by Jonathon Dornbush
“The Newsroom” made another time jump with the fourth episode, “I’ll Try to Fix You,” leaping forward to New Year’s Eve 2010 and the week following. Will is continuing to both date up a storm and be frustrated that Mac has been with the same man. Meanwhile the love triangle that is Jim, Maggie and Don takes a few more steps forward. And Neal is obsessed with Bigfoot, but more on that later.
“Fix You” felt like another solid entry in the series, but a few narrative choices do have me worried about what’s to come. Will’s rotation of women was amusing as it showed just how incapable he is of flirting, but it worries me that he has to be so steadfast in his beliefs to call a woman a b**** for liking “The Real Housewives.” I did still find each of the dates amusing, including a brief cameo by Kathryn Hahn that I hope will be expanded upon later, but it drove the point home of Will’s need to change women a bit too much.
Will’s dating did have a point to it, however, and not just to show how steadfast he is in his desire to better humanity. ”News Night’s” parent company used his public displays of embarrassment to slander him in a company-owned gossip magazine. CEO of AWN, Leona, promised last week that if they needed to fire Will, they would make sure it would not reflect poorly on Atlantis World Media, and she appears to be making good on that threat.
Structurally, though, this plot played out bizarrely, including a flashback to last week’s episode, as if this major threat would not be remembered. It is a pointless inclusion, especially when in the same conversation a reference to the pilot is made without such an overt callback. I don’t see the need for it either boils down to needless time filler or insulting reminder to viewers, neither of which is a good reason.
The younger romantic plots did not feel as haphazard, and I’m continuing to enjoy watching Maggie realize her affections for Jim. I would like to see her in a more assertive role each week – she feels manipulated by Don this week and was shown as weak with her panic attack in the past – but Tom Gallagher Jr. and Thomas Sadoski are playing both of her options well. Even still, I’d love to see something fresh in this storyline that I haven’t seen in any other Sorkin romance plot with such a great cast on hand.
But the big story of the night was, of course, Neal’s proof that Bigfoot must exist. Ok, so that decently funny story was not the main focus, but it did precipitate the “News Night” crew being ready to tackle the Gifford shooting story from January 2011. Plot-wise, I thought it was a strong moment that the team stood up against the corporate arm and refused to fall in line with other cable news outlets about erroneous reports of Gabrielle Giffords dying.
I found it easy to cheer alongside them as Will, Mac, Don and Charlie (who is always spectacular thanks to Sam Waterson’s delivery) reveled in the choice to stick to their beliefs. Their frequent use of the F word during a break in Will’s broadcast and the general emotional flow of the sequence proved to be quite endearing, but the whole state of affairs felt slightly off. I was proud of their crowning moment, but it felt wrong to use a real-life tragedy to precipitate this victory. I’m sure a similar event could have been fabricated and the same sense of defiance could still have been achieved.
Overall, I’m still enjoying Sorkin’s latest work despite its issues, but the episode does nothing to assuage my concerns about putting the show in the near past. If the show makes as many leaps forward in time as it has thus far, however, I can only hope Sorkin pushes the alternate take on history to its greatest extent and crafts stories that do not take advantage of a real-world tragedy to drive home a point.
Jonathon Dornbush is a senior editor. Email him at email@example.com.