Quick Review: Underwater (Dir. by William Eubank)


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“There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations.” – Mark Twain

I wasn’t entirely sold on William Eubank’s Underwater after leaving the theatre.

I’d seen that kind of film before in movies like Alien, Resident Evil, The Abyss, Leviathan, Deep Rising and Deep Star Six. It didn’t feel like it was giving me too much of anything new (especially when compared to last year’s genuinely jumpworthy Crawl), but I have to admit I did spent quite a bit of the film watching it from between my fingers. I’ll give it that. Additionally, I have to give the movie credit for taking no time to get things moving and staying pretty even throughout. Within 5 to 10 minutes of the movie’s start, you’re thrust right into a mix of terror from the unknown and claustrophobic environments. For someone with an attention span as short as mine, it’s impressive to see a film hit the ground running like that. It’s the kind of opening one would expect from one of the John Wick films. Longtime readers here on the Lens know that January really isn’t the month for the greatest films, though every once in a while, you’ll have one or two that dowell.

I think enjoying Underwater may be dependent how much comparing is done between it and older films. If you walk in blind, not expecting anything and are just looking to be entertained, you may enjoy the film more than I did. Do you absolutely have to rush to a movie theatre to see it? No, I don’t feel you do. Give it 3 months and you’ll have it on Digital/Blu-Ray. Would I run back to it in the theatre? Nah. If you’re a Kristen Stewart fan, or if the film’s something you’re genuinely interested in, have at it.

A group of miners find themselves struggling to survive after their rig suffers intense damage. Their goal is to reach a set of escape pods that can take them to the surface, but reaching it poses a set of challenges. The team comes to find that they may not be alone in the depths, which adds to their problems.

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Kristen Stewart navigates the ocean depths in William Eubank’s Underwater.

The cast does well as can be expected, with Kristen Stewart (Charlie’s Angels) taking the lead as Norah, the team’s engineer. Joining her are Vincent Cassel (Eastern Promises) as the Captain, Jessica Henwick (Marvel’s Iron Fist) as  the biology scientist, John Gallagher, Jr. (Hush), Mamoudou Athie (The Get Down), and JT Miller (Deadpool) as the comic relief.  JT Miller in particular voices what would be the audience’s take as a fellow who just wants to get out of the situation. It’s Stewart and Henwick that carry the most weight with the film, and they handle it well. Their characters are smart and try their best to make it through the situations presented to them.

Visually, Underwater’s deep sea sequences have an interesting feel to them. Some of them feel more like the shaky cam shots from As Above So Below. There’s a bit of claustrophobia with watching certain scenes from behind the helmets. The monsters themselves are reminiscent of the ones you’d find in Cloverfield or The Mist with a number of jumpscares throughout. There’s very little in the way of blood and gore, since the film is PG-13.

I would have liked a larger body count. For the size of the rig, part of me expected to see more then just the 6 or 7 characters we have. Seeing more individuals face the creatures or the crumbling buildings could have added a bit of weight. That’s just a nitpick. The Nostromo was huge, yet only had a crew of seven.

Overall, I enjoyed Underwater more than I thought I would. It spends a lot of time doing things that other films already did, but does so in such a way where it’s not entirely wasted.

 

Horror Film Review: The Belko Experiment (dir by Greg McLean)


How far would you go if all you had to do was follow orders?  That is the question posed by The Belko Experiment.

A violent and disturbingly plausible social satire/horror film, The Belko Experiment was released into theaters on March 17th.  It was one of the best films of the first half of 2017 but, as so often happens whenever a genre film subverts the traditional narrative, The Belko Experiment is also one of the most overlooked films of 2017.  It got mixed reviews, with most critics focusing on the fact that the script was written by James Gunn.  (Though Gunn may be best known for directing Guardians of the Galaxy, his non-MCU work has always  been distinguished by a subversive, often transgressive sensibility.)  A few critics dismissed it as being just another lurid celebration of violence, showing once again that you can always count on certain mainstream critics to unfairly categorize any film that doesn’t neatly fit into their preconceptions.  Yes, The Belko Experiment is violent.  And yes, it is gory and sometimes hard to watch.  However, to dismiss The Belko Experiment as merely being that latest entry in the torture porn genre is to totally miss the point.

