Your faithful correspondents Kehe and Crucchiola (that’s “Kay” and “Crew-shee-ola,” BTW) are back for The Newsroom’s penultimate episode, and it’s a good thing too, because we’re going to need a support group after this one. Creator/philosophical overlord/chief ideologue Aaron Sorkin took his Newsies (Newsroom superfans) on a dark and twisted journey this week, and we openly wept for a variety of reasons. But thankfully, in our darkest and waning hours, Sloan Sabbith (Olivia Munn) is here to light the way to our eternity. There’s only one episode left before ACN’s lights go out for good, so let’s treasure these last moments together.
Jason Kehe: OK, since we’re integrating pre-show promos into our recaps now, “Just fake it. Do you see this smile? I’m dead inside,” is already one of the best line readings of the year-to-be.
Jordan Crucchiola: That show [Togetherness] is going to have a LOT to live up to after that one line.
Kehe: Dev Patel’s name is still in the credits. Is Neal Sampat still in this episode/series?
Crucchiola: Only in theory.
Jason, this is the second-to-last time.
I’m realizing I’m in complete denial.
Kehe: The coffee that spills in the credits? It’s now half empty, like my pessimistic heart.
Crucchiola: Episode 5: “Oh Shenandoah.”
Kehe: “Written by Aaron Sorkin”
Sometimes it’s “Teleplay by…”
Nvm, who cares. Point is, Aaron solo wrote this one.
Crucchiola: He’s going out solo.
Will (Jeff Daniels) is being remanded to his cell.
Kehe: By a very kind prison guard who will bring him … toothpaste and a brush?
Crucchiola: Do people bring their own toiletries to prison?
Is that allowed?
Kehe: That was my next question.
Uh…52 days later?!
Kehe: Well OK!
Now Will has a cellmate.
Crucchiola: And it’s Devil from Justified (Kevin Rankin).
Kehe: Will is annoyed.
Crucchiola: I’m annoyed.
“Those are some of the people I work with. We work close together,” Will says about a photo of his coworkers!
Kehe: [those were typed simultaneously]
Devil is a wife-beater.
He’s complaining that the jury, judge, and prosecutor were all women.
Crucchiola: His third offense.
Kehe: Maybe our justice system should just be run by women.
Crucchiola: I’m not arguing.
Will to Devil: “I’m not your wife. … Raise your hands above your hips and I’ll knock you the fuck into next week.”
Oh YES, WILL!
Kehe: And somehow, from that, the cellmate picked up on the fact that Will’s dad was a drunk? Because righteous threats are a sure sign of a drunk parent.
[Inside Charlie’s office.]
Crucchiola: Cut to Charlie’s (Sam Waterston) office.
Kehe: He’s showing Mac (Emily Mortimer) and Don (Thomas Sadoski) the new ACN promo.
Crucchiola: Don and Mac are watching.
Kehe: Mac: “It’s exactly as offensive as I thought it would be.”
Don: “It looks like urine.”
Emily Mortimer chuckles—which is so satisfying. A moment that doesn’t feel scripted, for once.
Crucchiola: It promotes #uracn [webspeak for “You Are ACN”].
Kehe: I don’t REALLY see “urine.”
Crucchiola: Me neither.
Charlie is so visibly deflated.
Mac is MacShouting!
“TWOOO minutes away from BANKruptcy!”
Her cadence is essential.
I hate seeing Mac lecture Charlie.
Kehe: Charlie’s spirit is dead.
Can it be revived with spirits?
Crucchiola: Charlie: “Can you do me a favor and not worry that the world’s most benign promo is not a threat to democracy?”
I’m worried Charlie isn’t drinking enough.
Kehe: He’s too depressed to drink: the saddest form.
Crucchiola: OK. Now they’re talking about a campus rape story. Pruit (B.J. Novak) wants Don to get the victim AND her attacker in the studio for an interviewer at the same time.
Kehe: Yes, Pruit, and now Charlie, by extension.
Crucchiola: Charlie just threatened to fire Don if he doesn’t try to make the interview happen.
I feel sick.
