Man, things are getting bleak over at ACN.
A dour, overwhelming sense of an impending endgame casts a pall over this episode, right down to Paul Lieberstein’s EPA deputy assistant administrator returning to inform Will and the crew of the upcoming end of the world. He nonchalantly deadpanned apocalyptic proclamations as Will, desperately trying to put a positive spin on his doom-and-gloom sound bites, interviewed him on-air.
But it’s not just the planet that’s on its last legs. Much like Earth itself, there are many groups and characters who appear to be ready to contribute to ACN’s potential downfall. And they certainly all made their presences known in this episode. Let’s break them down, shall we?
The FBI and the Department of Justice
The gang really went out of their way to make enemies out of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. As the episode continued where it left off last week, with the FBI seizing staff hard drives, Charlie and Mac got them to stand down when they threatened to go on air and report on what was going on in the newsroom. (This resulted in some bitchy bickering between Mac and Agent Levy, mostly about Levy not RSVPing to Will and Mac’s wedding.)
Halliday negotiated a weeklong cease-fire between ACN and the FBI, with Will, Mac, Charlie, and Halliday agreeing to meet at the titular D.C. building later that week. Unfortunately, they get greeted by a hardass Justice Department D.A., still upset that Will’s Nebraska alma mater football team beat his team at A&M. He informs them that Neal is in South America and will be deemed a radical. He also tries to get Will to give up the source unless he wants to look responsible for all of this. (Remember, Will gave Neal his credit card for that air-gapped computer.)
Tired of all the threats, Will, who tried to cooperate with the FBI during their investigation, regained his Sorkin-style self-righteousness by telling him he can’t help them anymore. He knows the government isn’t going to put him away for contempt — he’s a TV star! However, the Justice Department ended up having the last laugh when they subpoenaed him at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner to appear in front of an investigative grand jury.
Although they weren’t in this week’s episode, Randy and Blair’s presence still lingered. Since they couldn’t come up with the $4 billion to stop Blair from striking a deal with Savannah Capital, Leona and Reese had to tell Charlie that ACN needs to be spun off and sold to another buyer, and that buyer is ...
Although he’s not trying to destroy ACN, most of the newsroom is all ready to consider this mogul a foe, especially when Charlie says he has “ideas” that make Will, who wanted to give dude the benefit of a doubt, recoil with fear. When we later meet Pruit (played by B.J. Novak, yet another Office alum) at the Correspondents’ Dinner, we find out that Will’s — and everyone’s — fears were justified.
It turns out this guy is somewhere on the autism spectrum, constantly letting Charlie know that he was disappointed they didn’t meet initially in the ballroom and quietly upset he couldn’t get a drink with “a capful” of Schweppes Bitter Lemon. His ideas are also horrible — coming up with crowd-sourced channels where people stalk Danny Glover or whatever.
Wyatt Geary, the New HR Guy
It appears Sloan’s wish, which she made way back in the second-season opener, of having a more efficient HR person for ACN has finally come true. Unfortunately, the new HR guy (played by Keith Powell, a.k.a. Toofer from 30 Rock) is now out to separate Sloan and Don, who entertainingly agreed they were a couple in the last ep, if they find out they’ve been “fraternizing.” (Geary said they could get away with it if Don and Sloan’s show had stronger ratings like Will’s show, which explains why he isn’t hounding Will and Mac about their relationship.) Even though Don and Sloan both pretend to play it off at the Correspondents’ Dinner, with Sloan trying to convince Geary that she only dates A-list bachelors and Don isn’t on her level, he still insists — in a smirking, almost sinister fashion — he’s gonna take them down.
Hallie Shea (if Jim keeps pissing her off)
Poor Hallie. It’s bad enough she got fired from ACN because of that silly-ass, Republican-bashing tweet (which she took full responsibility for, even changing her Twitter bio to that girl who got fired from ACN because of that silly-ass, Republican-bashing tweet). But she’s also in a relationship with Jim, who looks like he’s in a neck-in-neck race with Mac for the title of the show’s most loathsome character. She’s being pursued by a new start-up called Carnivore — is that a shout-out to us? — to write for them. But instead of being the supportive boyfriend and telling her to go for it, Jim suggests she shouldn’t take the job because it included an incentive plan where the more page views she gets, the more she gets paid, possibly making her resort to writing tawdry stories just for the hits.
Jim, who appears to have no idea how online journalism works these days (even Maggie remarked he lives “in the time of King Arthur”), is also worried that Hallie will become a turncoat and start reporting on ACN’s scandalous woes. Obviously, this lack of loyalty in their relationship disgusts Hallie to the point where she practically went dead-eyed on his pitiful ass and told him to go to sleep before things got more uncomfortable. (She quickly reversed that decision, making him get back up to talk this out.)
Lilly Hall, a.k.a. “The Source”
We finally meet the source (played by Clea DuVall), who rolls up to a stunned Mac at the Correspondents’ Dinner, wanting to know why the story hasn’t been broken yet. When Mac tells her they’ve had to cooperate with the FBI, the source tells Mac that she will cooperate with them for only 96 hours. After that, if the story isn’t out there, she’s gonna upload it herself, possibly dumping it on Gwyneth Paltrow’s blog (which I would love to see).
It seems that Sorkin is intent on showing that no matter how much the gang believes they are the good guys (which Will tells them he’s not so sure they are — finally somebody said it!), fighting for truth, justice, and the American way might not save their asses in the long run. They have way too many enemies, not to mention a few people on their side who don’t have their best interests at heart.
I’m certain these people are going to make the next three episodes quite tense and unpredictable. But as ACN staffer Gary Cooper practically declared at the beginning of the episode, as he was singing the show tune on his way to the office, anything goes.
THOUGHTS AND STUFF:
- Speaking of Gary Cooper, he was certainly in zero-fucks mode this week. First, he cursed out Agent Hutchinson when he asked him his name. Then he had no qualms admitting in front of Don and Geary that he’s dated several of the women in the building. Dude is certainly living up to his name.
- Seriously, where the hell did New, Confident Maggie come from? From her clothes to her ballsy-but-eventually-well-meaning attitude, I’m feeling the hell out of Maggie Jordan these days. I especially loved it when she gave Jim a long-overdue dressing-down for being a pompous prick to Hallie — and in general.
- “I don’t get nervous. You know who gets nervous? Criminals.” Yeah, Don is still the best.
- Did Charlie have a brief stroke when he tried to explain to Will and Mac how much Leona and Reese have ACN’s back, or was that another, cute brain-fart moment?
- “This is a sad day for dignity — I’ll need a dress.” Yeah, Mac is still the worst.
So, lemme have it, Sorkinoids!