This list feels almost too easy to write. If you’ve followed Aaron Sorkin’s TV career, from his short-lived dramedy Sports Night, to his award-winning triumph with The West Wing, down to his current almost-concluded three season run of The Newsroom, you start to pick up on the patterns. The fast-paced, borderline unnatural verbal patter. The characters who are super brilliant at their jobs, but positively hopeless when it comes to their personal lives. An adherence to a defiant moral high ground that no living person could ever reach in their lifetime. The coincidences, huge plot twists, and last-minute rescues of its characters from the gaping maw of oblivion.
So, with Aaron Sorkin’s TV career, and the short final season of The Newsroom both lumbering towards their respective conclusions, I thought I would apply my distressingly vast knowledge of the Sorkinverse to make some admittedly snarky predictions for what will befall the characters in the HBO series during its final episode, airing this coming Sunday night.
The arrival of Lucas Pruit, the tech billionaire who purchased Atlantis Cable News with plans to turn it into a fast-paced, crowdsourced, Gawker-style network, has spelled doom for Mackenzie, Will, and the gang. How can their holier-and-smarter-than-thou approach to covering the important events of the day keep up? Well, if we’ve learned anything from Studio 60 and SportsNight, we should know that all is not lost. I foresee the entire staff of NewsNight being booted from the building at ACN after the blowup that went down in last Sunday’s episode following Sloan’s excoriation of the company’s celebrity stalking app, with all of them decamped at their favorite bar, drinking away their collective fates. Then, like an apparition from afar, who should show up but Dana McCall (former producer of SportsNight and current head of programming at fledgling Continental News Corporation, played by Felicity Huffman), to offer all of them a place on their network. That’s right: the crossover episode you never expected, nor particularly wanted!
The episode opens in a jewelry store—probably Tiffany’s because these venerable news folk are making a fortune at their jobs. Inside, Don is hemming and hawing over which engagement ring to pick for his beloved Sloan, while also giving an impassioned history lesson about the origin of so-called “blood diamonds” to the withering young woman assisting him. Then, who should he bump into, but Jim—his co-worker and former romantic rival—back from his failed effort to interview Edward Snowden, energized by his love for Maggie, and ready to buy his own engagement ring. The two spend the next 20 minutes of the episode arguing about whether it is too soon for Jim to be asking for Maggie’s hand in marriage and the necessity for wedding traditions like these. Don succeeds in talking his friend out of the engagement, but then right after he pops the question to Sloan in the middle of the newsroom, he hands Jim the perfect engagement ring and whispers in his ear, “Now it’s your turn.”
You know this is going to happen. Seriously. I can think of nothing more predictable and irrationally heartstring-pulling and Sorkin-like than, in the wake of the funeral for Will’s friend and colleague Charlie Skinner, Mackenzie revealing the big news: she’s with child. And she’ll do it to put a stop to a huge argument they’re having about their future or the future of NewsNight or some such nonsense. Bonus points if the episode ends with a montage of their spawn’s future, that concludes with her being sworn in as President of the United States in 2043.
Wouldn’t that just be delicious? To have Will, on the air during the last episode of NewsNight give another angry lecture to the world about why American most certainly is not the greatest country in the world! With all the curse words intact! And, as he’s forcibly removed from the air, the camera pans over to find the ghosts of Edward R. Murrow, Walter Cronkite, and Paddy Chayefsky smiling and nodding their approval à la Return of the Jedi.
If we’ve learned nothing else from Sorkin’s TV history, it’s that, before the last episode fades to black, he’s going to double down on the schmaltz with the heavy use of a midtempo light rock tune by someone like Van Morrison or Bob Dylan. And while it plays, he’ll give us a montage, showing the future of all the characters in the show. The babies being born, the deathbeds being watched over, the slow walks on the beach, and the gazes being cast skyward as they marvel at life’s joys and sorrows. Not a dry eye in the house. Well, in Sorkin’s house anyway.
Robert Ham is a Portland-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste. You can follow him on Twitter.