Kehe: Charlie’s delivery and demands are almost sinister. This is not our Charlie.
[In the newsroom.]
Kehe: Back in the newsroom, Gary (Chris Chalk) is telling Mac that a woman shot herself on the steps of the Department of Justice.
Mac: “What was her name?”
Crucchiola: LILLY HART
Kehe: Which we somehow instinctually know is…
Crucchiola: The Source!
Kehe: Has to be: MAC’S FACE
Crucchiola: She runs to Becca (Marcia Gay Harden).
Kehe: Whom she hires on the spot on a $20 retainer.
Kehe: So she has attorney-client privilege.
Crucchiola: That would buy like six Becca minutes!
Kehe: Which is all this will take.
Crucchiola: She has $4 billion, after all.
Kehe: Actually, we can do that calculation, since didn’t she say last season her rate is $300/hour? [Fact-checking note: She makes $1,500/hour.]
Am I making that up?
Crucchiola: Becca: “You know what? Your husband is getting out of jail. Today.”
She’s so amazing.
[Meanwhile, in Don’s office.]
Kehe: Cut to Sloan and Don, squabbling.
Kehe: About ACN’s new “creepy stalker app.”
Crucchiola: It gives people access to real-time updates about celeb whereabouts.
Kehe: There’s a new temp staffer, Bree (Bree?!), whose app it is.
Crucchiola: Yeah. Bree??
Kehe: I love a gender-bending name, but—no.
Don and Sloan confront Bree—who’s apparently Neal’s replacement.
Crucchiola: Sloan admits “I wanna badly be insulting” after Don says “We don’t want to be insulting.”
Kehe: App is called…”ACNgage”?
Crucchiola: Sounds phenomenally similar (in concept, not name) to the now-defunct creeper map Gawker Stalker from 2006.
OK whoever this Bree guy is is terrible, but whoever is playing him (Jon Bass) is doing it just right.
Kehe: They cast a slimy annoying guy as the digital editor. Because the Internet is those things in the Sorkinverse.
Crucchiola: “That app is driving a lot of traffic.”
Pruit is Bree’s direct boss.
Kehe: Nobody has a direct line to Pruit except this slimeball.
Crucchiola: He tells them if they want the app down, they can take it up with Pruit, who loves it.
Why is Sloan about-facing?!
Kehe: Clearly it’s a ploy.
Crucchiola: Sloan to Bree: “Come on the show and tell people about your app.”
Kehe: He’s buying it.
Because she’s Sloan.
Future leader of humankind.
(Though I’m having trouble hearing all her words this episode.)
Crucchiola: Haaaaaa Sloan tells gross Bree he can do better than ERIN ANDREWS!
Kehe: He eats it up.
Crucchiola: She’s going to eat him up.
And mulch her garden with his bones.
Now Don is explaining the rape interview ultimatum to Sloan.
She says don’t, obviously, because it’s disgusting.
[In an airport with Maggie and Jim.]
Crucchiola: They’re on the Edward Snowden beat!
Kehe: Maggie speaks a bit of Russian!
Kehe: Jim makes a Star Wars/Star Trek reference. Next time, don’t.
Crucchiola: Maggie to woman at the desk: “Margaret Jordan and James…Humdrum.”
Kehe: They don’t have a reservation. (Is that intern Jenna’s fault?)
Jim demands the woman check again.
Crucchiola: Jim is being patronizing.
The airport is stacked with journalists waiting for Snowden.
Kehe: And Jim is now trying to buy tickets from them.
Crucchiola: See the thing is, Jim and Maggie are trying to get on Snowden’s plane to Havana with him. And since this is history we know that Snowden never made it to Havana.
So, Jim and Maggie will eventually be left holding the bag.
Kehe: And each other. They’ll be left holding each other, Jordan. MARK MY WORDS.
Crucchiola: PLEASE don’t be right.
If it happens, though, you called it like 5 episodes ago.
Which I applaud.
Kehe: I did, and we’re close now.
[Back at Will’s prison.]
Crucchiola: We’re in prison with Azog (Brian Howe), Becca, and Will.
(Azog got a haircut.)