Mike Milch (John Gallagher, Jr.) is one of the many employees of Belko Industries.  He’s a nice enough guy.  In fact, if I worked for Belko Industries, Mike would probably be one of my favorite co-workers.  He’s friendly.  He’s funny.  He’s not unattractive.  He’s kind of a less smirky version of The Office‘s Jim Halpert.  I’d want to be his friend.  Since Belko’s offices are located in a remote area of Colombia, I would want to make all the friends that I could.

(Early on in the film, we’re informed that every employee of Belko Industries has been required to get a tracking device implanted at the base of their skull.  They’re told that this is because there’s always the risk that one of them will be kidnapped by drug traffickers.  Of course, as the film plays out, we discover that it’s actually for a totally different reason.)

When The Belko Experiment begins, it’s a day like any other.  People show up for work. Some people actually do work.  Some people slack off.  Everyone tries to look busy whenever the boss, Barry Norris (Tony Goldwyn), wanders by.  The maintenance workers (Michael Rooker and David Dastmalchian) do their thing.  A few employees sneak up to the roof of the office building and get high.  Everyone tries to avoid Wendell Dukes (John C. McGinely), a pervy executive.  The security guard (James Earl) watches the door.  The newest employee (Melonie Diaz) learns about her new job and coworkers.

Of course, there are a few strange things.  Some new security guards have shown up and they don’t appear to be particularly friendly.  They turn away all of the locals who work at the office, only allowing in the American employees.  Everyone agrees that it’s strange but, instead of thinking about it too much, they just keep going about their day.

Then, the steel shutters slam down, effectively sealing the building off.

Then a voice (Gregg Henry) demands that they select two co-workers to die.  When the employees of Belko Industries refuse (with several dismissing the whole thing as being a tasteless prank), tracking devices start to randomly explode until four employees are dead.  The voice goes on to say that, unless 30 employees are killed in the next two hours, 60 people will be randomly killed…

Some of the co-workers refuse to kill their friends but many more do not.  And soon, even those who refused to take part in the murders, are forced to start killing just to keep from being killed themselves…

The Belko Experiment wastes no time in establishing that anyone can die at any moment.  It doesn’t matter how funny you were a few seconds ago or how likable you may be.  If the unseen voice decides to flip your switch, that “tracking device” will explode and it’ll take your head with it.  And, even if the unseen voice doesn’t get you, your coworkers might.

That, by itself, would be disturbing enough.  However, The Belko Experiment ultimately succeeds as a work of horror because it illustrates a truth that many people would prefer to ignore.  When the employees of Belko Industries start to kill each other, it feels all too plausible.  Culturally, human beings are conditioned to follow orders.  We like to have an authoritarian around to tell us what to do.  It’s a good way of avoiding responsibility for our own actions.  (“I was following orders.”  “I was following protocol.”  “I’m just doing my job.”)  As The Belko Experiment demonstrates, most people would never dream of hurting someone else … unless they were ordered to do so.  The characters in The Belko Experiment start the movie as individuals but, as the experiment unfolds, all quirks and differences vanish.  All that is left are drones who slavishly do what they’re told.

Making the nightmare scenario feel all the more believable is a large and strong cast of familiar faces.  As the closest thing that this film has to a hero, John Gallagher, Jr. is likable and you find yourself hoping that he’ll somehow manage to survive all of this with his humanity intact.  Tony Goldwyn brings some interesting shades to his role while John C. McGinley is memorably creepy as Wendell.  Micheal Rooker, Abraham Benrubi, Sean Gunn, Josh Brener, Melonie Diaz, Brent Sexton, and Adria Arjone all shine in smaller roles.  To be honest, you really don’t want to see any of these people suffer, which makes their inevitable fate all the more disturbing.

