REVIEW: The Newsroom — Season 1 Episode 5 — “Amen”

I have to be brutally honest here, in the interests of full disclosure: as I go into this episode, I’m at the point where I would have stopped watching this show if it weren’t required for class. I’d be watching Deep Space Nine on Netflix instead, because that show has only one main character I legitimately don’t enjoy watching (Captain Sisko, because Avery Brooks makes the weirdest choices in his speech and delivery, but that is neither here nor there).

Phew, glad I got that off my chest. Onward ho!



—   Oooh, it’s the Arab Spring. Riots in Egypt. Egyptian President Mubarak has just refused to resign, and protesters are not happy about this.

—   That’s sweet of you, Don, to care more about your reporter getting back on the air than about his safety when there is literally GUNFIRE right outside his window.

—   Maggie clumsily bangs open a glass door into Jim’s face. This is funny for some reason? Turns out she has BIG NEWS of another protest — a teacher protest in Appleton, Wisconsin.

—   It shows us them cutting clips of speeches and footage together. This is a super simplified version of what I watched my uncle do when I spent the day at his newsroom. He was doing an entire two-minute segment that would have voiceover narration from one of the anchors, not just a couple of clips, though.

—   Maggie hit Jim in the face with the door again. I’m rolling on the floor, show.

—   Will attempts to publically humiliate Mackenzie. I don’t find this funny, either. It’s just deeply uncomfortable.

—   And now they’re talking about the movie Rudy for some reason. This will totally have relevance down the line.

—   Jim is bleeding. I don’t know how you could get a gash like that from a flat glass door, but okay.

—   They need someone to be on the ground in Egypt, but he has to blend in and know what he’s doing and miraculously be credible to both sides. I suspect such a person exists only on TV shows about the news, not in the actual news.

—   Maggie doctoring Jim. So freaking contrived.

—   Scandal! Mac’s boyfriend is planning to run for Anthony Wiener’s seat if Anthony Wiener runs for mayor (LOL I KNOW), and from the screentime he’s been getting on News Night, it looks to the public like Mac is trying to get him elected.

—   Finally, Dev Patel’s character gets a backstory. Also his name is Neal. Too bad it’s so late in the series that it’s tough for me to care what kind of sob story background he comes from.

—   lol the magic reporter Neal found is named “Amen.” How punny.

—   The reporter Don was whining about did what Don wanted — went down to the street for a better picture of what was happening — and got beaten up. Good going, Don. I hope the rest of the episode doesn’t have a ton of Mopey Don, though. I think that would be worse than regular Don.

—   Mackenzie is admitting she has no clue about economics. Despite the fact that she has had an economics segment on the show for months that is SPECIFICALLY DESIGNED to EDUCATE THE PUBLIC about economics. Clearly it’s not doing a very good job if Mac can’t even understand it. Ugh, this show.

—   The network’s version of Good Morning America is hosted by that awesomely sleazy actor that I know from Pushing Daisies and Veronica Mars. And he’s being sleazy here too, blathering about the Mac/Will/Wade triangle for everyone to hear.

—   Maggie is now giving Jim gifts for him to give to Lisa on Valentine’s Day so that Lisa will leave her and Don alone on their romantic day. This is not awkward at all. I wish Maggie were funnier. She just comes across as petulant and demanding.

—   Skype with Amen, whose name is not actually Amen. Mac gives him instructions, he says he can do all of it.

—   Will is told that if he bribes the right people, he can get his name out of the tabloids. Ooh, looks like an ethical dilemma for newly ethical Will. So interesting.

—   Sloan is explaining the economy to Mac, who is too distracted by Wade calling her and that whole mess. I wanna know about the economy! Go away, Wade!

—   Mackenzie is still distraught over cheating on Will because he was “the perfect guy.” Barf. And I still know barely anything about the economy.

—   Amen’s gone missing! Oh noes!

—   The reporter who got beaten up was returned home safely! WOO! Don wants him to go on the air to let people know that journalists are being beaten up, but the reporter and Charlie don’t want to, for some reason. I’m actually with Don on this, surprisingly.

—   Now the gossip columnist from last episode is threatening to expose some scandal about Mac. It takes Will approximately half a second to decide to go with bribery for that.

—   They’re talking about the Koch brothers again now. Something about funding Citizen’s United. Honestly I have no idea what the context for this is on the show and why they’re pursuing this now.

—   So the Koch brothers bribed Supreme Court Justices?

—   It looks like Amen’s been captured or killed. I should be sad, but man, that was predictable. He’ll probably be found in the final few minutes and it’ll be all dramatic and triumphant.


—   Dramatic punching of a TV screen by Neal who is just too infuriated by Rush Limbaugh. Because changing the channel is just too hard.

—   Mopey, Guild-Ridden Don has surfaced. And I was right; he’s no fun either.

—   Jim tells Mac she deserved better than to be used by Wade for publicity. Mac says, “I deserved what I got.” Um, why? Because you were dating a guy when you really wanted to date Will? Or because you cheated on Will and so karma’s got your number? That’s the only even remotely plausible explanation for guilt like that and it’s still lame.

—   So Mac never told Wade that Will was her ex. That was dumb. Not evil enough to warrant being used, but dumb.

—   Dimly lit dramatic bribery scene with Will and the gossip columnist. Spooooky.

—   And she calls herself a journalist, and Will gets PISSED. He starts ranting about all the dedication of the whole team, how they haven’t slept and are totally crushed by the weight of the events they’re covering, thereby neatly drawing a coherent thread through all the random stuff that’s been happening. I see what you did there, Sorkin.

—   Lisa has come storming into the office because Jim totally forgot about Valentine’s Day, surprise surprise.

—   Maggie ranting the same way everyone always does about how Valentine’s Day sucks, except she’s obviously lying.

—   Jim and Lisa make up and I don’t care.

—   Everyone found out that Will paid $50,000 to get Mac out of the tabloids, and now they’re doing the whole Rudy thing where everyone comes to Will and offers some money to make it up to him. Everybody on cue: Awwwww.

—   Mac organized it. Will is stunned. They hug. Awwww.

—   Amen is back on Neal’s skype cam. They wave to each other and smile. Awwww.



Final Thoughts:

This was probably my favorite episode so far, though that isn’t saying much. It’s a Valentine’s Day episode, so there’s relationship drama up the wazoo, but that’s really not very different from the rest of the episodes. I know I keep making these comparisons, but I really miss the dynamics of The West Wing, how the romance was always kept to a bare minimum so that it added a bit of depth and humanity to the characters and didn’t simply define them. Also, the jokes were better.

What I did like about this episode was the fact that the stakes were higher, as Will so self-righteously points out in his rant to the gossip columnist. Journalists were actually taking risks to report stories, and the bosses were being forced to ask people to take risks on their behalf, e.g., the titular “Amen” was instructed by Mackenzie to try to get information on the Egyptian military. The way that played out was a bit weird, because it all happened off-screen and seemed to get resolved really easily, but okay, it was an interesting idea.

I was not really a fan of how, just as all females on this show express emotion and react to stressful situations by dissolving into hysterics, all the men seem to punch things. Deeply clichéd and stereotypical, and I’d have liked to see emotion sublimated some other way. Like have one of them knit a sweater or something, like Emerson Cod in Pushing Daisies. Or make pies, like Ned in Pushing Daisies. Man, I really should just go watch Pushing Daisies.


Rating: 3.5/5


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