‘Newsroom’ Episode Two: Five Key Moments

The 'News Night' team blows off some steam after a rough show in the latest HBO installment.

The last time we checked in with the “News Night” team — a.k.a. the motley crew of characters who make up the cast of HBO’s newest Sunday night hit “The Newsroom” — their nightly news show scored a coup with their coverage of the BP oil spill after being thrown a new executive producer Mackenzie (Emily Mortimer).

Hotheaded and egocentric anchor Will (Jeff Daniels) was coming off a suspension and not eager to change his stubborn mind regarding the new direction of the show, set by jovial and bourbon-loving boss Charlie (Sam Waterston), and an idealistic newbie Maggie (Alison Pill) received a made-for-TV promotion after proving herself in a pinch.

We’re getting to know more about our cast of characters — too much, in this case — and the big news event in this week’s episode was SB1070, Arizona’s controversial immigration bill, which Governor Jan Brewer signed into law in April 2010. Here are the episode’s five key scenes:

The Trouble With Technology
Not that we expected to find out so soon why Mack and Will’s romantic relationship came to an end years ago, but writer/creator Aaron Sorkin lays it on us using the all-too-familiar modern-day calamity of the accidental “Reply All.” Mackenzie, bless her heart, just can’t figure out how to use her BlackBerry, and when she thinks she fires off an emotionally charged email to only Will, she unknowingly BCC’s the entire department.

Jim Harper, Hero
Take our word for it: Jim Harper is going to be everyone’s favorite character before long. The intelligent, career-obsessed senior producer might be nursing a crush on newbie Maggie, but he is first and foremost a respectable manager who takes the fall, no questions asked, for his underling when her serious error in judgment leads to a guest canceling their scheduled appearance on the show. And let’s not forget how empathetic he is in listening to Maggie’s cringe-worthy story of a college hookup gone bad.

Democracy and Three Talking Heads
The aforementioned screw-up by Maggie leads the team to a last-minute scramble to fill the hole left by the departed guest. What they come up with is a ragtag trio of talking heads who take the opportunity not to speak intelligently about Arizona’s newly passed immigration law, but instead use their TV time to make the most racist, ignorant and self-aggrandizing comments possible. It is a delightful train wreck of a moment, though a real blow to the recent credibility “News Night” earned via their previous show.

Karaoke Bars: Where Everybody Knows Your Name
After their failure of a show, the team heads to its favorite watering hole for cheap sushi, cheap beer and karaoke. When characters get together outside of work and get drunk, magical things happen, like co-worker bonding, oversharing, fostering romantic feelings, etc. In this bar scene, Mackenzie is still embarrassed about her mass email with its very personal information, Jim is looking too longingly at Maggie, and Maggie is having one of her many arguments with Don.

Will Is “In”
Despite all the drama of the mass email and the debacle with the three talking heads, still hotheaded and stubborn Will decides that the new format and philosophy that Mackenzie is pushing on “News Night” is better than what he’d been doing previously, which was going through the motions and worrying too much about his own ego. Will tells Mackenzie that he’s “in,” making an agreement to go along with his lost love/ new executive producer’s new plan.

What did you think of the latest episode? Let us know in the comments!