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'The Newsroom' recap, 'The Genoa tip'

By Ethan Renner

8:52 AM EDT, July 22, 2013

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"The point is, I'm not who I used to be right now." -- Will McAvoy

"The Newsroom" is at its best when its characters fight for what's right and win. "The Genoa Tip" gave us a bunch of plotlines with characters fighting for things. But were they the right things? And did they win?

"The Genoa Tip" opened with a scene of Jim rushing to board a Mitt Romney campaign bus, only to be given a hard time by a guy with a clipboard. Jim and ACN were still being made to pay for Will McAvoy's "American Taliban" comment. A fellow journalist, Hallie, interceded for Jim, and clipboard guy allowed him to board.

Look at that! A female rushing to the aid of a man! Maybe Aaron Sorkin took some of the criticism of how he portrayed women in Season One to heart. We also saw Maggie inform Sloan of her breakup with Don, after Sloan came to work at 6 a.m. and found her sleeping in her office.

New producer Jerry went to Mackenzie's office to tell her about the story that his wild card-military expert had given him. The story alleged that the U.S. military had used sarin gas on enemy combatants and civilians during a black-ops mission just across the Pakistani border. Mac wasn't buying the story, but told Jerry to go ahead and follow up on it.

Mac then trekked over to Will's office, where Elliot was regaling Sloan and Will with his plans for a new closet, in one of the episode's lighter moments. This was typical Sorkin comedy, in that if you like sharp, funny dialogue, you ate it up. If you hate-watch the show, you probably wanted to pull your eyebrows out. It was here that Will told Sloan and Elliot that they would be anchoring the tenth anniversary-9/11 coverage in his stead. He played it off as his own decision, although we know otherwise.

Don went to Will to try to get him to take a new angle on the Troy Davis story. Davis had been convicted of killing a police officer. Although Don and many others had reasonable doubt as to his guilt, Will was reluctant to use his position to advocate for Davis while due process was ongoing.

Next, we got a scene with two staffers in the ACN control room watching footage from 9/11, when Will, then just a legal correspondent for the network, had been forced to anchor coverage of the terrorist attacks of that day. The footage included a behind-the-scenes conversation between Charlie and Will, where we saw them begin to form their bond. Will walked in and watched some of the footage himself, reminding himself of who he used to be.

Maggie and Sloan used Foursquare to track down the current location of the woman who posted Maggie's infamous "Sex and the City" video to YouTube. After some cajoling, they convinced the woman to take the video down, perhaps saving Jim's relationship with Lisa.

Maggie called Jim for some advice on pitching Mac a story on Sudan, but he was reluctant to offer assistance, because acting in a passive aggressive manner is always the best way to behave towards someone that you have romantic feelings for.

Jerry helped her find the right angle for the story. Later, Lisa confronted Maggie about the video, effectively ending their friendship, and let Jim know that she had seen the video, effectively ending their relationship.

Now Maggie was really sure that she wanted to follow this Sudan story, meaning going to Sudan to cover the story herself. So, with both her and Jim both single and free to be together now, Jim is on a campaign bus in New England and Maggie is going to Sudan? Worst love pentagon ever.

Back in the newsroom, Mac mocked the Occupy Wall Street rally, that Neal had covered, for drawing a fraction of the protesters that anonymous had promised would attend. Don continued to press the Davis story, this time pleading with Charlie to allow him to air information that some illegal lobbying had taken place. Without a second source to confirm the the story, Charlie wouldn't allow it.

The drone strike that killed American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki dominated the final minutes of "The Genoa Tip." al-Awlaki was an American citizen, living in Yemen, who also happened to be a senior member of Al-Qaeda. Will, Mac and Charlie debated whether or not the United States had any right to place him on a kill list given his citizenship.

While they were arguing, they got word that Neal had been arrested while covering an Occupy Wall Street event. Will went to the police precinct to get the arrest voided. After a police officer gave him some flack, Will started ranting.

He unleashed all of the pent-up anger he had over what he believed to be the unjust killing of al-Awlaki and the apparent miscarriage of justice in the Davis case. In doing so, he did what Charlie asked him to do when he was anchoring on 9/11. He stood up for and protected Neal. He promised Mac that he would raise questions about al-Awlaki's killing.

He took a step in getting back to who he used to be.

Final Thoughts

What were these characters fighting for, and did they win?

Don fought to save Troy Davis' life, and ultimately failed. Jerry fought for the Genoa story, which seemed right, but we know from the Season Two premiere that the story ends up being bogus. Maggie fought to go to Sudan, which may or may not have been right, but we know that turns out poorly as well.

Will did win a battle, getting Neal's arrest voided. He also got another drink thrown on him, so we as viewers won too.

For the record, I agree that Willie Nelson did the best version of "Always on My Mind", but that was a cover too, Will McAvoy. Willie recorded his version ten years after the original was released.