Back in the bullpen, Mackenzie McHale walks into the room, looks around, and then introduces herself to Maggie. As Don greets his former boss (“Mack”), Maggie spills the beans that Will’s at his agent’s office right now, then looks deeply chagrined when she realizes what she’s done. Hee. Mackenzie susses out the situation immediately. She is shocked and also not pleased.
While she’s waiting for Will to get back, she overhears
Donna Maggie’s conversation with her dad informing him that Don won’t be joining them for dinner. Mackenzie gives her some advice that isn’t entirely out of concern for Maggie’s well-being, but still not bad. She also promotes her to associate producer, because she’s “crazy about loyalty.” I’m looking forward to seeing how Maggie and Mackenzie’s friendship continues over the course of the show.
Time for another main character introduction! Mackenzie’s senior producer Jim Harper comes rushing into the room, tripping very impressively over Mackenzie’s purse. I’m calling it now: Jim is the Jeremy Goodwin of this show. Not that I’m saying I don’t want Josh Malina to guest star/become a regular, because I really, really do. Jim is freaking out that he might not actually have a job now, depending on what happens with Will. Mack tries to reassure him, but as she’s not very sure herself, it doesn’t really work. Jim wants to know what there is between her and Will, but she won’t say. She tries to get him to flirt with Maggie, letting slip in the meantime that she’s “not afraid of anything, except for jellyfish, which is completely normal.” At least she’s not scared of all fish, like Dana Whitaker. Mackenzie promises they’ll figure things out together, whether they have a job right now or not. I like Jim, although he does this weird not-meeting-anyone’s-eyes thing.
Will comes in, and quickly ushers Mack into his office. She hesitantly wonders why he never answered any of her emails in the past three years. He says he never read them. Then he lights up a cigarette, which, you’re inside, so I bet that’s not allowed, and also I know you smoke, Sorkin, but ugh. You shouldn’t. And neither should your characters. Before Mack can do more than begin to make nice, Will announces that by shaving quite a lot off his salary, he’s changed her contract to one which allows him the chance to fire her at the end of every week. He won’t do it right away, because that might make it a story, but he’ll do it soon.
Meanwhile, Don comes into the bullpen with his staff. Maggie rushes to introduce him to Jim. Jim informs Don that Mack’s dad was Margaret Thatcher’s ambassador to the UN, and so that was how she was born in the US despite Emily Mortimer being British. Don comes out of the conversation looking like a jerk. In fact, for most of the rest of the episode, he looks a lot like a jerk.
Mackenzie is trying to persuade Will not to take out his feelings about her on the people she brought with her, to give them a chance. Will yells that they made a huge mistake in trusting her. She looks stricken. Everyone out in the bullpen – I guess it’s probably called the “newsroom,” hence the title – turns to stare at them. Jim face-palms. Then there’s a little ding from one of the computers near him. It’s a news alert. He points that out to Don, but Don sort of scornfully says it’s only a “yellow” alert. So, when it’s red, does it make the Star Trek red alert sound? Tell me it does. (Spoiler: no.) Jim decides to check it out for himself. Turns out it’s an explosion on an oil rig off the coast of Louisiana. Remember when that happened? The show informs us that it’s April 20, 2010. Setting this show in the recent past, with real events, is an interesting choice already. And I do mean that in a good way.
Both Jim and Neal start investigating further. Don concedes enough to put “Tess” on the news desk to “see if this goes anywhere.” But as more details come in, including two anonymous sources of Jim’s (one inside BP and one in Halliburton, which was supposed to seal the well), Don becomes more and more annoying. He makes it clear that Jim is overstepping his bounds, since he’s not even hired yet. The AP alert hasn’t changed from yellow, so of course it couldn’t possibly be a huge environmental catastrophe worthy of the entire newsroom’s attention.