The Newsroom-First Thing We Do Let's Kill All The Lawyers-Sam Waterston and Emily Mortimer

It’s too late to go back and lower our expectations for the season premiere of The Newsroom and that’s a shame. Had we known “First Thing We Do, Let’s Kill All the Lawyers” would be a blast from the past—literally and figuratively—we would have prepared ourselves. Will and company are still plugging away at News Nigh, only this season they mess up big time. 

The Players:

  • Director: Alan Poul
  • Writers: Ian Reichbach and Aaron Sorkin
  • Cast: Jeff Daniels, Emily Mortimer, John Gallagher Jr., Alison Pill, Thomas Sadoski, Dev Patel, Olivia Munn, Sam Waterston, Marcia Gay Harden, Hamish Linklater, Chris Messina and Jane Fonda

Episode Title: “First Thing We Do, Let’s Kill All the Lawyers”

The episode begins at a meeting in 2012, but quickly transports us back to 2011, where the News Night team is gearing up for the 10 year anniversary of September 11th.  Jim is off to work for the Romney campaign, while Neal and Sloan bring everyone’s attention to drones and protests.

The Good:

  • Genoa: Obviously this mysterious story—and the fallout from News Night 2.0’s decision to run it—will be a focal point of the season. We know that after being told by the Department of Defense not to run it, the team did anyway, forcing them to issue a retraction the next day. Since it was repeated about a dozen times, we’re aware that if Jim hadn’t been on the road covering Romney, his replacement never would have introduced the man who got the whole Genoa ball rolling.  There’s a lawsuit afoot, the kind that ends careers, and Maggie, Mac, and Will are all at risk. Their lawyer’s costly fee ($1500 an hour) let Mac and viewers know just how important this will be. Now we just have to wait for the slow drip of information to clue us in to this season’s biggest arc.
  • Sloan Warrior: Regardless of whether Sloan was always meant to be a character that outshone the rest or Olivia Munn just naturally stands out in a sea of dreck, her star power is undeniable. Sloan’s banter with Charlie is probably the only situation in the series where male chauvinism will be allowed without remark, simply because her character is always allowed to put him in check. She’s still being ignored though; we get the feeling she’s been trying to bring the team’s attention to drone attacks for some time. But somehow she even made her awkward conversation with Don seem adorable. Their relationship is still nonexistent, but that could change any day—if we’re lucky. 
  • The Maggie Mystery: Maggie does not look good. Thanks to the flashback we get to see two Maggie’s: a familiar looking blond Maggie from August 2011 when the Genoa seeds were first planted and a haggard looking Maggie from 2012 with a terrible short red haircut. She went through heartbreak during the elapsed time—her cousin sent Don that video of her professing her love for Jim to that bus full of Sex and The City fanatics from last year’s season finale.  Why Don and Maggie would move in together after she kissed Jim is anyone’s guess but Don is a complete gentleman, giving her space to move back in with Lisa. The real riddle is what happened to our Maggie while she was on location in Uganda? Thanks to Will we know she went over there to do a story and came back messed up. While it’s comforting to know that her now sullen appearance isn’t because of heartbreak, we’re more than anxious to figure this out.

The So-So:

  • American Taliban: Will McAvoy is still dealing with the fallout from calling the Tea Party the American Taliban on the air. Something like that just doesn’t disappear, much like the show’s many problems. Maybe it was too much to expect everything to magically be fixed by the start of the second season, but that’s only because this season is supposed to make up for he minutia that plagued the first. Sure, the opening credits changed, but not much else. The love quadrangle is still in play: Don and Maggie have broken up, but Jim and Lisa are still an item for some inexplicable reason while Don and Sloan are still nothing. Mac is still the ditz—harsh words yes—effortlessly preventing the station from airing a slanderous story about Dominique Strauss-Kahn with a complicated voice-over move while forgetting her wallet in her office. Our hopes were high this season—it won’t be long before they are dashed forever. 
  • Occupy Neal: Of course Neal would attach himself to the Occupy Wall Street story; it’s something that was made for his character. His meeting with the group last night was barely interesting, aside from the part where he blew his own cover by wearing his news credentials to the meeting. Getting us to care about Occupy Wall Street is going to be tricky; the story died out quickly back when it was real news. If they aren’t planning to stick Neal in the thick of things this is sure to be a waste of time.

Overall:

“First Thing We Do, Let’s Kill All the Lawyers” was somewhat of a misfire, as far as season premieres go. To be fair they did interest us, first with trying to figure out exactly what Genoa is and next with whatever could have happened to Maggie. Aside from that things were quite ordinary, almost too much so. As much as we loved Sloan, she can’t continue to be the only standout character in the show. We’ll admit, our earlier dig at Mac being a ditz was a big jump, but last season’s continued abuse of her character’s good sense is too fresh in our minds for it to go unchecked. We’re aching to love this show, but not until progress is made. Hop to Sorkin, we need this.

Rating: 7/10

The Newsroom airs Sundays at 10:00 p.m. on HBO.
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