Surviving the fallout from a meltdown, ACN “News Night” anchor Will McAvoy returns to his job and finds his executive producer and most of his staff are leaving his show. Will also learns he’s been assigned a new EP: MacKenzie McHale, a former girlfriend. Will and his overhauled staff face an immediate challenge when breaking news comes over the wire.
Mac asserts control over the new incarnation of “News Night” and enlists Sloan Sabbith, a beautiful and brainy on-air economist, to do a nightly segment. Jim takes the fall for a Maggie miscue; Charlie forbids Reese from continuing his furtive meetings with Will; a long-festering breakup secret gets out.
In an on-air editorial, Will apologizes for past newscasts and promises a new era of integrity for “News Night.” Will’s new approach rankles Leona Lansing, CEO of ACN’s parent company, Atlantis World Media, who warns Charlie that Will’s stance will not be tolerated. Jim soothes Maggie during a panic attack; Doncharges Elliot to get in the game; Will parades a string of arm-candy dates in front of Mac.
Will's "mission to civilize" takes a hit when he finds himself in the tabloid spotlight. Wade approaches Will with info on the government's flagging ability to fight financial crime; Don gets Maggie to fix Jim up with her roommate, Lisa; Sloan strikes out as a matchmaker; and Neal's "Bigfoot is real" pitch falls on deaf ears. Against Reese's wishes, Will refuses to follow the media rumor mill and make a call on a breaking story.
In the midst of covering the ouster of Egyptian president Mubarak, the “News Night” team learns of a protest in Wisconsin against Gov. Scott Walker’s bill to balance the budget by cutting teachers’ jobs. As Maggie (Alison Pill), Jim (John Gallagher, Jr.) and Don (Thomas Sadoski) hustle to get side-by-side views of the simultaneous uprisings on air, Neal (Dev Patel) tracks down an Egyptian insider who can get on-the-ground updates from Cairo.
A lingering bout with insomnia drives Will (Jeff Daniels) to keep a long-standing therapy appointment. Subbing for Elliot (David Harbour) during the Japanese nuclearcrisis, Sloan’s (Olivia Munn) strident interrogation of a Tokyo power-company spokesperson ends up jeopardizing her own career. After his rough handling of an interview subject, Will comes to recognize the causes and effects of being a bully.
An anonymous source contacts Charlie (Sam Waterston) and provides advance details on an imminent story of national importance. When news breaks that the President will be making a televised speech that night, the 2.0 staff cuts short its one-year (and one-week) anniversary party, and rushes back to the newsroom amidst a flurry of speculation as to what exactly happened.
“News Night” refuses to lead with a pair of sensational stories, which causes ratings toplummet – and forces Will (Jeff Daniels) and Mac (Emily Mortimer) to abandon their principles in order to lure viewers back and shore up the network’s bid to land a Republican debate. Will auditions an unlikely scribe, Brian Brenner (Paul Schneider), to write an all-access profile; Sloan (Olivia Munn) chafes over her lack of air time to report on a critical financial crisis; Charlie learns the identity of an NSA whistleblower; Neal (Dev Patel) pitches an internet sting.
Will and the “News Night” staff stage a mock debate for a pair Republican Party officials. Mac has an epiphany during a power outage; Charlie vets the credibility of an NSA insider; Lisa (Kelen Coleman) goes off-script during an on-air interview; Neal goes undercover as an internet troll.
Nina Howard (Hope Davis) surprises Mac with a damning revelation; Jim (John Gallagher, Jr.) and Maggie (Alison Pill) reach a crossroad; Sloan weighs a new job offer; Neal uses his internet alter ego to smoke out a threat. Will, Mac and Charlie face off with Leona (Jane Fonda) and Reese (Chris Messina) during a tense lunch meeting.