As much as last week's episode got right, this week got wrong.
So, let's begin.
WHAT WAS GOOD:
Well, we learn a lot more about "Genoa," a black op that was supposed to be a clean extraction mission but ended up in a sarin gas attack on civilians in Pakistan. Mac shows some serious steel in pursuing the lead--a soldier who was part of the op--instead of the flighty and occasionally daft characteristics that became her benchmark last season. I find it interesting that the one fictional news story this show has created is suddenly its most interesting part.
THE BAD PARTS, or EVERYTHING ELSE IN THIS EPISODE:
This show is at its best when it's about altruism and journalism. And last night, instead, it was about women doing stupid things and men acting smug, with all plots telegraphed for visibility from six miles away. It's a ham-fisted and sexist episode that may have had me throw a shoe at my TV. We're expected to swallow these journalists as canonized heroes, and instead they're petty, occasionally awful at their jobs, and perpetually awful towards one another. Will, ousted from 9/11 anniversary coverage due to his own actions, is set up as some sort of great orator, and we're made to believe his speech on the issue is a panacea for the nation (regardless of how pissed off the entire country still is about the American Taliban sentiment). And perhaps most disgustingly, the execution of Troy Davis becomes a patronizing metaphor for Don's anguish at breaking up with Maggie, regardless of the issues at stake in that particular case (some of which echo loudly in the aftermath of the Zimmerman trial).
But let's talk about Maggie for a second. Alison Pill is a great actress. We know this. But Aaron Sorkin seems to really hate her gender in general and her character in particular. All Maggie does this episode is try, desperately, to get the YouTube video of her confession of feelings for Jim taken down--and it's gross. Sloan gets pulled in, there's begging and cajoling, and in the end, Lisa sees it anyway, and Maggie loses her best friend. So, instead of dealing with her problems, she decides, capriciously, to follow a lead to Uganda. Yeah, this is going to end well. Perhaps with a haircut.
And now: Jim, who is on the road with Romney, slowly getting smitten with Meryl Streep's daughter. It's all so obvious, without any wit and charm.
What happened to the promise of last week? Why am I watching this this week?
Next week had better right the ship. This episode was everything wrong with this show, condensed into a humorless and vapid hour.
The Newsroom airs on HBO on Sundays at 10 p.m. Check out the full season 2 trailer below.