The second season opener of HBO’s The Newsroom begins with a still corny, though much improved title montage. Instead of the nauseating and saccharine montage of broadcast television icons, we get an almost-as-sentimental montage of New York skyscrapers, someone spilling coffee, and office chairs. It’s a big step up, in my opinion.
Now, don’t mistake my tone. I do like The Newsroom. Or, at least, I’ve seen every episode. It’s a complicated relationship, I suppose. Sure, there have been times when I wished we both had the strength to part ways. But then MacKenzie comes out with her one stellar line from season one—the one where she ends a petty and distracting argument with the phrase “I work with pens!”—and I know I have to see this thing through.
The second season opens with a deposition. Something bad has happened. The gang has fucked up worse than ever before. And already I know that we’re headed somewhere good. Whereas all of season one was focused on the construction of News Night’s ethical code, season two opens with the admission that that hasn’t gone so well.
But of course, the deposition is a flashforward. Or else the rest of the episode is a flashback. We’re given hints and teases about what’s really happened. Something traumatic happened to Maggie in Africa. Something likely uninteresting happened between Will and Mac. And then there’s the whole military black ops, DOD, nerve gas, journalism ethics deal that’s brought our heroes into an in-house deposition. That’s given the episode its title, “First Thing We Do, Let’s Kill All the Lawyers.” (Makes sense, I guess, most other politco-oriented television shows poke some kind of fun at journalists; let’s give the lawyers their fair share of unflattering stereotypes and stock tropes too).
The episode chugs on. Mac is shown being good at her job for once. Musical theatre reference, musical theatre reference. Things between Maggie, Don, and Jim are awkward and tense until Jim bravely volunteers to go to New Hampshire and cover the Romney campaign (I’m sure that plot arch will go well). Mac makes a fool of herself by being clueless at technology. Topical reference about Occupy that will serve as Neal’s underdog cause for the season. Things are cute between Don and Sloan. Things are super tense between Don and Maggie. And we end in the deposition with Mac who let’s us know that this season might just be a better version of the last.
And that wouldn’t be so bad.
Back in real life, the Boston Globe and the Washington Post sold to private rich dudes this week. There was a SOPA reference buried mid-episode that served to remind us both that ACN is in the business of staying a business, and that Chris Messina and Jane Fonda are still on this show.
Right now, this summer, I’ve never been more excited about journalism. But I’ve also never been more worried. At least The Newsroom can make me laugh about it.