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.)
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.