The Belko Experiment is ultimately a portrait of how easily people can be persuaded (or ordered) to surrender their humanity.  It’s the exact mentality that we currently see everyday, with people willingly becoming slaves to one ideology or another and then tossing around terms like “treason” whenever anyone dares to do something other than obey.  It’s the exact mentality that leads to people accusing you of being “selfish” when you refuse to surrender your right to self-determination.  Our real-life Belko Experiment has been going on for several years now and it doesn’t appear to be ending anytime soon.  This movie is frightening because it’s real.

The Things You Find On Netflix: Hush (dir by Mike Flanagan)


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Let me start by stating the obvious.  I have seen a lot of horror movies.  I love horror as a genre and, in fact, it was my love of horror that first led to me becoming a film blogger in the first place.  I have seen a lot of scary and shocking images onscreen.  I know the experience of watching a movie and screaming.  I also know the experience of watching a horror movie and being bored out of my mind.

I have also seen a lot of home invasion movies.  The home invasion genre is not a complicated one.  A group of people are isolated and trapped in their home while, outside, some terrible menace tries to enter the house.  Night of the Living Dead is a home invasion film.  The final 20 minutes of Straw Dogs (both the remake and the original) are home invasion films.  Michael Haneke made two of the ultimate home invasion films with two separate versions of Funny Games.  And, of course, we can’t talk about the home invasion genre without mentioning the brilliant You’re Next.

The home invasion genre works so well because, at its center, is a very real fear: the fear that, even within our own home, we are not safe.  When I get home, I am practically obsessive about checking to make sure that I always close and lock the door behind me but really, what good would that really do if someone was determined to get in?  Like everyone, I chose to believe that things like a locked door or a closed window is going to keep me safe but, honestly, if someone wants to get in, they’re probably going to find a way.  Locks and alarms and calls to 911 can only do so much.  Perhaps for that reason, home invasion movies always frighten me.  I can watch a zombie graphically devour someone in an Italian horror film and it doesn’t bother me at all.  But a well-directed home invasion movie?

That’ll keep me up for a week!

(And I know what you’re saying: “Lisa, if home invasion movies scare you so much, why do watch them?”  It’s a legitimate question and it’s something that I’ve often wondered myself.  I think, ultimately, it comes down to this: the only way to conquer our fears is to face them.)

With all that in mind, allow me to now come to the point of this review.  Last night, I watched Hush, which was just recently released by Netflix.  Hush is a home invasion movie.  Kate Siegel (who also co-wrote the script) plays Maddie, a writer who has been deaf and mute since she was 13 years old.  Still dealing with the a bad break-up, Maddie lives in an isolate cabin in the wilderness.  By day, she works on her second novel and occasionally visits with her neighbor.  And by night — well, on this particular night, she finds herself being watched by a man.

The Man (who is played by John Gallagher, Jr.) wears a white mask that gives him a permanent smile.  He carries a crossbow with him, a crossbow that has 8 notches on it.  When we first meet the man, he’s stabbing Maddie’s neighbor, Sarah (Samantha Sloyan), to death.  And now, he’s turned his attention to Maddie…

I say this without hyperbole: Hush is one of the scariest home invasion movies that I’ve ever seen.  The plot may occasionally seem familiar but director Mike Flanagan keeps things moving at an almost unbearably intense pace and he creates an atmosphere of such dread that you never feel truly safe assuming that anyone is going to survive the movie.  John Gallagher, Jr, who speaks with a deceptively soft voice, is terrifying as the Man.  The fact that he has no motives beyond his own sadism makes him all the more frightening.

