Maggie (Alison Pill) is caught in a dangerous situation.

Maggie (Alison Pill) is caught in a dangerous situation.


I don’t know if anyone else is feeling similar, but I believe that the shot of the kid with a bullet in his back was a bit much.

You know what other show exploited the emotions of their viewers by inflicting troubling images onto their audiences? Glee with their episode “Shooting Star”—you know, the one that used the recent troubling events of school shootings as a lesson episode that had one of its characters crying silently in the bathroom in terror? Of course audiences were going to react strongly with that! It was on the news too much to begin with and now The Newsroom has gone ahead and done the same thing; by using the child’s death as a motivation for Maggie’s character rather than a tragedy its own right it not only cheapens the subject matter but also manipulates our emotions.

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Maybe I’m not as desensitized as I’d like to believe but the shot of the child did in fact cause me grief—I still feel troubled and not just because of how disgusted I am with Aaron Sorkin for choosing such a narrative to pursue. This wasn’t an organic storyline but a rushed one that used its one hour bracket as a way to enable shock value and upset its audience.

I’m upset.

I’m upset because it had the promise to be a decent episode.

I’m upset because of the woeful lack of tact that we were graced with.

I’m upset because such powerful imagery was used for the sole purpose of breaking another character down.

I’m upset because I was watching a television show unaware that in the last five minutes I would have to witness the death of child-fictional or not.

I guess it could have been worse and we could have born witness to a Maggie is sexually assaulted storyline but that’s a prime example of lesser evils.

There is some good stuff that goes on in this episode-primarily the Occupy Wall Street mess. It’s not only accurate to how the “outside” perceived the movement but also how many of its failings were its complete and utter lack of leadership and command which made people point and laugh rather than point and think. Will brings up a solid argument in this episode saying that all great movements had great and enigmatic leaders who were the mouthpieces for the arguments. To be heard you need to be listened to and it’s much easier to listen to a singular voice rather than a crowd of people shouting.

I had wanted to like the Occupy girl and feel sympathy when she was destroyed on live television by Will but I didn’t, I just felt myself siding with Neal and co. that she tanked. To come across seriously and to be taken as such your words cannot just be ruled by passion but also intelligence and deep thought.

There’s a trifecta of people that she goes through this episode after Neal and Jerry Not Jim learn that she knows a guy who knows a guy who knew something about Operation Genoa. She won’t talk unless Will apologizes on air which he definitely will not do. So first up is Sloan who my god is my favorite character on this show by a large margin.

She meets Occupy girl and Neal at the Shake Shack (which I had been to for the first time ever like a month before this was filmed…weird) and they try and convince her that helping them is in her best interest which doesn’t convince her. She tries to bring down Sloan by accusing her of how much money she makes and by saying what she does is serious work-being a professor. However that does nothing to convince Sloan especially after being called smug which she throws directly back into her face. By distinguishing herself as a professor she’s not only trying to give her credentials but also she’s trying to let Sloan and Neal to know that she isn’t just a mindless individual on the Occupy cause—she wants to be seen as a little bit better than the rest.

Next up is Don who has a shorter running time than Sloan furthering my conviction that they are perfect for each other.

I would have thought that with the two characters’ popularity last season that Don and Sloan would be given larger storylines this season but it appears that it may not be the case. Olivia Munn is stellar in her comedic timing and I’d argue the sole actress or actor on this show who deserves ANY award recognition for her role on the show. Thomas Sadoski and Munn bring a fresh feeling to the show which I grasp for in a show that seems to repeat itself or run into the same issues time and time again.

Like the Jim stuff. Oh my word, the Jim stuff.

Listen his storyline was interesting for a hot second before it wasn’t definitely before he and Meryl Streep’s daughter had any form of romantic inclination. The current romantic narratives on the show aren’t interesting—like at all. They’re tiresome, boring and often times mildly sexist (I say mildly out of politeness.) The Jim one just about takes the cake in how bad it is.

I would have been perfectly fine with a will they, won’t they rivalry without anything actually happening. They played off each other well but I didn’t need them to become an item only adding to the love storyline mess of this season.

The kiss was bad because of the reasons I’ve mentioned but also because Streep Jr. had been making an argument for herself that was completely derailed by it. Jim did a jerk thing by giving her the interview out of some weirdly obligated pity—the show trying to paint him as a hero type. She finds out and is rightfully angry telling him that she can get by on her own merits. He counters by saying it wasn’t a calculated decision he just made it because it felt right.

Mac finds out though and pulls him from the campaign.

And then out of the blue, Streep Jr. comes in and kisses him saying she’ll miss him.

Oh my word why was this storyline even necessary. We’re halfway through the season and the only reasoning we’re getting for him going on this little man pain excursion was so he could play the martyr and get his rebound.

What a waste of screentime that could have been so much better dedicated to Don and Sloan.

For a show about Will and his newsroom there was a strange lack of him in this episode. He only popped up at the end to tell his sob story to yet another stranger about how he doesn’t have friends and the right wing doesn’t like him anymore.

But really the storyline this week was dedicated to Maggie and whether or not she’s mentally fit to stand up in trial and recount the details of what happened during reporting on Operation Genoa. It starts with her and Gary taking the flight over and having their first stop be at an orphanage.

An orphanage where a little boy is being held for safety from the raiders.

Who Maggie instantly forms a bond with.

A little boy who under threat Maggie forcibly pulls from hiding under a bed onto her back so that they can run to a bus that is being targeted at by men with guns.

The little boy is shot on Maggie’s back and killed instantly.

Which wonderfully sets up a complex that Maggie will never, ever realistically be able to get over and delivering one of the most unsettling shocking images so far this year in television.

Listen on shows such as Game of Thrones, Dexter and Breaking Bad we know we’re going to be met with grizzly images but we’re ready for them which is the greatest difference. We know they’re going to happen so mentally we’re prepared. However this show isn’t known for its violence so it seems all the more shocking.

The most annoying thing about it is how it will be Sorkin’s way of justifying his characters as “real journalists” (and boy do I wish I could get his opinion on film and television critics) which is utter crap.

A “real” journalist would be wearing a bulletproof vest and would know the basic protocols for risks such as the ones Maggie and Gary were presented with. They wouldn’t mindlessly put civilians in danger, they would know the basic laws of where they were and who they were around. And while it’s in a reporter’s nature to run towards the danger rather than away (are even encouraged to) they aren’t reckless but pragmatic—they know they need the best shot.

It was just tacky. This isn’t just a show but a social commentary on how we present and digest the news and to portray it in such a way is insulting and upsetting. We know that sad things happen and that too many children die every day but to use the death of a child as a motivation for one character’s breakdown cheapens everything about it and makes it not only tragic but empty.

Five more episodes left and I’m wondering how and why they’ll justify this storyline.

About The Author

Ally Johnson is a Blast correspondent

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