My name is Sarene Leeds, and I used to hate on The Newsroom. And I’m here to encourage all of you, whether you watched the first couple of episodes of season 1 and gave up or have been a devoted viewer through all three seasons (even if you continued to question why this show popped up on your DVR week after week), to watch the final three episodes of this series—which includes tonight’s installment, “Contempt.” Whether it’s because Aaron Sorkin decided he wanted to end The Newsroom without pissing off what audience he had left or it was all part of his master plan to leave the TV industry while on top, the last leg of this troubled HBO drama is going to tug at your heartstrings—even those of certain jaded recappers who have had more criticism than praise for the series up until now.
Whatever tedium that plagued episodes as recently as last week’s has now faded into the ether. And while the members of the Atlantis Cable News team have a good way to go until each employee reaches resolution in his or her respective story, it’s time to just sit back and enjoy the ride that Sorkin, Jeff Daniels, Sam Waterston, et al. have prepared for us.
The episode begins approximately five seconds after last week’s “Main Justice” ended, with Will McAvoy and the entire ACN staff—still at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner—gaping at his grand jury summons for refusing to reveal the name of Neal Sampat’s source of 27,000 stolen Department of Defense documents. The music from The Newsroom’s opening title sequence hasn’t even finished ringing in our ears when Will’s attorney, Rebecca Halliday, launches into an expository speech about what this episode the next week is going to entail: Will is going to make multiple appearances in front of a grand jury and a judge over the next few days, and in each instance he will remain tight-lipped. At the end of the week, he’ll be sent home because, like he said in the last episode, he’s “too big to jail.”
Almost all of Rebecca’s predictions do come to pass, which is why we’re able to put our concerns about Will on the back burner until the episode’s climactic scene and let a bunch of other story lines take the stage between the Saturday-night start of “Contempt” and its conclusion the following Friday. But before everyone can head back to New York to get cracking on Neal’s big scoop (reminder: his source, Lilly Hart, made herself known to MacKenzie McHale at the Correspondents’ Dinner last week and gave her a 96-hour deadline to get the story on News Night), Will, Mac, and Charlie Skinner have one more piece of business in Washington: Meeting with prospective ACN buyer, Wi-Fi guru and pomposity personified, Lucas Pruit.
It’s easy to immediately despise the-voice-of-a-millennial-generation Pruit (and you should, because he’s a douche) for the way he dismisses Charlie’s years of experience and devotion to hard news. But at the same time, his character serves as both a worthy adversary to the ACN team, as well as commentary on the direction journalism is going in the 21st century. Case in point, B.J. Novak’s Sorkin-ologue that lays out Pruit’s plans for ACN:
“The newsgathering of our newscasts will have tentacles in every reach of the Internet. Interactives, podcasts, live streams, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter. We’ll make our audience reporters in the field, through Instagram and Vine, Snapchat and blogs. Our users become the audience and our audience becomes the contributors.” The crowning touch here? Pruit delivers this mission statement while checking his phone. His attention span is no different from that of the viewers he seeks. But, despite Charlie’s own rock-solid argument against Pruit’s “patronizing” of a younger audience, given the network’s floundering status, the billionaire’s offer to “infuse ACN with tens of millions of new dollars in [its] budget,” as well as “get 18-to-25-year-olds to watch the news” cannot be ignored.
NEXT: Sloan Sabbith pulls a Tess McGill