The Newsroom: Episode 5 - ‘Amen’ Recap


The long awaited coverage of the Egyptian protest and revolution was finally tackled in this weeks episode of The Newsroom.  ACN has sent Eliot to report from Cairo, however very little on site reporting could be provided due to the tremendous safety concerns.  The lack of coverage and usage of the same footage that all the networks are constantly streaming is frustrating the team at News Night.  Dom continues to be annoyed and aggressive towards the quality of work out of his anchor Eliot, to the point where he coerces Eliot to leave his hotel and start reporting from the ground.

As News Night is covering Tahrir square, Maggie informs Mackenzie in the control room of the developments and footage she has with the teachers union protesting outside a newspaper office in Appleton, Wisconsin with the Governor inside.  The national guard is being called in to control the protest which is growing vastly.  News Night with no current coverage cuts to this development.

After the show, Mack is greeted by her boyfriend, who is waiting to take her out and we also find out has been a guest on recent episodes of News Night.  Mackenzie was holding a meeting with producers so she opted to see him at the bar later.  Will enters the office to notice a quirky anecdote of Mack counts with her fingers in progress and grabs the attention of the entire staff to watch.  Mack then deflects by telling the staff that Will took tap dances lessons growing up.  This conversation, in ‘very Sorkin’ fashion, continues as the staff congregate and get seated in the meeting and ends with a synopsis of Rudy (a great football film by the way).

The purpose of this meeting was to address the need for footage from the ground of Tahrir square.  It is too dangerous for an American to cover so they need a local, reliable and credible correspondent.  Charlie pulls out Will and Mack to discuss the latest tabloid piece on their office.  Unknowingly to Mack, her boyfriend Wade is planning on running for Congress.  With Wade being on News Night 5 times out of the last 6 shows and now running for Congress, TMI is using the angle of News Night promoting Wade in his political ventures.  Mack feeling used, is comforted by Will before they return to the meeting with the staff.

In their return Neal has the perfect candidate by the name Amen (the hidden one in ancient egyptian) for providing on the ground coverage of Cairo.  Neal feels Amen is very much like himself.  He indulges in a personal tale of his experience of being in the bomb attack in London’s Underground.

Dom interrupts the meeting to ask Will to cover Eliot for his 10 o’clock block.  He informs  the staff that Eliot was beaten up as he left his hotel to provide on the ground coverage and the necessary arrangements are being made to bring him back home.

Mack gets Sloan to teach her about economics for an upcoming panel on whether if TV News is equipped to cover the economy.  We soon learn Mack has been giving both Sloan and Will free reign on their economic reporting due to her lack of knowledge and understanding of the subject matter.  Sloan agrees to be her tutor.

With Valentine’s Day approaching Maggie prepares Jimmy to take out her roommate so that Maggie and Dom can have a lovely evening of their own.

Meanwhile, Will and Mack are introduced to Amen, who’s real name is Kahled over Skype. They discuss the needs of his services and how they need him to no longer be anonymous.  Will is looking into reporting more about the Koch brothers and asks both Charlie and Mack for their thoughts.  Neither seem willing to back down regardless of the network’s plots against them and the attention they are getting from the tabloids.

Later, Sloan and Mack’s tutorial session continue over drinks.  Tonight’s lesson was the Glass-Steagall act and its later repeal.

While Eliot returns to the office to the cheers of the staff, Neal becomes concerned with the lack of communication with his Egyptian correspondent.  Dom is insistent that Eliot gets on the air right away to capitalize on the ratings with his incident.  However both Charlie and Eliot shut him down.

Gary, then informs Will, that TMI is going to run another article and this time they are going after Mack.  Hearing this, Will takes down Nina Howard’s number so he can sway her otherwise with perhaps some ‘protection money’.  Jimmy calls them both into a meeting about the reporting they are developing about the Kochs and Citizens United.  Neal interrupts to inform the staff that Kahled is missing.  The staff then sort out ways to find out about his whereabouts while Dom, Will and Mack futilely head to Reese’s office to get corporate to back them in locating and retrieving Khaled.  In his attempted heroics of breaking down Reese’s door Dom breaks his shoulder.

Mack has been ignoring Wade’s calls and now faces him as he comes to the office refusing to leave without talking to her.  She finally confronts him after News Night’s continued coverage of the Wisconsin protest and breaks up with him.

Meanwhile,  Will meets up discretely with Nina.  As he was about to cut Nina a cheque, Nina calling herself a journalist, which changed Will’s mind as he reflects on the ‘real’ journalists on his team.  He threatens Nina to back off before he rededicates his primetime show to ruin her.

On a less serious note, back to at the office, Maggie’s roommate Lisa is on a man hunt for Jimmy, for standing her up for Valentine’s day.  With the help of Maggie, Lisa calms down and the situation is smoothed over.

Mack later confronts Will about his whereabouts, then informs him that she is aware Will was the one who put up the money for Kahled’s release. Much like Rudy’s teammates in that infamous football film, the staff file into the office one by one, contributing their part in paying back Will for his contribution.

Once again Sorkin packs another episode like a can sardines with content.  However the subplots have taken a back seat to news after recent prominence.  Dare i say it? For once there was too much news!  It was interesting to see the process of including breaking news, while on air with an already produced segment.  However, that was all that was interesting.  The bread and butter of The Newsroom is the hindsight analysis; bringing to light new and interesting information that was not touched on last year when the news actually broke.  They touched on four major issues, the protest in Cairo, the protest in Wisconsin, the Glass-Steagall repeal and its effects on the debt crisis, and finally the Koch brothers involvement in Citizens United. None of these topics were in depth and two were just seeds planted by Sorkin for what to expect in future episodes.

Instead, The Newsroom focused on the human aspects and the courageous risks journalists take in covering news, especially in foreign lands. It did not in the slightest play on my pathos, especially Neal’s loss of temper and punching a monitor after being aggravated by the taunts of Rush Limbaugh.  It was not compelling, it was pathetic.  Its also a testament to lack of acting credence to this cast and heavy reliance of screenwriting, with a few exceptions.  Three staff members of ACN endure injuries in an office setting as penance for their commitment to news and medal like wounds to their conviction.  However it was Will’s dialogue and description of them as real journalists to Nina that was unequivocally convincing of their resolve, not the characters themselves.  That clash of the two rivals was definitely the most captivating scene.  Will’s calm yet stern and articulate fighting words to Nina, were technical in strikes and the expression of concern yet desire to call Will’s bluff was expressed with perfection.

I wish that Don would break up with Maggie already, to accelerate the matrimony of her and Jimmy.  Having to watch this love triangle is like pulling teeth.  By far the most ridiculous aspect of this show, is the unannounced appearances of characters who do not work for ACN.  Both Maggie’s roommate Lisa and Mackenzie’s boy toy Wade seem to be able to bypass security and enter the office of News Night as if they belong there.  Unlike the drawn out pairing of Maggie and Jimmy, Mack and Will seem like they are on the verge of round two of bliss.  Let us see if Will shall still hold Mack to her past transgressions.


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