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The Newsroom ‘5/1 ‘ Review: Darkest Days and Finest Hours

By on August 6, 2012

Sam Waterston as Charlie Skinner. Image © HBO

Beginning this week’s Newsroom episode with an entertaining party at Will’s apartment properly sets the tone for an uplifting show. Will appears rather reluctant about hosting when he notes to his guests that he would not find it rude if they left early. However, after tossing back a couple of pot cookies (“it’s medicinal”), he seems to thoroughly enjoy himself. Downing a Vicodin with that was probably overkill, but Will insists his body is very tolerant. There’s plenty of guitar playing, games and other fun.

When Jim receives a video call from Lisa, Maggie overhears them saying they love each other. This spurs a heated conversation between Jim and Maggie. Jim admits that he doesn’t feel that way about Lisa, and feels it is too soon for the L word to be thrown around. Maggie asks him what he plans to do and he amusingly answers, “Well, obviously I have to leave the country.” As a slightly more serious alternative, Maggie tells him to break up with Lisa. During all of the whirlwind events of the night, Jim finds little time to deal with his romantic life.

Before Jim is able to break up with Lisa, Lisa breaks up with him. She describes it as letting him off the hook since she knows he was just being polite. When she tells Maggie she knew the relationship with Jim upset her, Maggie dramatically pulls Lisa over to Jim to set the record straight. Both Jim and Maggie declare that they have no feelings for each other. Are you convinced? Neither was Lisa.

Sloan, Don and Elliot spend the entire episode stuck on the tarmac at LaGuardia airport. Seeing as the big news of the episode is the shooting of Osama Bin Laden, they are understandably frustrated by this. It is comical to watch them attempt to discuss the news without spilling it to the other passengers. Don does not do well with the sitting around. In his words, “Waiting, patience, words like that – always my last option.” He also gets into several arguments with the exasperated flight attendant.

When the newsroom staff receive news that President Obama will be addressing the nation shortly, they all hurry from Will’s place to the office. Will’s bodyguard, Lonny, gets stuck in traffic, so Will decides to run the twenty-something blocks to the office. Unsurprisingly, Lonny is extremely agitated by this, particularly when the police stop and search him before he can go after Will.

When Will does make it – after a falafel stop – MacKenzie senses there is something off about him. Since he is having serious troubles with his tie, Will is forced to admit that he is “completely baked”. A shocked MacKenzie tells him there is no way he can go on air, but in a very sober manner he states that there is no way he is not reporting the story. She seems to understand and calms down, but her blood pressure heightens once more when Will cheerfully adds, “Hey! We got Obama!”

The Newsroom cast. Photo: © HBO

There is some debate about whether or not they should run the story with the amount of confirmation they have received. Charlie is firm that they cannot run it until the White House announces it. A newswoman aggressively argues that they should run with the story earlier, but MacKenzie shuts her down and declares it will be Will that reports the news. Sweetly, MacKenzie also covers for Will when Charlie wonders about Will’s state of mind.

Everyone is edgily waiting for permission to go on air with the news, but Charlie remains stubborn on waiting for White House confirmation. It is then that Will checks his emails to discover that Joe Biden emailed him, “OBL reportable, knock ‘em dead just like we did.” Apparently Will used to play softball with him. Since Will noticed the email twenty minutes after he received it, he sheepishly tells Charlie and MacKenzie that one day they will look back at this moment and find it funny.

When they go live with the news, Will pulls himself together astonishingly well. He delivers a touching broadcast, noting that “America’s darkest days are followed by its finest hours.” Pieces of paper on his desk remind him to say Osama and not Obama, which, fortunately, he does.

After causing a big enough scene on the plane to justify the captain of the United aircraft to come out of the cockpit, Don goes quiet. He informs the captain, co-captain and “crazy” flight attendant about Bin Laden. It is a poignant moment as he comments to Sloan and Elliot that they were able to report the news despite the circumstances.

Several times throughout the night, Charlie receives a call from a strange, private number. The caller claims to be a reliable source, but is unwilling to give his name. When he accurately predicts that Charlie will receive an email from the White House telling them to get to work, Charlie is intrigued. It will be interesting to see how that develops.

Near the end of the episode, Jim approaches Lisa asking for a do-over. He wants to know how things would turn out if they had a chance to start dating properly, so he asks her out on a first date. Lisa seems pretty taken with him, so it looks like Jim will be preoccupied for a while. What this means for the Jim, Maggie and Don triangle is uncertain. It is clear from Don’s worried speculating that he is concerned about his relationship with Maggie.

What did you think of this week’s episode? They tackled a very emotional, but also encouraging story. While the focus was not so much on character or plot development, it was fun to have a more light-hearted episode with plenty of laughs. Will being high as a kite and Neal seriously musing about UFOs offered just a couple of those funny moments.

Catch The Newsroom Sundays on HBO.

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