For those too cynical to understand it: The Newsroom is the Greatest Show on Earth. It’s also super fast-paced—because it’s written by Aaron Sorkin. So what better way to commemorate its criminally brief six-episode final season than with some ping-pong digital dialogue? Before we have to say goodbye forever, two WIRED writers—Jordan Crucchiola and Jason Kehe—are going to lovingly host walkthroughs of every episode until the series finale, doing real-time Gchat analysis of each one. They will aspire to Sorkin-levels of witty repartee while genuflecting to the master of emotionally charged, endearingly insufferable intellectual tennis. Read on for the full breakdown.
Jason Kehe: OK, Newsroom, Season 3, Episode 2: “Run.”
Jordan Crucchiola: I think you mean 3, 2, RUN.
Kehe: I was kinda hoping they’d redesign the title sequence again this season.
It’s still boring.
Crucchiola: But the THRILL of this music!
Kehe: The music is the best part.
And the very newsy coffee spill.
Crucchiola: I’m ready to chase down the leads,
get the scoops,
hand off so many papers to people!
Kehe: Here we go.
Kehe: “Aggressively Written By Aaron Sorkin”
[In ACN's boardroom. The twins walk in.]
Crucchiola: KAT DENNINGS
Kehe: Aka the lovable crazy intern from Thors 1 and 2
Crucchiola: She almost looks too contemporary to be in a Sorkin Show.
Kehe: I can’t figure out her face.
Crucchiola: Or her voice paired with her face
Kehe: It’s like…Elizabeth Olsen x ScarJo + vocal coaching from Ellen Page.
Also, who’s her twin brother?
He already seems irrelevant.
[Reese tells the twins he knows they’re planning on buying the company.]
Crucchiola: When Reese says he’s “a douche on the side of the angels” it is SO Reese.
Kehe: REESE! That guy: zero to hero.
OK, so he’s confronting the twins.
Crucchiola: Yes. And now Becca [ACN’s badass First Amendment lawyer] is confronting justice. And intellectual inferiority.
Kehe: I want to quote her every line.
Crucchiola: People can say Sorkin hates women, but they haven’t met Becca Halliday. Because she is clearly God.
Kehe: OK, and we’re back to Reese in the conference room. … How’s Kat doing with the Sorkinese?
Crucchiola: She’s trying to keep up. Fortunately Drunk Uncle Charlie just entered. WE RIDE.
How has the twin brother managed to disappear??
Kehe: He just got his first reaction shot—a stupid grin.
Crucchiola: Do you think Sorkin intentionally made Randy irrelevant? And then winked and nodded at us by having Charlie mess up their names?
Kehe: Randy? Blaire? I’m like Charlie, who’s who? This season is so meta.
Crucchiola: Like, I think the twins are the critics of the show.
Crucchiola: Who DON’T GET IT. Right?!
Kehe: Evil twins as stand-ins for the show’s HATERS. Brilliant move, Sorky.
[Back at ACN, where Becca is grilling Neal about his act of treason.]
Kehe: Neal is explaining his crime AGAIN. This make three times. Enough exposition, we get it.
Becca’s eyes get wide when Neal says 38 people are dead because of a fake story planted in “Kundu” (I had to check: not a real place) by an American PR firm.
Becca: “Well, here’s what you’ve done: you’ve committed espionage.”
Crucchiola: How could Neal think that teaching an enemy of the state to use the internet was OK?!
Kehe: Do we know he’s an enemy of the state?
Also, Becca knows every statute and subsection. I’m convinced she’s the smartest.
Becca shouts: “DON’T ASK SOURCES TO STEAL THINGS FOR YOU!”
Crucchiola: I’m always with Becca, but right now I’m SO with Becca.
Kehe: Neal is kinda arrogant.
Crucchiola: Sampat can’t just think that integrity is the most important thing going on here when he’s asking someone to help him commit treason.
