While celebrating the one-year (and one-week) anniversary of News Night 2.0 with the entire crew in Will’s (Jeff Daniels) apartment Charlie (Sam Waterston) gets an unexpected phone-call tipping him off that big news is about to break from the White House. Within a couple of hours everyone is taxied back to the offices to prepare for President Obama’s speech that they think, but are unable to prove, is the announcement that America has killed Osama Bin Laden.
Writer Aaron Sorkin balances the weight of the moment with some more lighthearted comedic touches such as the continuing Jim (John Gallagher Jr.), Maggie (Alison Pill), and Lisa (Kelen Coleman) storyline and Will picking the absolute worst night to get baked on the marijuana procured for him by Neal’s girlfriend Kaylee (Natalie Morales). We also get the continuing saga of Don (Thomas Sadoski), Elliot (David Harbour), and Sloan (Olivia Munn) helplessly trapped on a runaway as news is about to break.
If there’s an episode of the show that will show you why Waterston was cast to play Charlie Skinner it’s this one as the president of the news division refuses to go live with the story, even once confirmed, until he’s given the okay by the White House. The logic behind his reasoning, and the reaction of Kaylee to the news that has everyone else dancing a jig, are two very smartly written plot threads that do more than just report and celebrate the occasion.
Of course we also get Will, high as a kite, running away from his bodyguard (Terry Crews) which leads, as does Don’s story on the plane with an intractable stewardess (Christina Kirk), humorous lines as well as a dramatic emotional payoff. Although we get plenty of the trappings of Jim and Maggie’s relationship, the ongoing story works better here as it is simply window dressing for the news that is about to break, as well as remind us even when the biggest of news stories hits the air life’s little hiccups, disagreements, and craziness don’t take a night off.