Well, it's the beginning of the end for News Night! Don, Jim, and Dr. Dr. Sloan find out about Operation Genoa as the team responsible for disproving it. Due to the fact that Dr. Dr. Sloan and Don are awesome, the first meeting is hilarious and involves reindeer.
And in romantic foibles, Hallie is in town to see Jim! He's very excited and books them an expensive hotel room, but then Hallie goes and invites an alcoholic Ron Paul supporter and MTVU reporter (because of course, MTV News is terrible. I guess Sorkin never heard of the amazing Kurt Loder?) along to double date Neal. At the very last minute, Taylor the Terrific Romney Spokesperson invites herself along too, just to fuck with Jim. It's pretty great, until she reveals that she's just been fired. Things are nearly as bad for Jim, as by the time he gets Hallie back to the hotel room, she's suddenly called away to Colorado.
It might be even worse for Will, who is still with Nina (yay!) until she reinforces his love of focus groups and likability to the audience (which isn't great, due to his constant lecturing of guests and refusal to smile ever) by urging him to go on ACN's morning show. Unfortunately, ACN's morning show is watchable and fun, so Will ends up destroying lighting equipment and screwing over a cancer charity. He breaks up with Nina, like it's her fault that he's no fun on the air.
Don continues to be jealous of Dr. Dr. Sloan's dates, the latest of which is a football player for the Giants.
Also, Jim and Hallie run into Maggie at the hotel bar, where she's drinking alone until she leaves with a random guy.
Meanwhile, MacKenzie and Charlie go on a fun road trip! Because MacKenzie doesn't know how to drive, she runs over the trash bins in front of General Stomtonovich's house right before she and Charlie head in to ask him about Operation Genoa. In between college basketball games (it's March Madness), he agrees to talk on camera about it with Dantana.
Dantana and, for some reason, Maggie, do the interview, although Stomtonovich insists that Maggie leave the room. All she hears is Stomtonovich say "it happened." Dantana hears him refuse to say directly that Operation Genoa used sarin gas. He then edits the footage to make it look like Stomtonovich said it definitely did. Uh oh!
And then, at the last minute, the one Marine they hadn't talked to about the mission (because they erroneously thought he was dead) calls up and says he'll talk to them. They get nearly 6 million viewers.
It's the "First Red Team Meeting," and MacKenzie is recapping the season so far for us (and telling it to Don, Jim, and Dr. Dr. Sloan for the first time): Cyrus West told Dantana about Operation Genoa and that whole sarin gas thing. Then there's a pause while MacKenzie, Charlie, Dantana, Neal, and Maggie stare at Don, Jim, and Dr. Dr. Sloan to see their reactions to this news. I think Jim is watching a basketball game on his phone or something? Or maybe he's asleep? Anyway, he's looking down at the floor. Don and Dr. Dr. Sloan just frown and stroke their chins. Also, why is Dr. Dr. Sloan on the red team? Isn't she just an economist/financial reporter/Elliot fill-in? There's no one else at ACN who might be more qualified and experienced?
Don asks how the Marines could have survived the sarin gas. Good job finding that first plothole, Don! But Dantana says the atropine they injected the Marines with was enough. MacKenzie et. al. tell the Red Team, who have helpful binders full of information to accompany the meeting, about Sweeney, Hamni8, the OWS NGO guy (who got pictures of the dead bodies, which is new information), and Charlie's secret source's helicopter manifest.
With that, MacKenzie asks if the Red Team have any questions. I have one! Has anyone bothered to actually go to the location in Pakistan where the sarin gas was supposedly dropped? Ask any of the people who live there? Look for any evidence, like the "mass grave" the NGO guy reported? Or are we just going to accuse the US government of a war crime based on, like, three guys' statements and some tweets? Because that seems problematic to me.
Jim's question is simply "sarin gas?" MacKenzie says she didn't believe it either, but if she saw eight reindeer take flight, she'd start believing in Santa Claus. Well, that would be dumb. Eight flying reindeer means that there are reindeer that can fly. That they have been enchanted by Santa Claus is an assumption. Assumptions aren't journalism. I don't care how many times NorthPole8 tweeted about it.
Jim points out that MacKenzie hasn't even seen eight reindeer – she's only talked to someone who says he has. Dantana says they've got more reindeer-related evidence than that, at which point Dr. Dr. Sloan can't help herself and points out that Santa Claus actually had nine reindeer. "Rudolph!" Don says. And that leads to several people trying to name all nine reindeer, which is awesome. Dr. Dr. Sloan keeps trying to name all nine reindeer, but she's missing one and then she loses count and has to start over again.