TV Recap: “Alaska Daily” – Episode 4 “The Weekend”

Stanley (Jeff Perry) briefs the newsroom on the opening weekend of the State Fair this weekend. Claire (Meredith Holzman) offers to cover the pig races, Juna (Ami Park) is all over the food and snacks. Eileen (Hilary Swank) walks into the meeting, makes a sarcastic comment, and Stanley advises her to get back to work. Gabriel (Pablo Castelblanco) gets his first assignment at the fair.

Eileen tries to convince Roz (Grace Dove) to work weekends but is turned down. Stanley informs the two that their story about Chief Durkin is very popular and that Durkin has been suspended from his job, thanks to the story. Roz leaves and Stanley asks if Eileen would like to cover the fair. She chooses to continue working. (The face Eileen makes at Stanley is priceless. I’ve made that facial expression many times in my life. Well done Hilary Swank. There should be an Emmy for body language.)

Before leaving, Gabriel brings Eileen a package left at reception. Inside is a note that says “Go Home” and a ball. While Eileen is unfazed by the gift, Claire and Bob (Matt Malloy) tell her to let Stanley know so the police and lawyers can be notified.

Eileen rides with Gabriel, and while she’s in a pensive mood, Gabriel gloats about his first mission. At her hotel, Eileen receives a phone call from her stalker who vows not to let her ruin the state. The call ends with another threat to Eileen’s life.

With the weekend to herself, Eileen tries to get back to her book on the Secretary of Defense, but the missing opinions of dozens of Native women taped to her wall keep her busy. The news crew takes in all avenues of the state fair. Claire is at every turn, and Juna samples and talks to everyone gorging on snakes. As a jam contest judge, Bob is very busy.

The cabbage contest forces Gabriel to meet the winner, a teenage girl named Erica Block. He shares his nerves and they easily start to connect. Eileen can’t look away from the wall of missing women. Gabriel calls thinking his story is boring, and Eileen recommends that he go further by going to the farm and getting more information.

Roz, who managed to avoid the fair, participates in a basketball tournament and, after winning, goes out for a drink with her friends. Grilled over her working partnership with Eileen, Roz compares Eileen to the geese that come up every summer. They make a lot of noise and act like they run the place. (That describes Eileen perfectly.)

Claire is having a great time at the fair, and when Juna joins her with two big bags of popcorn, it looks like Juna is having a great time too. (I wish I could spend my days covering food at a state fair.)

Gabriel goes to Erica Block’s farm and after explaining why he’s following, her father (Jason Jones) comes out and invites Gabriel over. (Jason Jones plays this role with a strong hint of creepiness. There’s something going on on this farm.)

Mr. Block asks Gabriel to hand over his cell phone, because, as he explains, the farm is a home without a cell phone. Gabriel is very curious and as he asks insightful questions, Mr. Block lets him go so his interview with Erica can continue.

Eileen goes for a jog, but her descent in the elevator causes some anxiety. Or maybe it was the message from his editor in New York. Eileen rushes outside and collapses. An ambulance is called and newspaper editor Aaron Pritchard (Shane McRae) is there when she wakes up. Eileen lets her guard down and tells the EMT that she had a panic attack.

Gabriel’s tour of the farm is quite wonderful. He and Erica bond. The Block family has a complicated history. At the hospital, Eileen is charming with the doctor and is informed that she cannot leave for a few hours. Aaron comes in with coffee and tells her he won’t leave her alone. (Would be nice to think Aaron was a good guy.) The conversation between the two is less than cordial, with Eileen insulting Aaron about his control of the diary. She apologizes saying she has a terrible personality when she unravels. (It’s moments like these that really make me love Eileen.)

As Gabriel learns more about Erica and her father, Eileen is admitted to the hospital. Retrieving his cell phone, Gabriel decides to investigate a locked barn on the farm, to find a large amount of fertilizer. Mr. Block confronts him, and luckily Gabriel makes it out alive. Calling Eileen, Gabriel needs help. She will only help him if he picks her up from the hospital. Aaron returns to the room, surprised to see Eileen gone, and calls Stanley.

Seeking to meet Gabriel, Stanley calls worried, as Aaron told him about the panic attack. In the car with Gabriel, he tells Eileen about the farm tour and the odd amount of fertilizer stored there. The next day at church, Gabriel finds himself alone for a few moments. She shares with him a manifesto that her father received from his group of friends.

Back in the newsroom, Stanley and Bob agree that this is a major story, but along with Eileen, Gabriel is told to return to the fair and get a comment from Mr. Block, and to its association with the Genesis group which wrote the manifesto. With Eileen behind him, Gabriel is very specific in his questioning. Confronting him with the manifesto, Gabriel is seconded by Erica, when she admits having provided the document.

Eileen and Gabriel return and Stanley does not want to publish. Gabriel is furious that his story was cut, and Eileen has a lead on the Gloria Nanmac case. Stanley takes Gabriel out for a beer and tries to offer some support. He also tells the rookie that he is now a full-time reporter.

Eileen and Roz meet the former police chief in Meade. Their meeting is a success and the two journalists receive an unredacted copy of the police report on the death of Gloria Nanmac.

Bill’s perspective:

Alaska Daily is fantastic. I haven’t been excited about network dramas in a long time, and this show is growing with each new episode. Hilary Swank is the lead, and I adore Eileen, but the rest of the cast continues to support and show the depth of the world we’re introduced to.

I didn’t expect Pablo Castelblanco to get an entire episode, and it was a great story to tell. In journalism, you never know where a story may lead. The fact that he was assigned to the giant cabbage contest that leads to the discovery of a radical extremist in the heart of the city, seems exaggerated, but is handled perfectly.

Alaska Daily is a mystery that has many layers, but it’s the story of the people who work at the newspaper that makes this show so compelling and worth watching every week.

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