Kehe: Like, go monitor a Twitter feed, Sampat.
Crucchiola: And then he ENABLES THEM TO HELP HIM COMMIT TREASON.
[Inside a shooting range, MacKenzie McHale is firing a gun.]
Kehe: Now Emily Mortimer is at a shooting range with an unfamiliar blonde.
She’s not a great shot.
Emily, not the blonde.
The blonde is FBI, and a perfect shot.
Crucchiola: The blonde is like Maria Bello mixed with Kathleen Turner.
Both in their current form.
Mac’s ring is gargantuan!
Kehe: Mac confesses she “missed a [wedding dress?] fitting last week.” DISASTER.
So Bechdel test: failed.
Crucchiola: That ring is the biggest thing about Emily Mortimer!
Kehe: Yes, she looks somehow smaller this season.
Crucchiola: Do you think everyone looks worse this season because of the cancellation? Because basically everyone (save Leona and Sloan) looks bedraggled. I can’t shake the feeling that Aaron Sorkin is making the physical presentation of these characters a projection of his frustration at audiences for not understanding his art.
Kehe: I’m VERY interested in how Sorkin and these actors are responding creatively to the cancellation.
Crucchiola: “No reporter has ever been charged by the espionage act” says the naive FBI agent.
Kehe: I like her gusto.
Crucchiola: Me too!
[Maggie Jordan on a train]
Kehe: Ah, Maggie Jordan: HEART AND SOUL of The Newsroom.
Crucchiola: Can we just take a moment to celebrate the return of blond Maggie Jordan?
Her self-hate phase was necessary but also done.
Kehe: It’s like Seasib 2 never happened, which for Maggie is a good thing.
She’s approaching a stranger.
It’s like Hitchcock.
is she going to ask this stranger to kill for her?!
Crucchiola: She’s about to eavesdrop on a secret convo.
Kehe: Ah, still Hitchcockian.
[Sloan and Don at brunch.]
Kehe: SLOAN AND DON
Kehe: Lots of quick cuts this ep.
Crucchiola: Yeah they are cramming it in.
Kehe: So look for: mirrorings, doublings, repetitions, redundancies, etc.
How do these scenes talk to each other, Jordan?
Crucchiola: Do we need to take stock of where we are?
Pause for reflection?
Kehe: PAUSE. What’s our first talking point?
Crucchiola: The jump cuts. All of them. What’s happening? Is this an attempt to shove in as much character time as they can in six episodes?
Kehe: six :*(
But yes, seems like, though it’s always been fast-paced.
Crucchiola: It’s a crazy time.
Kehe: Also, I love Sloan Sabbith—I mean, Sloan Sabbith for President 2016, amirite?
Crucchiola: I’m making buttons.
Kehe: BUT I feel like she never mastered Sorkinese.
I hold my breath every time she has to pronounce lots of words quickly, which is always.
Crucchiola: But she manages it in a way that Kat Dennings doesn’t seem to.
Kehe: She’s made it work for HER, yes.
Crucchiola: How are we feeling about Women In This Show?
But I’m a white male.
So my opinion is invalid.
Kehe: What’s your take?
Crucchiola: My thought has always been that basically everyone in this show is insufferable in their own way.
Men, women, mainstays, bit players.
Kehe: And I actually find the women slightly LESS insufferable
and there are more memorable female characters.
Crucchiola: Me too actually!
Crucchiola: And the women are in charge at almost every turn
Kehe: Which men do we like?
Crucchiola: Don. Love Don.
Crucchiola: Neal I don’t know that I love, but I enjoy.
He’s like the tipping point of idealism, and this WHOLE SHOW is idealistic.
Kehe: Meryl Streep’s daughter is also in this season.
I wonder what her arc will be.
Crucchiola: I’m so glad she’s there
But will she be more than a device for Jim? That is the question.
Kehe: So: we’re just meant to assume she got a job at ACN, right I’m neutral on Jim
Crucchiola: That’s more fair than my position.
