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Friday, December 12, 2014
The Newsroom #305 "Oh Shenandoah" 12/07/14
by Catherine Giordano
Sam Waterson as Charlie Skinner
“Til Death Do Us Part”
As HBO’s The Newsroom heads for that big newsroom in the sky,
death is stalking the halls of ACN as the penultimate show, episode 5 of season
3, plays out. I don’t see any
reason for the name of this episode except to remind us of the haunting words
and music of the song by the same name. “Oh Shenandoah, I’m bound to leave you.”
It’s a song of loss and pain.
Will McAvoy has lost 52 days of his life in his solitary
jail cell, confined because he has refused to name the source who stole classified documents. Will is all
alone except for a wise-ass wife-beater cellmate with very politically
incorrect opinions. It turns out, the cellmate was just a hallucination of
Will’s; a hallucination impersonating his father. It’s all the more spooky when
the cellmate threatens Will with bodily harm, and Will stands up to him and points
out he’s taller and stronger and not a woman who you can push around. This
harkens back to a scene early in Season 1: Will’s father has died and Will
doesn’t want to go to the funeral. So it’s a father-son reunion in that jail
cell as Will deals with his dead father.
Will gets released from prison since the judge has become
convinced that Will won't reveal the source. It turns out the source, Lily
Hart, is dead. She committed suicide in a dramatic and public way on the steps
of the capitol to prove something or other. I’m not really sure, but I think
she died for the sake of the plot. Despite the source being dead neither Will
nor Mac (and presumably Neal who is still in Venezuela) will give up her name. So
noble! But also, they are off the hook for protecting the identity of a
terrorist who might be a threat to America.
The leaking of secret documents in the fictional show plays
off the actions of the real-life leaker of documents, Edward Snowden. Jim and
Maggie are in a Russian airport trying to get on the plane that everyone believes
will take Snowden to Cuba. They finagle their way on to the plane, only to
learn that they are going to Cuba and Snowden is not. Maggie makes Jim change
his seat because she can’t bear to sit with him, but the boring monotony of the
long plane ride has a weird effect on her. She decides she loves him after all.
They may well follow Will and Mac down the aisle to “until-death-do-us-part”
land. The plotline is nicely tied up.
Meanwhile back at the newsroom, Don has been ordered to find
the identity of a co-ed who claims to have been raped by a BMOC. She can’t get
justice, so she has started a website where women who have been raped can name their
accusers. Pruitt wants Don to find the woman and convince her to go on air with
the man she has accused for a bit of a slug fest. It will be great TV, and the
woman wants to do it. She thinks she can bring down the rapist. Don tries to
talk her out of it saying this will ruin her life. She will be slut-shamed and
worse. The woman still wants to do it to bring attention to the issue of women
being raped on college campuses. Don refuses and goes back to the newsroom and
says he couldn’t find her. Another close brush with reality since this episode
aired soon after the Rolling Stone magazine covered a similar story in real
Sensationalism is rampart at ACN since the new owner,
Pruitt, took over. He is turning the network into the on-air counterpart of a
tabloid newspaper. There is even stalkerati. An obnoxious young man, Bree, is running the website in Nel's absence, and he has
started a feature called ACNgage. It’s citizen journalism for celebrities.
People can call in “sightings,” and they are reported, but never fact-checked. Sloan is very
unhappy about this, so she uses the young man’s smug vanity to get him to agree
to an interview. He’s on air live, and Sloan slaughters him. (Metaphorically,
of course.) He looks like a fool.
Sloan and Don are both dead at ACN. (Metaphorically, of
course.) Pruitt fires them.
And then the episode ends with a real death. Charlie,
mid-rant, has a heart attack right there in the newsroom. He dies.
What next for the newsroom? What next for “The Newsroom.” It
all wraps up on Sunday December 14th, the series finale.
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