There was a lot going on in this episode. Relationships are imploding and forming and deteriorating for good and being patched together. There are a bunch of plots, so sorry that this is kind of a long one:
Lasts all of two seconds. The episode picks up immediately where the previous left off, with the studio plunged into darkness because God is sending Mac a message. Obviously Mac starts preaching about miracles. She hates what their show is being forced to cover in the name of ‘news’ in order to keep ratings up and potentially host the RNC debate their way. But this power outage is totally an opportunity to be a team again.
The RNC Debate:
The time has come at last for Will and his merry band of newsmen to show the RNC what they could do with a primary debate if given the opportunity. Instead of the usual format (opening statement, what’s your favorite color, rebuttal), Will suggests something a little different. Each candidate still gets to give an opening statement, but there are no question limits. The moderator (in this case Will) can ask whatever he likes and the candidate has an unlimited time to respond. He compares the format to the Congressional hearings on steroid use in the MLB.
I have to say, the format is really impressive. It reinforces that this show is all about idealism, but it does seem to be a solid way to vet potential candidates. And I have to admit, I’ve missed West Wing debate camp so very much.
The RNC guys are not impressed and offer Don and Elliot the gig of hosting the debate. Don tells the guys to ‘eat me’ so they pitch the offer over to Sloan, asking her (patronizingly) if she wants to be a star. She tells them to fuck off, cementing a place in my heart.
Casey Anthony Coverage (Don/Maggie/Jim/Lisa love quadrangle):
News Night still needs to get its ratings up, and it needs to do so by booking a guest that no other show has. And guess what? Lisa went to high school with Casey Anthony. Lisa proves her value as a human by saying she has no interest in going on TV to talk about an old classmate, especially since she has nothing to actually contribute to the conversation.
Throughout this, we get to see some genuine Maggie/Lisa friendship instead of them squawking back and forth about Jim. It’s also nice to see Jim freaking out about relationships in somebody else’s workplace for once. A boy was doing the workplace disruption! Equal rights!
Jim and Lisa have a nice moment in the make-up room when Lisa explains to him that Maggie is her only friend and she really doesn’t want to hurt her, so she can’t let anything start up between her and Jim again. She says that it’s obvious that Don isn’t in love with Maggie anymore and that even Maggie realizes it. Jim’s on deck. But he doesn’t want to be anyone’s second choice and neither does Lisa. Where does this leave us?
Will interviews Lisa and it isn’t pretty. She makes valid points about the Casey Anthony case only getting national attention because the mom is pretty and the family is white. She lists a plethora of other children that died in horribly tragic ways. But shit really hits the fan when Lisa goes off script and starts talking about abortion. People are irrational when it comes to abortion so someone vandalized the store she works at by painting “baby killer” on the front. Maggie and Jim both show up to check on her and then Will is there, striding out of the fog, acting like everyone’s dad, taking care of the problem, saying it should have been him and not her that was attacked, and it’s really cute.
At the end of the episode, Don reveals to Maggie that he’s been cheating on her. The other woman, Jenna, even sent him flowers at ACN but Will signed for them and put them in his office so there wouldn’t be a kerfuffle. Will did make it clear, however, that he did not condone Don’s actions.
So Mac convinces Jim to go after Maggie by use of poem. (Gather ye rosebuds while ye may). He shows up looking all cute and floppy at her apartment, ready to woo her. But everything’s imploding because Maggie had just finished convincing Lisa to give him another shot and Don is at the apartment so Jim kind of folds and Lisa kisses him. And everything is terrible.
Brian, the New York Magazine Journalist:
I genuinely can’t tell how much of Brian is trying to stir shit up and how much wants to do his job. One thing’s for certain: he fits in great in the News Night bullpen since he airs his personal problems just like everyone else. Mac and Brian throw down (metaphorically) and Mac ends up conceding to Brian that Will is a lonely guy and even if that didn’t start when she cheated on him, it certainly didn’t help. Now Will uses the ratings to cushion himself against that loneliness. But Mac also incontrovertibly tells Brian that she likes Will more. Brian is cocky and self-assured in everything he does whereas Will is never sure of anything, doubts himself constantly, but tries as hard as he can to do what is right.
Will goes to see his psychologist who tells him that his problems with betrayal are rooted with his abusive father. Mac’s cheating on him didn’t help matters and now he’s still trying to punish her. He knows he should forgive her, and he wants to, but betrayal is a hard thing to get past.
We see a strong glimmer of Mac/Will potential however when she freaks the fuck out and breaks down about not getting the debate, and having to do Casey Anthony coverage, but he talks her through it and she comes back stronger than ever.
Troll in the Dungeon:
Neal continues his appeal to Sloan to let him besmirch her name on some hoity-toity economics blog. She doesn’t want to consent because her father is also an economist and he’ll probably see all of these inflammatory remarks calling her a whore, etc.
After all of his work, all of the fully fledged Trolls are laughing at pledge Troll Neal. So Sloan geniusly says that it’s too bad he wasn’t the guy who left the death threat for Will. This of course leads will to get into an IM conversation with Will’s actual death threatener and immediately calls Lonnie.
In other news, I think I may be starting to ship Sloan & Neal.
This whole plot seems sort of convoluted and weird, because Sorkin doesn’t understand the internet. But I am happy for Neal finally, possibly getting a news story he can take credit for putting on the air.
Notable & Quotable
- The screen name Neal is using is Blue Diamond, which is what Will told him his name means in the pilot.
- The song that closes the episode was also in Studio 60.
- Neal knows the exact time of sunset off the top of his head because he is made for me.
- The RNC guys are the West Wing psychologist that treated the president’s insomnia and Casey’s douchey boyfriend from Sigma Chi on Greek.
“I say the power going out is a good thing. I say the power going out is going to save this – SON OF A BITCH!” – Mac, when the power turns back on
“Miss – that dress screams Tonys. You’re going to win in that dress. You wear that dress and they’ll just start throwing Tony’s at your head. You’d have skull contusions if you wear that dress.” – Jim
“I don’t know if it’s been clear from my emails or phone calls, but I’ve been trying to woo you.” – Jim, to Lisa
“I said if I can balance my checkbook, why can’t the government balance its budget?” – Neal
“Mary, Mother of God, am I sick of that insane analogy. Balancing your checkbook is to balancing the budget as driving to the supermarket is to landing on the moon!” - Sloan
“I posted a link on your Wikipedia page detailing your rise from small-town stripper to big-time financial news reporter.” – Neal
“My Wikipedia page doesn’t say that.” – Sloan
“You’re going to see an emotional response on my face and a physical response directed at yours!”
“If I was a woman, I’d spend all day kissing other women. I don’t understand gay men or straight women.” – Jim
That’s all I’ve got. I’m tuckered out and you probably are too. If you got through that novel of a recap, I sure do appreciate it. Even after all that, I proably left something out, so hit up the comments and show me you care. I could really use it. In the meantime, I’ll be on Twitter, @MollytheGhost, live-tweeting my marathons of Teen Wolf and Battlestar Galactica.