“This is not a formal proceeding. You are not under oath.”
Despite those words from Atlantis Cable News attorney Rebecca Halliday (Marcia Gay Harden), Maggie (Alison Pill) knew she was in the hot seat as Sunday’s (Aug. 4) episode of HBO’s “The Newsroom” began. Written by creator and executive producer Aaron Sorkin, and directed by Carl Franklin (“One False Move”), “Unintended Consequences” also revealed the reason for Maggie’s short, red new hairstyle.
Though Rebecca tried to be disarming, a tense-as-ever Maggie was determined to “expunge the notion that I’m damaged.” While being deposed about her trip to Uganda with Gary Cooper (Chris Chalk) — really his name, though it initially cracked Rebecca up every time she heard it — Maggie recalled being around ACN before the trek, and pre-hair-change, to see Will’s (Jeff Daniels) on-air deconstruction of Occupy Wall Street activist Shelley Wexler (Aya Cash).
Just before that interview, Shelley had revealed she had a contact who might help support the so-called “Genoa tip” about alleged American use of sarin gas. However, her treatment by Will made her not only clam up, but also give Neal (Dev Patel)�a firm punch in the stomach when he persisted in wanting her to get him to the Genoa contact.
She then wanted an on-air apology from Will in exchange for her information, prompting Mac (Emily Mortimer) to step in … though she wasn’t willing to tell Will why she wanted him to apologize, which he basically refused to do through a series of looks and gestures. Mac then appealed to Sloan (Olivia Munn) for help in smoothing over the situation, again without specifying why.
Sloan and Neal double-teamed to apologize in Will’s place, but Shelley insisted on getting the make-good from the anchor himself. And Sloan was more harm than help, eventually matching an unmoved Shelley snark for snark. Don (Thomas Sadoski) also was enlisted, but he also did no good by criticizing the stubborn Shelley’s “debilitating persecution complex” to her face.
Finally, Will showed up where Shelley taught, and she allowed she was “terrible on the show.” In turn, Will admitted he had used her to further his identity as a moderate, further noting he was having “a crisis of confidence.” His honesty prompted her to cave, finally agreeing to identify her Genoa source … only for Will to reveal the person already had been found.
On the road, coverage of Mitt Romney‘s presidential campaign was going no better for Jim and Hallie (John Gallagher Jr., Grace Gummer) when they found their hotel rooms had been canceled after they were booted off the media bus. They ultimately secured one room to share with another compatriot, as Hallie carped, ‘These things aren’t supposed to happen to me. I went to Vassar.”
Just when it seemed Jim would never make any inroads with media handler Taylor (Constance Zimmer), her sudden and profane outburst at him — given as “the official comment of the Romney campaign” — led her to offer him “what you need to make you forget I said that.”
That turned out to be a one-on-one interview with Romney that he brokered for Hallie, allowing her to keep her job while under great pressure from her boss. Mac then let Jim know she was hugely displeased that he gave away the interview to “a girl you like,” having been informed of that by Taylor. And when Hallie found out how she got the chat, she deemed Jim’s move “insulting.”
Jim was called back to ACN’s New York headquarters, but not before Taylor told him, “I’m sure I’ll see you again.” And not before an actually appreciative Hallie engaged him in some passionate kissing.
As Maggie’s deposition continued, she revealed that en route to their ultimate destination, she and Gary had stopped at an African orphanage … where his camera terrified the youngsters, who believed that it was a gun, and that Gary and Maggie were so-called “cattle raiders” known for inflicting horrors on the locals.
Maggie grew close to one of the children, reading him the same storybook several times. The regular teacher explained to Maggie that the child had never seen her hair color before. “That color’s called ‘blonde,'” he told the boy, “and it’s nothing but trouble.”
And, indeed, trouble soon presented itself in the form of actual cattle raiders. As Maggie led her new young friend out from his hiding place under a bed and onto an escaping bus, she couldn’t translate that the invaders were ordering Gary in their native tongue, “Give us the camera.” And, as Maggie discovered aboard the bus, the youngster had been fatally shot.
Back in the deposition session, she told the inquiring Rebecca she wasn’t taking the meds she had been prescribed afterward, maintaining, “I’m fine.” But once she returned home, Maggie took scissors and coloring to her blonde hair, recalling how the fascinated child had stroked it.
And another chapter of the ongoing probe of Operation Genoa closed in an emotional, deeply personal way.