The Newsroom picked up where it left of last week in “Main Justice,” with the FBI raiding the ACN office hard drives. In an effort to get the FBI out of their offices, Charlie (Sam Waterston) pretended to call the LA office and air a fake live report of the FBI in their newsroom. Sloane (Olivia Munn) heads to the desk while Jim (John Gallagher Jr.) and Don (Thomas Sadoski) run over to the control room to try to figure out how to fake broadcasting a report, but they are hopeless until Maggie (Alison Pill) arrives. The team is able to fake a breaking news report using the monitors in their offices, at least well enough to convince the FBI to stop seizing their hard drives for a quick minute.
Best moment of the night: after Maggie schools the boys on how to actually set up a broadcast, she promptly tells Jim his fly is undone and leaves, inspiring this wonderful exchange:
Jim: “I’m not sure how I feel about confident Maggie.”
Don: “She’s looking good.”
Rebecca Halliday (Marcia Gay Harden) was able to compromise with the Attorney General and the FBI: both sides agree to a one-week cease-fire. ACN won’t run the story, and the FBI won’t go after Neal until Friday. On Friday, the FBI will meet with Will (Jeff Daniels) and Neal. Will and Neal would have to tell the feds everything they know without revealing their source. If the authorities can figure out who the source is on their own, they’ll get to run the story, and Neal will get to not go to jail. If not, then Neal could be facing serious charges. Charlie wants to go through with the deal. If all goes well, then both Neal and Will would be free from prosecution and they’d still get to go through with the story.
It’s April 22, 2013, and Maggie has finished reading the embargoed EPA and she’s getting ready for a 4-minute segment, complete with an interview with the EPA official she met on the train. Unfortunately, an environmental story, even one that cautions against the end of the world, is boring, and she needs Jim’s help to make it interesting. Jim and Maggie do their awkward banter-flirt thing, but it seems like neither of them are too thrilled with the prospect of working together – mainly because Maggie isn’t a meek little newby anymore, and Jim is still just as uncomfortable as ever around her.
Leona (Jane Fonda) and Reese (Chris Messina) are planning on selling ACN to make enough money to buy out Blair and Randy, and, while Charlie isn’t super pleased with the decision, he’s remarkably understanding.
Hallie (Grace Gummer) got a new job – that pays $45,000 a year – but Jim is a bit skeptical about her contracts. He’s particularly concerned about her bonuses, which are tied to how many views her articles get. As any boyfriend would, Jim waits until right before bed to mention that he’s worried that the money will seduce Hallie into spilling ACN secrets, an accusation that offends her to no end.
At work, Jim’s anger about bonuses for views makes him give Maggie a series of boring questions for the EPA segment. When Maggie confronts him, she very succinctly informs him that he needs to back off on Hallie and be more of a supportive boyfriend and less of a disapproving older brother.
For all the complaints I wrote last week about Hallie’s character – and supremely dumb Twitter mistake that ended her time at ACN – that scene with Jim made me love her. While I wanted Hallie to demolish Jim in that moment, I was also completely confused as to Jim’s feelings for her. Why is he be living with someone he thinks could be capable of throwing away her journalistic integrity for a quick buck? Don’t get me wrong, I think Jim is totally in the wrong here, but if he’s legitimately worried his live-in girlfriend would betray his trust for money, he might want to re-think his relationship. Just sayin’.
Meanwhile, Mac (Emily Mortimer) has a covert meeting with Molly the FBI agent (Mary McCormack), who tells her that their techs were able to find “compelling evidence” on Neal’s hard drive that he helped his source retrieve classified documents. Molly assures Mac that they don’t want Neal, they just want his source, and right now, it’ll be best for Neal to come in on Friday and meet with the authorities. Convinced, Mac goes to Jim and Don, who know how to get in touch with Neal. She tells them to pass on the message: Neal needs to come in.
It’s Friday night, and the EPA official, Richard Westbrook (Paul Lieberstein), is in the studio to discuss the report with Will. The interview does not go as planned, when Westbrook goes off the rails and informs the live audience that the CO2 in the air has already reached the point of Armageddon. He gives no comfort or hope, instead e tells everyone that the world is coming to an end no matter how many people stop burning coal and using fossil fuels. So…there’s that.
The FBI tells them that Neal is safe from prosecution, but then informs them that Neal is in Venezuela – he appears to have run far away from US jurisdiction. The FBI is clear: they can twist this to be an admission of guilt. So, Will decides to take over. He refuses to tell them anything about the source. The FBI agent sent to speak to them has insulted him beyond repair, and Will informs him that he knows what card he holds: he’s a famous television star. The FBI cannot afford to imprison him for contempt on a First Amendment issue.
Maggie, Jim, Hallie and Jack – the train guy – all share an awkward moment at the White House Correspondent’s Dinner, while Sloane and Don try to hide their relationship in front of the new HR rep. The HR rep is weirdly obsessed with “nailing” Sloane and Don on their illicit office romance. This feels easy and, honestly, dumb. Why have they decided that now would be a good time to ban inter-office relationships at ACN? It’s a lazy conflict we’ve seen thousands of times before. I love Sloane and Don as much as the next person, and I enjoy watching them together, but I don’t need this HR villain to make their relationship more dramatic. Moreover, I don’t need it to think their relationship is interesting – I already like them!
At the party, Charlie meets with Luis Pruit (BJ Novak), the billionaire looking to buy ACN and turn it into a sort of Buzzfeed television – crowd source the news with as many spinoff channels as possible, including one devoted to people obsessed with Danny Glover.
The episode came to an abrupt end with Will getting a subpoena to appear in front of a grand jury in DC on Monday. Guess he’s not as untouchable as he thought.
This episode left me with many questions: First, was it just me, or did a majority of this episode feel like filler?
Second, why did Neal run to Venezuela? Is that what Jim and Don told him to do, to run instead of come back to meet with the FBI? But, more than that, is he really in Venezuela? I don’t know about you, but I’m thinking the FBI has more than enough resources to convincingly Photoshop Neal in Venezuela. Why would Charlie, Mac and Will just take that one guy’s word for it? Do they think the FBI is above lying to the to get what they want?
While we’re on the topic of the FBI, do we trust Molly? I’m thinking yes, but I’m also thinking we don’t trust her enough to believe she’d be willing to risk her job to be loyal to Mac or keep Neal’s ass out of jail. So, I don’t really know how that will resolve itself, nor do I particularly care.
Finally, real talk: does anybody really believe Will is at risk of going to jail?