Kehe: He’s emotionally squirrelly.
Kehe: Also, Sorkin loves his alliterative names.
Crucchiola: Oh, WOW.
Kehe: MacKenzie McHale is, like, DOUBLY alliterative.
It’s kiiinda outrageous.
Anyway, how’s the plot?
Crucchiola: It’s fitting that the final run is about a network on the brink of failure.
Crucchiola: But this feels like “We will burn this down if you take it from us.”
Which is a twist.
Kehe: I almost think—ALMOST, but not really—that Neal’s treason will bring down the network for good.
A second Genoa.
Crucchiola: Yeah I think even money could go on ACN shuttering for good.
Kehe: Do we want that?!
Better question: Would Dan Rather survive that finale?!
Crucchiola: I mean I WANT Netflix to say “we’ll take it” and they get two more seasons.
Dan Rather will not be capable of commenting.
It’s like watching his career die all over again.
Should we get back into the mix with this buffet scene?
Kehe: Yes, Sloan needs her waffles
I need waffles.
Crucchiola: Don is accidentally insider trading!!
[Don confesses he’s trading based on Sloan’s economic analyses—hours before she’s aired that advice on TV.]
Kehe: “Congratulations, we’re white-collar criminals.”
Don: “Should we talk to Rebecca?”
Well yes, always.
More Marcia Gay.
Crucchiola: Sloan’s dead eyes face is THE BEST.
[Back at ACN with Jim and his girlfriend/Meryl Streep’s daughter.]
Kehe: OK, Meryl Streep’s daughter.
Whom I call Gunther, for reasons which are no longer apparent.
Crucchiola: Yes, Gunther … who works here now?
Kehe: But wait, it makes no sense, she’s a DIGITAL NATIVE, why’s she at a network? But I guess she does work…for Neal?
Anyway, she says she posted a tweet from the ACN account in the middle of the night.
Crucchiola: That said “Boston Marathon: Republicans rejoice that there is finally a national tragedy that doesn’t involve guns.”
Kehe: It’s…really stupid.
Crucchiola: Gunther would NEVER do that.
Crucchiola: Like, unless she thought it was her own personal account and she didn’t log out.
Come on, Sorkin.
Kehe: I mean, it’s so bad it HAS to be some kind of self-sabotage…right?
[Back in the boardroom]
Crucchiola: Randy the Evil Twin is SO irrelevant.
Kehe: But I really don’t mind Kat Dennings, she drops a good f-bomb.
Crucchiola: Now he’s just absent-mindedly eating.
While his sister kicks ass.
“Reese, I gotta tell you something: Dad thought you were an asshole.”
Kehe: Reese is riled up.
He just shattered a cup.
Charlie steps in
“It’s me now,” he says to Kat.
[Annnd Becca still grilling Neal]
Crucchiola: Neal is still indignant.
Why is he so mad at people trying to protect him?!
Go start a leftist blog Neal.
Kehe: He just called his boss a “pussy.”
I can’t even type that word without cringing.
Crucchiola: Ick, yeah.
I can feel your cringe,
Ten days in jail: “That’s one day for every 3.5 people we killed.”
Kehe: Will is impressed with that calculation. Like, is division really that complicated?
Will can’t carry a decimal?
Crucchiola: That doesn’t surprise me.
Numbers are too tangible.
And aren’t about arguments.
Kehe: Also, how does Neal have such an astounding network of sources?
Who would trust THE SOCIAL MEDIA GUY with 27,000 secret documents?!
[Back on the train with Maggie.]
Crucchiola: Maggie with massive eyes listening to a guy self-sabotage on a train is so amazing. Deputy Assistant Administrator of the EPA done MESSED UP.
Kehe: now she’s confronting him.
We always root for her.
“You’re on a train, Richard, you don’t have a reasonable expectation of privacy.”
Flashbacks to media law my senior year of college.
