Last season, Aaron Sorkin introduced viewers to Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels) and his team of producers and reporters that work on the fictional Atlantis Cable News (ACN) newscast: News Night.
Despite the obstacles they faced last year, the entire News Night crew is back for another year.
However, within in the first few minutes of the episode we see Atlantis Media Network litigator, Rebecca Halliday (Marcia Gay Harden), get in a heated argument with Will over the last 14 months and a story involving a controversial piece that aired on News Night. During Will’s integration, Maggie (Allison Pill) delivers an important piece of material to Will.
Halliday is shocked by Maggie’s change in appearance and asked Will what happened to his Associate Producer and stated that she looked like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Will told her, “If you were in Uganda, you would do the same.” Halliday added that Maggie might be in more trouble if she had any involvement with the case because “no one will ever work again” if Atlantis Media Network loses.
The season premiere flashes back to Washington D.C. where Atlantis Cable Network President, Reese Lansing (Chris Messina), was refused entrance to a Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) hearing. His angry mother, Atlantis World Media CEO Leona Lansing (Jane Fonda), confronted ACN news division president Charlie Skinner (Sam Waterson) and demanded that he get Will under control because she does not want to lose money due to online piracy and is tired of being excluded in important media affairs. She shouted: “I want my $10,00,000,000!” before she harrumphed out of the room.
After the News Night control room successfully saved the newscast, Charlie dropped by Will’s office to tell the News Night anchor that he had to be pulled from the 9/11 Tenth Anniversary coverage. In their conversation, Will stated that it had to do with the “Tea Party is the American Taliban” statement he made back in the first season. While Will seemed fine with the idea, as the episode continued, he was definitely bummed and his former lover and current News Night executive producer MacKenzie McHale (Emily Mortimer) noticed.
In addition to dealing with Will’s depression this episode, Mac had to deal with the departure of her senior producer Jim Harper, who was tired of seeing Maggie flirt with her boyfriend Don Keefer (Thomas Sadoski) constantly in the newsroom. He decided to fill in as the field reporter for the Romney campaign. Mac also shut down Neil’s (Dev Patel) interest in covering the Occupy Wall Street story but encouraged him to keep an eye on the movement. Both men received icy responses from their respective story representatives because of Will’s actions.
Before Jim left, he recommended that Mac grab ACN Washington producer Jerry Dantana (Hamish Linklater) to fill his spot. It is apparent that Jerry’s attitude and passion rubs people the wrong way; starting with a panel on the hot topic of the U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan that features resident economist Sloan Sabbith (Olivia Munn) and a military expert that goes on a rant.
Once the panel is done and the military expert departs the newsroom, he intrigues Jerry with a story that could “make a career and end a presidency.” This is the first of the Operation Genoa that will be featured throughout the second season.
Around the newsroom, Sloan and Don have sexual tension, new intern Jenna Johnson tried to prove her worth, and Maggie gets a rude awakening as Don revealed that a YouTube video of her rant from last season went viral. Don broke up with Maggie because of the rant and her desire to be with Jim.
Next week: The Operation Genoa story continues to brew, Jim sees Maggie’s YouTube rant and Neil gets arrested!