Reading 'The Newsroom': 'I'll Try To Fix You'
The fourth episode of The Newsroom takes on a story that captivated the nation, while everyone's love lives get needlessly meddled in, and Don finally stops being a jerk. While the show struggles with its subplots, there's no denying that it knows how to do the news, even if it's news from two years ago.
The Top Story
While The Newsroom has been grounded in real-life personalities and events from the start, "I'll Try To Fix You" is the first episode where it tackles head-on a real news story that we also all know well: the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. While the BP oil spill was a huge story, the Arizona tragedy is much smaller in scope and it was more human, because we had a name, a face and a specific person to focus on as opposed to a huge corporation.
It's a gutsy move for the show to weave in actual news stories as opposed to making their own, though slightly anticlimactic given that the series is set two years ago, so we're aware of the ending before the characters are. In this case, though, it works because as an NPR report gets every other news outlet to say Congresswoman Giffords is dead, we know she survived the shooting, and we're pleading with our News Night team not to fall in line.
This is an interesting approach for Sorkin and company; previously, Sports Night and West Wing certainly referenced real people and events, but I can't recall them actually building episodes around them. The athletes and politicians at the heart of the stories were always fictional.
Will The Newsroom continue on this path? We don't yet know, but it does a wonderful job of evoking the chaos, the panic and most importantly, the passion that is involved in reporting stories of this magnitude. To quote a line from the Sports Night pilot script: "We might not know what these people are talking about, but we know that they do."
Will and MacKenzie...and Nina and Sloan and Crazy Carrie
The episode opens on New Years Eve 2010, and the News Night staffers are having an office party. MacKenzie brings Wade (Jon Tenney) only to once again bring up the past with Will, who is promptly badgered by Sloan into approaching a woman wandering alone at the party. We may as well have shined a spotlight on her. Seriously, she could not be more obvious. There's at least three feet of empty space around her in every direction.
She's Nina (Hope Davis) and she and Will trade laughably blunt pickup lines for awhile, until Will finds out that she's a gossip columnist for something called TMI and plotting to do what she calls "a takedown piece" on a Real Housewife of Somewhere for no other reason than that she can. When Nina goes in for a kiss, Will rebuffs her with his hand and lets her know, "I would have more respect for you if you were a heroin dealer." Oh, snap.
The next morning, Charlie calls Will into his office to show him a Page Six piece where it's alleged that he groped Nina, and suggests that he's asking out the wrong women. Will, undeterred, somehow agrees to a date with Sloan's friend Carrie (Kathryn Hahn) and, despite her being obviously trashed, even takes her back to his place, where they discuss smoking a joint. Classy. The date goes south when he finds a gun in her purse and decides to show her how easily the gun could be taken from her and used against her.
When he informs Sloan of the disastrous end to the evening the following day, she tells him "you haven't seen the crazy side of her," which isn't encouraging.
The third woman Will makes a pass at in the episode (which, if you're counting, is just as many ladies as he went through last week, too) asks him about the Page Six report over drinks. When he tries to explain and she starts going on about Real Housewives, he accidentally calls her a bitch. She throws her drink in his face, which leads to another Page Six item.
And as if that wasn't bad enough, having seen that second Page Six story, crazy Carrie has gone to TMI and Will is now also a tabloid cover story. Clearly, the lesson here is that Will should never again take any form of personal advice from Sloan, who still doesn't seem to have much of a function within the show either.
Oh, and MacKenzie finds out that Will agreed to have a non-complete clause put into his contract in exchange for the right to fire her that he told her about in the pilot. In other words, he was willing to put in a practical death sentence to ensure that he could get rid of her. As you can imagine, that doesn't go over well, but what else is new?