By Ethan Renner
11:18 AM EDT, August 19, 2013
"We have it. How long before you're comfortable?" — Jerry Dantana
"The Newsroom" opened "One Step Too Many" in March 2012, with the first meeting of the "Red Team," the fresh set of eyes that Mac had kept out of the loop on the Genoa story.
Don, Jim and Sloan sat in judgment as Mac, Jerry, Neal and Charlie laid out their case that the United States had used sarin gas on enemy combatants and civilians alike during an extraction operation designed to save the lives of a pair of unnamed Marines.
Don and Jim were vocal in their disbelief of the story, while Sloan cracked wise about how many reindeer Santa had. I was never a child, in that I had the Santa truth delivered to me before the age of four. I then went to preschool and smugly reported my findings to my fellow youngsters. I was that kid.
Mac and her team did some detective work and tracked down a retired general that they believed would have had knowledge of Genoa. They used a cover story to get him to agree to an interview. They planned to ask him some Genoa questions once they met him, much to Don and Jim's dismay.
General Stomtonovich, played by Milton from Office Space, agreed to do an interview with ACN, after very little arm-twisting from Mac and Charlie. He asked only that his face be blacked out, his voice altered, and that the interview take place at his Silver Spring home, so that he wouldn't miss a second of March Madness.
Back at "News Night," Will fell back into the trap of caring what people thought of him, conducting his own focus group, something that Charlie had forbidden long ago, and turned to Nina for some tips on how to be more likeable. Nina suggested that Will visit ACN's morning show for a light interview, designed to showcase his everyman qualities.
Jim was excited to meet Hallie for dinner, after not seeing her for a month. His enthusiasm was dampened after Hallie suggested that he bring Neal along for a double date with her friend Aubrey. He was further dismayed when it turned out that Hallie also asked Taylor, Jim's nemesis from Mitt Romney's campaign, to join their dinner foursome. Taylor made one of the more awkward gatherings of all time even more uncomfortable when she announced that she had been fired by the Romney campaign.
Don and Mac met for drinks. This was a fun, somewhat bizarre pairing of two characters that we don't get to see interact very often. Mac affirmed her trust in Don as they debated whether or not Mac should trust Jerry. Mac also urged Don to ask Sloan out.
Elsewhere, Maggie was drinking alone in a hotel bar, as we learned that she has been doing a lot since returning from Africa. In one of those "Only On The Newsroom" coincidences, Jim and Hallie had reserved a room at the same hotel for after their dinner. They walked into the bar and found her there. Maggie fibbed and said that she was meeting a friend there. Hallie fibbed and told Maggie that Jim was there just to fix her computer, in an effort to spare Maggie's feelings. No one believed anyone.
Jim and Hallie adjourned to their room for some alone time, which quickly ended when Hallie received word that she would have to be on a plane to cover an event in Colorado in 90 minutes. Jim went back to the bar, just in time to see Maggie leaving for the night with the bartender.
Will's morning show adventure ended abruptly after he balked at throwing footballs through a tire. He took aim at the lighting rig for the show instead. Hey, the New York Jets might be wise to give Jeff Daniels a call. Will broke up with Nina after the show, and Sloan urged him to keep his head down and keep doing the show that he knows he should.
Jerry and Maggie traveled to Silver Spring to interview General Stomtonovich. He demanded that Maggie leave the room before his interview, as he had been assured by Mac and Charlie that Jerry would be the one to interview him.
Stomtonovich proved to be less than forthcoming in the interview, refusing to outright state that the United States had used sarin during the Genoa extraction. After the interview, in the edit bay, Jerry doctored the audio from his session, changing an "if we used sarin" line to "we used sarin." During the second meeting of the Red Team, Jerry played an edited version of the interview for the room. Mac was suspicious, and asked to see the raw footage. Jerry passed off his doctored version of the video as the original.
Charlie had new reservations about the general, after he and Mac had gone to see him and he had forgotten that they were coming. He pressed Jerry to find another source. Jerry responded by filibustering about all of the perceived misdeeds of the Obama administration, and asserted that the story was true.
We then saw a montage of months passing, ending with a Marine that ACN had thought was dead, calling about Genoa. After months of sitting on the story, Charlie finally had his second source. Our next time jump was to the show's present day, where we saw Charlie sitting in front of the ACN legal team, detailing all of this to Marcia Gay Harden's Rebecca Halliday.
He told her of the night that ACN ran the story in a special report at 9 PM.
"By 10:05, I knew we had a problem. None of it was true," Charlie said.
•••• "One Step Too Many" caught us up to The Newsroom's present day, and did so in a surprisingly concise way, at least by Aaron Sorkin-standards. The things that I enjoy most about the show, namely the wordy monologues and slapstick, were largely missing from the hour. I understand why that was, as it was time to advance the plot, but I don't find the Genoa storyline particularly compelling.
•••• The episode was particularly light on Will content, and what we did see of him did little to resolve some of the problems with his character that I raised last week. Is he a crusading newsman out to do some good, or is he a self-absorbed TV star that only cares about his viewership numbers and his Q Score? "The Newsroom" can't seem to decide.
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