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Veep Recap: Right in the Kisser

Selina Meyer uses people. Some are eager to be of service (Gary), some like to imagine they’re the ones doing the using (Dan), and some believe that they are the exception to the “Selina uses everyone” rule (Amy). People are props in Selina’s world, and the only reason this doesn’t make her too unlikeable to tolerate — aside from Julia Louis-Dreyfus’s always-endearing presence — is that she, too, winds up being a prop in other people’s political schemes. 

Take, for instance, Minna Häkkinen, the now former prime minister of Finland whom we last saw during “Helsinki,” and whose husband groped Selina during one of the show’s most brilliant, cringe-inducing moments. (“Remember her husband fondled your left breast.” —Gary.) She is absolutely infuriating, and is either the most clueless ex–head of state on the planet or has mastered the art of apparent guilelessness so as to inflict the most damage on Selina. In the middle, we have Catherine, who in this episode goes from being an inconvenient, less-than-useful participant in the campaign to a more beloved figure than her mother. And then there’s the used: Ray, the personal trainer/“chew toy” Selina’s been playing with lately.

The episode starts in what should be a victory: Selina’s going to announce 7,000 new jobs in Detroit! Time for Catherine to lose her fiscal cherry. It’s such a big deal that Dan wants to hear the Discovery Channel say, “We interrupt these sharks.” But things start to go south immediately. There’s a shooting across town, taking as one of its victims a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist whom Selina fondly remembers as “a vicious bitch and a fucking drunk.” (I love Jonah’s reaction to this news best of all: “Just so sad. I hate murder.”) As Selina’s fortunes fall, Jonah’s seem to rise: He starts the day whining about how his lanyard isn’t retractable, but winds up getting a killer quote from Minna who accidentally (so she claims) leaks that Selina thinks the Second Amendment is bullshit. Later, he caps off the episode with a Maddox photo-shoot victory.

After watching Selina get very, very personal with her personal trainer, Amy insists that “the entourage is getting way too big.” But Selina pulls her into a corner for a little girl talk, just as friends — Amy: “I spend more time with you than any of my other friends so technically that makes you my best friend” — and reveals that she’s hooking up with Ray. Amy is like, “Hey, have you thought about not screwing your personal trainer, seeing as you’re running for president?” I find Ray excruciatingly irritating, but I am into this plot line because it so sounds like something they’d do if this were a show about a male politician, doesn’t it? That a guy candidate would have some hot young personal trainer and take her stupid advice about speeches just because he’s screwing her? So I support this from, you know, a very important gender-equality perspective. Plus, I love watching Amy try to deal with the damage control: “You know how when a trainer and a vice-president love each other very much …”

Dan tells Amy he brought Ray on as a distraction, something to keep Selina occupied so she wouldn’t fall back into bed with Andrew. This is one of the aspects of Veep that’s never quite worked for me. I get that Selina and Andrew have all this history and he’s like her sexual kryptonite or whatever, but how many times can we go back to this well for an interesting story? And how exactly does Catherine feel about her parents? It’s just a little strange, how Selina and Andrew act around each other, in front of their daughter, in full view of her staff. How could anyone with so little discretion stand a chance of getting elected president? It just doesn’t ring true to me.

The one couple I am rooting for: Kent and Sue, Veep’s OTP. 

All of Selina’s plans, except for her plans to fuck the personal trainer, go on hold when a rowdy protester dressed like the Statue of Liberty breaks through security and rushes her. Catherine, the daughter who abhors violence, punches Lady Liberty in the face. What an arm! In some very awkward timing, Catherine’s punch makes national news just as Jonah’s intel from Minna breaks. Selina’s dis of the Second Amendment is not going over well with the NRA, and Dan is not happy. “You just picked a fight with the jumpiest 100 million people I can possibly think of!” This is too much for Selina. Time for some Raycreation.

Selina’s Raycreation is short-lived; her family’s reaction to the tryst is just priceless. I am especially fond of Catherine in this moment, who is even better at throwing shade than she is at throwing punches: “Mom, not the help. Jesus, that’s tacky.” Amy’s reaction tops them all: “It was a long day, nobody likes sex, let’s disperse.” (Will she change her mind after she gets a little Raycreation? Would that be a very high-level violation of girl code?)

The next day, on Ray’s advice, Selina and the gang head to the Wayne County Gun Fair, for “ladies who load.” Those women sure can get T-shirts made quickly! They’ve already got gear with Catherine’s face and the words POW! Right in the kisser screened on them. Never mind that Catherine did not want to “talk to radio stations that have eagles in the logo or call themselves ‘the voice of reason’” or attend this show at all. She winds up enjoying her newfound celebrity even though she couldn’t support the cause less; apples and trees, kids. “Once I got used to all the regular people and how fat they were, I really enjoyed it.” No such luck for Selina, who attempts not to use any forbidden words (like guns, I guess) and instead refers to firearms as “these things that defend.”

Jonah orchestrates the Maddox-Meyer handshake so it ends with a hugely unflattering photo of Selina a step down from Maddox, his hand on her back like she can’t walk unaided. (Not totally clear if this is just a win for Jonah or also a loss for Mike, who seems to be unable to do anything right this episode).

At the Global Futures Symposium, moderator Minna interviews Selina, who can no longer give a speech about 7,000 jobs because in six months, those jobs won’t actually be there. The format has been changed to a Q&A, but that doesn’t help Selina much, because Minna is the frenemy from hell. Selina tries to start by referring to Minna as “a dear friend,” and Minna undercuts her right away with “Yes, we have met twice.” Selina talks in big, broad buzzwords — “The American landscape that we’re all in today!” — and fixates for a while on “the umbrella skeleton” and Minna’s new book, The Finnish Wolf. But she’s cornered, and Minna knows it; Selina can hedge all she wants with the “it’s not a big deal in and of itself” protestations, but it’s too late.

On the bright side, Selina’s wearing a great dress. On the brighter side for her, Andrew is there to be her new, ah, chew toy. Can’t imagine what could go wrong with that.

A few other things:

Are we supposed to be ready for the triumph of Jonah? Unlike in previous episodes, when smarter, kinder souls intervened to save Selina’s ass (i.e. Alicia), nothing stands between Jonah and success this time around. Jonah does come across as this real, Washington creature, kind of like the rats in Georgetown: You would think they have no place in the neighborhood, skittering among the pretty row houses and storefronts. But they run around the waterfront like they own the place, and there is no getting rid of those bastards.

Sue giving instructions: “If you don’t like my tone, you’re really not going to like Guantánamo Bay.”

Another gem from Sue: “We put war cops on the route. I’ve seen that part of town. There’s nothing down there worth stealing.”

“You’re going to need to be conservative and liberal.”

“Talk about the GDP! No one knows what that means!” —Mike

Kent calls his mom every week! Happy Mother’s Day, everyone.

Compliment of the episode:

Dan to Catherine: “You’re hip! You’re deck! Deck’s a thing, right?”

Insults of the episode:

Selina to Minna: “In your country, people fuck snow.”

Minna to Selina: “I purchased eardrops because not every country likes to eavesdrop.”

Jonah shall henceforth be known as: 

“He is, like, in Central Europe, there is a bad companion for Santa Claus, and on Christmas, if children are naughty, he takes away the presents. He’s like a man, but he’s very tall.” —Minna

Photo: HBO