After going on the air and calling each of the Republican nominees for President a group of “witless bullies and hapless punks” for not standing up for a gay soldier asking a question at the latest Republican primary, Will (Jeff Daniels) learns the story of his being taken off the 9/11 coverage has been leaked. At first Sloan (Olivia Munn) believes she may be the cause of the leak, but a little more investigation into just what exactly Nina Howard (Hope Davis) knows leads Will and Charlie to discover that Reese (Chris Messina) is responsible and their bullet-proof blackmail tape might as powerful as the pair originally believed.
On the road Jim‘s (John Gallagher Jr.) consternation with the Romney campaign’s refusal to offer more than the day’s talking points, defend (or even state) the Governor’s positions, or allow Jim access to the candidate begins not only to irritate the campaign staff but Jim’s fellow stringers (and more than likely a few viewers) as well. Eventually Jim’s frustration, which is still being fueled from the fallout with Maggie (Alison Pill), explodes in a show of civil disobedience and call to action that gets not only him but two other reporters (Grace Gummer, Cameron Gharaee) kicked off the campaign bus in the middle of nowhere. I’m hoping Jim returns to the newsroom soon as the subplot has run its course and is really only continuing to allow the Operation Genoa story to be investigated in his absence.
The newsroom itself is no less chaotic as Will threatens the staff while searching for the leak and Jerry (Hamish Linklater) rounds up a group of staffers to find a second source once he and MacKenzie (Emily Mortimer) meet with a soldier about Operation Genoa who is more credible than MacKenzie was expecting. Continuing the improbability of the show’s fictional story (which only three episodes in is already wearing thin) only at the last minute, when the story is about to be killed, does a second source finally present itself.
There’s much to like about “Willie Pete” including the unexpected turn of events that wipes the slate clean for Reese and Will and the unusual, but effective, way Will reasons with Nina to kill the story about the 9/11 coverage. I’m far less excited about the Nina’s relationship with Will, which will no doubt end in further drama and disaster for both the anchor and the show. There are a couple of nice scenes between Sloan and Don (Thomas Sadoski) as well, and I even enjoyed the buffoonery of his desk chair. Some of the other stories are getting a bit tired, however. Occupy Wall Street is brought up again, but only in passing as Neal (Dev Patel) continues to fight for a story no one else sees merit in, other than the obnoxiousness of Romney’s staff (which is arguably less than Jim’s) and Will’s chastisement of the candidates to open the show the episode does little to actually report on the primaries, and Maggie gets a new reason to be crazy (as if that was needed) when she discovers the possible side effects of the drugs she needs to take to go to Africa (which it appears we’ll finally get to in the next episode with return of Marcia Gay Harden and the depositions).