The Blackout, Part 2: Mock Debate

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Drama, USA, 2012

Synopsis "The Newsroom" - "The Blackout, Part 2: Mock Debate" - August 19, 2012We pick up where we left off last week with the studio being plunged into darkness thanks to a blackout. Turns out that the power's out in the whole building. Mac worries that the back up generators aren't kicking in.Will wonders if there's a contingency plan if the power doesn't come on by showtime. Mac sees this as an opportunity to get away from the crummy stories like Casey Anthony and Anthony Weiner. She says this will make them a team again. They'll go do the show in the plaza downstairs. They all come up excitedly with the plan to make it happen: generators, cameras, NYPD detail, satellite trucks. Mac is all fired up and loves that the power went out and thinks it's going to save the show. She is preaching and then the power comes back on. And everyone is sad that their big team effort has been thwarted.They go on the air with the Anthony/Weiner stuff with Brian the New York Magazine reporter looking on and taking notes. He asks Mac how she's feeling in the control room as the stories play out. She declines to answer but she's clearly uncomfortable.Jim tries to fire up the staff, and distract them from the sad story playing out on screen, by trying them to do mock debate prep.Sloan talks to Neal about wanting airtime for the debt ceiling debate and he talks about having to become an internet troll and is asking her about saying terrible things about her so he can get his bona fides. She agrees it would be a good story and gives him the go ahead to troll away.Brian is intervieing Mac at Hang Chew's. He tries to clear the air about how they both broke up with each other. She gets back to the story: Will is a heavyweight who was pretending to be a lightweight and now wants to be a heavyweight again. Brian posits that Will is lonely and that he pretended to be a lightweight because higher ratings made him feel less lonely.Jim and the staff are doing mock debate prep in a corner of the bar. Mac approves and then pulls Sloan away. Sloan asks how she's doing with Brian, she says she's fine. Sloan begs for more time on the debt ceiling.The next day Mac and Will discuss how long they have to keep wallowing in the Anthony/Weiner muck. He says a little while longer until they can get to Leona. He also wants a promotable guest. She wonders who the flowers in his office are from. He won't say.It's rundown time. Mac asks if there's anyone who can get a guest who knows Casey Anthony. Jim looks at Maggie. Maggie announces that Lisa went to high school with Casey Anthony. Will berates her into booking Lisa on the show. Maggie looks stricken.Maggie and Jim go to Lisa at the upscale dress shop where she works on commission to convince her to be on the show. Lisa already said no and says it's not a TV show it's a horror movie and she doesn't want to be part of the cast and she says she has no insight to provide. Jim and Maggie disrupt her very important sale to an actress going to the Tony awards. Jim essentially begs her to be on the show and says they wouldn't ask if they didn't need her. She looks at Maggie and says "Will and Mackenzie are counting on you?" And she says yes. Lisa agrees. Jim stays behind to ask again about the second first date and she stares him down.Will invites Don into his office and says the flowers came for him. Jim signed for them and looked at the card which wasn't in an envelope. He didn't let Maggie see. It's from another woman. Don tells Will that he and Maggie have broken up a lot over the past year and that he has gone out with other women who may not know he's back with Maggie, like the flower sender Jenna. Will, who says he now cares about the lives of the people who work here, says he will take care of it. Don reassures Will he's doing the right thing but wading into the tabloid muck to get the debate.Will heads off to therapy. We learn he had a physically abusive father who abandoned his family. He talks about going to a relationship website that suggested that the person being cheated on may bear a little of the responsibility. The therapist points out Will wasn't part of the equation: Mackenzie was rejected by Brian, took up with Will, Brian called, she took the opportunity to be unrejected and do the rejecting herself, it wasn't about Will it was about Mackenzie. They talk about forgiving Mackenzie. He says he understands it intellectually but can't do it and doesn't know why. The therapist says it was because he wasn't rejected, he was betrayed.Sloan checks in with Neal to see how his trolling is going. He's making a little headway by talking about her breasts as a government conspiracy. He also edited her Wikipedia page. She thinks he will be a good reporter and yells at him to re-edit her page.Jim brings the vet about the NSA guy and it's not good, he's got some black marks on his background including violating a restraining order. Charlie is not happy.Maggie asks Will and Mac, in coded language, to be gentle with Lisa. Jim goes to Lisa in the make-up