The Blackout Part II: Mock Debate
The Newsroom | Season 1 | Episode 9

The Blackout Part II: Mock Debate

TV-MA | 55 MIN

Written by Aaron Sorkin
Directed by
Alan Poul

With the power off due to blackout, MacKenzie gives a rousing call to the staff to do the show they've wanted to do all along. The grips will carry the news desk down 25 flights of stairs, generators will be brought in, and News Night will film outside, where they will bump the Casey Anthony and Anthony Wiener stories in favor of the real, important news. With the staff fully on-board and Mac about to finish her speech, the power comes back on. They revert back to the show they'd planned to beforehand with Casey Anthony "bombshells" and the girl who exchanged tweets with Anthony Weiner.

MacKenzie's ex-boyfriend Brian continues to hang around the newsroom gathering information for his story. At Hang Chew's, he asks Mac if Will is a lonely person and she wonders about the nature of the story he's preparing to write. Sloan asks MacKenzie if they can spare any more time to cover the debt ceiling argument, but the EP is under pressure to fill the space with a Casey Anthony guest no one else has booked.

Maggie's roommate Lisa happens to be an ex-classmate of Anthony, but she doesn't want to join the media circus surrounding the tragic story. Jim and Maggie stop by the boutique where Lisa works to convince her otherwise. Against her better instincts, she agrees to do it for Maggie's sake. Jim has another motive for being there, and when Maggie leaves, he tries asking Lisa out again.

Don receives flowers at the office from a girl he was seeing during one of his breaks with Maggie. Jim signs for the flowers and Will keeps them in his office.

Neal continues to use Sloan as bait in his attempt to infiltrate the internet troll community. He goads a respected economics message board into a flame war after he claims that Sloan used to be a stripper-a fact he supports with a link to her Wikipedia page, which he had just edited. Sloan is glad that Neal's pursuing a story, but she threatens him with physical harm if he doesn't fix her Wikipedia page.

Jim vets Charlie's source Hancock and finds that he has some marks on his record-he violated a restraining order against his ex-wife and was once arrested for solicitation. The NSA lowered his security clearance after his latest psychological profile, and Will admits he wouldn't feel comfortable putting him on a witness stand.

As Lisa prepares to go on air, Maggie visits her make-up room and drops off statistics about other missing children in the country. On the show, Lisa discusses the other, non-white, children, who have not been reported on exhaustively. Will is pleased that Lisa is changing the script, but she takes it a step further when she asks "What if Casey Anthony had wanted an abortion?" That night, Lisa's store is attacked and spray-painted with the words "Baby Killer."

The representatives from the RNC-an old friend of Will's named Adam Roth and his younger partner Tate Brady-come by to talk to Will about ACN hosting the debate. Their ratings numbers have been up and Will is ready to show them their new debate format. The News Night staff gathers and stages the mock debate they've been prepping for, while Will peppers them with hard-hitting questions and refuses to let them off the hook with easy answers. Tate steps in and stops the proceedings-the RNC will never go for this. Instead, he demands they use the traditional format and forbids MacKenzie from playing a part in it. Will turns him down, and Tate offers the hosting gig to Don and Sloan who tell him "eat me" and "f**k you" respectively. Will apologizes to the staff for losing the debate and dragging down their coverage in trying to get it.

Brian tells MacKenzie that the debate was always about Will and that there was never a remote chance the RNC would have gone for it. She confronts Will about bringing Brian in and covering the Casey Anthony story for naught. Will tells her to throw out the rundown and asks Sloan to prepare to do two segments on the debt ceiling. They're going to do the news again.

Neal needs to pull off another stunt to get in with the internet trolls, but he's coming up short. Sloan tells him the hacker who left the death threat for Will is probably taken seriously, and Neal's mind starts running. He posts on the board taking credit for hacking into ACN's servers, but the real hacker comes out and threatens Will again.

MacKenzie gives Jim a pep talk, quoting a poem and telling him to "Gather your rosebuds while ye may." Jim takes the advice to heart and shows up at Maggie and Lisa's apartment. Before he has a chance to admit his feelings for Maggie, Lisa grabs him and kisses him. When they go outside, Don comes clean to Maggie about the flowers he received and the girls he dated while they were on a break.