By: Lady Sharon
In episode six of The Newsroom: Bullies, Sorkin lovers like myself will quickly spot a lot of familiar story lines: a death threat resulting in mandated personal protection, the lead suffering insomnia and seeing a shrink, lecturing about the difference between Muslims and Islamic radicals, as well as investigating how you can be gay and still work for a homophobe. Seems dear old Aaron may need to find himself some new material.
Don't get me wrong. This was a good episode. Aaron does sneak in some new drama: bullying, and not in the obvious way you'd expect. At least not yet. Plus I'm really into the whole Maggie and Jim thang. So there's all that yummy goodness.
Ultimately, Aaron still delivers even years old reruns with his usual attention to personal relationships and clear focus on heartfelt connections.
Will Beats Up Some Guests; Viewers Ain’t None too Happy
Will interviews Sutton Wall, the deputy chief of staff of Rick Santorum, who just announced his candidacy for President. Sutton Wall is black and gay, and Will pushes him, hard, to discuss how he feels personally about working for a candidate who is against gay-marriage, and recently made a seemingly racist comment.
|Sutton Wall, deputy COS for Santorum. Photo: source|
This type of ranting, talking over your guests, turning their comments on their heads to make arguable unrelated points, is the kind of thing that made me stop watching cable news. And this type of interview is definitely “news for ratings” that Will rails against.
Later, Will interviews the President for the Stop Islamization of America organization, about the building of an Islamic community center at Ground Zero. Will argues that it’s not a religious building, nor are its intended customers related to those who perpetrated the 9/11 attacks.
Recall these plot lines from West Wing episodes, anyone? Bueller? Bueller?
|If I have to come in here again, |
I'm cracking skulls.
Will: “In your wildest dreams, can you imagine Walter Cronkite saying ‘LollypopLollypop’ as many times as I have in the last 10 minutes?”
Neal: “Not unless he was in an a capella do-wop group.”
Will decides he’s gonna crack some skulls, and he changes the commenting rules on the website to require name, age, level of education, etc. by implementing a third-party verification service.
Someone hacks the security, posts with a false name and threatens to kill Will. So Will gets a new BFF in the form of bodyguard Lonny Church, played by Terry Crews. Who, not for nothing, is an NFL football player (for the Rams, Chargers, Redskins, and the Eagles – though only a practice squad member there) and most notably, an Old Spice guy!!
Yeah, he's buff, but do I want a guy who can make his boobs dance protecting my life?
Again here, we have two more West Wing story repeats.
When We Last Left Our Lovers…
…there was still much UST (unresolved sexual tension) between the show’s couple of couples. So far, these are the only original stories in this episode. At least they're good ones...
Will and Mac
A few years ago, Will was approached to do a late night talk show. The discussions got a far as a deal memo. Mac just found out about this and that it happened while they were hot and heavy - which coincidentally was also when she was cheating on Will. Somehow, she has the gall to be pissed that Will was seemingly going to move to Hollywood and leave her behind.
When he pulled that ring out of the drawer I thought: Wow! He really did love her so much and still does. The poor guy has been pining away, keeping this ring locked up in his drawer, which likely sits alongside his broken heart, and he probably cries into his soup every day.
I’m so damn gullible.
Turns out, it was all a scheme. He had just bought the ring when he found out Mac was doing opposition research on him and would likely find out about the timing of the talk show deal.
So then I was all, “What an ass!”
Then I realized, even if he intended to return the ring - which he couldn’t because he ripped up the receipt - it’s still a little good that he lied about it. (Recall that Jim said that a few ep’s back to Maggie.) It means that he cares enough about her feelings to go to extreme lengths to protect them.
Resume. Minor. Melting.
Don and Maggie
The opposition research on Will is prompted by a harassment complaint someone at ACN filed on Maggie’s behalf a while ago.
When Jim asks her about it, she tells him that someone saw Will yell at her because she:
a. Confused Georgia the state with Georgia the country, and
b. Wrote “LOL” on a condolence card because she thought it meant “Lots of Love.”
Jim asks how she still could possibly still work there. She retorts with this animated soliloquy on how she dodges bullets, which is just a laugh riot!
It’s about freaking time somebody said it out loud!
Will Needs a Therapist
Since the interview with Sutton Wall, Will hasn’t been sleeping and its addling his brain. So he goes to his shrink, Dr. Habib. Yet again, we're digging in Sorkin's old bag of tricks.
He’s had a standing appointment with this guy for 4 years, though he hasn’t gone in that time yet continued paying for it. He arrives only to find out that Dr. Abraham Habib has passed, and his son, Dr. Jacob Habib is running the practice.
