Concluding a season focusing on the continuing saga of the Genoa story and the ensuing lawsuit from reporter Jerry Dantana, there has been a lot of criticism of the season finale of HBO’s “The Newsroom.” Much of the dismay seems to focus on the call backs to the first season, the celebratory climax of the season in the face of total disaster and the series-finale tone the episode had.
I’m the contrarian on this one. I’ll readily admit to being an unabashed Aaron Sorkin homer. I’m a sucker for his writing and his stories, even if as an avid fan I know when, where and how often he’s cribbing himself. After all good writers borrow, great writers steal outright, apparently sometimes from themselves.
I honestly didn’t have many problems with the finale. It definitely had the feel of a series finale with much more parallels to the ” ” and “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip” finales than any of “The West Wing” season-enders. While Jeff Daniels and Thomas Sadoski seem to think there will be a third season, Sorkin didn’t seem to want to take any chances and concluded this year on a resolutely note.
The criticism that the season finale had too much to do with relationships and plot lines from season one rings hollow with me. If anything, I’d listen to criticism that Sorkin left too many threads unopened from the first season for far too long. If anyone knows what happened to the hundreds of death threats Will McAvoy received, his bodyguard Lonny Church and therapist Dr. Jack Habib, let me know. If anyone needed a bodyguard and a therapist, it was the News Night team in the wake of Africa and Genoa.
If anything the engagement of Will and MacKenzie, the connection of Don and Sloan and the patching up between Maggie and Jim weren’t out of nowhere, they were where the entire season aimed all along. The scene from the season opener with Will sitting on the floor outside the conference room while MacKenzie met with Rebecca and the legal team took place just a couple of days before election night. While the flashback storytelling of the season could make it difficult to piece together, it was clearly a journey building to the point where Will was finally going to forgive MacKenzie and be ready to move on together.
Putting Don and Sloan together has also been a multi season arc. While the fiction names on the bidding sheet were the giveaway clue that Don was the bidder of Sloan’s book for super storm Sandy relief fundraising, I was lucky enough to presume it was Don from the beginning. Watching Olivia Munn and Sadoski this season has been a treat. The pair have great chemistry. If Will and Mac are Casey and Dana, then Don and Sloan are Josh and Donna.
Nothing about Munn’s earlier work stands out to me, except for her brief turn as a correspondent on “The Daily Show” which was downright painful to watch. But Munn has blossomed on “The Newsroom.” Along with Sadoski, these two are my favorite breakout stars of the show, and I’m ready to see them both in anything they do next. If Sloan Sabbith were really I’d watch her show, and Don Keefer is what a newsman should be. He’s the next generation’s Charlie Skinner.
The call backs to the pilot and the first season where nice touches. Charlie’s change of heart to refuse to resign just before Reece Lansing decided not to accept his resignation was in keeping with the relationship between Charlie and Reese.
As for the closing montage, if people want to bash last season’s Coldplay “Fix You,” montage, fire way. But Eddie Vedder covering Pete Townshend’s “Let My Love Open the Door?” It that’s wrong, then I don’t want it right.
If people want to criticize “The Newsroom” for being too optimistic, it’s fair. It’s beyond belief a company such as AWM would stand by their employees and take on a fight. If season three does come to fruition, Sorkin needs to deal with the fact that it will not be easy. In reality, the Dantana lawsuit would play out in the tabloids and the ratings free fall precipitated by Genoa will hit AWM’s value and create financial headaches. Election night was a time to celebrate, but the next season will be a war.