The Newsroom: 2.09 - Election Night, Part Two
Last week in The Newsroom, everything went quiet as the characters distracted themselves from the horrible events of Genoa by obsessing over trivia. Well, this time it's the season finale, so you'd think they'll have to do something, and they do. Not quite what I expected, though, and there are some interesting questions here about just what kind of finale we've just seen.
Confused? Me too. More down below with spoilers.
The end of the world as we know it, and everyone feels fine?The big question a lot of reviewers have been asking: was this actually the series finale of The Newsroom? Are they ever coming back? No amount of googling seems to provide a solid answer - HBO execs seem positive but muttered qualifiers about Aaron Sorkin's schedule, while lead actor Jeff Daniels tweeted that season 3 is definitely happening a while back but the channel were reluctant to back him up. Has Sorkin decided to wind it up? After the mixed reception the show has received and his own apparent creative difficulties this year, rewriting already-filmed episoders and such, maybe you wouldn't blame him, or perhaps he simply has too many movies to write and we'll have to wait a bit longer.
Been a few days since the US airing and no news yet, so let's wait and see. In the meantime, we have an episode which... looks quite odd next to the first seven of season two. The big reason this could be mistaken for a conclusion to the whole thing, really, is the way it suddenly reaches back to storylines which were major in the pilot and early episodes, but haven't all played a big role this year. The Mac/Will relationship has been largely ignored until this two-parter, and Maggie/Lisa/Jim hasn't been huge either.
Sloan/Don also get a seeming resolution here, but feel a tad more natural as they've been spotlighted throughout the season. As mentioned in many previous reviews, I enjoy both those characters so was fine with that part. The other two couples have some sweet scenes, but after a whole season focusing on the news-based drama of Genoa, it seems a bit weird to spend the finale making it seem very secondary to the romantic stuff. As I pondered last week, this whole two-parter felt like some kind of extra special episode commissioned after the proper season to wrap up the show. The follow-up we did get to Genoa revolved around the lead characters trying to resign and failing, which was mostly played for laughs. Good laughs - the stuff with Reese and Leona was among the highlights - but still.
Don't Want No Drama?Part of me wants to rage at the drama-free finale, another wants to quietly accept that the seventh episode, in which the Genoa mess went down, was the "real" finale, and this Election Night two-parter merely an overindulgent coda, where the characters got to worry about their love lives, make speeches about their ethics and generally do stuff that ought to have been contained to a single episode, or possibly a single fifteen-minute sequence. Maybe this is the fault of Game of Thrones, who have made a habit of featuring the big drama in their penultimate episode and spending the last one on aftermath - perhaps this is a standard approach now. Even if that's the case, though, two parts was probably overkill.
This still isn't the worst The Newsroom has been - the preachy speeches and journalistic hindsight mongering was kept down - but after a season which made me think it had the potential to be consistently good and dramatic, it was disappointing to see it go slack at the end. As someone who enjoys Sorkin dialogue, there were enough moments to keep me entertained, but I was never enthralled.
Nonetheless, I shall try not to let this slightly disappointing finale colour my view of the whole season, which has shown real improvement, I think. If there is a third season of The Newsroom, I shall approach it with more optimism than I did this second one.