Crucchiola: Preach Maggie.
Kehe: Is the EPA really staffed by 7 people and a high school intern?!
No, as I typed that I realized it was sarcasm.
Crucchiola: Sorkin’s commentary on the government!
Maggie to the EPA guy: “The unguarded moments are where the truth is.”
Season 3: Unguarded Moments
Kehe: This guy is so…Peter Pettigrew
Crucchiola: Maggie, is she backing down???
Kehe: She’s backing down.
Crucchiola: Reverse psychology?!
Kehe: Is my guess.
[Back at brunch.]
Crucchiola: Don’s triple waffle stack!
AKA, Sloan’s triple waffle stack.
Kehe: Oh jeez now they’re having the Couple Conversation.
Crucchiola: It’s only OK because it’s them.
And their banter.
Kehe: “We’re a couple! Totally!”
Crucchiola: Is outstanding.
Kehe: Sloan just said “hither and yon.”
Quiet down, Sorkin.
[Jim starts explaining the enduring plight of Bill Buckner to Hallie (Grace Gummer), before realizing it’s a metaphor.]
Crucchiola: Jim. Never talk again.
Gunther: “Jim what in the name of sweet Christ are you talking about?!”
Kehe: Their relationship is suddenly extremely combative
like,can Maggie-Jim still happen?
Kehe: Do we WANT it to??!
Kehe: I think I do.
Crucchiola: Maggie is BEYOND Jim.
[Return to boardroom with Reese, Charlie, Evil Twins]
Crucchiola: Suddenly seeing Kat Dennings thrills me.
Kehe: Kat Dennings vs. Charlie Skinner.
Charlie: “I win almost every one of those battles. What network president can say that about their corporate parent?” (More meta?)
Crucchiola: Charlie, as he always has been, is the conscience of the show.
“They just want us to play our role … as a moral imperative!”
“They do not require ACN to make money because they can afford it”
ACN = The Newsroom
Crucchiola: Also, the twins are TOTALLY the critics.
Kehe: They represent the two KINDS of negative critics.
Crucchiola: You’re right! The apathetic! And the cynical!
[Inside Charlie's office.]
Kehe: Jim has told Charlie about Gunther’s terrible tweet.
response: “JESUS CHRIST!”
Excuse: she’s tired.
Charlie: “THAT’S JUST LAME!”
Crucchiola: Oh look Jason, Jim comes to the defense of his girlfriend.
Kehe: Man saves woman.
Crucchiola: You don’t matter, Jim, stop talking.
Kehe: Gunther might single-handedly be arguing in favor of SORKIN IS SEXIST this season.
Crucchiola: Gunther is coming in to take responsibility.
TIME TO LEAVE JIM.
Kehe: Charlie to…skin Gunther.
Ew. Sorry, gross.
Kehe: Her motivation was…retweets?!
Crucchiola: She IS a digital native!
Kehe: This is an EMBARRASSMENT.
Sorkin, are you even ON Twitter?!
Crucchiola: She wasn’t ready for a serious newsroom.
Kehe: Yep, fired
[Return to train with Maggie Jordan]
Kehe: also, who’s this other stranger on the train?
He looks familiar,
Crucchiola: Yeah, Homeland.
He’s around and a very reliable working actor.
Kehe: So does Maggie end up with him?
Sorry, I should say, will this GUY (Jimmi Simpson) end up with Maggie?
Crucchiola: Fordham, that’s NYC right?
He could be geographically convenient!
Kehe: He’s a—wait for it—ETHICS PROFESSOR. No. Effing. WAY.
Crucchiola: “I’m not taking what I overheard to my senior producer.”
Because she’s not JERRY DANTANA.
Kehe: But EPA guy was so impressed with Maggie that he wants to give her a story?!
So … it WAS reverse psychology?
Crucchiola: I think the power of goodness just won.
