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'The Newsroom' recap, 'Willie Pete'

ElectionsBlackmail and ExtortionNews MediaMitt RomneyOccupy Wall StreetSeptember 11, 2001 Attacks

"How many different kinds of disgusting do you have to be to boo a man who volunteered to fight and die for you?" -- Will McAvoy

"Willie Pete," the third episode of "The Newsroom's" second season, opened with a Will McAvoy rave-out during a comment segment of News Night, as he railed against the audience at a Republican presidential debate in Orlando. The crowd booed a video question about gays in the military sent in by an active combat soldier.

After going off on the crowd for their response, calling them "witless bullies and hapless punks," Will ripped the candidates for not denouncing the crowd reaction. After the show, Mac tried to get WIll to divulge what he had said in the erased voicemail that he had left her back in May when he was high, to no avail.

Charlie called Will into his office to tell him that Nina Howard, the gossip columnist and one of Will's nemeses from Season One, had learned that Will hadn't actually had the flu, and had been taken off the 9/11 coverage for another reason.

Charlie gave Will a couple of options to choose from as to how to play the situation. Will proposed a third, suggesting that he would appeal to Nina's humanity in asking her not to report the story. Will is back on his mission to civilize, it would seem. Charlie agreed to set up a meeting between Will and Nina. Mac tried to dissuade Will from meeting with her.

On the campaign trail, Jim continued to push Clipboard Guy's buttons on Mitt Romney's bus, while Hallie, his fellow journalist, continued to give him a hard time. Call me crazy, but I think these two kids might eventually get together. Wait! There's another hen in the rooster house, as a new spokesperson for the Romney campaign appeared to trade barbs with Jim. A love triangle on an Aaron Sorkin show?

Jerry and Mac continued to chase the Genoa story. They met with a former soldier, who claimed to have witnessed the extraction-gone-bad in question. He claimed that the miltary had used sarin during the incident.

Will and Nina met. Will told her the whole truth about his removal from the 9/11 coverage and she agreed not to run the story. Buoyed by his victory, Will asked her if she wanted to go out with him. Nina said she would like to, but would not do that because she had heard the voicemail that he had left for Mac back in May, where he told her that he had never stopped loving her.

Back at ACN, Charlie expressed doubt as to the validity of the Genoa story. Jerry continued to press it, with Mac caught somewhere in the middle. Charlie allowed them to continue chasing the story on the lowdown.

Maggie began to freak out over the possible side effects of the vaccinations for her trip to Africa. Neal pressed Mac to cover Occupy Wall Street more, while Will pushed to find out who leaked his story to Nina.

Will's comments on baristas made the hour worthwhile for me. "I know some of you have special relationships with your baristas. I don't understand that part of the world, but I am going to own somebody here, there's gonna be a heartache tonight."

Sloan confessed to Don that she had accidentally leaked Will's story to Nina's agent while trying to get out of a date with the guy. The two also bantered in a delightful way, if you like that sort of stuff. I eat it up with a spoon. In college, I rushed back to my dorm to watch "Gilmore Girls" between classes rather than enjoying lunch with peers and would-be friends.

Neal convinced Mac to give Occupy Wall Street five minutes in prime time, provided he could produce a good spokesperson for the movement, not just a tomato can that Will could tear apart with ease.

Sloan went to Will and Charlie to confess, but as she told her story, Will and Charlie were able to determine that she had not been the one to leak the information. They found out that Reese leaked the story as retribution for blackmailing him. They also accidentally destroyed the evidence that they had used to blackmail him.

Jim pressed Hallie into asking the Romney campaign about changing his position on abortion. What he had hoped to turn into a revolutionary moment that would see reporters covering the campaign start to ask real questions and do real reporting, instead ended with Jim, Hallie and another Zach Galifianakis-esque journalist kicked off the campaign bus.

Mac sent Maggie off to Africa, then called Nina to thank her for not running the story on Will. While she had her on the line, she tried to get her to reveal what Will had said in the infamous voicemail. Nina did not tell her the truth, and had taken the call while in Will's apartment. Hey, maybe nothing happened between them. They might have just been planning a trip to Ellicott City to go antiquing.

In the closing scene, just as Mac and Charlie were about to pull the plug on the Genoa story, a tip came in. A translator faxed a copies of Twitter posts that seemed to confirm the story that the ex-soldier had told them. It would seem that there is a story there after all.

Final thoughts

I enjoyed this episode more than the first two of the season. I thought last week's episode tried to pack too much story in at the expense of allowing us the chance to like these characters and care about what happens to them. This week, there was good comedy, all of the dialogue that you would expect, and each of the main stories were given enough room to breathe.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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ElectionsBlackmail and ExtortionNews MediaMitt RomneyOccupy Wall StreetSeptember 11, 2001 Attacks
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