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refresher course

Your Newsroom Refresher: Where Did We Leave Off?

The Newsroom returns on Sunday, with some slight changes. Oh, it's still smug and there are still severe shortcomings in the emotional veracity department, but hey, there's new opening credits! And there are a few new characters who seem okay! But before we jump into the new season, let's look back at where we left off with our ACN crew.

Will: When we last saw Will (Jeff Daniels), he was shouting. Because he's always shouting! World's shoutingest human. Anyway, Will had kinda-sorta OD'ed and was in the hospital, where he and MacKenzie (Emily Mortimer) bickered and bickered and bickered. That's how he discovered that Mac had not in fact heard the voicemail he'd left her a few episodes earlier, while he was baked and feeling loveydovey. Instead, her voicemail had been hacked by none other than evil network head Reese Lansing (Chris Messina) — who sent Will's message to tabloid reporter Nina (Hope Davis). Even though Leona (Jane Fonda) and Reese wanted to fire Will and MacKenzie, now they can't, because then the intrepid News Night folks would announce the felonious phone-hacking. Thus Will is safe from job loss and can go on his show and call the Tea Party "the American Taliban," and tell other Republicans what bad Christians they all are.

The Don/Maggie/Jim/Lisa thing: Jim (John Gallagher Jr.) and Maggie (Alison Pill) were in love with each other, or whatever hamster-level "love" those bozos can be in, but they were still with their other partners. Then Maggie had a screaming-and-crying meltdown in front of a Sex and the City bus tour — women! — which, coincidentally, Jim happened to be on. It seemed like it was finally time for them to get together, so Maggie ran off to break up with Don (Thomas Sadoski). Except then Don asked her to move in with him, and rather than say, "I'm flattered, and this is excruciating, but I want to break up," she said yes. In the wake of this, rather than break up with Lisa (Kelen Coleman), whom none of the characters respect even a little, Jim decided to stay with his buxom shopgirl. Think of CJ and Danny or Josh and Donna or CJ and Toby (sometimes) on The West Wing, or Dana and Casey or Dan and Rebecca or Jeremy and Natalie on Sports Night, or President Andrew Shepherd and Sydney Ellen Wade in The American President. It's not like Aaron Sorkin can't do romance! Why is this the worst part of the show?

Sloan: Sloan (Olivia Munn) confessed to Don that she had a crush on him, but because of the aforementioned terribleness, they can't act on it. (So dumb. But also, you deserve someone less greasy, Sloan.) She also turned down a far more lucrative gig so she could keep working at ACN, on account of how noble her work is.

Everyone Else: Neal's (Dev Patel) quest to become king of the Internet trolls was going nowhere. Charlie (Sam Waterston) was mad at Reese and Leona for the phone hacking, but also for being so sleazy in general. Lonny (Terry Crews) was Will's bodyguard, because Will was getting death threats on the Internet. Elliot (David Harbour) still had a show. Kendra (Adina Porter), Gary (Chris Chalk), Tess (Margaret Judson), and Joey (Trieu Tran) were technically present on the News Night staff but contributed nothing.

Photo: Brigitte Lacombe /HBO