Kehe: This “ethics” professor is getting a crash course in RIGHT AND WRONG.
Crucchiola: “They know the difference between right and wrong. Do what’s right.”
Oh my God SORKIN IS WITH US.
The monolog acknowledgment!
BEST SHOW ON TV!
[Don and Sloan leaving brunch]
Kehe: Ew, Don just called Sloan “money honey”?
Crucchiola: Couple fight.
[Strangers on a train]
Crucchiola: EPA guy is back.
He’s giving her documents!
Kehe: He’s giving her an EMBARGOED REPORT.
Crucchiola: GIVING THEM TO HER.
Kehe: Because she’s…good?!
Crucchiola: Along with an “exclusive interview.”
Kehe: So what’s our ethics lesson?
Crucchiola: Oh, good triumphs.
Kehe: Rich and nuanced message, which is of course Sorky’s MO.
Crucchiola: If we appeal enough to people’s good natures, your SHOW MIGHT GET RENEWED.
Kehe: Maggie gave ethics professor her card.
Crucchiola: Ethics prof putting the move on Maggie.
[Sorkinese back in the newsroom: Becca, Will, Neal, et al.]
Kehe: People keep saying “covert ops.”
Crucchiola: I really appreciate Will’s patriotic conservatism.
Kehe: Yeah, Neal, YOU ARE EXCUSED.
Crucchiola: So we know that sometimes secrecy is NECESSARY
Kehe: When Becca says “leave behind the drive” and draws out “leeeeave,” I swoon.
Kehe: Jim + Gunther at bar
She comes out to the Internet as ACN’s terrible tweeter.
Crucchiola: It was terrible.
On like every available level.
Kehe: She’s so broken down.
Where’s the wisecracking no-nonsense woman from Season 2?
Crucchiola: I love that Jim did all he could for her and she still failed.
Story of Jim.
Kehe: Gawker got the story = she’s doomed/
[Don and Sloan confrontation]
Kehe: Don was testing Sloan—his parents aren’t actually here.
“THEN HOW ABOUT THE SEX?!” Sloan screams in the lobby.
Crucchiola: OK. I know the future of this show. Don and Sloan spinoff!
Kehe: With all the rest of the characters, too.
We’ll call it the NEWsroom.
Crucchiola: Has this been pitched?!?
Kehe: It is now.
Crucchiola: Let’s get on Twitter and DO IT.
Crucchiola: Don and Sloan have good sex.
We know this.
Kehe: Quick: Is she stoned?!
Crucchiola: If not, she will be right after this meeting.
Kehe: Leona: “We no longer have a word in the English language that means literally.”
Crucchiola: “I’m literally going to set fire to this building with you in it before I hand over the keys to it.”
Kehe: Leona is offering more money to the twins so she can keep the company.
They agree. Because they’re gross and only care about money.
Leona’s parting words: “Oh get the fuck out of my boardroom kids.”
Kehe: More parting words: “People get the face they deserve.”
Leona has the face she deserves.
Crucchiola: Jane Fonda is gorgeous.
Kehe: She promised them $4 billion.
She doesn’t have it.
Crucchiola: Cue anecdotal explanation.
Kehe: Leona on fundraising back in the day: “Sold my clothes, dealt a little weed.”
“I’m just kidding – I didn’t sell my clothes”
[Cut to the all glass war room]
Crucchiola: It’s an all-hands meeting about Sampat.
Jim go home. This is for adults.
Kehe: Neal and Will are staring at each other
Crucchiola: Will is about to fight for the side of truth.
Kehe: What do they know?
Now they’re stepping out.
Crucchiola: Becca is the only rational person: “Too many people already know that a more serious crime has been committed.”
Charlie wants to pursue the story.
Kehe: Nobody but Becca notices Will and Neal just left.
Jenna the intern is one of my favorite characters.
Kehe: She’s come so far since “sentence or less.”
Crucchiola: Heart to heart with Will and Neal!
