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The Newsroom “Election Night, Part 2” Review (2×09)

17 Sep

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This could very well be the last episode of The Newsroom. Speculation is running rampant about Aaron Sorkin’s desire to continue the show, and contrary to what Jeff Daniels believes, it’s possible that we won’t see a season 3. Now, as an episode of television, “Election Night, Part Two” is perfectly fine, but as a series, if not season, finale, I can’t help but feel disappointed.

What’s elevated this season above the last is the Genoa arc. I’ve praised it before and I’ll praise it again; throughout the season, it’s allowed for cracks in this perfect little world Sorkin’s created, paving the way for possible consequences for the news crew. However, this episode completely strips that all away, heaping all the blame on Dantana’s shoulders. Even though Jerry shoulders most of the blame, it just seems like a cop out to avoid the legal and moral consequences of their actions. Everyone is flawed. Everyone makes mistakes. The show just doesn’t seem to want to deal with the bigger flaws and the bigger mistakes. It’s telegraphed from a couple episodes beforehand that the Lansings were never going to accept the resignations, and that in itself absolves the situation of any tension whatsoever. That is a big mistake.

Speaking of a big mistake, we also have Jim going around inspiring all the women around him, coming across as more of a condescending a-hole than a caring friend. I hate his “authentic” speech to Lisa, and I hate that he’s the one that spurs Maggie on to talk about Africa. Maggie can make her own decisions, thank you very much.

It’s all tied up in a nice, neat bow, much like the Genoa arc. Sloan and Don kiss. Mac and Will get married. Everything’s great. In fact, I don’t really have much of a problem with that final sequence to close off the season. The moments are well handled, even the Will-Mac one, and the show’s earned sap. What I don’t like is how contrived everything feels. For example, Will and Mac have been on and off again, but it’s never amounted to more than a few arguments. Why are they getting married now? Oh yeah, it’s the finale.

Still, there are some aspects of the episode I do like. I’ve been surprised at how much Don and Sloan have grown on me; rescuing Don from that terrible love triangle with Maggie and Jim was the best thing anyone could ever do for his character. He’s become more fleshed out, and his relationship with Sloan feels genuine. They’re no Mac-Will, that’s for sure. So, I’m much more lenient about the whole book nonsense because Sloan’s actually a good character. Many time, she’s been the subject of the show’s derision toward women, but Olivia Munn has really grown into her role, injecting complexity, nuance, and humor into her performance.

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We end season 2 uncertain about the show’s future, and if this is the end, I have no regrets about watching the show. Season 1 was a trainwreck, but season 2 has really made efforts to improve and expand this world. I appreciate the effort.

Grade: B-

Season Grade: B

Other thoughts:

-I like Will and Mac leaving their posts to let Elliott and Don, respectively, try out as the new team.

-Mac gets her Wikipedia page changed. Okay.

-The crew not pursuing the Petraeus story is a nice touch.

-Of course, we end with a montage, as expected.

-I’ve enjoyed covering the show. Hopefully I can do it again next year.

Credit to HBO and The Newsroom for all pictures. I own nothing.

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