Screens: HBO

Neal Gets In The Hot Seat, Discovers That It's Hot

As Neal, Reese, and Sloan all take uncomfortable meetings, we've got a countdown of the episode's ideas, from best to worst.

Poor ACN! After doing everything right in their Boston marathon bombing coverage and still ending up fourth in the ratings, staffers now have even bigger problems to deal with. Neal induced a source to commit a federal offense! Reese has to sit down with his hostile twin half-siblings about their hostile takeover! Don's buying stock on Sloan's say-so and thus opening them both to be charged with a white-collar crime because they're a couple...or are they?! Meanwhile, Maggie, the Calamity Jane of The Newsroom's first two seasons, is landing a hot scoop by chance on her train back to New York and doing everything right. Wellllllll...almost.

Lots of people are having lots of ideas about lots of stuff, but they're not all created equal. Don't worry: I've ordered them from best to worst.

  1. Being Receptive To The Advances Of A Jimmi Simpson Character

    HEAR ME OUT. Of course you shouldn't be receptive to the advances of most Jimmi Simpson characters, like Gavin the guinea pig weirdo from House Of Cards or the paranoid Lyle The Intern from The Late Show and certainly not like Liam McPoyle. [Shudder] But when he's not plying his trade as a creep on screens large and small, Jimmi Simpson is an appealing nerd -- and his character here, Jack, is not just game to play along with Maggie's reporting caper (see below) when he doesn't know her at all: he's also an Ethics prof at Fordham and able to ask her out like a grownup adult man.

    2014-11-16-the-newsroom2

    Since I like the new Maggie, I like the idea of her with a guy that the great Melanie Lynskey would marry and then, when it turned out they weren't right for each other, part from via the "NICEST DIVORCE EVER."

  2. Recording What Is Obviously A Newsworthy Conversation

    Speaking of New Maggie: well, go 'head, New Maggie! When she overhears someone who's obviously pretty highly placed in the EPA shit-talking the administration on the phone, she hatches a pretty solid plan. Granted, this guy hasn't made it that hard for her, given that he hasn't taken more than extremely cursory measures to make sure he isn't being overheard, but still: she creeps over to the seat behind his, gives the intrigued stranger who'll turn out to be Jack the Ethics prof her iPod for cover (I like New Maggie enough to forgive "I like the way the wheel clicks," if not to forget it), and pulls out her phone to record this EPA idiot's half of the conversation, taking notes all the while and knowing when to duck and hope for the best.

    Gif: Previously.TV

    Gif: Previously.TV

    New Maggie's got this shit on lock. Old Maggie would have probably tripped over the EPA guy's feet on her way to the seat behind his and then thrown up Ebola on Jack.

  3. Mooching Fatty Breakfast Foods

    The feminist in me wants to hate Sloan for (a) having given a lying interview to Shape magazine all about her "healthy diet," which then (b) requires her to sneak brunch buffet food off Don's plate so that she's not seen in public loading up her own plate with all the crab and waffles she actually wants to eat. But the realist in me knows she basically can't win in this situation, so yeah, get your waffle on, lady.

    Gif: Previously.TV

    Gif: Previously.TV

  4. Launching A Hostile Takeover

    Blair just wants to make some money and she's gotten a hedge fund or whatever to back her play and an idiot brother to go along with it. Clearly there's no love lost between her and Reese, so why would she ever have gone to him first to tell him about her plans? I'm still Team Reese, but as ideas go, this is a pretty good one.

  5. Using Verbal Traps To Define The Relationship

    After Don uses information he heard from Sloan before she actually broadcast it on TV to make some money on Chipotle stock, she has to explain to him that because of their relationship and the timing of his purchase, they could be in real trouble. Don's like, relationship guh? and Sloan has to show him the legal language in question. When he asks whether her panic means that, in her opinion, they're a couple, she starts right up with the equivocation, and Don marvels that he's actually "getting Keefered." Long story short, this leads to a battle between them: he tests her by inviting her to his parents' fortieth wedding anniversary party and judges her when she chokes; in turn, she tells him she thinks she's falling in love with him and then judges him when he blanches. Normally I would find this kind of gamesmanship childish, but given how they each are separately, I feel like it's probably the best way for them to figure out what they're doing, and I'm happy they've figured out that they should be a couple for reals (and not just in the eyes of the SEC).

  6. Bragging About Your Credentials, If You're Will

    Will: He's been prepped.
    Rebecca: By who?
    Will: By a member of the New York Bar, graduated seventh in his class from the fourth-best law school in America.
    Rebecca: Okay. Well, as a member of the New York, California, Illinois, and Florida Bars who graduated second in her class from the third-best law school in the world, you won't mind if I sweep up after you a little?

    Shut up, Will.

  7. Dropping A Legit Story On Moral Grounds

    New Maggie shows a streak of Old Maggie when she confronts the EPA guy about what she's just eavesdropped on (and recorded) and how none of it was off the record with her, because she overheard it fair and square, and then he tries to shame her for her subterfuge, AND IT WORKS. She agrees that she was sneaky when she ducked down in her seat, and pledges not to use anything she's just recorded, EVEN THOUGH in the annals of slimy things journalists do, this is still in Pollyanna territory, and HE is the one who fucked up by having the conversation in full hearing of EVERYONE in the train car! He's so stunned by her reversing herself on moral grounds that he doesn't believe she means it, and offers her another story, which she also refuses because it's fruit of the sneaky-ass tree or something. Even the Ethics prof thinks she's on perfectly safe ground to proceed, but we're supposed to buy that she's MORE ETHICAL than an ETHICS PROF! Come on, New Maggie. BE A JOURNALIST.

  8. Trying To Guilt A Couple Of Young Adults Into Dropping Their Hostile Takeover Plans By Telling The Story Of What A Noble Business Cable News Is

    Nice try, Charlie, but (a) they already know there's a cable network in the media group and don't give a shit, and (b) it might be more effective if you knew which of their admittedly androgynous names belonged to whom.

  9. Locking A Sensitive Flash Drive In "An Office Depot Filing Cabinet"

    The only reason it wouldn't be the very first place that any authority figure would look is that it's SO OBVIOUS. Hey Neal, maybe before you choose a hiding place, consult ANY TEENAGER on where they put their weed.

  10. Trying To Be Cute On A Network's Twitter Feed

    In case you forgot that Hallie came up through the internet, which means she automatically has terrible judgment and will sacrifice authority for sensationalism every time. Case in point: having noticed that Neal forgot to send a night tweet because he was exhausted from doing Boston coverage, she sent one herself: "Boston Marathon: Republicans rejoice that there's finally a national tragedy that doesn't involve guns." What was she thinking?! "Retweets." Okay, smell you later, Internet Girl! A righteous firing for an extremely contrived cause.

  11. Making A $4 Billion Spite Bet

    I am extremely sympathetic to decisions made from spite, BELIEVE ME. But that's a lot of money to try to raise for a company that just missed its quarterly earnings targets and just got tarnished again by some dumb internet girl, like, six hours ago.

  12. Asking An FBI Agent About A Possible Federal Crime One Of Your Employees Hypothetically Might Have Been Involved In

    Just because you go shooting together, MacKenzie, you think this lady won't take what you've told her "hypothetically" back to the office and then show up at yours with a platoon of her fellow agents? How dumb are you?

  13. Taking Will McAvoy's Legal Advice 2014-11-12-the-newsroom5

    Enjoy life on the perma-lam, Neal. Don't ever doubt whether Will is back home, enjoying his beautiful gigantic apartment, rich meals, and frequent sex when he's not totally fighting on your behalf.

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