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While Don continues to swing his dick, reminding Jim who’s boss, Neal magically puts two and two together and realizes that there may be a massive oil leak on top of the missing crew members. I wonder how he figured that all out so quickly. It’s almost like he’s psychic. Meanwhile, Don pulls Jim aside to tell him that Jim’s stepping on his toes and to knock it off. Then he asks about some Rose Bowl story while Jim gets a call.
As Jim runs out to take it, Will is talking down to Mackenzie like she was a naughty girl, letting her know that when he hires his new EP that person will interview all her people. Remember, he’s the “hero” of the series. She tries to give her staff one last pitch, but he dismisses her with a promise they’ll get a fair shake and he needs to write his script for that evening’s broadcast. Mackenzie gets up to leave but is suddenly overcome with the need to speechify.
She farts on about how when there’s no information or, worse, wrong information it leads to calamitous decisions like Oklahoma being governed by Sharia law or Jersey Shore and that’s why she produces the news, but Will’s become a mewling celebrity who’s so afraid to lose what’s left of his audience he’s one pitch meeting away from doing the new in 3D. (Please, that’s AC 360.) They argue about integrity v. profitability and whether or not the American people are preternaturally stupid, but she believes that if they do a news show with integrity someone, somewhere will watch it because we’re Americans and we can do better. Will stares at her briefly then tells her that whole speech did nothing for him. Again, he’s the “hero.”
Back in the newsroom, Jim ambles up to Maggie asking to speak with Don. Don gets his panties all twisted because Jim won’t respect his AU-THOR-I-TAHbut Jim wants to let him know that a “source” of his is an engineer with BP who’s been in meetings discussing how to cap the well. He won’t give up his source, but he does have two pages of notes, and Don walks off like Jim’s turning into Brundlefly. Meanwhile, Jim and Neal share a look because Jim’s noble and Neal’s British. Then Jim gets another call because he’s just that on it.
Back in Will’s office, Mackenzie tries to shine Will on by allegedly quoting Cervantes, in modern English, and Will corrects her it was Man of La Mancha. But her point stands, regardless. It’s time for her to start tilting at windmills and she needs Will to be her
ass donkey. He tries to blow her off, again, by saying he needs to write his script so she starts parroting the news about the Icelandic volcanic eruption that brought air travel to a halt but ending with the fact that the US was in no way responsible and is a country he still loves despite his going off the deep end…and we’re back in speechifying mode.
Will doesn’t want to get into the same old shouting match but she thinks she could help him win it, this time. When he asks what that looks like to her she says, and I quote, “Reclaiming the fourth estate.” Who talks like that besides the crazy voices in Aaron Sorkin’s fevered mind? Then as the music swells she continues speechifying about making journalism a noble profession, again, but…Network came out in 1976 and Broadcast Newswas in 1987. That fight was lost decades ago, if it ever existed, no matter how distinguished William Hurt looked in his suit. (The trick is to sit on the hem of your jacket.)
Mackenzie ends with one last flourish about a tipping point and being able to frame the debate and the piano tells us Will’s relenting because he loves a good Broadway reference as much as the next New Yorker.