Alison Pill and Chris Chalk on "The Newsroom."
Alison Pill and Chris Chalk on "The Newsroom." (HBO)

"He's never seen hair like yours before. That color is called blonde, Daniel, and it's nothing but trouble." -- Pastor Moses

It's nice when a show spells out the theme of an episode right in the title, as "The Newsroom" did this week with "Unintended Consequences."


In the fourth episode of Season Two of the HBO series, we followed developments in the legal case surrounding the Genoa story, and saw more of the series of events that led our cast of characters into the lion's den.

We opened in the present day, which in this world is 2012, with Maggie facing the ACN legal team. Rebecca Halliday, played by Marcia Gay Harden, tried to get Maggie's story, while also trying to determine just where she was from a mental stability standpoint. Maggie detailed why she and Gary were going to Uganda, and then we flashed back to September 2011.

As Gary and Maggie said their goodbyes, Jerry pressed Neal for more details on the faxed tweets, yes, faxed tweets, that they received at the end of last week's show, and where the person that sent them might be now. They determined that barring some stroke of luck, they would never be able to track the user down.

Because this is "The Newsroom," luck was on their side! Neal's Occupy Wall Street contact, Shelly, who happened to be in the building, had overheard someone discussing an incident that sounded exactly like Genoa, and could put Neal in touch with him. This was almost as preposterous as the time that the girl Jim was dating just happened to be a former classmate of Casey Anthony.

Shelly was at ACN to appear on News Night, as Mac fulfilled her promise to give OWS five minutes of airtime. Will proceeded to eviscerate the movement, hitting Shelly with all of the usual criticism that OWS has faced from a variety of places, namely its lack of focus on any one issue and its lack of leadership. After her humiliation, Shelly refused to take Neal to the Genoa contact. She also punched him. I thought this was a non-violent protest?

Back on the campaign trail, Jim tried to wrangle hotel rooms for himself, Hallie and fellow Freedom Writer Stillman, after the Romney campaign had booted them from the bus and their accommodations.

Next, we caught up with Maggie and Gary as they made their way to film soldiers building an orphanage in Uganda. The orphanage also housed a school, where the children first mistook them for "cattle raiders," people in the area who come to rape and pillage. The experience clearly shook Maggie up.

Later, Jerry and Neal tried to convince Mac to tell Will about the Genoa story, in hopes that he would meet Shelly's demand of an on-air apology in exchange for putting Neal in contact with her source. Charlie pressed Mac to fix the situation. With her marching orders, Mac went to Will. She didn't lay out all of the Genoa details, and so he declined to apologize.

Mac went to Sloan and asked her to try to convince Shelly to help anyway. Sloan failed, but did so in her usual funny way. Olivia Munn is quickly becoming the highlight of this show for me. Remember when she used to play a geek girl on "Attack of the Show?" Ah, good times.

Next, on a much heavier note, we saw Maggie recounting more of her time in Africa, telling Rebecca about the time she spent reading with a child named Daniel, and how she earned his trust. Pastor Moses, who ran the orphanage, told Maggie that Daniel had never seen blonde hair before as Daniel played with Maggie's locks.

We then saw Jim at a hotel bar, pressing Taylor, the Romney campaign spokesperson, for the campaign's comment on the name of Rick Perry's ranch, which contained a racial slur. Taylor slipped up and told Jim off in a vulgar way, which was the opening that Jim needed. Rather than use it for his personal gain, he chose to get Hallie a one-on-one with Mitt Romney. Mac got wind of what Jim had done and pulled him from covering the campaign for giving up what could have been a great get for ACN.

Hallie found out what Jim had done too, and was upset that he had done her a favor. Ten minutes later, Jim and Hallie were making out. She had a change of heart. Here's what "The Newsroom" taught us this week: If a girl hates you at first, hang in there. She will eventually make out with you.

After another failed attempt to get Shelly to give Neal her source, this time by Don, Will went to her classroom and apologized. It turns out that ACN had already tracked down her source, but Will did the right thing anyway. What a loveable curmudgeon. Jerry and Mac interviewed the source and took their findings to Charlie. They all agreed that his story seemed to check out.

Back in front of the lawyers, Maggie told of hearing gunfire while staying overnight at the orphanage. She thought that cattle raiders had come to orphanage to pillage. While everyone there had been able to get the other children onto a bus, Daniel had been hiding under her bed.


In trying to get Daniel to the bus, he was shot and killed. The cattle raiders had not been after cattle, but were after Gary and Maggie and their camera. That ended Maggie and Gary's time in Africa. When she returned home, Maggie cut off the blonde hair that Daniel had been so enamored with.

Final Thoughts

One challenge in writing about "The Newsroom" each week is trying to process everything that happens in this dialogue-heavy world filled with an endless cast of characters opining on Very Important Issues. Aaron Sorkin throws so much at us as viewers that it's tough for anything to really land. Last week's "Willie Pete" was paced better than most episodes, but I felt that Unintended Consequences packed too much into the hour.

The final ten minutes were the heaviest in the show's short history, and they had big emotional impact. But how much more would they have resonated if we hadn't been bombarded with an hour of snappy dialogue before?