“Bullies” happened during the April 2011 nuclear disaster in Japan.
Six episodes into The Newsroom, and it appears that Will McAvoy is beginning to wrap his head around, well, his own head. “Bullies” took place from the luxurious leather chair of Will’s psychologist, who he’s had appointments with the past four years, but has never kept. Meaning, he’s been paying a psychologist for an hours worth of time every Wednesday, but never seeing him.
Playing character psychologist, it’s easy to see why Will does that: he feels better about knowing help is there, but he doesn’t have courage to face his problems. Will’s a man who suffers from anxiety and depression, which has led to his long-running bouts of insomnia. He does a hell of a job of masking it externally, and coddling himself internally. Until this episode, of course.
The episode was a series of flashbacks that Will recalled from his shrink’s office. In one flashback, while on-air, Will bullied a gay Black aide for former presidential candidate Rick Santorum, after Santorum had repeatedly voiced his lack of respect for the gay community. It led to the man taking over Will’s own air, lashing out at Will for defining him by only his race and color—a powerful moment where Will’s own crusade for the truth at the top of an all-protecting high-ground crossed moral grounds. In another flashback, Will gave a pep talk to Sloan, who had been tapped to fill in for Elliot for the 10 pm broadcast. Will berated her for letting her guests get off the hook too often, and not asking tough follow-up questions. Emboldened by his speech, Sloan went rogue on air while interviewing a Japanese plant worker about the reactor meltdown, which then led to Charlie getting frumpy at her (despite all of the yelling, Charlie’s hair didn’t move one inch. Remarkable), and Sloan making the best cutie-pouty face I’ve ever seen. We’re not any closer to getting Sloan half-naked (damn you, Sorkin), but watching her speak fluent Japanese was a weird fucking turn-on. Who’s with me on that?
But what would an episode of The Newsroom be without a little love? Don, growing concerned about the way Jim and Maggie interact in the office, went to Sloan for advice. He’s finally catching up to the rest of us. Mackenzie, who found out that Will had almost moved to LA in 2006 to host a late-night show on FOX while they were dating, stormed into Will’s office. Apparently the LA move would’ve meant an end to their relationship, and therefore no marriage. While Mackenzie ranted on, Will unlocked a drawer in his desk, and presented Mackenzie with a Tiffany ring that he had bought for her in 2006. This did nothing but upset Mackenzie even more. The thought that they could’ve been married had she not cheated on him ruined her day. Oh, what could’ve been. As it turns out, Will anticipated all of this (somehow), and had just bought the ring that day as, in his words, a “prank.” His psychologist described it as “not normal.” He’s got that right. It was no prank—it was another Will McAvoy mind game to win Mackenzie back. After claiming that he’d return the ring, the closing scene showed Will ripping up the receipt.
Will’s determined to be with Mackenzie again, but he’s too stubborn (not strong—stubborn) of a man to beg for her. No. She cheated, so she’s coming back to me. “She make me beg for it, till she give it up.”
“Too busy thinking about my baby.”
After a few weeks of corporate struggle, it all took a backseat to Will’s sleepless mind. The themes of love and workplace stress are nothing new to Will, but his guilt about Sloan and the Santorum aide interview caused everything to come to a T. The psychologist ended up prescribing a sleeping pill, but only after telling Will to stay away from his nightly eating bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches before bed—bacon contains tyramine, which is an amino acid that releases norepinephrine, a stimulant that keeps people awake. Tyramine is also found in ham, cheese, sausages, tomatoes, peppers, fish, smoked meats and chocolates. It’s about midnight my time, so I think I’ll go with a bowl of cereal as a snack instead of chocolate ice cream this time. I’ll be up thinking about Olivia Munn’s pouting face all night if I don’t.
Follow Justin on Twitter @jblock49