Let's start with the ending of Sunday's episode of "The Newsroom:" the return of Leona Lansing and her powerhouse speech. "You will resign when I fire you out of petty malice and not before," she tells Will, Charlie and MacKenzie, who have come to her to quit over the Genoa controversy. She has every right to fire them – the rest of the episode laid out the places, Jerry's doctored tape aside, ACN failed in vetting the story. "You don't make me a nickel and cause headaches for the divisions that do," Leona says (and this season began with one such headache – Atlantis Media getting kicked out of the SOPA meeting due to Will's reporting on the tea party). "But you make me so proud," she admits.
Jane Fonda is electrifying playing the queen bee. With her ball gown, her smudge-proof make up and mastery of nicknames, Leona is nearly a goddess and her intervention in the Genoa arch is almost deus ex machina itself.
"We don't have the trust of the public anymore!" Charlie yells.
"Get it back!" Leona demands, and cut to black.
With her speech, the episode, titled "Red Team III," ends with a bang. The episode started with a bombshell as well: that the big, scary lawsuit that had framed the entire season was in fact a wrongful termination suit from Jerry Dantana accusing ACN of institutional failure. It seems ridiculous at first, since it was he that cooked the key Stomtonovich interview. But as the Genoa story begins to unravel, there were other lapses of judgement as well. We learn that Mac asked another Genoa participant leading questions, none of which about the traumatic brain injury that makes him a questionable witness. Charlie's Pentagon source, it turns out, was on a revenge mission and Will may have been tricked by the very same flack. But because the news team worships Will so, no one bothered to press him on who he heard the Genoa story from.
And cheers to Rebecca for calling out Jim on being a wimp: "Your heart was a little dinged up so you wanted to get out of town for a while and that's why you weren't available to do your job." Meanwhile, Sloan is mocked for reading the tea leaves in the Pentagon's response to Genoa "This isn't like the time Chip left you a message in eighth grade and you and your friends did a lab analysis to figure out if it meant he liked you," Don teases, and aside for being misogynist, his dismissal of her concerns proves to be hasty.
Of course the final piece of the puzzle, the cuts to the Stomtonovich interview, was hidden in plain sight, and painfully so. "Do any other sports have enforced pacing?" Mac asks Will, in an excruciating conversation about shot clocks. (Seriously, who asks questions like that?) But it's not until Mac is given an actual shot clock that she finally notices that the shot clock jumps in Jerry's footage.
The episode had other weak points as well. Its treatment of the actual Genoa broadcast is heavy-handed, with dramatic orchestrations and dour faces among the staff. And in the fallout from Genoa, "News Night" wusses out from running another big story – that the Benghazi assault was a premeditated attack, not a spontaneous protest. They get the tip from a mysterious "source at State." Yet again, monumental stories seem to fall in the laps of our news heroes. The Genoa story – even though ultimately false and full of errors — at least showed how difficult and hazardous news gathering can actually be.
Throughout the episode, Will brings up chance occurrences that changed history – the Chicago mayor who was shot instead of FDR, Rosa Parks being selected as a civil rights symbol, the Challenger space shuttle explosion. In doing so, it's not clear if he actually believes that he is responsible for the institutional failures Jerry is accusing ACN of – resignation intentions aside – or too just the victim of chance. No matter, because Leona Lansing has come to the rescue.