Crashing Pilots: The Newsroom Part II
By David Mumpower
August 2, 2012
The character of Sloan Sabbith is a Duke University super-genius whose multiple degrees in the field of economics make her something of a wunderkind. She is not, however, polished socially. This has led to several uncomfortable moments with her bosses, McHale and McAvoy. In fact, Sloan played matchmaker for McAvoy with one of her friends. The woman, a gun-toting southern liberal, eventually pulled a gun on McAvoy then bristled with aggravation when he politely declined a second date. Munn’s delivery of the dialogue in this episode was impeccable. She too has distinguished herself as a natural at rapid-fire Sorkin delivery.
I am not quite as big a fan of Mortimer’s character, MacKenzie McHale, quite yet. Mortimer is one of my favorite actresses in the world, so I unfairly expect more of her than others. Still, the stubborn optimism of McHale feels forced and maybe even a bit oppressive at times. All of this changes in two situations, though. Mortimer is in complete command of the control room in a believable capacity. And she has phenomenal chemistry with Jeff Daniels.
The storyline is that McAvoy and McHale were the dating Macs a few years ago. McHale impulsively slept with an ex-boyfriend for whom she had vacillating feelings. During the act of infidelity, McHale experienced an epiphany that she was in love with McAvoy. Once she confessed her perfidy, Will dumped her. Both of them have lived a half-life since then, with Kenzie endangering herself repeatedly in search of the big stories while Will grew less willing to take chances in life.
Forced back together, the two of them are the basis of an intended 1930s screwball comedy-flavored relationship. When I reviewed the pilot, I mentioned that this concept seemed doomed to fail. The stated reason was the character of Will, who was a complete jerk in the pilot. This is a specific instance wherein I should have had faith in Sorkin as well as Jeff Daniels.
The constant irritability of Will McAvoy is the finest aspect of character development in The Newsroom thus far. In the pilot, he berated a coed for having the audacity to love her country of origin. He also demonstrated criminal neglect of his staff to the point that he failed to notice most of them had quit. A lot of this strained credulity at the time. I no longer feel that way.
This far into season one I appreciate how McAvoy devolved into a person consumed with self-loathing. I also have a deep and abiding appreciation for the manner in which he has accepted this aspect of his life and attempted to improve. This aspect of his character runs concurrently with the state of News Night. Will McAvoy is the program he anchors and vice versa.
The unmistakable implication is that Will is incomplete without Kenzie in his life. The moment she returns, Will takes stock of his situation and resolves to improve. We are witnessing this path to redemption as Will loses some of his anger. I now understand why he was so far out of control in the pilot and I love the journey that has brought him to a confession in Bullies.