The Newsroom returns to HBO tonight with an all new Sunday December 14, season 3 series finale called “What Kind of Day Has It Been?,” and we have your weekly recap below. On tonight episode, in the series finale, a shocking death prompts Will and Mac to reminisce about the newsroom’s past and ponder ACN’s uncertain future. Meanwhile, Maggie gets an interview for a field producer in Washington, D.C.; Leona offers advice to Pruit; and Neal’s digital site it shut down for repairs.
On the last episode, incarcerated for contempt, Will (Jeff Daniels) refused to reveal the name of Neal’s (Dev Patel) government source. Appearing to embrace Pruit’s (B.J. Novak) mandate to capture younger viewers, Charlie (Sam Waterston) orders a reluctant Don (Thomas Sadoski) to track down principals in a sexual-abuse case at an elite college. Sloan (Olivia Munn) voices her objection to a new digital site built by Neal’s replacement, Bree (Jon Bass). Stranded in a Moscow airport, Jim (John Gallagher, Jr.) and Maggie (Alison Pill) look to land seats for a Cuban-bound plane, hoping to interview one of its high-profile passengers. Did you watch the last episode? If you missed it, we have a full and detailed recap right here for you.
On tonight’s episode as per the HBO synopsis, “a sudden death leads Will and Mac (Emily Mortimer) to ponder the milestones that transformed the newsroom, and look ahead towards ACN’s uncertain future. Maggie lands a field-producer interview in Washington; Neal’s digital site is shut down for repairs; Leona (Jane Fonda) offers sage advice to Pruit.”
You aren’t going to want to miss any of the unfolding action tonight. We’ll be recapping the season 3 finale live right here for you at 9pm. In the meantime, while you wait for the recap, check out a sneak peek of tonight’s episode below!
Everyone’s at Charlie’s funeral. Choir song opens the episode. Inside the church, Charlie’s casket comes into view. Everyone is singing, including Will. Outside, Mack is on the phone. Before going back inside, she breaks down. When she returns, she has pulled herself together, and joins Will. She tells him that that was her doctor on the phone. She’s pregnant.
Flashback: 3 Years Earlier —
Will screams for Ellen. Maggie comes to his aid. He needs new ties. He charges through the studio acting like he’s the king. He starts his segment. Charlie watches the broadcast from his office. After the show, Will goes in to talk with Charlie. Charlie wants him to start reporting the news — and he’s kind of irritated that he spent a five-minute plus segment on the weather. Later, Charlie’s seen giving Will a pep talk. He also asks if he’s ever given fatherhood a thought. At the end of the conversation he tells him that fatherhood really lives up to the hype.
Back in the chapel, Will’s smiling as he remembers Charlie’s advice.
Outside the chapel, after the funeral, Will’s giddy about Mack’s pregnancy — though he’s also filled with nervous jitters.
Leona pulls Mack aside and tells her to ride with her and Pruitt.
Jim and Maggie are riding in the car. She receives an email saying that she’s been given an interview for a field producer job in D.C. Jim reveals that he recommended her for the job. She hugs kisses him, then hugs him, though the expressions she gives while looking over his shoulder is anything but elated. If she moves to D.C. she’ll be away from Jim, her love.
Meanwhile, Leona confronts Pruitt about his other companies and the news that’s been surrounding him as of late: His apparent discrimination towards women both in his workplaces and in his personal life. Leona is a powerful woman, and extremely smart, and she offers to help him. Mack still has no idea why Leona brought her along.
Don, Will, and Sloan are in the car together. Don and Sloan think it’s important that Will know about the events that led up to Charlie’s heart attack. Sloan tells him about her interview, which she admits made Charlie more mad than she’s ever seen him, and Don prepares to tell how he defied Charlie as well.
Mack is bowling in the middle of the day. Her job outlook is slim, but she receives a visit from Charlie. He wants her to take over the show as executive producers.
In the studio, Sloan asks where she can find Don’s office. She walks in and confronts him about poaching a guest from her show; at this time, she didn’t work on News Night.
Charlie continues to attempt to convince Mack to take the job as new EP.
Present Day —
Everyone pulls up for the cemetery service. Leona gets out of the car and tells Pruitt that, despite him hiring the best PR people in the city to dilute his blunders, he has a PR problem in the first place because he has “an actual problem.”
Don continues to reveal to Will how he added stress to Charlie’s last moments. Will gets out of the car and says, “Should we go bury him now or do you two feel like you’ve done that already?”
Charlie watches the clip of Will going off at the conference at Northwestern University. Later, he receives a call from Mack. She’ll take the job.
Next, we see the event that incited Sloan to (want to) ask Don out for coffee. It was just after he was demoted and removed from the ranks as Will’s EP. She’s just about to leave when she has the urge to go back into the studio. Once there, she sees him kissing someone else. Somewhat crestfallen, she leaves.
Mack visits Jim, who recently broke up with his girlfriend, Audrey. Mack wants Jim to be her second, the producer right under her. She wants his help in changing the face and direction of ACN.
Will receives word that Neal’s plane has landed.
