This is the night. Every pancake breakfast, every flattering New York Times profile (of Tom James), every blow-up with a staffer, every ill-advised international voyage, has all been building to this: election night.
“History is calling,” says Tom James. “And it won’t go to voice mail.”
Selina’s pacing around in a (fantastic) lace dress. The gang is gathered in a hotel room — not the usual frenetic scene we’ve come to except from TV depictions of election-watch parties — checking phones and seeming about as in the dark as the average person watching the returns at home would be. I will allow the wonkier types among you to look at which candidate scored which states to discern if we know what political party Selina calls her own.
It’s one of those topsy-turvy nights where those who seemed untouchable are finding themselves at the bottom of the heap — Bill Erickson, freaking out about his “probable imprisonment” — and those who were all too touchable turning their humiliation into heroism: Jonah has made his sexual harassment incident into an asset. His #brand has never been stronger. He’s even got a catchphrase: “Check ’em, don’t neglect ’em.” As Richard tells him, “This whole scrotum situation is really working out for you, sir. You’re the face of workplace bullying and genital health.
Dan and Amy are working the talking-head circuit on a show helmed by Scott Adsit. (In related news, I really miss 30 Rock.) They’re going on the air with a fake Nate Silver, Matty Curtis, the “online statistic savant.” Are Dan and Amy’s “transcendent bullshitting” abilities and Curtis’s expertise a match for what is, conveniently, the closest election in living memory? Let’s find out!
Fox says it’s close. (“Then again, they thought the Rapture was close.” Point: Tom James!) Selina wins Vermont and Connecticut, but hold those celebrations: “A bowl of hair could win those states,” she says.
Amy’s instability is so apparent on TV that Sue calls her to help, and Amy bails on the show. After all, one-third of her life has been building up to this night. Love is not a strong enough word for how I feel about Amy and Sue’s car ride to the hotel, with Amy singing about how the election is “too close to call, baaaaby!” and Sue trying to talk herself into a job at a paprika company that she obviously doesn’t want. Everyone in Camp Selina is under the delusion that they hate D.C. and politics brings them misery, but they’d all lose their minds without this work, and we know it.
Selina, meanwhile, tries to distract herself with one of her least favorite activities, “Mother-daughter time.” She half-apologizes to Catherine for ruining her potential marriage. “He was like, 60,” Selina says. “He’s 35,” Catherine corrects her. But Selina has some REAL WISDOM to drop on this conversation: “You know, Catherine, men are horrible. I have to just tell it to you like it is, honey. All men are awful. Really. And the key is to just find a man who is the least horrible.”
Pennsylvania goes to O’Brien. It’s time to concede, to have some small shred of dignity in this defeat. “This fucking job sucks, anyway,” Selina says. But then it turns out Selina won Pennsylvania after all!
And then the real news comes in: If Selina wins Virginia, they tie. Then what happens? You might think this room full of political operatives would just know something like that off the tops of their heads, that in one of these neck-and-neck-type election seasons, they may have done this recon in advance, so as to be prepared in the event of such an outcome. But, nope! Flacks: They’re just like us! Everyone starts Googling. Bill Erickson suggests this crazy idea, “Is there a book? Like an old-fashioned, like a paper book?”
Through a convoluted process that I won’t even bother to explain to you, Tom James could actually be president of the United States. This is so sad, and so Veep-perfect, and so worth it because the person Selina turns to in this moment for a hug? Amy! Her stellar pep talk: “Ma’am up. You’re still the leader of the free world.”
Cool, great, where’s Tom? Oh, Jonah called up Tom James directly, who was high on the idea that the Oval is his for the losing, and Tom slipped out to go to the rally. NOT COOL, MY FRIEND.
Selina handles this like a queen: She upstages Tom James. But then she has to, you know, come up with stuff to say. Just casual, eloquent, off-the-cuff remarks. “What a night,” she starts, which, okay, promising. “It’s the night of nights.” And she’s officially out of ideas. So she just calls up everyone on her team instead, thanking them slowly, publicly, waiting to find out that —
Virginia goes to Meyer. The election is a tie! Selina responds by (accidentally? Intentionally?) cribbing lines from MLK: “We have one more hurdle to overcome, and we shall overcome! One more river to cross, one more mountain to climb, but I have been to the mountaintop!” Can you imagine the think pieces in this alternate-reality America if Selina appropriated the language of the civil-rights movement during this speech? Shudder.
The House races are still too close to call, so we’re in purgatory, much like Bill Erickson. Richard wants to just drop half of the balloons. (Points for character consistency!)
Oh, and Tom has an idea for Selina. Just in case he winds up being POTUS. “Want to be my veep?”
And a few other things:
- Ben: “Election nights are my cocaine. It used to be elections and cocaine were my cocaine, but …”
- Tom: “Fuck Iowa. I’d say nuke it, but someone already did.”
- How tense are you, Selina? “I could crack a walnut in my ass.”
- One of my favorite threads in this episode is the deep, passionate disdain Veep feels toward Nate Silver and, one assumes, all internet wunderkinds who claim to use data to know the unknowable.
- Kent: “Why make the total of electoral votes an even number?” Amy: “Insanity.”
Insult of the episode:
This is really the insult of the season. Selina, to the entire country: “Jesus Christ, you know? You do your best, you try to serve the people, and they just fuck you over. You know why? Because they’re ignorant, and dumb as shit, and that’s democracy.”
Compliment of the episode:
Gary to Selina: “America doesn’t just love you, ma’am. She is in love with you,”
Jonah shall henceforth be known as:
The Testicle Man.