Veep Recap: Abstinence-Only Education

Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Selina, Tony Hale as Gary. Photo: HBO
Episode Title
"Congressional Ball"
Editor’s Rating

It's been a while since we've seen Selina succeed. Maybe she deserves this, because maybe she's a c — ahh, a crone! An old crone, like Gary said. But it is satisfying as hell to watch her get something she wants — more than one something, actually — in one magnificent night.

Selina starts the episode trying to charm Congresswoman Minivan, who was a stay-at-home mother of six before running for Congress. (Oh, Selina's disgusted face is glorious. That's a GIF I'm going to need in my arsenal.) Selina offers to build an Amphibious Fighting Boat in lil' miss Okey Dokey Annie Oakley's district, even though the Navy is about as interested in this boat as the average person is in dial-up internet.

Keeping print journalism relevant one listicle at a time, the Hill has released its "50 Hottest Staffers" list and, unlike in previous years, excluded our fair Amy. She doesn't even care that Candi is on it, guys, so stop asking her about it. Dan is no. 26 for the fifth year in a row. (Dan, not inaccurately, says the whole point of the list is not to be on it.) Making a surprise cameo on said list? GARY. He comes in at no. 21, a full five spots higher than Dan. Hoo boy. Gary's joy about this news breaks my heart because this is Veep and you know happiness in this world is the Chekhov's gun of emotions; it always comes back to wreck you in the end.

Look, I don't want to endorse Dan's disgusting ploy to get laid by finding a beautiful woman "who was in it last year but not this year … That's a 'make her pay for dinner situation' right there." But ugh, he might not be wrong? Dismantle this patriarchal bullshit in the comments.

After a staff meeting with sneaky Tom James, Selina does a very slick loop-de-loop to meet with the rest of her inner circle and figure out what Tom is plotting. "What could O'Brien offer him that's better than the vice-presidency?" Mike wonders. "Literally anything," says Selina. They agree to keep an eye on Tom that night at the Congressional Ball.

Selina, mother of the year, wants to know "what's happening with these tentacles here," a.k.a. the tendrils of hair in Catherine's face. (Catherine's hair being continually redone as her mother keeps critiquing it is one of my favorite jokes of the episode. Also: She's being obnoxious about it, but Selina is right and Catherine's hair looks much better at the end of the night.) Do we think a real-life female president could get away with a hair-braid headband? It's a little too cutesy for the office, maybe? Dress looks stellar, though.

Catherine and Marjorie don't want their private lives to be politicized, lol.

Selina spends most of the party making promises she knows she can't keep so she can sweet-talk her way to the presidency. She's told multiple people that they can be her secretary of State. Oh well! Doyle "knows I don't keep my promises" anyway, Selina says. The requests these dumb-dumbs make are hilarious and devastating. The best/worst one: a 9/11 memorial for a district far away from the actual events of 9/11, because "our first responders were terribly traumatized by what happened to the first responders in New York." #neverforget #alwaysremember

But someone — ahem, TOM JAMES — keeps getting in Selina's way, convincing all the Congress people to abstain from voting. Tom James understands the arcane, illogical ways of Senate rules and procedures. If no one gets a majority in the House, it goes to the Senate, and if it's up to the Senate, Tom wins the presidency. Whaaa? Can that be right? (I mean, it's pretty much right. But seriously, what even is America?)

If you watch your screen very closely, you can see something come over Selina Meyer. From this moment of realization on, she is the human embodiment of the flame emoji — truly the highest compliment I can think of. She asks Tom to dance and then, as he is trapped in her arms and forced to fake-smile in front of all his colleagues, tells him she has "a hankering for Korean barbecue."

"Oh, keep dancing! Tom, don't stop dancing. Don't look around. Nobody's going to help you." Damn, Selina.

She pulls him into a private meeting for some of her most eloquent fury to date. "I know all about how you're trying to fuck me with that abstinence program of yours."

And then Tom blows his own cover by admitting he is mad about Charlie Beard because Tom has a cruuuush on Selina Meyer. Like he is just sitting in these meetings doodling "T.J. + S.M. 4ever" in little hearts. Like he totally remembers that night in the cab with the green shoes. Like he like-likes her. What follows is, I think, the best use of the word "fucking" in Veep history. (A high bar, that.)

What do we think Gary is going to do with the non-abstaining that he accidentally walked in on? He seemed mighty horrified.

Selina, high off her sexual victory, brings Congresswoman Minivan into the Green Room, "where Woodrow Wilson had some of his most significant strokes." There, Selina ever so gently tells this sweatshirt-bedazzler exactly why she can count on her vote:

"If I do win, I will have my administration come to your shitty little district and shake it to death like a Guatemalan nanny. And then I'm gonna have the IRS crawl so far up your husband's colon he's going to wish the only thing they find is more cancer. So, can I count on your vote, or do I need to shove a box of White House M&Ms up your stretched-out, six-baby vag?"

All hail Selina, who clearly should have sex before all her important meetings.

In Jonah news: He makes headway on the campaign trail by calling Selina "Commander-in-Thief" and slicking back his hair. His old fondler shows up and Jonah righteously tells him off but — what do you know! — the tape makes it look like Jonah was ripping apart a girl with Down Syndrome.  

And a Few Other Things …

  • Selina: "I supposed putting a few pictures up of Muhammad never hurt anyone."
  • Mike asks Selina how to handle questions about Catherine's "condition." Selina's reply: "Condition? Mike, she's a lesbian, not a werewolf."
  • A new report from Richard: "The emails from Tom Petty's lawyers keep on getting angrier and angrier."
  • "Who doesn't love a cappella? It's like a magic trick! Because there are no instruments, of course!"
  • Mike can't tell time on an analog watch. He just likes saying someone is "at 11 o'clock" because he thought it "just mean 'close.'"
  • I'm VERY taken aback by the bold move of bringing Nadia, the prostitute, to the Congressional Ball. In this age of Instagram, is it really so smart to brazenly cheat on your wife with such a very, um, enterprising Millennial?  
  • Buddy Calhoun sure is smitten with Amy. "You're the only woman who has ever threatened to grate my balls over a bowl of spaghetti."
  • Candi is engaged to Gary Welsh, the guy who was supposed to be on the Hot List. Amy tells Gary that he's "a typo," which is heartless, but brilliant.

Insult of the Episode:

Regarding New Hampshire: "Every town up here is just two dirty piles of snow connected by a covered bridge."

Compliment of the Episode:

Jonah tells Dan, with all sincerity, that he's "a fantastic campaign manager." Are Jonah and Dan the real OTP of Veep?

A close second: "If you were like 10 percent less black, I could make you president."

Jonah Shall Henceforth Be Known As:

"Like someone melted Play-Doh over a flagpole." Thanks, Dan!