Tuesday, July 30, 2013

HBO's "The Newsroom" #13 "Willie Pete"

Hope Davis as Nina Howard
by Catherine Giordano

The Big Dramatic Gesture

Was HBO’s "The Newsroom" just a little better in episode 803, “Willy Pete”? Well, Mackenzie didn’t hit anyone during the episode.

But MacKenzie is still vying for “The-Most-Annoying-Ex-Girlfriend-Ever” title. During this episode she asks Will at least a dozen times about the phone message he left for her last season after covering the “Osama-is-dead” telecast. It was “Don’t think I’m only saying this because I am high, but …”  Mackenzie is pestering him to say what came after the “but. She pestered him about most of last season too, but now she has reached new heights on the “Pest-O-Meter.

She knows about the phone message because it was hacked and the part about being high was revealed by Nina, a gossip columnist.  Now Nina has some fresh “scandal” on Will, and he undertakes the big-dramatic-gesture to persuade her not to tell the world. It’s a wonderfully romantic scene—the empty executive dining room, mimosas served by a waiter clad all in black, and a piano player off in the corner playing “What the World Needs Now is Love.” He appeals to her better nature not to print the story, and he wins her over despite the fact that scandal is her bread-and-butter. Sometimes the people in Newsroom world are such paragons of virtue that we mere mortals have to question everything we know about the way the world works.

After she agrees, Will leaves the table, but then returns to ask her on a date. She refuses saying she knows he is still in love with MacKenzie. You see, she knows that the end of the message is “but I never stopped loving you.”  Later Mackenzie calls late at night to beg Nina to tell her what the message was. Nina lies and says Will said she was a great producer. The shot widens and we see Nina, who has obviously just emerged from the shower, standing in Will’s apartment. So they went on that date (and more) after all. And Nina doesn’t want any ex-girlfriends mucking up her new romance.

There’s another big dramatic gesture and another character mastering the art of pestering. Jim is on the Romney campaign bus, asking a bunch of questions embarrassing to the candidate, pointing out the inconsistencies in his positions. The “tour bus leader,” a spokesperson from the Romney campaign, keeps evading, denying, bobbing, and weaving.  Finally Jim decides to have an “I’m-mad as-hell-and –I’m- not-gonna-take-it anymore” moment and yells “Who’s with me” to the other reporters on the bus. He only gets two takers, and in the next scene we see the three of them standing by the side of the road as the bus drives off.

The next big dramatic moment is a turn of the plot. The newsroom get evidence that the “genoa” operation may have really happened.  It comes in the form of tweets made by a Pakistani who was on the scene at the time. The tweeter talks about “Willie Pete,” the term for white phosphorous. (Only it wasn’t white phosphorous, it was racin gas.)

Rom the big dramatic moment we can now segue into the big-idiotic moment. Margaret is still as big an idiot as ever. She takes some malaria medication because her big dramatic gesture to run off to Africa to cover some story (but really just to get away from everyone in the newsroom). Nina tells her she should have taken the other medication for malaria because the one she took just moments ago has really bad side effects. Margaret immediately begins experiencing all the side effects. Nina tells her the side effects don’t kick in for a week. Margaret is undeterred and continues throughout the rest of the show with her side effects.

I have a suggestion for the people in the news room for a big dramatic gesture—grow up.

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