The Newsroom: “First Thing We Do, Let’s Kill All the Lawyers” Season 2 Premiere Review

Season 1 of The Newsroom was good, but far from perfect, and my assessment of the season 2 premiere is basically the same, but for different reasons.

The thread that will apparently run throughout the season became clear from the get go, with Will’s interview with ACN’s lawyer, played by Marcia Gay Harden. The rest of the episode served as a flashback to the beginning of the mess the show found itself in after covering the military operation Genoa, despite being asked not to by the Department of Defense. We’ll obviously hear a lot more about this, but as of right now I’m not so sure it’s a strong enough story line to run with. Time will tell.

As far as our favorite news team goes, Charlie and Sloan were really the only characters that maintained the same level of charm they won us over with last season. Will seems to have lost some of his hutzpah, even before Charlie pulled him from the 9/11 anniversary coverage because of his comments last season comparing the Tea Party to the Taliban. Mackenzie seems to have toned it down quite a bit, which I was very grateful for.

The episode was littered with a lot of minor storylines. What clearly set off the forthcoming chain of events was Jim insisting he be sent to New Hampshire to cover Romney’s campaign when their correspondent breaks his ankle. His frustration with Maggie leads him to seek this escape, but it’s clear that due to Will’s comments he’s going to face some frustration with the press core for Romney as well.

To replace Jim while he’s away, Mackenzie taps Jerry Dantana, a producer from D.C. with an intense focus on the topic of drone strikes. (He shares this passion with Sloan, but hers is much more convincing.) He forces a panel discussion into an episode, and when it goes slightly awry, one of the contributors Jerry brought in offers him the Genoa story. To be continued…

Don and Maggie break up. Yawn. She’s as pathetic as ever, and he seems to be lost in the cast of characters as he was in the beginning of season one. I hope we can all move on for real this time.

The best part of the episode in my eyes was Neal shining a light on the very very early stages of the Occupy Wall Street movement. His genuine interest in it, his ambition to attend a meet-up for it, and his pretty riveting discussion with one of the forerunners of the movement were all delightful to watch, without forcing anything down the viewers’ throats or getting on a moral high horse, as News Night and The Newsroom sometimes do. I can’t wait to see the coverage of the movement expand with Neal holding the reigns.

Last season was infused with passion in all characters, for better or worse. This episode was essentially void of that, a very subdued beginning for its sophomore season. I’m surprised they began with such a tame episode, and I’m curious to see where they go from here. The elements for a great show have always been present here…from Aaron Sorkin’s signatures, to a mostly strong cast, to fantastic storylines to work with…they’ve just never managed to perfectly come together. There were a handful of classic moments, as there were in many season one episodes, but it is yet to be seen whether there will be enough of those moments to keep this a show worth watching. Grade: B-

By: Meghan Coan

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