room to make another case. Lisa points out that Maggie is her friend and she won't hurt her and since Don doesn't love Maggie Jim is on deck. Jim says he's been on deck for a year and he's no one's second choice. Lisa says she isn't either. Maggie comes in with information for Lisa to use on the show vis a vis her coded conversation earlier. It's info about the number of missing children in the U.S. Jim thanks her and tells her not to say anything she doesn't mean on the show.Lisa shows up on the show and at first does really well, pointing out that she didn't know Casey Anthony well in high school and neither did anyone else showing up on TV. She then pivots to the talking points about abused children that Maggie gave her. But then she goes off script and brings up abortion much to Jim, Maggie, Mac, and Will's chagrin.Jim is sleeping when his phone rings. He goes to Lisa's boutique in the middle of the night and see that someone has written "Baby Killer" across it. Maggie and Will also show up. Will talks to her boss.Will gets a visit from Adam Roth and his RNC associate Greg Tate. We learn that he and Will worked with the first Bush. Roth was his body man and Will wrote policy speeches.They present their debate concept with all the staffers wearing a candidate's name, i.e. Mr. Gingrich, on their sweatshirts. Basically there are no rules. They can each make an opening statement. Then they move to Will's questions. The News Night staff each stands in for candidates as Will questions them. It's very attacking and it's clear the RNC people do not like this format.In fact, he's very angry. The RNC guy goes to speak to Adam privately in Will's office. Then Will busts in. They argue loudly enough for the newsroom to hear. The RNC guy thinks that Will has lost his mind and that no one could stand up to that kind of questioning. His friend Adam Roth says they should welcome this debate because it will clear out the clown car leaving only serious candidates. The RNC guy says the only person who welcomes this is Will who will make them look like idiots. Adam vouches for Will. Greg says it doesn't matter and that he wants the "old" Will McAvoy not the person Mac changed him into and doesn't want her producing the show. Will kicks him out. Greg goes to Don to offer the debate to Elliot and Don tells him "eat me." He goes to Sloan, who tells him to fuck off. Greg says to Adam that he hates these people and he doesn't understand why Adam likes them. Adam sheepishly says goodbye.Will apologizes to the team still standing around the newsroom in their mock debate stances and sweatshirts.Brian tells Mac that Will cave on the debate and that Mac wasted her time and that it was all hubris and then they start fighting about their personal issues. He then says he himself never would've caved on Casey Anthony no matter how much audience he lost. Mac goes back on him and says the thing she likes about Will is that he isn't so goddamned sure of everything like Brian is. That Will struggles with things.Mac goes to Will to tell him that perhaps Brian isn't the best person to write the story. Will admits that he brought him in to punish her. Mac starts freaking out about the week: Casey Anthony, compromises, Brian hanging over her. Will tells her to calm down, to throw out the rundown and it's time to get back in serious business. He tells Sloan she'll be on for two segments to talk debt ceiling. She's thrilled. He yells over to Brian to "just write the truth."Sloan goes to Neal who is being laughed at as a troll. She says it's too bad Neal's not the guy who left the death threat for Will. They both realize silently this would have him taken seriously. Sloan says that's a dangerous area.Mac looks around the newsroom and everyone is happily back at work. Mac calls Jim over and tells him to keep pursuing Lisa. (I think.) She tells him to "gather these rosebuds while ye may." He says he will gather his rosebuds.Later Maggie gives Lisa the go ahead saying her crush is over and Jim is trying really hard to woo her. Don is at their place trying to fix their AC. Jim shows up at midnight. Don makes fun of the mock debate, sweetly. Jim shows up and sees Don. Lisa tells him Maggie talked her into giving him another try. They kiss. Maggie's smile wilts a little. He and Lisa go for a walk. Don confesses to Maggie about the flowers and Jenna. (He thinks Jim had actually come over to tell Maggie about the flowers he signed for and to gather HER as his rosebud. Lisa intercepted him. Don interrupted him. Lisa said she was convinced and kissed him. That's how Don sees it.)Adam and Greg watch the totally frivolous Republican debate on another network and drink in a bar.Charlie goes over the psych evaluation of his potential NSA whistleblower.Neal does his internet trolling and finds the person who threatened Will's life. Neal calls Lonny.Will surfs over to the relationship website he told his therapist about: "Help Me Rhonda."

Directed by Alan Poul  

Starring Jeff Daniels, Emily Mortimer, John Gallagher Jr., Alison Pill, Thomas Sadoski, more...

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