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'The Newsroom' Recap, 'What Kind of Day Has It Been': We Just Got Jammed

By Emily Cutler | TV | December 15, 2014 |

By Emily Cutler | TV | December 15, 2014 |

Do you ever think that Aaron Sorkin is just screwing with us? Even if he doesn’t like the internet, he has to have access to it. He has to know the memes about him, right? And he would have to know that we know when he’s repeating himself. So did he give his final episode of television a name that’s been used on every single one of his shows on purpose? Was that a wink and a nod? Or does he just not care anymore?

Despite the repetitive title, What Kind of Day Has It Been wasn’t a bad episode. And it wasn’t a bad finale. It was just mired in a lot of the mistakes from the last episode. I’ll get to that in a second, but first let’s check in on how everyone ended the series (spoiler alert, they’re all going to be fine.)

  • Will spent the majority of the episode mourning Charlie and preparing for his impending fatherhood, the intersection of which apparently allowed him to work through the remainder of his dad issues. At least that’s what I think the jam-band scene was about. I’m not entirely sure because that terrible, terrible scene made me so uncomfortable I had to leave the room. Also let’s all hope that Will spends the next few months reading up on pregnancy enough to discover that expectant mothers can in fact be outside.

  • Mac, having informed Will of her pregnancy, was whisked away by Leona for an almost episode-long talk with Pruitt. Pruitt has a woman problem, ACN has a “Dead News Director” problem, and Mac is the answer to both. Although despite her brilliance, she doesn’t realize it until well after the audience had. “Realize” is actually an overstatement. She finds out when Will announces it. Why Pruitt would tell Will of the promotion before Mac isn’t explained, but we should all rest assured that Mac will continue fighting the good fight.

  • Jim and Maggie are doing things, I think? They both have jobs, and they’re in love or something. I’m not sure. Sorry, Jaggie, not even the finale can make me care about you.

  • Neal came out of hiding to almost no fanfare, and proceeded to scold his sleazy ACN Digital replacement. Did Sorkin just Inception himself? He wrote a scene with the one person on his show who respects online journalism taking down the representation of everything wrong with internet journalism? Did Sorkin think that would make his criticism more credible?

  • Don and Sloan, now the only remaining really enjoyable characters on the show, dealt with their guilt from the belief that they caused Charlie’s death. They’re also the only people to address the fact that Charlie spent the seven weeks before his death uncharacteristically bending to Pruitt’s will. Specifically:

    Sloan: Doesn’t it bother anyone that after the life he led he literally died fighting for something he didn’t believe in?

    Don: When Pruitt tried to fire you and Mac, we saw what Charlie believed in in a hurry.

    Sloan: I just miss him.

    And that’s it? Don gave Sloan the tie that he’d received from Charlie’s widow, and it’s all very moving. Because Charlie loved his ties.

    Like I said, the biggest problems with this week’s episode was last week’s episode, and I don’t even mean the rape conversation. It’s already been discussed better than I could do it justice, but I really need to make one point. Don/Aaron, when you talked about how Sloan had been victimized by a porn-revenge site, I’m sure you felt very clever. But you weren’t saying, “Your site could be misused to exact revenge against an innocent man in the same way that these revenge-porn sites seek revenge against women.” You were saying, “Please don’t let your website do to a man the same thing that happens to women on a daily basis.”

    The issue with last week’s episode from a thematic point is that it robbed this week’s episode of the emotional weight around Charlie’s death. Sorkin again told us too much, and showed us too little. Charlie’s widow needed to step in to tell us that Charlie was actually happy that everyone was fighting with him. She needed to tell Don (and us) that Charlie loved Don like a son. And she needed to tell us that he died doing what he loved. Had last week’s episode devoted more time to watching Charlie navigate his relationship with a new boss, trying to find the balance between doing a good news show and protecting his staff from Pruitt, even compromising himself in order to keep the show from becoming a glorified TMZ we would have understood why he was doing what he was. But we didn’t see any of that. The lack of emotional connection to Charlie’s death last week meant this week’s funeral was backdrop for another series of events. It wasn’t a fitting end for Charlie Skinner, and it wasn’t a fitting end for the show.

    When The Newsroom debuted, most of the criticism said Sorkin was about five years too late. Anti- heros were the new heroes, and Sorkin doesn’t do anti-heroes. He does heroes. Heroes who might have lost their way, but heroes nonetheless. It turns out, he was actually two years too early. The Newsroom has enough material for one brilliant season. But before True Detective and Fargo, no one took one-season shows seriously. Stripped of the forced romances, the internet slamming, and the “I am Spartacus” levels of everyone saying they are Don Quixote, it’s actually a really good show. A good show in desperate need of an editor.

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