But, ultimately, the reason the film works so well is because of Kate Siegel.  Kate Siegel gets an introducing credit in this film.  According to the imdb, Hush is not her first film but that introducing credit still feels appropriate.  Siegel is wonderful in the role of Maddie, giving a performance of such ferocity and empathy that Hush announces that a major talent has arrived and that Kate Siegel is a force to be reckoned with.

Hush is not always an easy film to watch.  The violence is visceral, the often spurting blood looks real and, when bones were snapped, it sounded disturbingly authentic.  Throughout the entire film, I found myself wondering what I would do if I was Maddie.  I cheered whenever it appeared that she might be able to escape the Man and I screamed whenever it became clear that she would not.  This is an intense and frightening home invasion film and one that all horror fans should see.  Hush captures our most primal fears and makes us wonder if we have what it takes to conquer them.

Hush will undoubtedly give me nightmares but I’ll take them.

Film Review: 10 Cloverfield Lane (dir by Dan Trachtenberg)


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I know that everyone’s excited about Batman v. Superman being released this weekend but before you go off and spend your money to watch two comic book titans beat up on each other for six hours (or however long that damn movie is supposed to last), you should ask yourself, “Have I seen 10 Cloverfield Lane?”

If the answer to that question is no, you need to go out and see it now.  Yes, even before you see Batman v. Superman.  Batman v. Superman is going to be around for a while.  10 Cloverfield Lane has already been out for a couple of weeks and, though it’s done well enough, it still hasn’t quite become the blockbuster that it deserves to be.

Most of the talk about 10 Cloverfield Lane has centered around the twist ending.  I’m not going to spoil the ending, even though you probably already know what it is.  Oddly enough, as much as I liked the film, the ending didn’t really work for me.  I liked the idea behind the ending more than I liked the actual execution.  Add to that, it added an element of hope to a film that, up until that point, had been wonderfully and defiantly hopeless.  The film’s ending also set things up for a sequel, one that will probably not be as interesting as the original.

Fortunately, the first 83 minutes of 10 Cloverfield Lane are so strong and well-executed that I can overlook any minor quibbles that I had with the final 20.  Mary Elizabeth Winstead plays Michelle.  Michelle lives in New Orleans and, when we first meet her, she’s breaking up with her fiancée.  (Though we never actually see him, the fiancée is played by Bradley Cooper.  What is Michelle thinking!?)  Leaving the safety of her apartment, Michelle goes for a drive in the country.  (Going off to the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night?  It might not be a good decision but hey, we’ve all been there.)  Suddenly, she starts to hear weird things on the radio.  Cities across America are suffering from blackouts.  She gets a call from her fiancée but before she can answer the phone, there’s a sudden a flash of light.  Something crashed into her car from behind and Michelle blacks out.

When Michelle awakens, she’s in an underground bunker.  Her host is Howard (John Goodman), a doomsday prepper who tells her that he saved her life.  He explains that something has happened on the surface.  The air is poisoned.  The world is ending.  The only safe place is in the bunker.  Fortunately, Howard has an extensive collection of old VHS tapes, several teen magazines (“The quizzes have already been done,” Howard apologetically says), and a lot of food.  He also has a change of clothes for Michelle to wear.  Howard explains that the clothes once belonged to his daughter.

From the minute we meet him, it’s obvious that Howard is unstable.  The only question is how unstable.  The film makes brilliant use of John Goodman’s persona.   When we see John Goodman, our automatic instinct is to like him.  We’re used to seeing him playing good guys.  What we forget, however, is that John Goodman has played his share of villains as well.  He can be intimidating, as Michelle quickly realizes.  Howard is unpredictable.  One minute, he’s watching Pretty In Pink for the 100th time.  The next minute, he’s threatening to dunk someone in acid.

It turns out that Howard and Michelle are not alone.  The slightly dim but good-natured Emmett (John Gallagher, Jr.) is also in the bunker.  Unlike Michelle, Emmett believes Howard’s claims about something terrible happening on the surface.  Emmett also believes that, no matter how correct he may be about the end of the world, Howard still might be totally crazy.

