Maggie, Jim and Don
On the other side of the newsroom, the love triangle is still here. When Maggie has a panic attack after a staff meeting, Don is unbothered by it and says she simply needs to be left alone, while Jim decides to go after her and finds her on the terrace. He calms her down and the two seem to have a bonding moment.
Maggie tells Jim that despite how he might have come off in the past, Don is a good guy. In response, Jim points out that she and Don have broken up four times since he started working at ACN two months ago. He thinks that if she keeps going back to Don, they must clearly have something together, and advises her that she needs to stop breaking up with him.
By the time we get to Election Night 2010 (apparently this show takes place two years ago), Don and Maggie have split again and this has made Don an even bigger jerk than usual. Fed up, analyst Elliot tells Don to stop being a prick and get over it. At the end of the episode, Don and Maggie are seen embracing, suggesting that they've reconciled yet again and Jim has missed his chance with her, having only himself to blame.
Maybe it's me, but Don is a character I just can't warm to yet. He doesn't just come off as a jerk in this episode; he's felt like a jerk from the pilot, and I can't understand why Maggie keeps going back to him. I desperately need to see his humanity or a little more depth so that I can embrace him as part of the team. Right now, he doesn't feel like a team player. Then again, I have a better handle on Don than I do Sloan Sabbith, who still seems like an unnecessary addition.
As Will continues to raise eyebrows everywhere, Charlie is called into a meeting with Leona Lansing (Jane Fonda), who is the boss of ACN's parent company, Atlantis World Media. She is not happy with Will, informing Charlie that she has business before Congress that Will's comments are threatening, and orders him to reign in his anchor. Charlie gives as good as he gets, retorting that it's not his job to serve her business interests. It's great material for Sam Waterston, who still has that ability to deliver a great statement just as he did each week as Jack McCoy on Law & Order.
But Leona and her son Reese (Chris Messina) aren't done. Leona says that if Will doesn't back off, she'll just fire him, even if it means finding the right "context," which means manufacturing a justification for his dismissal. That's probably going to come back and haunt somebody later this season.
"The 112th Congress" both showcases some of The Newsroom's strengths (its leading man, its epic dialogue, its ability to provoke the audience to thought) and exposes some of its flaws (underdeveloped relationship subplots, characters that don't quite fit). It's not a perfect episode, but I love it because it put a smile on my face and made me think about something rather than just sit back and tune out.
Someone else once wrote that the show doesn't ring true because it's set in our world, and we know that in our world, news isn't like this. But I'd argue that's the point: The Newsroom shows us what real news could be. The West Wing never presented itself as a political documentary and The Newsroom isn't trying to be completely accurate either. When I watch this show I get excited about the news, and a little about life, and that's what matters to me.
Thomas Newman's opening theme is the best original title tune on the air, and my favorite since Bear McCreary scored the first season of Human Target. It somehow evokes both the grandeur of reporting on an entire nation and something much more individual and intimate.
As someone who worked in news a long time ago, I'll admit that Newman's theme gets me choked up, because it reminds me of the wide-eyed idealism I had when I first walked into my newsroom, thinking that I was going to affect the world. In that sense, the music perfectly reflects the sentiment of the series, and that's what TV themes are all about. Bravo, Mr. Newman.
For more from Brittany Frederick, visit my Starpulse writer page and follow me on Twitter (@tvbrittanyf).
(c)2012 Brittany Frederick/Digital Airwaves. Appears at Starpulse with permission. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted.