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

Welcome back to The Newsroom! The second season premiere of everyone’s favorite hate-watch brought us a little bit of new and a whole lot of old. In the “new” column, we’ve got a slightly less heinous opening sequence, Marcia Gay Harden, and the show’s very first Season-long Arc. As for the “old,” we’ve got self-righteous but fun office banter, awful romantic subplots, and less than three minutes in, the first of several instances of casual misogyny. Missed you, Sorkin!

That incredibly demeaning “Women try things,” directed at Maggie’s new haircut, comes in the middle of a meeting with Harden’s Scary Lawyer Lady. It appears News Night is in some pretty deep legal shit, and we’ll be spending the next few episodes in flashback learning how it got there. For now, we know the whole mess has something to do with Genoa, a black op that a military source describes as a career-changing story. Certainly seems like it, but probably not in the way that said source intended.

Before we have a chance to absorb all that exposition, we’re back in August of 2011. Qaddafi’s just been ousted, Dominique Strauss-Kahn is off the hook, and Will McAvoy has discovered Rebecca Black. (Internet, if there isn’t a high-quality “Partyin’, partyin’ yeah” GIF yet, I’ll be very disappointed.) In this week’s Righteous Newsmen vs. Corporate Overlords face-off, Will calling the Tea Party the “American Taliban” got Reese hilariously kicked out of the Capitol, and Jane Fonda is mad about Jack McCoy about it. Instead of yet another screaming match, however, Charlie takes Will off the 9/11 anniversary coverage of his own accord. If this were another show, I’d take this as a sign that the News Night-AWM relationship is getting some much-needed shades of gray, but this is The Newsroom, so we’re back to Will-McAvoy-as-martyr in a heartbeat.

Downstairs, Will pretends to be fine, but obviously isn’t. Men, amirite?! Meanwhile, Jim packs off to New Hampshire to lick his Maggie-rejection wounds, where he’s barred from the Romney tour bus by a power-mad press aide offended by Will’s RINO-ness. Jim’s replacement as senior producer is Jerry Dantana, a DC import who’s into national security. Which is how we get Sloan (or, as Charlie would put it, “finance skirt”), Important Military Source, and Some Other Dude on a panel about drones. Sloan is horrified by the program, arguing that it’s morally wrong and expensive to boot; military guy blatantly says he cares more about American soldiers’ lives than Pakistani civilians’. Will completely ignores an opportunity to ask the military man a hard-hitting question, justifiably frustrating MacKenzie. And bringing us back to that Season-long Arc, the military man offers to tell Jerry about Genoa in exchange for being his source.

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That’s mostly it for this week’s serious news coverage, clearing the way for this season’s most eagerly anticipated/prematurely mocked story line: Occupy Wall Street. As the show’s resident Internet Person, Neal is the first to catch wind of the story and pitch it to MacKenzie. On a reporting trip to the wilds of Tompkins Square Park, Neal speaks with organizer Shelley, who’s an anthropology student at NYU, because of course she is (not that she looks like one, but did anyone expect this show to be tapped enough into the zeitgeist to accurately depict a Dirty Hipster stereotype?). Making use of that 20/20 hindsight, Neal mansplains to Shelley that Occupy is too unfocused and risks becoming a “joke.” Shelley spews some statistics at him, then says she’s wary of media attention because they’ll focus on drum circles and not the real issues. Oh yes they will!

Last and least are this week’s stupid romantic subplots. Basically, Don breaks up with Maggie over a YouTube video, and it’s a Finally For Real breakup where he tries to move out of their shared apartment while Maggie’s asleep. The kicker? “All this time I thought I was a bad guy for not being in love with you…” No, dude, that’s not just you. The next day, he’s right back to flirting with Sloan, who, like every other hyper-competent woman on this show, devolves into a neurotic, hysterical mess whenever a Y chromosome enters the picture. And thus we conclude this week’s adventures with cable television’s second-douchiest Don.

Back to Marcia Gay Harden, who’s now prepping MacKenzie for her deposition. We learn more about how much of a Big Fucking Deal the Genoa story is; apparently, it’s going to develop into the most-watched cable news program IN HISTORY, with over five million viewers. While that solves News Night’s ratings problem, something went horribly wrong — so wrong that AWM’s brought in a $1500-an-hour badass who starts her depositions at midnight, when the witness is obviously in peak condition to give a potentially incriminating statement. We end with Will McAvoy and Newly Redhead Maggie passed out in the hallway. To be continued!

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