The transformation of Will McAvoy from being a sanctimonious windbag of a cable news anchor who never bothered to learn the names of his employees into a Jimmy Stewart-esque figure quietly helping people continued in the latest installment of The Newsroom with a nod toward the sentimentality of the inspirational film Rudy.
In the previous episode, Will guiltily admitted to his boss Charlie that he did indeed own a $4,000 custom-made suit but said he initially denied it because he knows he makes substantially more money than Charlie and the rest of the folks in the newsroom. In this episode, Will not only again made mention of the fact that he’s the only millionaire there — feeling a bit conspicuous about being in the one percent
Aaron Will? — but he used his hefty checkbook to attempt to stop the torrent of negative tabloid stories about Mac and to pay ransom for one of his show’s freelancers who’d been risking his life covering the Egyptian democracy movement for Will’s show.
Once Mac — who’s been wearing her guilt about cheating on Will like a gigantic, unfashionable millstone, her guilt ought to have its own Twitter feed — caught wind of Will’s good deeds, she attempted to pay penance with the little Rudy-inspired stunt of having ACN staffers line up to deposit checks on Will’s desk to help pay for their teammate Amen’s safe release. That was sweet, albeit kind of corny, as Mac and Will shared a heartfelt embrace against the backdrop of the lower paid employees queuing up to drop off their checks to “Coach” Will, their fearless leader.
It was an interesting juxtaposition, the “hero-izing” of Will while his underlings were throwing their bodies around in frustration and moral outrage. Seeing all of these guys walking around with bandages, stitches and slings, coupled with Mac and Will wearing their broken hearts on their lapels (Mac’s guilt about cheating on Will was magnified by news that her boyfriend was using her to raise his profile before launching a congressional campaign, and people felt sorry for her), was a sledgehammer of a metaphor. Seriously. They’re due for some group counseling.
What makes me really uncomfortable about how this unfolded? The women’s noble actions (Mac’s Rudy stunt, Maggie buying the Valentine’s gifts for Jim to give Maggie’s roommate, Sloan setting Will up and later giving advice to Mac) seem to be motivated by and/or connected to their personal/love lives, much more so than for the guys who seem to have higher minded morality driving their actions. All the physical injuries the men sustained happened because of how they felt about what they did at work. Yes, Will was willing to pay to protect the woman he loves from the gossip columnist’s clutches, but he was also protecting the integrity of his show in the process, a two-fer. However saving Amen’s life had nothing to do with Mac.
Sure, Mac’s Rudy moment was nominally about Amen, but it really wasn’t. Amen had already been saved by Will. The checks made out to Coach McAvoy was part of what I believe will be a long, drawn-out apology for embarrassing Will with her well publicized infidelity, to the point that her stepping out on Will was discussed on their own network. If they’re going to be spending so much time dissecting the love lives of the women, at the very least, Sorkin could be doing so, in roughly similar proportions, with their male characters as well.