Scandal, tragedy, Twitter outrage, the Righteous Daughters of Jihadi Excellence, and the Trayvon Martin shooting are equal parts of “News Night with Will McAvoy.” As the newsroom scrambles to get the audio of George Zimmerman‘s 911 call and report on the shooting the news program also reports on a bombing in Damascus, Will (Jeff Daniels) learns his father has had a heart attack, and Don (Thomas Sadoski), while dealing with his bad joke that has been picked up as a legitimate news story, tries to help Sloan (Olivia Munn) deal with naked photographs of her being leaked on Internet by a former boyfriend (Paul Greene).
The elevation of Sloan’s storyline (which certainly hits close to home for Munn whose own photos were leaked last year) allows for some terrific scenes between Munn and Sadowski hiding out in the darkness of Don’s office that continues the process of making Don far less of a prick that he was during the show’s First Season. This also means we get less of Maggie’s (Alison Pill) drama with Jim (John Gallagher Jr.), who has finally returned to the newsroom, although we do get examples of how she is still haunted by her trip to Africa including Jim’s mention of her drinking and an editing mistake that has to be later corrected on the air.
While trying to not deal with news that his abusive father has been hospitalized, Will becomes fixated on the tweet brought to his attention by Neal (Dev Patel) of a New York Post writer who felt slighted when the anchor didn’t recognize her early in the day. MacKenzie’s (Emily Mortimer) frustration at Will focusing on the tweet rather than calling his father eventually leads Will to discover the man has passed away while Will is still on the air doing the news.
Although the last couple of episodes have been a little shaky, “News Night with Will McAvoy” does a great job by mixing together several stories both humorous and tragic, continuing season long thread such as the effect of Maggie’s trip to Africa and the continued investigation into Operation Genoa (which gets yet another new lead), and introducing the Trayvon Martin story without a sense of how big a story it would become, while still leaving enough time and space for the actors to properly play out the emotional moments between Sloan and Don and Will’s loss of his father. (Although I could have done without Sloan’s last-minute revenge fantasy played out in front of several witnesses.) As the title would suggest, “News Night with Will McAvoy” is meant to stand out (and it’s the best of the show’s Second Season so far).