The new doc is only 29 years old. Right off the bat, the doc stops Will from making a Doogie Howser joke. I actually had to go look to make sure this guy wasn't the same actor who played Doogie’s BFF, Max Casella. Now that would have been primo.
He's a bit of a Vinnie doppleganger, no?
Their witty banter went something like this:
Will: "I won’t talk to a shrink."
Dr. Jacob: "Yes, you will. I’m clever and can make you."
Will: "I’m cleverer."
Even their dialogue is practically verbatim to The West Wing episodes “Noel” and also “Night Five” where Martin Sheen unsuccessfully tries to pull rank on Adam Arkin.
The Fukushima and Sloan Nuclear Meltdown
So it turns out Sloan Sabbith speaks fluent Japanese and has a friend who is a spokesman for the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power plant in Japan. How convenient!
I’m gonna move past how unlikely it would be that she even gets asked to stand in but…
While she subs as an anchor for Elliot on the 10 o’clock show, Sloan interviews her source/friend with an interpreter from the company. She notices that the interpreter isn’t translating accurately, or more likely is editing and spinning the spokesman’s words into what the "the man" would prefer.
She finally says to hell with it and confronts the interpreter... in Japanese! Then she ignores the interpreter and asks the spokesman himself, in Japanese, specifically about the level of the reactors. Well, who the hell knows what she actually said? But she did out his “off the record” comment.
Regardless of how smart she is, she nailed this guy on air, and also apparently forgot what “off the record” means. I can’t see her ignoring a basic journalistic credo. She had to know that would screw her.
Charlie flips out and puts her on leave.
Sloan later learns that her contact and friend is being forced to resign because of her interview. Sloan cares deeply that his honor and job are on the line and asks the group, well Will, for wisdom.
Mac offers to help, but Sloan quickly declines.
|It was funny, but Olivia didn’t totally commit to the “boom” mime. Photos: source|
Charlie comes up with a rather plausible explanation for the foulup, which would save both their jobs. It would require that Sloan “lie, on television, from a news desk, with an ACN bug in the corner” by saying she mixed up the Japanese words for 4 and 7, which is unlikely for someone fluent in Japanese.
Sloan doesn’t immediately jump at the chance to save her own skin, and I admired her for that. She really wants to save this man’s honor. But this goes against everything the new News Night is all about. And she doesn’t want to lose her own honor in the process.
Will feels bad about this too, because he's the one who told her to get serious in on air interviews. He feels like her nutty was a result of his pep talk. So he tells her to do it.
In the end, Dr. Habib gets Will to reveal that his father was an alcoholic who beat his entire family... until Will got old enough to fight back, stand up for himself and protect his mother, brother and two younger sisters.
Dr. Habib: “You’re hard-wired to hate bullies, like comic book heroes are born out of a childhood trauma.”
Will pays forward his bully penance, and hopefully cures his insomnia, by helping Sloan out of the problem she created when she acted like a bully too.
This newscaster/celebrity gig is tough. Most of us can live our lives as normal people, quietly, anonymously. And when we make a mistake, like get a speeding ticket, foulup at our jobs, cheat on a spouse, or bully someone out of spite or by accident, the whole world isn’t watching.
Whether the world is watching or not, that’s a tough mirror to look into. And you might just live through it if you have people who care about you standing right next to you and in front…when the bullies come.
The West Wing Connection
few blogs ago just for shits and giggles. I had no idea there'd be an episode where this was so extreme. "Bullies" has so many West Wing similarities, it's almost criminal.
- I already mentioned the shrink similarities to "Noel" and "Night Five." What I didn't mention is that Barltet's father also hit him.
- Then entire scenario of and dialogue between Will and his bodyguard was practically verbatim for the convo between CJ and her Special Agent, Simon Donovan.
- Despite Santorum's stance on gay marriage, Sutton Wall believes in and works for Santorum because of his stance on abortion. Josh had practically the same conversation in "The Portland Trip" with a gay Republican Congressman and asks him "How can you be a member of this party?!?" And he responds that there's more to him than his sexual orientation.
- Will’s argument that 9/11 wasn’t perpetrated by Muslims but by radicals, was the entire plotline of “Isaac and Ishmael.”
- Will taking on the commentors is like Josh taking on the “moo-moo-wearing, Parliament-smoking dictatorial” moderator who runs LemonLyman.com
- Both Maggie and Donna get flustered with bereavement. Maggie screwed up the note on the card. Donna sent a bereavement flower bouquet to the wrong – and still living - Supreme Court judge.
- ... and, you get my point.