As Jim (John Gallagher Jr.) continues his slog on the road with Romney campaign several news stories, and lots of Maggie (Alison Pill) craziness, hit the News Night studios. First, ACN leans that U.S. Military drones were used to target and kill American born Islamic terrorist Anwar Al-Awlaki which leads to MacKenzie (Emily Mortimer) pressuring Will (Jeff Daniels) to take a hard look at the White House’s terrorism policies. Will also has to fend off Don (Thomas Sadoski), whose nine-year obsession with the conviction of Troy Davis boils over on the eve of the Supreme Court hearing arguments to stay his execution for the murder of a police officer.
The two ongoing news stories introduced in the Second Season premiere are both touched on here as well as Jerry (Hamish Linklater) lets MacKenzie in on the story of “Operation Genoa,” a U.S. Military black ops extraction in Pakistan. The Newsroom cast unanimously gives Neal (Dev Patel) crap when the latest Occupy Wall Street rally delivers far under expectations. However, MacKenzie is forced to take both stories seriously after Neal is arrested for reporting on another rally and Jerry finds a soldier who is willing to go on record that sarin gas was used in the extraction of two American soldiers that left several civilians dead. The level of disbelief at both stories when introduced, and the continued groundwork week after week, is a nice way to tie the real events of Occupy Wall Street and the fictional events of Genoa as stories initially dismissed and only later taken seriously.
Marking the anniversary of 9/11 Will breaks the news to Elliot (David Harbour) and Sloan (Olivia Munn) that they, not he, will be doing the anniversary show. The anniversary of the attack also offers some news footage of Will’s coverage of 9/11, which just happened to be his first day behind the news desk as anchor. Still hurting from not being able to anchor the show, Will becomes obsessed with hate blogs targeting the newsman as a traitor and un-American. Finding Maggie sleeping in her office, Sloan backs up her friend when Maggie tracks down the woman who uploaded the YouTube video of her Sex and the City bus tour meltdown. Although Sloan is able to offer a compromise it doesn’t stop Lisa (Kelen Coleman) from seeing the video and having a complete meltdown that basically ends their friendship.
“The Genoa Tip” also offers a few other tidbits including, for the first time in the show’s history, more time for Elliot behind the news desk than Will, Charlie pushing for a Twitter feed at the bottom of the screen, and Maggie’s continued obsession with Africa which leads to her finally selling the idea to MacKenzie to send both her and Gary (Chris Chalk) to Kampala (even if she has to hide how dangerous the situation is becoming from News Night’s executive producer). With Maggie taking Jim’s lead of heading out into the field (albeit a far dangerous one) rather than dealing with the emotional turmoil her life has become we now see the beginnings of the changes in her character alluded to in the season premiere.
Last week’s episode was mainly concerned with resetting the stage for the various characters going into the show’s Second Season. This week we get far more actual news, including stories that hit close to home in different ways to various members of the show. Will spends much of this episode outside the newsroom, including his mini-meltdown while trying to heroically get the charges against Nate dismissed, but we see no sign of Lonny Church (Terry Crews) for the second week in a row, despite the news at the end of last season that the network was still taking the death threats against Will seriously. As expected, Will not hosting the anniversary show is going to become a bigger story than if he had done the show as next week gives us the return of gossip columnist Nina Howard (Hope Davis).