Now that we've seen three episodes of HBO's "Newsroom," it's become pretty clear that we can expect a few distinct kinds of plot points every week: a re-telling of a major news story, interpersonal drama among the lead characters and a Don Quixote reference.
In the latest episode, we got all that and then some, including two noteworthy news stories (the beginnings of the Tea Party and the failed Times Square bombing attempt) and the welcome introduction of a new character. Here are the five things you need to know about episode three: "The 112th Congress":
This episode is told with a fun bit of reverse chronology (I say "fun" because I always enjoy a bit of time-jumping, no matter how "plot device-y" critics may complain it is). The anchor in time is a big, ominous meeting that Charlie Spinner (Sam Waterston) is being forced to sit through with the network's head honchos: one who we've met, the schmoozey and slightly sleazy numbers guy Reese Lansing, plus a few new faces. While the suits hash out the future of "News Night," we see the series of events in the newsroom that led to the big meeting — namely Will's obsession with getting at the source of the so-called "grassroots" and "independent" founding of the Tea Party, a large donor for which turns out to have corporate ties to the "News Night" network.
Though the subject cannot entirely be summarized by the "art vs. commerce" argument, this episode essentially shows us that the modus operandi of the struggling artists at "News Night," their attempts to create something new, original and of value, comes into direct conflict with certain obligations already laid out by the network brass. Yet another lesson in the corporatization of the media/America! It would be easy to root against all the network head honchos in this instance if one of them was not being played by Hollywood veteran Jane Fonda.
At long last, Fonda arrives in the cast as no-nonsense CEO Leona Lansing. Fonda's role is said to be a "recurring" one rather than a full-fledged member of the cast, but we'll take her where we can get her. That Fonda's character is the CEO of "News Night" parent company Atlantis World Media is enjoyable for two reasons: Fonda's storied history with the news industry thanks to ex-husband and CNN founder Ted Turner, as well as the fact that Sorkin wrote the role for a female. I can already tell that Fonda's lady Lansing will offer up some great one-liners like this one: "I got where I am by knowing who to fear."
Jim Harper, Hero: Part Deux
As I mentioned last week, Jim Harper should be everyone's favorite character by now, or at least one of your favorites. Harper is the classic nice guy, the one with whom any and all intelligent ladies should fall in love with rather than wasting time on the D-bags. Harper's latest and most heroic feat is in helping Maggie come down from a panic attack, which he does so with compassion and without condescension (not to mention a melodramatic backstory for how/why he has experience in helping people come through panic attacks). He is the best! I so want him to win, but he probably won't — at least until the last season or something.
Will's Lady Parade
Thanks to Mackenzie's bumbling personal email that was accidentally sent to the entire staff, everyone now knows that it was Mackenzie who cheated on Will and not the other way around. Will chooses to address that reopening of an old wound by going out on a series of dates with a series of different lovely ladies whom he has meet him at the office in order to fully ruffle Mackenzie's feathers — the effect of which is both predictable and annoying. Come on, Mackenzie, you're better than that! Don't fall for the man's tricks. Though, come to think of it, she was the cheater, so she should have to endure a bit of suffering.
What did you think of the latest "Newsroom"? Let us know in the comments!