"You're thoughtful and you're authentic and I have never seen you sneer at anyone or anything. There is, believe me, no one that you're not good enough for, and there is hardly anyone who's good enough for you, including, it turned out, me." -- Jim Harper
"The Newsroom" wrapped its second season with the thrilling conclusion to the Genoa storyline and gave us two new couples that we'll have the pleasure of watching engage in needlessly wordy banter going forward.
The episode opens in Don's office, where he, Mac, Charlie, Jim and Maggie argue over which bombshell story they should run. Should they air the Brody/Aiken story, which had the potential to sway the election, given that polls were still open in the West? Or the Petraeus story, which could earn their network back some credibility, particularly in reporting on military stories? They choose to run the Brody/Aiken story, as it serves to better inform the electorate, a goal that Will often stressed in Season One.
During a break in coverage at the anchor desk, Taylor asks for Will's blessing to try to hire Jim to work at a media consulting firm that she was planning to start. She tells Will that she is aware that senior staffers at News Night would be resigning, and she assumes that because of that, Jim will soon be out of a job. Will tries to convince her that only he and Charlie are going to be out of work, and that even that is no sure thing. More than anything, Will is upset that word has leaked that anyone is planning to resign. He tells the control room that all senior staffers need to meet him in the studio at once.
Will speaks to the assembled staffers and tells them that he wants all of them to keep their jobs -- that was the entire point of only him, Mac and Charlie offering to resign, after all. He tells them he doesn't want to hear of anyone else leaving their jobs. Don pipes up and tells Will that if he is resigning, everyone else is too. They will go down with the ship, they won't put their hands up and surrender, there will be no white flag above their door. Can you believe that it took me nine weeks to work in a Dido reference?
Meanwhile, upstairs at the big ACN viewing party, Charlie presses Leona to accept the resignations. Leona, who is in an altered state thanks to some champagne and herbal cigarettes, states that she plans to sue Charlie, Will and Mac for breach of contract if they walk. Charlie asks her to listen to Reese. Leona says that she is doing more than that, and that she is allowing Reese to make the final decision. What? So was Reese playing Charlie last week? Does he have a spine after all? We'll find out.
After meeting with Leona, Charlie bumps into Lisa, Maggie's roommate and Jim's old flame, who is working the party as a cocktail waitress. No, I mean, he actually bumps into her and sends her tray of drinks crashing to the floor. She asks him not to tell Jim that she is there.
Charlie sends Tess into the studio to deliver Will a note, telling him that their fate is in Reese's hands. Tess reminds me of any number of pretty girls that I would see wearing fedoras last year. Is that still a fashion thing? Pretty girls wearing fedoras? I never knew what to make of that, so I'm glad if we're done with it. Let me know.
Jim and Maggie field a call from the campaign of the Michigan congressman whose race they had mistakenly called in Part 1. They foolishly continue to stand by their lie, Jim more so than Maggie, and tell the campaign staffer that she should send her candidate out to make his victory speech. Then, Neal comes to Jim and tells him that someone at the viewing party managed to sneak a phone in, and is sending out sensitive information, including a photo of Charlie and Lisa together. Maggie tells Jim that maybe this is his chance to patch things up with Lisa, especially since none of them might have jobs the next day.
During a commercial, Mac tells Will to call the House for the Republicans when they came back from the break. Will leaves the studio and tells Elliot to make the call from Will's chair. He wants to start conditioning the audience for what he expects to be his departure. In the control room, Mac does the same, leaving Don to guide Elliot through the next segment.
Will and Mac take to the hair and makeup room to further iron out their differences, both professional and personal. Mac apologizes to Will for stuff. Will apologizes to Mac for stuff. Will then tells Mac that he hadn't actually intended to propose to her, a fact that is brand new to her and cuts her deeply. Elsewhere, Don tells Rebecca that he wants to countersue Jerry.
Jim goes upstairs to talk to Lisa, because what he needs right now is another love triangle. Wait, square? Maggie, Hallie, Lisa, Jim. Square. A love square. He apologizes and gives her the bit of Sorkinese that opened this piece, then asks her to start speaking to Maggie again, a request that Lisa declines. The verbal jousting doesn't end with Jim and Lisa, as Mac mixes it up via satellite with talent in Washington while Will and Taylor argue about media bias in the studio.
Neal asks Jim to convince Hallie to publish a story on her site that will allow him to make the change on Mac's Wikipedia page that stuck in her craw in Part 1. He sends her the story, and asks her if he ever made her feel dumb -- a criticism that Lisa had leveled at him. She assures him that they are just fine. Tying up the other useless loose end from that episode, Sloan discovers that it was Don who had bought her book at auction. She signs a new book for him and kisses him in the control room. Awwww.
Jim and Maggie watch their lie unravel, as the candidate that they had called the race for falls behind. They sit in front of a screen and watch their professional lives hang by a thread. Jim takes that moment to tell Maggie that she is strong and tough and that she didn't do anything wrong in Africa. I think these two are going to be OK.
Will walks to his office for a smoke break. Charlie is there, and tells him that because of the progress they made at the network, as evidenced by the unanimous decision to run the Brody/Aiken story, he isn't going to resign, and neither will Will. In that moment, Will has an epiphany. He realizes that he is to blame for most of what's gone wrong between him and Mac. He reaches into his desk for the engagement ring that he had told her had been taken back to the jeweler years ago, and tears off through the building, looking for Mac. And by tears off, I mean he gingerly jogs around as only a middle-aged dude wearing loafers on a TV show can.
He finds her in the studio. He tells a story, the point of which is that he is going to stop beating himself up and stop emotionally terrorizing her. He tells her that he is in love with her, and asks her to marry him. He tells her that he will never hurt her again, and that no matter what her answer is, he is going to be in love with her for the rest of his life. She says yes.
Reese and Leona arrive in the newsroom and Reese tells Charlie that he isn't going to accept the resignations and that he won't settle with Jerry. Will and Mac come in as well, and announce their engagement.
For the final scene, we are treated to a montage of champagne corks popping and jubilant people celebrating all sorts of wonderful news. Maggie and Lisa talk things out, Hallie publishes a story for Mac, Jim and Maggie's call turns out OK, Don and Sloan stare at each other longingly, Mac plays with her ring and Will sits in the anchor chair, doing the news. And the news keeps doing its thing, as Maggie checks a wire service alert on her computer.
And they lived happily ever after.
•••• This was "The Newsroom" at its best. Aaron Sorkin emptied his arsenal in the season finale, packing it with snark, characters delivering wordy monologues and resolving almost all of the show's relationship problems.
•••• The recurring joke where Sloan would start to speak and immediately be cut off played well, at least to me, as it allowed Olivia Munn to do what she does best.
•••• I'm curious to see the shape that Season 3 will take. Will it be more along the lines of Season 1, where a different news story was tackled every week? Will we get a season-long storyline like we had this season with Genoa? Will Jim find a mirror and fix his hair? Are Don and Sloan and Mac and Will going to be happy together? We shall see.