'The Newsroom' Recap: Complicated States of Mind

In the fourth episode of season two, things go wrong in Africa and get cynical on the campaign trail.

[Spoilers ahead from Sunday's episode, "Unintended Consequences."]

Despite tumult on the campaign trail -- including a brief subplot on Rick Perry's offensively titled hunting ranch -- this episode was all about Maggie Jordan (Alison Pill) and her ill-fated reporting excursion in Africa.

Other highlights include an Occupy Wall Street organizer who gets lectured by Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels), an annoyed Mitt Romney rep who curses out a reporter and evidence revealed in ACN's Genoa tip investigation about whether the U.S. used sarin gas on Pakistani villagers.  

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The episode begins with a short-haired Maggie recalling her trip to ACN's lawyer, Rebecca Halliday (Marcia Gay Harden). Maggie and Gary Cooper (Chris Chalk) are sent to pursue a story about the U.S. combat troops searching for warlord Joseph Kony. During that time, they shoot video of soldiers helping out at an orphanage. One night, after hearing gunshots, the reporters woke up to find that there were armed men outside. 

The reporters try to escape and bring along one young boy with whom Maggie had read stories. The boy was hit with random gunfire and died. Maggie and Chris were flown home from Africa, and Maggie was scarred by the traumatic incident.

Once back in New York, she recalls being prescribed a psychotropic drug by a psychiatrist she was seeing, and cuts her hair in light of the incident. ACN's lawyer asks Maggie to explain what happened because she is a key part to the Genoa story -- which viewers already know turned out badly but don't know why. 

Elsewhere in the newsroom: Jim Harper (John Gallagher Jr.) is realizing the harsh reality of going Jerry Maguire on the Romney campaign bus and getting kicked off. He no longer has any early access to the candidate's statements, and his producer Mackenzie McHale (Emily Mortimer) is getting annoyed by Jim's principled stand.

It turns out that by peppering Romney's chief spokesperson (Constance Zimmer) with questions, she curses him out on the record. In exchange for not reporting her tirade, Jim asks a favor: that a 30-minute interview with Romney be granted to a rival reporter, Hallie Shea (Grace Gummer). 

Jim gives the scoop to his rival because, as one of the two other journalists who decided to ditch the campaign bus, she was subjected to harsh and inappropriate words from her supervisor. Shea is excited about the scoop until she finds out that it was Jim who made it happen. However, she eventually forgives him. 

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Back in New York, Neal Sampat (Dev Patel) succeeds in getting an Occupy Wall Street organizer on News Night. McAvoy, predictably, points out all the contradictions in the OWS movement and doesn't let her have a word. This organizer, inexplicably, has some information that might lead to evidence that may further the Genoa investigation. The newsroom team is dispatched to get McAvoy to apologize to the organizer, and he does, eventually. Sort of. 

Jerry Dantana (Hamish Linklater) and MacKenzie interview a new source who gives them a report indicating that it was, indeed, sarin gas used on the villagers in the remote village. They tell news president Charlie Skinner (Sam Waterston) about the report and he appears to begin contemplating that there's merit to the claim. 

The Newsroom airs at 10 p.m. on Sundays on HBO.