Red Team III
Written by Aaron Sorkin
Directed by Anthony Hemingway
Don is furious when he's called into litigation by ACN's legal team. Rebecca explains that despite Jerry's illicit actions, his wrongful termination lawsuit is centered on a legitimate argument - that he served as the scapegoat for a larger institutional failure. Don concedes that the team found all the holes in the story, but not until after it aired.
Staff members explain the events leading up to the broadcast weeks earlier: Jerry runs the third red team meeting - another chance to identify problems with the story. Will learns about Genoa for the first time and reveals he heard the same tip. No one asks if his and Charlie's source is the same person. Charlie, Jerry and Mac want to go forward with the story, but Sloan and Neal side with Jim, who takes a stand against Jerry. Don also dissents, as he's concerned about potentially putting soldiers in danger. Will makes the final decision by saying he trusts Charlie and Mac.
Operation Genoa goes to air. Immediately after the broadcast, General Stomtonovich calls Charlie screaming; he never said sarin was used. Charlie fills in Mac and Will and the team chalks the outburst up to cold feet. The general's claim is impossible, Mac reasons, because they have the raw footage of his interview. Will is concerned and skips out on the congratulatory party to watch football in his office. Mac notes the play clock and Will explains its purpose.
The morning after the broadcast, Charlie tells Will about the phenomenal ratings the broadcast earned. The team is anxious to hear from the Department of Defense. Finally, the Pentagon releases a statement in which they condemn the story and pledge to take legal action and declassify documents to disprove the incendiary claims. Mac polls the staff to see if they're still standing by the story: They are.
The next night, Elliot's show rebroadcasts Genoa. During an on-air interview, Sweeney reveals that he sustained a traumatic brain injury while in combat. Don makes the call to abort the interview. Knowing that memory loss is a symptom of TBI, Mac and Will realize there's a problem with the story.
The staff has a late-night meeting. Jerry explains Sweeney withheld his TBI deliberately to safeguard his credibility. Will demands to pre-interview Sweeney; if he's satisfied, he'll put him back on air. The team reviews their other sources and Maggie reveals she cannot vouch for Stomtonovich's interview because she wasn't in the room. Will's source advises to stand by the story.
Charlie heads to Washington to get confirmation from his source, Shep. The men meet in an empty parking garage where Shep reveals his son relapsed and died from a drug overdose after he was fired from an internship at ACN. Devastated, Shep blames Charlie for his son's death and forged the helicopter manifest to get revenge. He tells Charlie to hold it over light, and when illuminated the message "F*ck You, Charlie" appears.
Mac questions the remaining source; she's afraid she led Lance Corporal Herman Valenzuela during his pre-interview by baiting him with Sweeney's testimony. Valenzuela didn't offer new information, Mac realizes, he only repeated what she disclosed as Sweeney's story. She believes Valenzuela is only trying to protect his friend.
Mac finds the original Stomtonovich interview and after checking the shot clock on the basketball game visible behind the general, realizes Jerry tampered with the footage. She fires Jerry and informs the team they must retract Genoa. Simultaneously, the team gets word that the attack on the US embassy in Benghazi is an act of terrorism. They're reeling and skeptical of their sources, so they do not report it as such.
Five weeks later, Will reveals to Rebecca that Genoa was a real, successful mission that laid down white phosphorous to mark the target. The team wore protective gear in case the militants had biological weapons. Hamni8 didn't die in the raid; his prepaid phone ran out. Will admits to institutional failure and pledges that he, along with Mac and Charlie, will resign.
Leona arrives from a charity event and Charlie offers the resignations. He's surprised when Leona rejects the idea entirely. Although she's stoned, Leona admits she loves ACN; she doesn't want to pay Jerry and aims to have Rebecca fight him in court. Charlie argues ACN doesn't have the public's trust anymore but Leona retorts, "Get it back."