So, is Howard crazy?  You bet he is.  That’s obvious from the minute we meet him.  The brilliant thing about 10 Cloverfield Lane is that, even as it convinces us that Howard’s insane and dangerous, it still makes us wonder if he might be right.  Director Dan Trachtenberg expertly captures the claustrophobic tension of life in that underground bunker and the script has a nicely satirical subtext.  (The film’s best moments are when Howard attempts to play the role of patriarch to those who he is forcing to be his new family.)  The film is brilliantly acted, especially by Mary Elizabeth Winstead who perfectly portrays both Michelle’s fear and her inner strength.  As for John Goodman — well, you’ll probably never quite look at him the same way again.

10 Cloverfield Lane is an intelligent and well-crafted thriller.  Don’t wait for Netflix.  Don’t go to the dollar theater.  If you haven’t already, see it now!

Review: The Newsroom S1:E4 – “I’ll Try to Fix You”


The key to Episode 4 of The Newsroom’s season really comes down to the last 10 to 15 minutes. The episode seems light and even and then by the end everyone is moving in a mad scramble to get the news out. Very nice to see that, honestly.

This episode, entitled “I’ll Try to Fix You” has the News Night 2.0 team closing out 2010 and celebrating the impending New Year. It’s more or less a lighthearted, fun episode. Mac approaches Will in his office, letting him know that her boyfriend Wade wants to speak with him on something. Wade informs Mac that he’s missing a major headline.

Neal appears to have this weird obsession over Bigfoot, which becomes a running theme in this episode. It’s cute in that it comes up a number of times here, very similar to the story about the Chicken in The Social Network. Maggie finds Jim still working to find any major stories they may have missed. After a little light flirting (well, it seemed that way), Don shows up and Maggie has to go. A lightly inebriated Don decides to set up Maggie’s roommate, Lisa, with Jim for New Year’s. In the middle of selling Jim, Lisa’s phone goes off with a Rod Stewart song. After what happened with the email fiasco, I found myself recalling that because sooner or later, that ringtone would need to come back into this episode. Maggie appears to have something of an issue with Lisa and Jim, but again, she’s with Don. I kind of wish she’d make up her mind already.

Wade tells Will that the House cut 80% of the DOJ budget, and the three go over whether this is a story to run with. When Wade leaves, Mac and Will have a slight argument over Wade. Mac’s a line in particular that made me laugh, “How do you introduce the Netflix queue of crazy divorced women with digitally remastered breasts you spend your nights with?”, which works in the argument between the two.

Will heads out to the party, and finds Sloan Sabbith. Eyeing the group, they have a short exchange on whether he should mingle and who he should mingle with. He heads out and speaks to Nina Howard and finds out she’s a Gossip Columnist. Rather than going with the New Year kiss, Will starts to lecture her on what she does, stating she “knows right from wrong” and that it’s “it’s a form of pollution.” The attempt to civilize Nina ends up with a drink in his face. Poor guy has no luck whatsoever.

Charlie and Will reconvene the following morning to find that he’s on Page Six of the New York Post. Will clears the air with Charlie on this and moves on to the morning meeting. Of the topics that weren’t discussed, they decide to run with both the notion that the Republicans believe that Obama is out to take away their guns or gun rights. The broadcast goes on to show that there really hasn’t been any kind of legislation to show that this is the current plan.

Maggie and Lisa have a brief discussion on Jim, and Maggie comes to Jim’s defense when Lisa points out that he’d think she’s dumb. Again, this is going to come to a head later on.

Mac, along with a woman named Carrie (played by Kathryn Hahn, who I haven’t seen since Step Brothers), head to his apartment. When she goes to change her clothes and informs him she has a joint in her purse, he discovers a pistol and they have words. I’m not sure if Hahn’s going to come back, but it would be interesting to have her come back as a foil to Mac.