Kehe: Azog: Did his heart grow three times this day? He seems … somehow kinder. Or at least less hostile.
Crucchiola: He got a makeover.
He’s feeling empowered.
Kehe: Azog: “Will you confirm Lilly Hart was your source?”
Crucchiola: “No, sir.”
Crucchiola: Azog says Will can be home by dinner if he admits Lilly was the source!
And Neal comes home from Venezuela.
“We’ll give him an ice cream cone.”
Will: “Neal would pummel me if I got him back by giving up the name of the source. Did you think I would take a deal like this?!”
Will also just established he can kick a grown man’s ass in prison.
Kehe: Becca knew Will would “No, sir” Azog.
She even went so far as to write it down in an envelope.
Kehe: So … why did she promise Mac he’d get out of jail today if she knew he’d “no sir”?
Crucchiola: I think she was counting on the DoJ breaking down.
Or … she’s long-gaming.
Of course she is. She’s Becca.
Kehe: They’ll have to—the source killed herself. Who’s Will protecting?
… Journalistic integrity?
In all forms.
Lilly didn’t give him permission to disclose his name!
Kehe: Her name?
Crucchiola: We also don’t know if Will even does know the source!
Kehe: Yeah, that was never CLEARLY established, but I think we’re supposed to believe it by now.
[Back at ACN.]
Crucchiola: But in real time, Sloan is asking for five minutes to interview Bree.
Kehe: Mac and Charlie are arguing.
I don’t like this.
I don’t even want to recap it.
Crucchiola: It’s so sad.
Charlie hates himself.
His big eyebrows aren’t animated at all.
That’s the meter of his liveliness.
Kehe: He’s Pruit’s lapdog.
What about being sworn enemies?!
Crucchiola: He’s given up.
DON’T GIVE UP CHARLIE!
NEVER LET GO!
Charlie says Pruit loves that Sloan is going to interview Bree. So he wants in on the broadcast. Oh man, Pruit doesn’t even KNOW.
[Don on a college campus.]
Kehe: Now Don is … meeting with the rape victim?
Crucchiola: Who is Catherine from Veep (Sarah Sutherland).
“Don. I was raped.”
Kehe: Catherine, who once had giardia. [Trusty editor Angela: What if Jordan and I returned to recap Veep? Think about it.]
This is STRAIGHT out of the headlines!
Kehe: Which is … kinda startling.
Crucchiola: Like, so weirdly on point with the Rolling Stone UVA story happening right now.
Kehe: Aaron Sorkin manages to be both infuriating and prescient.
Crucchiola: “It’s not a kind of rape.”
Kehe: “It’s not a KIND of rape.” Yes, let’s isolate that line.
Crucchiola: You are correct, young lady.
Kehe: Don is being very careful.
But in doing so comes off as … what’s the word?
Crucchiola: With that steely Dan unreadable stare.
He comes off as a bit smug.
It’s not the BEST posture to adopt with a woman who says she was just raped by multiple men.
But he is at once making her very comfortable.
Which I appreciate.
And now he’s telling her they want her in the studio with her attacker.
Don: “I’m here to beg you not to do it.”
Kehe: He was visibly nervous to be in a room alone with her because … she could cry rape?!
Crucchiola: Yeah she totally put him on blast.
He righted the ship, though.
[Back in Russia.]
Crucchiola: Maggie is lecturing Jim on Hallie—AGAIN.
Kehe: C’mon, girl. You don’t have to sublimate your desires into this desperate posturing.
Crucchiola: Apparently Tess at work says Jim and Maggie are each other’s “destiny.”
Why is this happening Jason?
WHY do they need to be destined?
Do you want this romance, as someone with a more level head about it?
Kehe: MEANINGFUL PAUSES/GLANCES/MUSIC
Love is IN THE AIR.
I do want this romance.
I have to say it.
Is Maggie better than Jim? Yes. But she loves him, and he needs her.
Crucchiola: Jim closed his phone while looking at Hallie’s contact info!
Kehe: Because Maggie’s on the mind.
[Back on the college campus.]
Crucchiola: We are back in the dorm with Don and Mary (the rape survivor).
