Monday, August 26, 2013

HBO’s “The Newsroom” #17 “Red Team III”

The “A” Team
By Catherine Giordano
Jane Fonda as Leona Lansing on "The Newsroom"

HBO’s “The Newsroom” finally brought the “A” Team into the writer’s room.  It took 17 episodes, but with episode #207, “Red Team III” airing on Sunday August 25, we at long last got an episode for adults.
I swear the actors even looked like older. I usually think of Maggie, Jim and Neal as high school students and Don and Sloan as college students, but finally in this episode they looked like adults.

The look on MacKenzie’s face when she has to tell Will that she has proof that Jerry edited the tape was the best acting in the entire history of the show.  I think she should get an Emmy nomination for this episode.

Nonetheless, MacKennzee can’t stop with the hitting. She shoves Jerry in an elevator.  This time I will forgive her. She had just found out that Jerry had doctored the tape that the newsroom relied upon for their reporting. Her violence was totally justified.

Here’s how it all went down. The Newsroom aired the story about the sarin attack and they are standing by their story despite a lot of pushback. Then, as I predicted there was the discovery of the discontinuity in the footage of the retired general’s interview. MacKenzie has a casual conversation with Will about the clocks on the screen in a football again and later the idea comes to her to check the clock on the TV screen that appears in the corner of the video-taped interview.  She discovers the discontinuity.

More evidence falls away in the scene with Charlie and his Pentagon source. I’m sorry to say there is more hitting in this one. The source had strongly hinted to Charlie that the story was true and even gave him the manifest which suggested illicit chemicals were on board the plane. Now in a parking garage, the two meet again, deep-throat style.

It turns out that the source had a druggie son who was in the process of getting clean when he worked as an intern at ACN. But then kid was fired (for cause) and returned to drugs. He died within the year. The source blamed Charlie.  When Charlie tried to explain the firing, the source slapped him hard across the face. Charlie, realizing that this slap came from a place of grief, just stood there and took it.  (Also, this guy was huge—not a person anyone would want to get into a fight with.)  Charlie learns that the source set Charlie up for revenge.

We also see other parts of the story fall apart. The U.S. soldiers wore haz-mat suits because they were afraid that the enemy might use chemical weapons on them. The Afghani who was tweeting live stopped tweeting not because he was dead, but because his cell-phone plan was terminated for non-payment. They found out that the soldier who had been present at the scene had traumatic brain injury which he had not revealed. A symptom of traumatic brain injury is memory loss.  Worse, MacKenzie re-watched the interview with him, and realized that she had asked leading questions.

The newsroom is shell-shocked by the enormity of their mistake. To make matters even worse, Jerry, the one person who deliberately misconstrued the attack and was fired for it, has sued the company for wrongful termination He claimed that it was a systemic failure, but he was the only one fired. This is the "is-this-guy-the -new-poster-boy-for-chutzpah-or-what?" moment of the week.The lawyers have recommended a $5 million settlement.

In the last scene, Jane Fonda, who plays Leona Lansing, the socialite owner of the newspaper, delivers an Emmy winning performance. It’s another late night meeting in the executive dining room. Leona has arrived directly from a charity gala. She’s wearing a beautiful gown and rocking it. Will, McKenzie, and Charlie offer her their resignations. 

Leona gives a powerful speech refusing to accept their resignations.  Further, she refuses to pay the settlement to Jerry. She vows to fight. She tells the Newsroom team that they “don’t earn her a nickel,” but they “make her feel proud.”  It’s a magnificent speech that makes you want to jump to your feet and cheer.

This is what I have been saying for 17 episodes so far. Treat this show as a serious drama and the show makes the A-List.

There will not be a new episode next week due to the Labor Day week-end, but I think I speak for all viewers of the show when I say, “I can’t wait.”

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