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Veep Season 3 Premiere Recap: A Wedding, A Funeral

HBO's   2013VEEP season 301Characters:Julia Louis-Dreyfus-  SelinaSam Richardson-  Richard

Hi all! I had such a lovely time down at the Cathedral Heights Metro with Frank and the House of Cards gang, I’m sticking around D.C. to recap another of my hometown shows: Veep.

Though we’ve had to go practically forever without a new episode of Veep, in the world of the show it’s only been two months since we last saw these somewhat devoted, insult-spewing, borderline sociopathic public servants. Selina is on a book tour in Iowa, doing what she does worst: “normalizing” with citizens. I could watch a supercut of Selina Meyers trying to normalize all day. “I’m exhausted!” “I call it ‘Some New Beginnings’ because [a beat too long] it’s plural.” “God bless you, etcetera.” “This is an absolutely [long pause] stunning butter sculpture.” Her book is titled Some New Beginnings: Our Next American Journey, which is just perfect. It’s patriotic-sounding but meaningless, and actually kind of confusing if you think about it for more than ten seconds. 

At the end of last season, word had just gotten to the VP’s office that POTUS would not be seeking a second term. It’s been two months; the man has not made an announcement. So it’s all a game of what-do-we-know-and-when-can-we-tell-people-we-know-it, sped along by the surprise resignation of Defense Secretary Maddox and Jonah’s advertisement of Selina’s staff’s reaction via his “gossiptainment” blog, westwingman.net. (I mean: .net? It’s like he’s not even trying anymore.)

Meanwhile, Mike and Wendy are getting married! Mazel tov, you lovely laughing couple. (“Isn’t she funny? We crack up all the time. Even when we’re having sex.”) Mike and Wendy have this phone bowl, apparently because her reporter friends and his political buddies can’t unplug long enough to watch the happy couple say their vows. (What about Instagram, though? What’s the point of all the hip young marrieds-to-be inventing hashtags for their nuptials if you separate the guests from their phones?) Watching Amy’s hand reflexively curl around her Blackberry, a barnacle-grasp she doesn’t even bother trying to hide, is one of my favorite physical comedy bits of the episode. (It’s all the more hilarious when we found out Amy did, in fact, have a second phone stashed away.)

One of the most impressive aspects of Veep is how all these characters are so fully realized. It takes all of two lines from each of them to feel right back in step with this gang. Gary is a nervous, blubbering mess, and he cannot believe Selina CHOSE not to be here, hello, it was on her calendar in huge letters: “We took type size to a limit.” Later, Gary compliments Wendy on her lipstick (“Nicely applied!”) but somehow the guy who can recognize lip shade coral blush can’t pick out a tie that doesn’t make me wish I were temporarily colorblind, just so I wouldn’t have to suffer at the sight of it. I mean, what is that? Fuchsia paisley? Come on, Gary. Sue, stone cold killer, asks Gary: “Would you like me to mold the cake into a pair of testicles for you?” Dan and Amy are back to bickering, that way you fight with someone you wish you didn’t like — what’s the over-under on those crazy kids hooking up at the most inopportune moment this season? — and one-upping each other with their respective hiding spots for second phones.

Sartorial sidebar: I like Wendy’s non-traditional wedding dress! No white for this lady. She’s going for what looks like a variation on the Kate Middleton engagement dress. I approve.

Out in flyover country, Selina takes a breather from normalizing only to find herself friendli-ish face-ish-to-face with Ben, POTUS’s chief of staff. They bond over the book she definitely didn’t write and probably didn’t read — “It’s so full of shit there’s a colon smack dab in the middle” — and, oddly enough, hearing Selina talk about the also-ran titles for her book made me feel something like pity for her. Footsteps to the Future, Red, White and You, and Hands of our Children? Almost as vomit-inducing as Jonah’s claim that not washing his hands after he goes to the bathroom will just attract more women to him because of “pheromones.”

I hope that, this season, we’ll get to find out a little bit more about Selina’s motivations; why exactly did she run for office in the first place? I don’t want the show to be about politics, but knowing even a tiny bit about hers would go a long way toward explaining why someone who obviously has negative zero interest in the American people would be so hungry for 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Whatever is driving her, Selina is over the moon when she finds out POTUS will make his “I’m not running again” announcement today. As she tells Jonah, “All my orgasms have come at once.”

Ben also brings news that Selina won’t have to make a Sophie’s Choice between Dan and Amy for campaign manager because the best in the business, Bill Erickson, is back on the market. Selina crashes a funeral to win him over, all while doing some very delightful pantomime — reel it in, JLD! — and deliver a charming, under-informed eulogy. What do we think this last minute win after a full day of losses means for Selina’s stand-in body man? Has he earned a spot in the entourage? I like watching him fumble — who knew there were so many varieties of socially inept and/or professionally incapable? On Veep, the possibilities are endless — and I can always get behind a show introducing a new non-white character into an overwhelmingly white cast. Maybe if Selina makes it back to Iowa, he’ll make a repeat appearance?

At the wedding, Dan gleefully ruins Jonah’s life, with the help of, well, Jonah. Jonah makes so many obvious mistakes, I can’t believe he landed in a such a sort-of-high ranking position at the White House in the first place. Did he really think no one would find out who was running his blog? And how could it not have occurred to him that posting the photo from Mike and Wendy’s wedding was a huge mistake? Jonah gets his White House pass revoked. Like the victorious tool that he is, Dan records this walk of shame out of the White House on an iPad.

Jonah swears that we haven’t seen the last of him: “Jonah Ryan, 2026!” Which … is not a presidential election year but, oh well.

Compliment of the episode
Ben to Selina, explaining why she’ll be such an easy candidate for Erickson to manage: “You actually have a personality and you never grope waitresses.”

Insult of the episode
Amy to Jonah, as he tries to force his way into the VP staff pic at the wedding: “Jonah, what’s the point? You don’t show up in photographs.”

Jonah shall henceforth be known as
“Jonah the 7-foot mouth.”

Photo: Paul Schiraldi/HBO