“There’s not gonna be a trial. There’s not gonna be an arrest. And there’s not gonna be an investigation.”
Kehe: I reallllly don’t think the world needed Aaron Sorkin’s Sorkinization of the campus rape issue.
Crucchiola: It’s interesting that he incorporated this.
I do wonder why this was a thread he brought in in the penultimate episode.
Kehe: She’s explaining that her website is NOT revenge, it’s a warning.
(Her website, BTW, is a place where rape survivors can discuss their experiences/name attackers.)
Crucchiola: The fact that it’s a huge IRL headline right now is nuts.
Kehe: Don thinks women could use it to ruin men’s lives.
Crucchiola: He agrees with Mary, but is playing devil’s advocate.
Kehe: It’s an uncomfortable stance.
Crucchiola: Mary: “What am I wrong about?”
Don can’t answer.
Crucchiola: We’ve rejoined Will. With his super-annoying cellmate.
I’m starting to think Azog hired this guy to irritate Will into giving up the name.
So he can LEAVE.
It’s like talk torture.
Kehe: A debate about working class vs. elite media.
Crucchiola: And the finer points of anti-Semitism.
[Moscow airport with Maggie and Jim.]
Kehe: Back at the airport, Maggie and Jordan spot a couple on their honeymoon.
Crucchiola: Maggie and Jordan.
In my dreams.
Kehe: Ha! Maggie and JIM.
Point is, this is classic doubling/foreshadowing.
Crucchiola: They’re trying to scalp tickets from these honeymooners.
Kehe: Because the honeymooners symbolize their own destiny.
Crucchiola: Jim is even patronizing to people he’s trying to bargain with!
At least they’re hustling him for his watch and cash.
Maggie: “They took my News Night baseball cap.”
Was that the point all along?!
Crucchiola: It was a long-game joke!
Jim is in full Sochi 2014 PJs: “I look like I just really, REALLY like the Olympics.”
Kehe: Two episodes of wearing that ridiculous hat so a Russian couple would end up with it?!
I love it.
[Back in the college dorm.]
Crucchiola: Don with Mary again.
Says he’s “obligated” to believe her alleged rapist, even if he believes Mary. Because he’s morally obligated.
Don: “It is a huge, dangerous, scary as shit mistake to convene your own trial in front of a television audience.”
Which is SO true.
“The law can acquit. The Internet never will. The Internet is used for vigilantism every day.”
Kehe: But is it true that he’s “morally obligated” to believe the guys’ denial?
Crucchiola: Mary on advice she’s given for how to avoid sexual assault: “I’m supposed to protect myself from a man, by pretending I’m the property of another man.”
I mean, that is REAL. And it’s true that is actual advice.
Kehe: Mary: “I’m scared of getting raped. I’m scared all the time.”
Crucchiola: “You know what my site does? It scares YOU.”
Don doesn’t want Mary to be slut-shamed and publicly attacked by going on the news.
“It’s sports, Mary. It’ll be covered like sports.”
Don is leaving Mary now.
I mean, I don’t know why Sork brought that into the loop.
But considering how important the topic is, I’m honestly glad to have it talked about in any smart media outlet.
Kehe: Yeah, even if the treatment was questionable, people will be talking about it. Bring on the thinkpieces.
[Back in Will’s cell.]
Crucchiola: Will is having ANOTHER conversation with his annoying and weirdly omniscient cellmate.
I feel like this whole prison dialogue is the series catharsis. Main St. vs. Wall St.; Sorkin vs. Detractors. But Sorkin is, like, NOT apologizing at all.
Inmate says Will looks down on people. Will responds: “Down is where some people live.”
Kehe: Shall we pause for a brief catch up?
What’s happening in this cell??
Kehe: I don’t know.
Crucchiola: I feel like I’m looking at Aaron Sorkin in prison khakis talking to Joe the Plumber.
Kehe: Who’s winning the argument?
Because with Sorkin, there’s always a winner.
Crucchiola: Sorkin is winning.
Because he’s dictating the conversation.
Is my best thought.
Kehe: As he did with the rape issue.