Kehe: Will knows Neal already called BCD! [When he went to the “bathroom” earlier.]
Crucchiola: The PR firm knows!
Kehe: Neal to Will: “You called me Punjab”
Crucchiola: Oh Will. Your history of casual racism is so charming!
Kehe: It’s like Sorkin is atoning for past sins.
Crucchiola: Will is insisting on knowing the source’s name!
He’s implicating himself to protect Neal!
And tell him to get a go bag ready!
Kehe: TAKE MAC’S GO BAG.
It comes with heels.
Crucchiola: This might be the greatest swan song in all of TV.
[Back to the OTP]
Kehe: Sloan tells Will she and Don are a couple
Crucchiola: “I’m in love with you. I love you Don.”
Kehe: He’s not saying anything back.
“YOU HAVE BEEN TESTED AND YOU FAILED.”
God they’re the best.
Kehe: I can’t transcribe these quotes at the speed they’re spoken.
Kehe: Charlie is asking Becca for $4 billion.
Crucchiola: And I love the idea that she has it.
Crucchiola: That she could just be like, “Fine.”
Kehe: She barely registers the question.
Crucchiola: The FBI is here!
Kehe: That was fast.
Specifically, blonde FBI agent is back.
She’s on the case.
Crucchiola: She’s pretending not to have talked to Mac!
This is… worse than anyone thought.
Will to the FBI agent looking for Neal: “I’m Spartacus, sir.”
Kehe: Mac: “Raiding a newsroom is damn near unprecedented.”
My prediction: They’re going to live broadcast the raid.
In tandem with the classified story.
Crucchiola: FBI agent is explaining that Neal taught an enemy of the state how to use the Internet most effectively (note: still not totally sure it was an enemy of the state…).
Good one, Neal.
Kehe: According to the FBI, this source is a “bad guy.”
Will admits he knows the name of the source, too.
So: He’s already made a judgment and trusts Neal/the source?
Crucchiola: Maggie is wearing an ACN hat?
Crucchiola: Why the hell is she wearing that hat?
Kehe: I work here!
Crucchiola: Yeah it’s not incognito.
Kehe: DRAMATIC OMINOUS MUSIC
Crucchiola: The agents are seizing the hard drives!
Kehe: This show is becoming…a thriller!
Wow, major tonal shift.
Maggie is still wearing her hat.
Crucchiola: Neal took the sensitive information with him!
Kehe: To a safe house?
Crucchiola: Fortunately, Neal did not run out wearing his ACN hat.
Crucchiola: Man, I hope he has cash somewhere.
Kehe: “NEAL RUN”—Will’s secret message to Neal.
Crucchiola: Will gave him the sign to leave!
Kehe: HIGH DRAMA: Will presides over his newsroom as it’s being raided. Look what’s become of his sanctuary.
Crucchiola: I love this show.
Kehe: It’s an incredible show.
Crucchiola: And SCENE. So here’s my big takeaway:
This episode/season is 60 percent about metaphorically acknowledging the end.
Kehe: Closer to 100, but go on.
Crucchiola: And the rest is about an actual story.
Like, the story is incidental.
Kehe: It’s the story of the end.
Crucchiola: It’s the coda.
Kehe: But also a beginning?
“The first act”?
Crucchiola: This is the I Am John Galt chapter of Atlas Shrugged.
Crucchiola: End? Beginning? It’s all in the snowglobe?
Kehe: And probably how Dan Rather felt in the end.
Crucchiola: The point is, Doing The Right Thing doesn’t have seasonal boundaries.
Kehe: RIGHT VS WRONG.
Crucchiola: And I think the other big thing here is the twins are definitely the IRL naysayers.
Will Leona light them on fire?
Is this Sorkin lighting his critics on fire?
Crucchiola: Is Sorkin planning to burn HBO to the ground?!
Or just the show?
Kehe: I don’t know.
But I’d go down with it.