If The Newsroom’s final season hadn’t been truncated from its previously 10 episodes to six, “Run” would’ve made a fantastic second act in a two-hour premiere. The episode takes place in the span of one day, and it starts at most a handful of hours after Will McAvoy made his “We’re not in the middle of the third act, we just got to the end of the first” declaration. From the looks of things, characters like Will, Charlie Skinner, and Neal Sampat racked up maybe a power nap between “Boston” and “Run,” but definitely nothing more than that.
Even though it’s really Charlie who gets the story line workout this episode, performing the intricate dance of a mediator between not one, not two, but three plot points, the focus is on Will and Neal, who spend most of the day ensconced in the conference room with Atlantis World Media attorney extraordinaire Rebecca Halliday (Marcia Gay Harden). Former lawyer Will and Rebecca are in the business of keeping their colleagues clients out of prison, especially when Rebecca makes no bones about Neal disregarding (unwitting or not) the law: “You committed espionage.” But self-righteous Neal, ignoring Rebecca and Will’s simple plan to keep him from having a criminal record (i.e. not running his story) wants to be the muckraking reporter who tells the world that 27,000 classified government documents leaked from the Department of Defense prove that the U.S. was responsible for spawning fatal riots in the fictional African nation of Kundu.
We’ll never know if Rebecca and Will would’ve been able to persuade Neal to drop the story in the name of avoiding jail time, but, as he’s done many times before on The Newsroom, Aaron Sorkin eliminated that hope by making MacKenzie McHale the proverbial “tripwire” (to use a Rebecca term). Once again, a woman, her big quixotic dreams of bringing truth to the masses and her uncanny ability to influence her fiance (who happens to be the managing editor and anchor of News Night With Will McAvoy) hijacked the Will/Rebecca/Neal negotiations upon learning from her FBI pal that “no reporter has ever been prosecuted under the Espionage Act.” Mac proceeds to push Will to run the story, because who cares if Neal goes to prison for, at most, six months? It’s all worth it in the name of necessary journalism, right?
Neal: “I consider [going to jail] a badge of honor.”
Will: “Well, be sure to show your badge to your roommates when you get there.”
Although, in Mac’s defense, she has a point when she says that if they don’t run the report, “the 39th person killed in Kundu is on them.”
After hours upon hours of witty Sorkin conference-room banter, Will plasters a knowing, avuncular look at Neal. The celebrity anchor motions his protégé to join him in the darkened News Night studio, not before giving his “sorority-girl” intern “Jen-NAH!” Johnson cryptic instructions about takeout menus and unidentified visitors to the Atlantis Cable News offices.
NEXT: What’s for dinner?