Jim wants to talk with Maggie. Maggie’s a little hurt that he didn’t even consider the fact that he was recommending her for a position that would lead her away from him. They fight a little, with Sloan mediating in all her socially awkward glory, and eventually break up. Maggie thanks him for the recommendation and says that she won’t view their recent coming together as anything more than a hookup. Jim looks hurt; obviously, Maggie doesn’t feel this way, but she’s unsure of where Jim’s interests, motivations, and intentions fully rest.
Leona continues talking to Pruitt about his network and his current predicaments. She makes the argument that the news director should always be challenging the owner of the network, just as was true with her relationship with Charlie.
The new ACN Tech Team is working on a new story: The 9 Most Overrated Movies Of All Time. Their computers run into a problem. They shut down. Neal’s back. He shut down their computers from his phone. He says that he’s embarrassed by their behavior. He says that he worked a long time to build up the reputation of ACN Digital and for people, mostly the figures he looks up to in the newsroom, to accept it as a respectable source.
Mack wants Will to say a few words about Charlie before everyone leaves. He’s not sure what to say, though, as everything that comes to mind just feels “reductive.”
Don musters up the courage to tell Nancy, Charlie’s wife, that he may have played a role in Charlie’s death — meaning, adding stress to his life that provoked his heart attack. Nancy thanks him for his honesty but that she hardly thinks this is the case. She tells him that Charlie, ever since Pruitt took over the company, had been counting on the fact that his loving employees would fight for what’s right. Nancy gives Don one of Charlie’s bowties as a keepsake. Don’t touched.
Will finds Charlie’s grandson in the garage with all the instruments. Charlie’s grandson asks if his grandpa was in any pain when he died — and if he was scared in the moments leading up to his death. Will confesses that he wasn’t there at the time of death but has something that might cheer him up and make things a bit better. He starts playing “How I Got To Memphis,” the song that was playing in Charlie’s office when Charlie revealed to Will that his grandson has started a band — and is a savant when it comes to learning new instruments.
Will begins playing and, soon, Charlie’s grandson adds his bit with the bass. Next, Jim walks in and picks up a guitar. Before long, the entire ACN crew is either singing along, playing along, or observing this magical moment.
Mack gets a little ticked off that Will spilled the beans about her pregnancy. Then, Pruitt pulls Will aside to talk with him about something. Leona looks on, a mastermind’s grin painted across her face.
Will and Mack are about to leave the party when Will, spontaneously, announces he’d like to say a few words.
“I’ve been trying to piece together what happened last Monday night. Everybody’s been giving me their accounts — seems everybody thinks they’re somehow responsible for Charlie dying and, of course, that’s ridiculous. It was Sloan,” he says jokingly. “Charlie Skinner was crazy. He identified with Don Quixote, an old man with dementia who thought he could save the world from an epidemic who could save the world from uncivility simply by acting like a nut. His religion was decency, and he spent a lifetime fighting its enemies. I wish he could be here to learn the name of his successor, like I just did. Our new boss, the new president of ACN, is Mackenzie McHale.” Mack looks surprised; she looks over at Leona, who winks at her. “So this fight is just getting started,” Will continues, “Because he taught the rest of use to be crazy, too. You were a man, Charlie. You were a great big man.”
Everyone returns to the newsroom.
Mack promotes Jim to EP of ACN’s flagship News Night. Jim thinks Mack should offer it to Don, but Mack says Don turned it down. “I won’t let you down,” Jim says. “You never have,” Mack returns.
Jim heads out into the studio and offers Maggie the position of senior producer. She says that she’s still going to interview for the DC field producer job because that has always been her dream. Jim confesses that their relationship, fling, whatever they want to call it, didn’t mean “nothing” to him. It means a great deal. She says that they can do a long distance relationship. Maggie asks Jim if any of his past long distance relationships have worked. He says no. “Well then what makes this any different.” Jim, walking into an office, says that he wasn’t in love with any of those other girls.
Sloan comes in asking Don why he turned down News Night. He says that he likes where he’s at, that things are just getting good. Don gives Sloan an envelope that contains something of Charlie’s. She opens it. It’s his bowtie, which Don clearly “re-gifted” to Sloan in an effort to dissolve the guilt she’s feeling.
Mack meets with Will before the next broadcast. She’s worried that she got the job just because she’s a woman and isn’t sure if she can handle the constant fighting with Pruitt and Leona — both of which are bound to happen. Will tells her that there’s a hole in the side of this boat, with water rushing in. One can’t fix the hole. All one can do is continue to bale water out of the boat and make sure the crew keeps on working. This metaphor, while a bit heavy handed, is a good one to describe ACN — and it makes sense that it comes from Will’s character, who has a tendency to talk with a philosophical bent at times.
Before Will goes on the air, he remembers something Charlie told him: “You know what, kiddo. In the old days, about ten minutes ago, we did the news well. You know how? We just decided to.” Charlie smiles.
60 SECONDS TO WILL’S LIVE AIR (the newsroom’s working):
Will says, “Good evening,” and the screen goes dark.