As Will and Sloan go over the next broadcast, she beams and asks him how the night went. Will informs her that her friend was packing heat. Sloan tells him he has to stick with her because she’s a little obsessive. Olivia Munn has some great moments back and forth between Jeff Daniels in this episode, and so far her character still seems to be the only one without any romantic issues.

With Will’s chances in the dating scene spiraling downward and making headlines, Don proves how much of an ass he is by giving Maggie a news blip that causes her to call Jim. While she has Jim on the phone, Don calls Lisa, who’s phone rings in the background with the Rod Stewart song. I personally can’t wait for Don to get punched outright in the face. That will be the highlight of the season for me.

After being called in on Saturday, Will finds everyone in the office going over the particulars of the Bigfoot story. Will meets with Charlie and Mac over Will being in the newspapers when it comes to light that AWM (their parent company) has been flaming him the entire time. Charlie admits about the meeting with Leona and Mac blows up because the only way that the 3 Year no work clause could have taken effect would have been if it were changed in the contract. The contact that Will changed to allow him to fire Mac also allows AWM to keep him from working anywhere else.

Just when you think it’s going to keep going on, the story explodes into high gear with the iNews blip on the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. All hands are on deck as they race to get the story together and everyone prepped. It shines as easily the biggest highlight of the episode and smacked the complaining, “Not This relationship stuff again” sigh I had right off my face. During the broadcast, it comes out that CNN and NPR are going with the story that Giffords died that day. Ironically enough, CNN had the very same problem just a week or two ago, incorrectly reporting that the “Obamacare” Heath Reform vote didn’t pass before Justice Roberts’ vote came through.

When Reese shows up onto the floor and calls Will out to declare Giffords dead just as everyone else does, who shows up to actually save the day but Don of all people. Talk about jaw drop!! He’s the last person I would have expected to have come in to help this group. Will calls in Mac and Charlie to thank them in a cursing tirade, and gives Neal a chance on his Bigfoot story. With all of this done to Coldplay’s “Fix You”, it plays out so damn well that you may almost forget all of the other scenes you were watching beforehand. It’s a fantastic final few minutes that showcases what the Newsroom is about.

My only worry is that they’re moving so fast with these news reports that by the time the season is over, they could conceivably end up in the Present Time. How they’re going to come up with news after doing that is going to require a few rabbits and hats. Overall, a well done episode.

Review: The Newsroom S1:E3 – “The 112th Congress”


Though I’m a registered Democrat (which I did before realizing I could be Independent) and my family’s mostly Republican, Politics tend to make my eyes glaze over and a lot of it goes over my head. My reasoning is that no matter who you have in office, neither side has everything right and you’ll find corruption and/or underhanded deals no matter what side is chosen. It’s because of this that makes The Newsroom a little difficult for me to write about from a political standpoint, but on an entertainment standpoint, I’m having fun. This show is getting a little tighter with every episode.

This episode, titled “The 112th Congress”, opens with a statement taken from the 9/11 Commission back in 2004. Will makes an apology to the American viewing public on the way News Night has been, stating that they failed to give the right news – “A leader in an industry that miscalled election results, miscalled hyped up terror scares, ginned up controversy, and failed to report on tectonic shifts in our country”. Will stresses that they will be concentrating on giving the news, and opinions that also contrast his own. I liked the way this scene moved, jumping back and forth through the events of writing out the speech, getting everyone up for their morning meeting, cleaning it all up and providing it to Charlie before the actual broadcast. This is all while the speech is given. The opening editorial lays down the template to the News Night viewers on where it’s headed.

