In saying goodbye to veteran journalist Charlie Skinner (Sam Waterston), HBO’s “The Newsroom” also said farewell to viewers by wrapping its third and final season with Episode 25: “What Kind of Day Has It Been.”
In the previous installment, Charlie died of a heart attack after accusing his staff of “mutiny” for failing to respect new ACN owner Lucas Pruit (B.J. Novak), who insists on airing stories with social media appeal rather than news value.
Executive producer Don Keefer (Thomas Sadoski) and financial analyst Sloan Sabbith (Olivia Munn) were openly rebellious at the cable network. Now they feel guilty for possibly triggering Charlie’s death.
“It was a showdown and he lost,” Don explains to “News Night” anchor Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels) as they drive to the cemetery. Will wasn’t in the studio that fateful night because he was behind bars for refusing to reveal the identity of a federal whistleblower.
When Don meets widow Nancy Skinner (Joanna Gleason), she assures him that the news team wasn’t the cause of Charlie’s stress. It was Lucas and his irrational ideas.
“He wasn’t angry that you guys were fighting him,” Nancy says of her late husband. “He was counting on it.”
As for Lucas, he’s being lambasted in the media for underpaying female employees at his soft drink firm. He’s also getting flack for hiring gorgeous models to appear as “living art” at his 35th-birthday bash.
“You have a PR problem because you have an actual problem,” points out Leona Lansing (Jane Fonda), who recently sold ACN to Lucas. She advises Lucas to counter the sexism charges by naming a woman to take Charlie’s place as news director.
And the best woman for the job, Leona says, is Mackenzie “Mac” McHale (Emily Mortimer), who stubbornly resists ACN’s social media focus. That’s a plus, according to Leona, because Lucas doesn’t want the kind of network he thinks he wants.
“If you got it,” Leona warns, “you’d be like the dog that caught the car.”
After Mac accepts Charlie’s former position, she names Jim Harper (John Gallagher Jr.) to succeed her as “News Night” executive producer. In turn, Jim offers to promote his girlfriend of less than a week, Maggie Jordan (Alison Pill), to senior producer.
But Maggie hopes to be hired as a field producer in Washington, D.C., where she’d be in line to cover the White House. Taking that job, however, means moving away from New York City and from Jim.
“Have you had a lot of long-distance relationships?” Maggie asks cautiously.
Yes, Jim admits. But none of those girlfriends lasted because “I wasn’t in love with them.”
“Wait … what?” is Maggie’s startled reaction to the “L” word.
While Mac and Jim are getting promoted, digital media specialist Bree Dorrit (Jon Bass) is getting his comeuppance for trivializing ACN Web content.
“You embarrass me,” says Neal Sampat (Dev Patel), who proudly managed the website until he fled to Venezuela in connection with the whistleblower case that landed Will in jail.
Only useful information will be posted from now on, Neal orders Bree, because “we’re going to rebuild the whole thing.”
Finally, Will delivers a heartfelt eulogy for Charlie, his wise counselor and best friend.
“Charlie Skinner was crazy,” Will says with a smile. “He identified with Don Quixote, an old man with dementia who thought he could save the world from an epidemic of incivility simply by acting like a knight.”
And he’s not the only ACN journalist with such lofty goals.
“So this fight is just getting started,” Will emphasizes, “because he taught the rest of us to be crazy, too.”