TV Review: The Newsroom 2.4 – “Unintended Consequences”

Rating: At the outset, let me apologize for not getting a review up for last week’s episode. I didn’t get...

Chris Swanson

Contributor

the newsroom dev patel

Rating: ★★★☆☆

At the outset, let me apologize for not getting a review up for last week’s episode. I didn’t get to see it until well after it aired, and then I didn’t get the chance to sit down and work up a review until this week. So I skipped out on it. I’ll try not to let that happen again.

As for this week’s story, well, for the six or seven of you who have been waiting on tenterhooks to find out exactly why Maggie’s (Alison Pill) hair looked so different four episodes ago, well, now you finally have your answer. For the rest of us, who were looking for a truly great episode, we didn’t get what we wanted, but what we did get, well…it was acceptable.

Let’s start with Maggie’s story. Turns out that her Africa trip did not, shock and surprise, go terribly well. She arrived in Uganda, spent some time at an orphanage, and befriended a young boy who liked having the book Lyle, Lyle Crocodile read off to him. Since we know something unpleasant happened while she was in Uganda, it doesn’t take much of a stretch to guess how this story ends.

I had only a few problems with this story, and first is the on-going trope of “Africa: what a craphole!” To be fair, in my personal life and on my blog, I fall into that trope fairly often, and it isn’t realistic to expect them to do an episode where someone goes to Africa and all is well. I’d say that’s something that even a hundred men or more could never do. But it would have been nice to have seen at least something of the “better” Africa. I did also cringe a bit at the “blonde is trouble” line, which was about as telegraphed as “What hath God wrought?”

I also did have one other slightly larger problem, though, and that’s the fact that I don’t know enough about Maggie to care about her or her personal problems. It’s been fourteen episodes since I first met her and I know very little about her beyond the fact that she’s recently gotten out of a relationship, failed to get into another relationship, wants to succeed in the big time and recently had a traumatizing experience in Africa. Oh, and she melts down at the slightest provocation, but to be fair, that last part covers basically every single woman in the series.

Back in the States, we saw Neal (Dev Patel) continuing to be interested in the Occupy Wall Street movement. He got one of their members to appear on Will McAvoy’s (Jeff Daniels) show, where he promptly showed her just how unprepared for prime time she really was. The problem here is that she knows a guy who might have information about the USA using chemical weapons in Pakistan, and following that interview, she has no interest in coming forth with the information.

Two things bugged me about this. First off, she was unprepared for the interview and kind of got what she deserved. Yes, Will was a bit of a smug ass, and, yes, she wasn’t technically the spokesperson for the movement. But the moment she sat in that chair, she became the face of OWS for the people who were watching, and it was her own fault she couldn’t keep up.

Second, the subsequent storyline of her demanding an apology and the production team half-assing that from thereon was very cringeworthy. What they should have done was simply refused an on-air apology, let Will make a personal one if he wanted, and then tracked down the informant who they already knew hung out in a certain park and should in theory be easy to find. Which they did. So I’m not really sure of the point of all of this, unless it was to give Aaron Sorkin a chance to brush up on his credentials as a moderate.

As for that other storyline…the one with romance on the Romney trail…the less said the better. Again, I don’t care about the romantic stuff at all. The story of how incestuous the relationship is between the press and the presidential candidates is FAR more interesting than Jim (John Gallagher, Jr), and his ongoing efforts at courting/not courting a rival reporter. But the romance story is the only thing the show really wants to focus on there, and that’s a major missed chance.

This wasn’t a bad episode, and several parts were good, but I feel it did need a couple more rewrites before it went to air. Despite the flaws, I do have to say that, sadly, this is the best episode of the season so far. I wish that were saying more than it is.