After weeks of low-key championing Duncan Allen's POV, Press opens with what seems like a hard right turn in the finale. Holly Evans is on the warpath to take him down, while the man himself is having a terrible day, ruining his two-hour supervised visit with his son, Fred, by spending it arguing with his ex-wife-to-be. When he leaves, the cab that picks him up is laden with ads for "The New Free The Herald."
After mostly forgetting about the only exciting plotline, The New Free The Herald has finally chased back down their Resonance lead from the premiere episode, Jon Brooks (Tom Bell). He seems to have zero problems with talking to reporters on camera now, considering all the bizarre sturm and drang in parking lots from earlier. Unfortunately, those who were hoping for something super juicy are going to be disappointed. Press' big reveal on the "Resonance" scandal is nothing more than the reality of the "surveillance society" that is the U.K. and has been in place since 2006, with CCTVs everywhere and Big Brother always watching. "Resonance" is just that the Prime Minister signed off on bringing it a little closer to home, with a program that turns all your technology into listening devices. Brooks dramatically tells the camera laptop cameras can watch you (always have been), Alexa devices can hear you (and are listening now), and now your phones and smart TVs are too, looking for keywords. The government's had the program in place for months and MI-5 are already using it on thousands of people at a time, monitoring for terrorist attacks.
Amina, for one, is shocked: Your TV can monitor your home? Actually, it's been able to do that for a while now. The Washington Post had a piece on it recently. Too bad Amina doesn't read the papers.
But The New Free The Herald's source is convinced this is the end of freedom and society as we know it, which sounds nice and dramatic on paper, but has he lived in society since 2001, or 2005? The citizenry of the U.S. and the U.K. happily gave up the concept of freedom for the false promises of security theater ages ago. But hey, if you want to violate the Official Secrets Act, and wind up in prison or exile, have fun. I hear France is lovely this time of year.
Even before Holly promises the poor fool that they're doing everything to keep him safe, viewers already know that's a lie, since Allen has charged Ed with following up what Holly left behind. Add in another appearance from George Emmerson, who wants The Post and Allen to somehow magically make The New Free The Herald stop it from being published, and you know they'll have him before the episode is over.
Meanwhile, those at The New Free The Herald have the correct argument over if this is a story they want to run, Holly's highminded feeling about freedom and democracy aside. Leona is Team Holly, with Peter pushing back hard. But this is James' story. He found Brooks, ruffled feathers, and caused the PM to mention it to Allen. James doesn't want to do it; he's lost family in one of these attacks. The story becomes Holly's to run with, just as Allen calls her back to "talk."
This being the sort of over-the-top show it is, they meet in a church, one where their mentors are buried. Allen tells Holly to spike Resonance (even though he has no idea what it is), she tells him she's running a story on him, and she's just asking for comment before it goes live. Allen runs to his ex, hoping she'll warn Fred before he goes to school. She responds by making him tell Fred to his face. If Holly wanted to destroy him, this would be enough. But instead, she's looking for comment from Kristina, the escort who visits Allen nightly. Horrified that this will destroy her life along with Allen, Kristina points out the hypocrisy of Holly's story. So what if it's true, lots of things are true.
Kristina heads back to Allen's flat to pack up and leave, only to have him break up with her, offer not to pay her, say she's his girlfriend because what they have is not about the money, in that order. At least it's proof the girl was good at her job, even if no one else in this godforsaken show is.
That's not totally true. Ed is good at his job, being a sneak and a liar. Leona being fool enough to get drunk with him at the pub is proof she's not good at hers. He rifles through her things, finding a hotel key to chase the Resonance story. It's the super obvious outcome of her choices. With the hotel room in hand and the threat of being fired over his head if he doesn't stop her, Allen tells Holly that he'll call the police and have Brooks arrested if she doesn't shut the story down. Holly gives Duncan a speech about she believes he's still a journalist at heart, and no matter how desperate he is for money or custody of his son, he'll let the story run.
And because it's television, she's right. Allen goes back to The Post and starts packing up to be fired. In return, Holly decides to spike the story on Allen. Ed gets comeuppance when Leona tells him their drinks was her scouting him. He'll never work at The Herald now. He quits The Post in despair. It's all happy... oh wait, no it's not.
Fred calls. He still loves daddy, he cries, and they're going to move him to America. Allen snaps. He must stop Holly. So after all that, he runs a front-pager on Evans as an "Enemy of the People," responsible for the next terrorist attack because of The Herald's upcoming story. He's had his cake and eats it too. He did the moral thing and still found a way to get his promotion, his raise, and his ability to fight for custody.
The show closes with a showdown setting up a Season 2 that will never come, as Allen and Holly make competing speeches about their philosophies of journalism to... the Press. Who else?