Which makes me uncomfortable.
Crucchiola: How so?
Uncomfortable in a productive, barrier-pushing way?
Kehe: Who won THAT debate, the student or Don?
Crucchiola: Oh yeah. It’s weird.
I want to say the student.
But … I can’t say.
I emotionally side with Mary and intellectually sympathize with Don.
Kehe: It didn’t admit much nuance.
Crucchiola: I feel like in the dorm room and in the prison cell we have two opposing forces who are arguing under a common thread but have different definitions of victory.
Kehe: Yeah, I’m struggling to figure out the cross-cutting.
Do these conversations speak to each other in any meaningful way?
Crucchiola: Good question.
And I feel like we are about to have another fight to the death back at ACN with Sloan and Bree.
Kehe: Anyway, back to the show?
Crucchiola: Yes. Let’s see if answers come out of the woodwork.
Will: “He took on a world that was bleak and morally corrupt.”
Inmate: “How’d he do?”
Will: “He got his ass kicked.”
Oh, Aaron. We’re sorry you got your ass kicked.
You too, Dan Rather.
We’re sorry to you both.
[On the plane Snowden never boarded.]
Kehe: Annnnd Snowden never got on the plane.
I’m glad Sorkin didn’t rewrite history and give them Snowden.
Kehe: Who would’ve played him?!
Crucchiola: The back of some average man’s head.
Kehe: AWW. Jim: “I like you, and I don’t really know why you don’t know that.”
Superior UNTIL THE END!
Crucchiola: Till the goddamn END.
Maggie: “If you wanted to be with me, you’d be with me.”
Kehe: We’re being reminded of events that feel so distant.
Her relationship with Don.
Crucchiola: Him with Lisa!
Crucchiola: Poor Lisa.
I miss her.
Jim telling Maggie he likes her is maybe the most right thing he’s done in three seasons.
Kehe: Jim: still in his PJs, because the Russians stripped him of his clothes/dignity/ego.
Kehe: He’s naked.
Emotionally, at least.
Crucchiola: Thank God.
[Random hallway at Will’s prison (presumably).]
Kehe: Becca is chewing out Azog.
Whose heart DID grow!
Kehe: Azog: “I won’t be contesting your motion, I’ll be joining it.”
“He’ll sleep at home tonight.”
Crucchiola: This is because Will is stoic.
But also because Becca is a legal genius.
I’m going to say.
[One Jim and Maggie’s plane.]
Kehe: Maggie to Jim: “Follow me.”
THE MILE HIGH CLUB?!?!
Crucchiola: Maggie says they’re going exactly where he thinks they are.
But I think the audience doesn’t agree.
Crucchiola: Because I definitely thought bathroom sex.
Kehe: Same. Obviously.
Crucchiola: And they’re just … sitting back down together.
Kehe: But there’s turbulence.
Get it?! EMOTIONAL TURBULENCE.
Kehe: Oh. OHHHH.
Crucchiola: Oh that was an awful kiss!
They’re not sexual beings!
Kehe: It … wasn’t great!
Crucchiola: They’re NEWS BEINGS!
Kehe: The way Jim looked at her?!
Crucchiola: It was gross.
Kehe: Kinda … “ohhh you.”
Kehe: But I’ll take it.
[Live on the ACN set.]
Kehe: Sloan is now interviewing the digital editor about the stalker app.
Crucchiola: It’s Bree v. Sloan finally!
Kehe: And by interviewing, I mean grilling, because we knew this was coming.
Crucchiola: Grilling alive.
Kehe: Bree: “ACNgage is citizen journalism.”
Crucchiola: Here it is!
The MAJOR new media takedown!
Kehe: You know, Sorkin isn’t any one person.
Crucchiola: You’re right.
Kehe: He’s ACN/The Newsroom.
Crucchiola: He’s like an ideology in man form.
MAC! “Leave her on as long as she wants.”
This is ripped STRAIGHT from an interview done with [former Gawker editor] Emily Gould and Jimmy Kimmel several years ago.
Like, direct dialogue.
Sloan is reaching PEAK SLOAN!