The Newsroom Review: ‘The Greater Fool’
The first season of The Newsroom has been filled with witty, thought-provoking episodes. This week’s season finale is no different. It begins quite frighteningly with MacKenzie finding Will unconscious on his bathroom floor, blood splattered around him. Considering the recent and very ominous threats on Will’s life, this is a very jarring opening.
After Will is rushed to the hospital, we learn that he has been heavily self medicating with antidepressants and pain medication. The additional doses of bourbon didn’t help matters and he developed a bleeding ulcer. It turns out the article that Brian, MacKenzie’s spiteful ex-boyfriend, wrote about Will and the News Night team is pretty unflattering. Will is so bothered by the article – which he has essentially memorized word for word – that he considers leaving the news program altogether. Bitterly, he claims that the article is actually correct about him. Despite MacKenzie’s efforts to rally him, Will appears to have lost his usual vitality. His biggest concern is how he ended up dressed in new pajamas.
The bad news piles on when MacKenzie meets up with gossip columnist Nina Howard. Nina claims to have a solid source stating that Will was high when he went on the air May 1st. She warns MacKenzie that if a second valid source is found, Nina will have to run with the story. That story would, of course, give Leona Lansing the ammunition she needs to be able to fire Will.
It is only after Will comes to the realization that Reese Lansing hacked MacKenzie’s phone that he seems to become recharged. On May 1st, Will left MacKenzie a voicemail message that it turns out she never received. The message noted that Will was high at that time, so they discover that Reese listened to and deleted the voicemail. This pulls Will out of his slump. He literally pulls out his own IV needle in his haste to leave the hospital, ranting about rising when you fall.
In order to confront Reese and Leona, the group needs some evidence from source Solomon Hancock. In a tragic turn of events, Solomon commits suicide, devastating Sam. Before his death, Solomon sent Sam an envelope. Sam brings this to the meeting with Reese and Leona. He pretends the envelope has irrefutable evidence, when really it is a recipe for beef stew.
Sam, Will and MacKenzie accuse Reese of hacking the phones of MacKenzie, Howard Stern, Casey Anthony’s lawyers and relatives of hostages killed by Somali pirates. Leona is genuinely shocked to hear this news. Apparently convinced he is caught, Reese admits that the allegations are true. A step ahead of the curve, Sam reveals he is recording the conversation.
In order to protect her son from jail time, Leona must keep Will and kill the tabloid stories. Sam wants Leona to be on their side and asks her to stand for something. Leona says she does not do negotiations like this, but Sam retorts that it isn’t a negotiation. Leona really doesn’t have any leverage to oppose them with. Her final words to Will are, “Don’t shoot and miss.”
The love triangle between Maggie, Don and Jim experiences the usual ups and downs. The only surprising twist introduced is Sloan, who tells Don she is still single because he never asked her out. The two share a brief scene with great chemistry (dare we say more chemistry than Don’s scenes with Maggie?). However, Don claims to only have eyes for Maggie and ends up asking her to move in with him. Despite (finally) kissing Jim earlier in a passionate moment of weakness, Maggie agrees.
The romance between Will and MacKenzie also remains tortured. After hearing about the voicemail she never received, MacKenzie pries Will for more details. Stubborn as ever, Will refuses to tell her what he said. Even after MacKenzie proves that he was not hallucinating her holding up an inspirational pad of paper before his ‘public breakdown’, Will’s lips remain sealed. She flashes her trademark smile (with a head-tilt for good measure) and asks, “You’re melting now, aren’t you?” How he manages to resist her charm remains a mystery.
We are treated to a variety of amusing moments, including MacKenzie attacking Will with a pillow. Maggie’s exasperated rant about how being a young woman in New York City is nothing like it was portrayed in Sex and the City is definitely giggle-worthy. It doesn’t hurt that she was soaked by the splash from a Sex and the City tour bus pre-rant. Poor Sloan has humorous delivery in her speech to Don about never talking or having eye contact with him again, though we sympathize with her for putting herself out there.
As we near the end of the episode, Will keeps noticing a familiar looking girl sitting in the office. He mentions this several times. Considering the alarming death threats he continues to receive, it is unnerving to have a stranger hanging around the newsroom. As it turns out, she was the ‘sorority girl’ who asked Will what made America the greatest country in the world. That question sparked the infamous rant in the first episode of the season. In a show of courage, the young woman comes to the newsroom to apply for an internship. Will tells her to ask him the same question again, and when she does he replies, “You do.” Needless to say, MacKenzie is told to hire her.
There are many other heartwarming scenes throughout the episode. A key one would be the way the staff supports Will after his return from the hospital. Everyone, from Jim to Sloan, encourages him to bounce back from the nasty article. This aspect of the show has certainly come full circle since episode one, when the staff was mostly just terrified of Will. We may not have seen much speedy development in the relationships of the News Night staff, but we have seen plenty of realistic character growth.
So how did The Newsroom’s season finale sit with you? The show will return in June 2013 on HBO.