The whole motif of truth and lies, which we’ve seen explored in the past two episodes, was brought to a conclusion tonight. And, because it’s Sorkin, the conclusions were both expected and unexpected.
We start with Tom and Jack who drag the comatose Kim back to the studio, trying to hide the fact that she’s wasted from her father, and it’s here that the truth begins to emerge. First we hear Kim’s truth – the cost of her musical gift and why she wants to give up the viola.
Later, Tom finds Lucy and starts telling her his truth – about why he hadn’t expected her to be at the party, and about why he’d been there with Kim. His reward is a second chance with Lucy.
Back in the dressing room, Kim’s father turns up and we discover that he speaks a few words of English – ‘all of them’. That’s his truth, and when Jack confronts him with the truth about Kim, man-to-man, they reach an agreement about dealing with the FCC. Truth, again, brings its rewards.
Meanwhile, on the roof, Danny continues to be relentlessly honest about his feelings for Jordan. But tonight we see her being honest too as she lays out her fears, the reasons why she’s rejected Danny. She’s concerned that he’s using her as a crutch on his way to recovery from addiction; she’s afraid it’s just a crush that could leave them both trapped in an unhappy marriage, or would put her child through a divorce. She’s been thinking deeply, and now she’s telling Danny her truth – it’s not about being ambushed or embarrassed, it’s about being afraid. He reassures her and, at last, she can admit the real truth, the one she’s been hiding all along; she’s crazy about him too. Once that truth is out there, they can be together. Happiness is, again, honesty’s reward.
So far so good. But then we get to Matt and Harriet and Sorkin gets clever. Here he shows us the destructive power of honesty. In their intensely painful scenes at the dinner, Matt and Harriet wield truth like a weapon. They use it to hurt each other, to rip each other to pieces. Harriet, particularly, uses truth like a surgeon; her claim that she’s imagining what it’s like to sleep with Luke guts Matt on the spot. And she does it on purpose, to end their relationship. To cut him out of her life. This is the other side of truth – a hurtful, brutal honesty.
And Harriet’s honesty is going to break Matt. We see it begin as he stumbles through his speech, unable to tell a simple joke. He is already lost. Without Harriet, Matt has lost his creative inspiration. He’s lost his centre, and the only person who could anchor him through this storm is Danny – but Danny’s not there.
In the final, sublime montage we see Matt flinch as the pickaxes rip into the heart of the studio – just as Harriet’s words ripped into him. Outside, Danny is with Jordan, lost in his own happiness and heedless of the fact that his friend and his studio are being torn to pieces.
The image is stark, and heralds the beginning of the next story arc. Being so wrapped up with Jordan, Danny will fail to notice Matt’s decline until the emotional and creative consequences threaten the survival of the show – and their friendship.
This is genius, pure genius. And I am in awe.