Tuesday, August 28, 2012

HBO The Newsroom #10 "The Greater Fool"

Here’s one news story you will never see on ACN, the fictional network on HBO’s “The Newsroom,” but it the news story you really should see. Newsroom Staffers Arrested for Assault and Battery.” These people presumably had mothers and fathers.  Didn’t their mothers and fathers ever teach them, “No hitting.”

Mac is the culprit on this week’s show, not once but twice. It unbelievable that any adult would act this way, especially someone in an important job in an important industry.  Will is in the hospital lying in his bed, recovering from bleeding ulcers that nearly killed him.  (He got the bleeding ulcers from mixing his medications and apparently being stupid enough to take more than prescribed.) Mac rolls up a magazine and repeatedly strikes Will with it about his head and shoulders, as Will lies in his hospital bed. I grant you she has reason to be angry—Will wants to quit the news show—but still, didn’t her parents ever say, “Use your words.”      

Mac doesn’t just beat Will, she threatens him.  The most-implausible-threat-ever-made moment of the week is Mac’s line when she tells Will, “You are coming back [to the show] if I have to chop you up in little pieces, put you in a duffle bag and reassemble you.” Such violent imagery, even if she doesn’t mean it literally.

Later in the episode, Mac picks up a couch pillow and beats Jim with it because she is angry about Jim’s romantic choices. She wanted Jim to stop dating Nina, and make Maggie leave Don even though Maggie is quite happy with her relationship with Don (They are planning to live together,), and start dating Maggie himself. Since when does your boss get to tell you who you can and can’t date? Since when does your boss get to beat you up because you won’t take that advice. Will should have broken off with Mac, not because she cheated on him, but because she is mentally unstable, and is a felony waiting to happen.

A few episodes ago, Sloan slammed Neal up against a wall. I forget why. I think it was about whether or not he thought she was attractive. I think Maggie has been known to hit also. I can’t remember for sure.  But these people have no inhibitions about hitting.  It’s a good thing they like each other.

But enough harping, because the season finale “The Greater Fool” was a great episode.  I don’t even want to rename as I usually do in my reviews. “The greater fool” is a term used among stock investors. It means buying a stock of questionable value (being a fool) in the belief that you can sell it to another buyer at a higher price. The second buyer is the greater fool. In this show, the characters were all boasting about being the greater fool. In this analogy, the news show is the questionable stock, and they were being the greater fools, by reinvesting themselves into the show. Or something like that.

The best scene is the one where Will and Charlie, the head of the news division con Leona and her son Reese, the people who own the company that owns the news station. Leona wants to fire Will—he’s being too honest on the air for her purposes—but she needs a reason. She thinks she has found it in a phone message Will left for Mac saying he was high while on the air. She has that message because another property of the company owns is a gossip rag that has been illegally hacking phone messages.   

Charlie says he has proof in an envelope given to him by a source, who later committed suicide, that proves the illegal hacking.  Leona and Reese, frightened by the thought of going to prison for this, negotiate with Will and Charlie. In the course of doing so, they make it clear that they are guilty. Charlie pulls a tape recorder from his pocket telling them that he has recorded the meeting. They are backed into a corner and Will’s job is saved. After Charlie and Will leave the meeting, Leona and Reese open the envelope and discover that it does not contain any evidence. I guess they got played for fools.   

There’s another good scene when Maggie gets to give her rant-of-the-night. It’s a Sex and the City takedown. Maggie leaves a bar, and is standing on the sidewalk when a bus comes by and splashes water from the gutter all over her. The Sex in the City theme music plays so we will be sure to get the point that this is a bit form the Sex and the City opening credits.. It turns out that the bus is a Sex in the City tour bus taking tourists to see all places from the show. Maggie screams at the tourists that the life of a single womanin New York City is nothing like that depicted on Sex in the City.  (She’s got that right. I was a single womanl in New York City, so I know.)  

What Maggie doesn’t know is that Jim is on that bus. He is taking the tour because his girlfriend Nina is a fanatical fan, and he wants to be up on the show so they can have something to talk about. Jim jumps off the bus and kisses Maggie. Maggie doesn’t pound him with her fists, she kisses him back. Fade out. Is Jim the bigger fool here for thinking he can finally get Maggie away from Don?  Or is Don the bigger fool for thinking he can keep Maggie from Jim. Or are they both fools, because personally, I don’t think Maggie is worth them fighting over her. 

One more bit or romantic intrigue.  On the voice mail where Will admits to being high he says, “Don’t think that I am just saying this because I am high, but…”  Throughout the whole episode Mac is begging Will to tell her the second half of that sentence. He won’t tell her. However, the audience gets to hear it, but not completely. So like Mac, we don’t really know if he was ready to reconcile with her. It does sort of seem that way though.

And what I liked best was the way the season one finale closed the circle. The season began with a “sorority girl” asking him a question at a public forum about why America is the greatest country in the world. He lambastes her for asking a stupid question and loudly, angrily, lectures her about why America is not the greatest country in the world (although she could be). The young woman is insulted and humiliated, but she is the reason Will decides to do an “honest” news show. Tonight, towards the end of the show, she is in the newsroom, being interviewed by Mac for a job as an intern. Will recognizes her and comes over to order her out of the newsroom.  The “sorority girl” says, “I know what a greater fool is, and I want to be a greater fool.” She is hired. Circle closed.

This is a picture of the "sorority girl".  I found it on tumblr