The Newsroom: 2.04 - Unintended Consequences
During the first episode of The Newsroom season 2, we were given heavy foreshadowing about something awful happening to Maggie in Africa. This event would be so traumatic, she'd have a dramatic haircut, adopt a permanent scowl and stop babbling adorably all the time. Well, after a couple of weeks in which she's arranged the trip, roped in background character Gary to stand in the background and tried to decieve Mac about the danger levels, this episode we find out just what the hell this awfulness was.
Is it as bad as it sounded? Would we want it to be as bad as it sounded? Meanwhile, other stuff happens too. Spoilers!
Horrible Holidays With Maggie JordanTo be honest, I wasn't entirely up for Maggie getting brutally sexually assaulted or similar in Africa - considering how much The Newsroom loves knockabout comedy, I'm not sure I'd want to see them try to do that storyline, before cutting away to another scene in which Neal falls over. Happily, there's nothing quite as traumatic in Maggie's eventual disastrous Africa trip, indeed it feels a little obvious after all that build-up, but you can see how it might upset a person, particularly as young and naive a character as Maggie.
I did expect them to knock off poor old Gary for a few minutes, but no, it was only cute kid Daniel who died, just like you could tell he would from his first appearance. Sorkin doesn't drag that plotline out, happily, giving us the build-up and the pay-off in a few quick scenes, so the inevitability of it all worked okay. We also get the return of the Genoa lawyers framing device, which adds to the gravitas of the situation a little, and ties all these antics back into our arc plot - apparently Maggie is going to interview a source about Genoa and get it dramatically wrong thanks to her mental state? Fair enough.
In short, the Maggie Africa subplot - not mind-blowingly memorable, but good enough. Got the job done, felt tense and scary. Now, back to the studio in New York.
News Night Hires Idiots For Comedy?The Genoa subplot itself is quietly building this week, as our heroes discover Neal's Occupy Wall Street source might know someone who can help, then have to spend the whole episode begging her to turn them over after Will upsets her with a brutal interview. Considering these journalists are meant to wrangle sources for a living, they're pretty bad at it. But this is one of those Newsroom times where, yes, my head tells me it's a bit silly, but I still enjoyed watching. The comedy efforts from Don and Sloan, followed by Will's semi-apology at the end, all worked for me. Produced a few amusing scenes, kept the Genoa train rolling.
Although this came to me mid-episode: is new character Jerry going to take the fall for Genoa? Has he been brought in to spearhead that story, then lose everything at the end, so Sorkin can show some consequences without harming any of his beloved regulars? Still five episodes to go, we'll see. Despite any flaws, the Genoa storyline is giving season 2 a drive and drama that the first one often didn't have, so if it turns out a bit predictable, oh well.
On the campaign trail, miles from the important storylines, Jim realises he's been stupid, attempts a big noble gesture, is told that was stupid as well, gets a bit of reward snogging from Hallie anyway, then he's finally yanked back home. To be honest, I think that storyline might've worked better without him getting the girl at the end - actually show his idiocy having consequences, rather than shoving the kissy ending in - but it was all okay enough. At least it wasn't as repetitive as last week, and was brought to a close at its natural length. Next week: will post-campaign Jim and post-Africa Maggie slip right back into their will-they-won't-they nightmare, or be forced to find new hobbies?
In short, then - nothing sensational in this episode, but nothing too awful either; I laughed and felt sad at all the right parts. Like many The Newsroom episodes, it perhaps doesn't stand up to really sitting down and thinking about it, but as another episode in the ongoing story, it was pretty good. I'm genuinely invested and interested in where this is all going, rather than just watching for the occasional funny/clever scenes by Sorkin, which is a step-up from last year still. Next week - the halfway mark!