‘The Newsroom’ Recap: NEAL RUN! Hallie, GTFO!

The Newsroom proved once again that Mac and Will are incapable of going 24 hours without debating the purpose of journalism – to report news within accepted guidelines or to protect democracy – in the third season’s second episode, “Run.”

While Will (Jeff Daniels), Mac (Emily Mortimer), Neal (Dev Patel) and Rebecca Halliday (Marcia Gay Harden) were arguing about whether or not it’s a journalist’s job to sacrifice his or her freedom to inform the electorate and ensure a working democracy (aka, Mac’s journalistic call of duty), Reese (Chris Messina) was stuck in the conference room with his younger half-siblings: twins Blair (Kat Dennings) and Randy, who are planning to take over the family company after their 25th birthday.

It’s clear from the very first scene that Blair is the brains of the operations and Randy is just along for the ride. Blair is more than willing to go toe to toe with Reese, and she is clearly holding onto some ancient family grudge against Reese and his mother. She’s going to share her and her brother’s shares of ACN to another company, that will then own a controlling interest in ACN and likely dismantle it and sell it off in parts. Reese and Charlie (Sam Waterston) both try to reason with Blair and Randy, but it’s useless until Leona (Jane Fonda) arrives. Leona breezes in and cuts to the chase: if what Blair and Randy want is money, she’s willing to pay two dollars more per share than the rival company, and she’ll get them the money before their birthday. Now we have a new problem: Leona needs to raise $4 billion in 10 days or the company is lost.

“Boston Marathon: Republicans rejoice that there’s finally a national tragedy that doesn’t involve guns.”

For all the fanciful wish fulfillment in The Newsroom, the idea that Hallie (Grace Gummer) could tweet something so incredibly dumb just feels incredibly false to me, more so then Will and Mac’s grandstanding, and here’s why:

1) Yes, social media personnel screw up constantly, but Hallie has already been established as a somewhat competent writer. Anybody who spent a year blogging about Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign – and working in the world of internet journalism – would know not to tweet something so stupid from a non-personal account. Hallie is also supposed to be internet savvy, and she should really know better. This storyline just doesn’t make any sense to me – Hallie is a young blogger, she should know how Twitter works.

2) It’s not even her job. Hallie tells Jim she sent out the horrible tweet to cover for Neal – something no one had asked her to do. It’s my belief that any rational person in that position would post something simple and straightforward, for fear of committing a massive social media no-no. I understand she was thinking about re-tweets, which, I admit, makes some amount of sense, but she was aware that she wasn’t tweeting to boost the profile of a start up or a little known public figure – she was tweeting for a pre-established brand. Not only that, but a brand with a built in, international audience. This is not difficult, people.

3) It makes me dislike Jim (John Gallagher Jr.) for dating her. We know very little about Hallie, and, frankly, as a passionate Maggie/Jim fan, I have always been on the fense about whether or not to invest in liking her. Going into this third season, I knew that she would be around, and that she would likely still be dating Jim, so I resigned myself to accept her. Grace Gummer does a fine job of playing her, and Hallie was introduced in season two as a nice girl, so, I would try to bite my tongue. But, because we have been shown so little of what might actually make Hallie interesting – or little more than a romantic obstacle for Maggie and Jim – this twitter screw up will define her character for me, at the very least it defines her within the context of the newsroom as an incompetent idiot.

In other words, as an audience member, I feel that she has not done enough to earn the right to make such a stupid mistake and still be considered an awesome character that I want to root for. So, I am not going to root for you, Hallie. But, I am completely willing to watch you get interesting by turning against ACN!

But, enough about Hallie and her dumb twitter faux pas, because Maggie (Alison Pill) finally met a guy! On the train going back to Boston, Maggie sat down in front of a cute guy (played by House of Cards’ most important guinea pig owner, Jimmi Simpson) while eavesdropping on an EPA worker’s phone conversation. After talking to the EPA official (Paul Liberstein aka Toby from The Office!), Maggie felt bad about her sneaky journalism and decided she wouldn’t run the story. That’s when cute guy took off his headphones and told her that, as a law professor, he knows she would be completely within her rights to run the story. Journalistic ethics may be on her side, but Maggie just doesn’t feel right about it. She is so steadfast in her morals, she refuses to let the EPA worker trade her a juicier story in return for her promise not to run the story about the conversation she overheard. Maggie’s sweet nature and strong morals work in her favor, and the EPA guy ends up handing her a super secret report with the promise of an exclusive interview. (YAY Maggie!) To top it all off: cute guy asks for Maggie’s number.

It looks like Maggie is finally moving on! But, her high is short-lived. When she returns to ACN, she finds the newsroom crawling with FBI agents who have warrants to take every single hard drive. Frustrated with listening to Mac and Will argue over whether or not to run the story that may or may not result in Neal Sampat serving time in jail, Neal took matters into his own hands, tipping off the FBI that he was in possession of classified documents, forcing Will to run the story. Will was against it, but, once he saw how determined Neal was, he got behind him. Will wanted to protect Neal as best he could (aww), so he got Neal to tell him his source and then instructed him to ditch his cell phone and take a bus out of town.

Finally, in the comic relief portion of the episode, Sloane (Olivia Munn) and Don (Thomas Sadoski) realize they may be guilty of insider trading and are forced to admit their status as a couple, a conversation that finds Don finally on the receiving end of his ‘non committal’ act. (Essentially, Don has become Maggie and Sloan has become Don circa The Newsroom pilot.) But, they seem to end up on solid ground, informing Will of their newfound couples status, and accidentally telling Jim that they are sleeping together.

Despite all my love for Don and Sloan, the title of episode MVP goes to Sam Waterston for being his usual, bowtie rockin’ self. Bonus points for this nice little self-deprecating joke:

“You’re giving a monologue” – hot train guy
“Everyone does where I work.” – Maggie’s epically on point response.

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One thought on “‘The Newsroom’ Recap: NEAL RUN! Hallie, GTFO!

  1. Episode was great! Hallie was definitely nothing more than Jim/Maggie BS AND it’s a shame because Grace is a great actress and she gets the short end of the stick of being fired because she’s a throwaway character, whereas Maggie plus 90% of ACN should’ve been fired long ago. Anyway Neal is the MVP for me per usual and Don/Sloan is just weird, annoying, and I’m over it. Excellent episode though.

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