of time wasted on her storyline this week makes me feel obligated to address her. The fact that the Sex and the City bus outburst is still playing such a large role in the show is infuriating. Luckily for us, and not so much for Maggie, Lisa found out about the video, and became the most likable character in the show this week for calling out the least likable character on her weakness and selfishness. Maggie is becoming more and more pathetic every second of airtime she receives, and I highly doubt the trip to Africa she convinced Mackenzie to send her on is going to change that, but I guess we’ll see.

Maggie’s obsession with Africa was tiring. Will’s obsession with his online haters was tiring. Even Mackenzie pushing for coverage of drone strikes killing American citizens was tiring, which was surprising to me for multiple reasons. Mackenzie has become infinitely more tolerable this season, and drone strikes are a subject that I personally am very passionate about. Both of these tidbits would lead me to believe that I’d find a storyline about how cable news would go about covering drone strikes in the midst of an internal crisis about how they cover terrorism in general would be endlessly fascinating, but somehow the entire thing just fell completely flat.

While I wanted both the drone coverage and Don’s obsession with the Troy Davis conviction to gain momentum, neither of them did. Even when Davis’ execution became the focal point of the show’s end, it was still paced too slowly. (Though the cover they used of “You Were Always on My Mind” was extremely well placed…even when they do everything wrong, The Newsroom does music right.)

Oh, and Jim’s still in New Hampshire covering Romney and giving us absolutely nothing of interest. I’m upset that they’re wasting his character again this season, because he has a lot of potential.

Leading us into next week is Jerry doggedly pursuing the Genoa tip he received. He gets a source who was actually on the black ops mission to confirm that they used sarin gas on a group of civilians during an extraction mission in Pakistan. The narrative is doing nothing for me so far, but maybe that’s because Jerry is such a vanilla character. It’s obviously something that’s going to pick up based on what we saw last week.

This show is often infuriating, because it is simultaneously the best and worst show I watch. In alternating scenes the writing is sharp, and then bland. The acting superb, and then laughable. The characters engaging, and then tedious. I was thoroughly bored through most of this episode…but The Newsroom roller coaster always manages to give me something to hang on to, something to keep viewers coming back each week. A part of me wonders if the writers are starting this season off slowly on purpose, if it’s some kind of master plan that we’ll see play out in the remaining episodes…but the other part of me almost doesn’t care at all. Grade: C+

By: Meghan Coan


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