The following scene is a conference room with Charlie, Reese, another associate and Leona (Jane Fonda) in a debriefing meeting on the News Night changes. This takes place on November 3rd, 2010. The show moves to this location, the Bigwig Conference, a number of times as we go over the months since NN2.0’s inception. I have to admit I really liked the movement of the scenes back and forth here. Don approaches Jim and gives him a little flak on why he wasn’t in the loop on Will’s speech, given that his own show that comes afterward is also trying to be the one to move up to that treasured 8pm slot. Don also has something of an issue with Maggie on this as well, but it only lasts for a moment.

Reese goes on to mention that since the News Night change, Will’s lost about a good 7% of his audience. Though they’re doing what they feel is the right thing, it is costing them from a viewer’s standpoint. I liked how Leona really doesn’t speak up until the middle of the episode, her character just kind of taking in all of the information that’s given.

There’s a very interesting conversation between Will and Charlie, talking about the changes in the Tea Party’s progression. Granted, this all requires first level research for stronger opinions & statements to be formed, but from the way The Newsroom presents it (and my interpretation of it), the Tea Party kind of swooped in and changed the Republican landscape (or was at least trying to at the time) for their own pursuits. That Will, being a Republican himself, decides to make this the top story felt like it added to the “all the facts” angle the NN2.0 was shooting for. For the record, were he a Democrat, I’m pretty sure that they could have done the same thing for that party, using a story on gun control or something like that.

Getting back to the story, it’s revealed in the Bigwig conference that Will is treating his interview subjects like members in a courtroom and that at one point in his life, he was a prosecutor. I liked this, but the information seemed sudden to me, as if Sorkin and crew were in their writing room and the question came of “Well, how is Will so good at this?”, and they came up with the lawyer angle. Then again, to counter that, we learned 4 episodes into Mad Men that Don Draper’s name wasn’t his and his past wasn’t his either. I suppose it makes sense here too.

Mac meets one of Will’s new dates and overreacts a little with the compliments, inquiring on who she is. Turns out that the lady works for the New York Jets as a choreographer. Mac and Will move to Will’s office, where she berates him on his dating choice for the evening. There’s a bit of cute back and forth banter before she nearly storms out and Charlie catches her, telling them both the keep up what they’re doing with the Tea Party pressure. Will asks how the 44th floor (The Bigwig Conference) is handling this, and Charlie lies to him about it. Undoubtedly, this will end up being a problem later on in the season. The relationship angles still appear a little blurry. We learn that Maggie’s issues are attributed to Panic Attacks, which opens a nice scene between she and Jim on the terrace of the building. I already touched on the Sorkin Girls in the last episode. I’ll let it go here, but it does kind of show why she’s been the way she’s been. The problem here is that with the forward momentum the scene made, it takes two steps back in having her with Don still by the end of the episode. I’m not saying they should be in each other arms by now, but I wouldn’t mind seeing thing forward just a little more.

The story moves ahead to June 18, 2010, where Will goes after a senator regarding statements made on AIDS and it’s spread. The Bigwigs are not pleased at all on this. After the broadcast, Mac finds another date waiting for Will, who Will points out is an actual brain surgeon. That was actually worth a chuckle, indeed.

At the Bigwig Conference, Reese points out that there was a party every year he and his mother were invited to at Telluride that they didn’t receive an invite for this time around. Reese points out that Will’s broadcasts has cost them Koch Industries, which happens to be close to the Lansing’s (Reese and Leona).

Near the end of the Bigwig Meeting, Leona finally speaks up, letting Charlie know that Will needs to back off as the parent company, AWM has special interests with of the parties that Will has been attacking. Leona threatens to fire Will, which of course would be a problem due to a special clause in his contact that prevents him from working for 3 years. That was kind of cool, reminding me of what happened with Conan O’Brien when he left NBC. So now, the stakes are raised. Do they continue doing what they’ve planned and face being fired or revert back to the old format?

While I still have the same complaints as before (Sharpen up the girls, etc.), the episode ramped up things with some of the actual broadcasts that were done. The Bigwig Conference scenes were some of the strongest parts there, I felt. We’ll see where this all goes.