“Contempt,” The Newsroom‘s third to last episode, featured one wedding, two breakups and an arrest, but it still remains unclear whether or not creator Aaron Sorkin is leading the series to a satisfying finish.
After Rebecca (Marcia Gay Harden) stuffed Will’s subpoena in her dress, she informed the team that Will (Jeff Daniels) would be dragged out in front of a grand jury on Monday, refuse to testify and find himself in court again on Tuesday after the prosecutor gets a court order compelling him to reveal his source. She’s gearing them up for a fight when everyone receives a tip on their cell phones: the story of Will being served has hit the internet via Carnivore – Hallie’s new place of work. Jim (John Gallagher Jr.), of course, is less than pleased and he and Hallie (Grace Gummer) are forced to have it out. She admits she may have led her colleagues in the right direction for the story, meaning she most definitely used information she learned from her relationship with Jim to give her new employer a story. (Remind me, why are they still together?)
After their fight, Hallie publishes a personal piece about her relationship with Jim, though she names him ‘Tim’ in the article. The first person blog post is about a blogger (Hallie) and her relationship struggles with her old-world newsman (Jim). After reading the story, Jim and Hallie have it out. He’s not mad that she ran the story without asking him, he says, but he’s angry and disappointed that she sold away her journalistic integrity to capitalize off her personal life. He sees her as a writer who wants to be the story, and he just gets more frustrated when Hallie refuses to admit to her ego. They break up, with Hallie handing over her ACN badge and walking away. Meanwhile, Maggie (Alison Pill) discusses the conflict with her new man, the ethics professor, only to get an earful about how the only reason she’s on Hallie’s side is because she has feelings for Jim. At one point, he says, they are going to have to discuss how this makes him feel.
Will wants to leave, stat, but Pruit (BJ Novak) is still waiting to speak to them upstairs, so he, Mac (Emily Mortimer) and Charlie (Sam Waterston) go up and hear his pitch, which is to launch a full social media offensive to entice the 18-25 demographic. Pruit and Charlie quickly engage in their now signature love/hate repartee, and the conversation ends when Charlie walks out on the meeting. Desperate to have ACN owned by anybody other than Pruit, Charlie goes to Sloane (Olivia Munn) the next day to see if they can’t find another buyer. Miraculously, in between deleting pictures from Don’s Instagram page (his password is her last name, which seems oddly akin to him getting her name tattooed on his body) so they don’t get caught by the new HR rep, Sloane manages to ID someone perfect and set up a clandestine meeting for her and Charlie.
The sale falls through, and ACN goes to Pruit. But, on the bright side, Don (Thomas Sadoski) and Sloane realize they have been driving themselves crazy hiding a relationship from an HR rep who actually doesn’t care one bit about their relationship. He’s bored, and Don’s panicking provided him with some entertainment.
In the newsroom, Don, Maggie and Jim are driving themselves crazy trying to get the story ready in time to meet Mac’s new mid-week deadline. After meeting with the source, Lilly (Clea DuVall), Mac has moved up their deadline for the super secret, leaked document story to Wednesday. When a problem arises with the deadline – the author of the fake story’s youngest son does not have a passport. If they broadcast the story before the author can get out of Kundu, it’s likely rebels could execute him and his entire family. Mac goes to Lilly and begs her to push back her deadline. Lilly won’t budge, so Mac threatens to out her to the FBI if she leaks the documents to another outlet. A few days later, Lilly hasn’t gone to another source, the author of the article is safely out of the country, and Pruit declares that he will not buy ACN if they go through with the story, which would result in high fines from the government.
Mac is forced to abandon the story, and everybody is more than disappointed. Instead, Don gives her the name of his favorite old journalism professor at the AP and they send her their boxes of files on the story. Even though they don’t go through with the story, Will still must appear in front of a judge, and, after declaring that he will never give up his source, but sees why he must go to jail, the judge finds him in contempt court and orders him to report to the US Marshalls at city hall in the afternoon.
With only a few hours before Will’s incarceration, Mac and Will decide to take the plunge and get married at city hall. Charlie goes to Julliard to get the band, Sloane picks up a makeshift cake at Magnolia Bakery, Maggie’s on flowers and Jim and Don pick up the rings (gotta love a nice bromance). After the wedding, Will is promptly arrested.
At the wedding, Maggie tells Jim that he needs to make some sort of grand apology if he wants to get Hallie back. He nods like he actually believes this is a good idea, and then asks why Maggie’s ethics professor isn’t there. She has a fight, she says, but when he asks what about, she refuses to say. But, is Jim really going to try to get back together with Hallie? And does Maggie even really want to be with Jim at this point?
It’s Time To Say Goodbye To Hallie
Let me start off by saying that I think it’s pretty clear Jim and Hallie are over, and that they should absolutely stay over. I cannot stress this enough. Not only has their relationship run its surprisingly long course – they are just eating up airtime at this point – but the Hallie/Jim storyline doesn’t really bring anything new to the old vs. new media debate, nor does it offer any particularly interesting commentary on the matter.
It’s too bad, really, because Neal (Dev Patel) was the perfect character for that discussion, as proven in the last two seasons. Granted, while Neal looks to social media as a treasure trove of potential sources and news indicators, Hallie looks at social media as a pool of potential readers. In other words, Neal wants to incorporate social media and Twitter into the reporting of the news (democratize the news, if you will), and Hallie wants to use reporting to become a viral star. The two represent different aspects of ‘new media,’ but Neal’s is much more interesting and three-dimensional. Hallie seems to be moving towards becoming less of a character and more of an embodiment of a millennial blogger stereotype (or whatever Aaron Sorkin, a middle aged man, believes to be a millennial blogger stereotype).
Hallie is simply not developed enough as a character to separate her from her blogging or her relationship with Jim. Though promising in the second season, Hallie’s character has quickly become little more than an underwhelming personification of ‘new media’ and a romantic roadblock for Jim’s potential relationship with Maggie. At this point in The Newsroom, with only a few episodes left in the series and even fewer ways left for Jim and Hallie to have the same argument about the future of journalism, Hallie’s time on The Newsroom should be up. Can we please trade her in for Neal now?