Veep Recap: The Expenda-belles


Season 4 Episode 3
Editor’s Rating 4 stars


Season 4 Episode 3
Editor’s Rating 4 stars
Photo: HBO

You might be concerned that Gary and Selina’s blowout fight would forever rupture the beautiful, bizarre codependent relationship these two crazy kids have. Worry not, friends: They are moving forward, stronger in the broken places, with Gary complimenting the dress that “really accentuates your figure” and Selina allowing Gary to perform higher acts of servitude, like laying out her clothes.

Selina is trying to get support for the Families First bill, so she’s telling one of those oh-so-charming little stories politicians like to trot out on the campaign trail: “the little girl down in Pine Hill, Alabama, she’s HIV-positive via breast milk, but still dreams of becoming a ballerina.”

There’s just one problem with this telling anecdote: It’s a little too telling. Some people on Reddit put the details together and now everyone knows her identity. (I, like Ben, miss the old days of the internet “when it was just Alta Vista and that Star Wars kid.”) Selina is ambushed with this information when she’s trying to make a plea for Catherine’s privacy. It does not go over well.

Because, see, Catherine is not adjusting well to public life. (You’d think she would have the hang of it by now, considering how long her mother has held political office, but I guess there’s nothing quite like that one-degree-from-POTUS limelight.) A photo of her vaping winds up in the paper and her face is getting that Washington Post treatment of “How will Selina and Catherine look after eight years in power?”

And Jennifer Graham — the girl with HIV, I’m sure you know her name by now because it’s all over the news — well, the story “is catching fire like a gas station in a Michael Bay movie,” as Mike puts it. People are petrified that the government will not protect their data from similar leaks. Selina’s game plan: Find a culprit who can be fired. Don’t worry — apparently there are “hordes of young women who roam the halls of the West Wing. Fifteen percent of them are hired to be fired,” Ben tells her. Dan confirms this: “We call them the ‘expenda-belles.” So Dan goes off to sacrifice a young virgin (as Amy puts it, “just another Saturday night”) while Selina’s team tries, and mostly fails, to get the story to just go away.

Richard and Jonah are in charge of this lights show situation, and I don’t totally follow the point of it, but I really don’t care because it just provides so many opportunities for things to go wrong. For one thing, the VP is using “Every Breath You Take” as his walk-on music, which means all the audience will hear is “the government is spying on you” just before Selina is supposed to speak. A last-minute attempt to swap the music for “Eye of the Tiger” (Richard doesn’t have much else, except “self-help audio books and relaxation tapes”) goes awry, and the Police blast as #everylittlethingshedoesistragic starts to trend on Twitter.

Richard speaks the truest words ever uttered on Veep: “I usually use a Mac. This is Windows 8’s fault, if anything.” I’m trying to think of something on this planet worse than Windows 8; nothing comes to mind.

Meanwhile, Leigh, the White House staffer we’ve seen hanging around these past few episodes, is on the chopping block. Someone needs to be fired, and it turns out that someone is Leigh, even though Kent says “I see splashes of myself in her. I now regret that phrase.” Dan delivers the bad news and informs Leigh that, even if she cries, he won’t change his mind. “You’re talking to a guy who broke off an engagement in an Applebee’s and still ordered dessert.” I love these 30 Rock–style quick windows into the off-screen lives of our characters, throwaway lines that hint at this entire story we’re not going to get to see but would be some hilarious, perfect scene in an alternate comedy universe.

Time for Easter! The Jennifer Graham thing is still a thing (“Fitting that for Easter this news won’t fucking die”) so Selina needs to fire someone more important. Dan has been prepping Jonah for exactly this moment, giving him more responsibility and even a “staff” (ahem Richard). Plus, Jonah looks guilty all the time: “He’s got that surprised-masturbator face.” When Dan goes to fire Jonah, he witnesses the aggressive ball-grabbing by Teddy that has now become routine and, thankfully, calls it out as sexual harassment.

That could have solved everything, except the data breach didn’t just affect Jennifer Graham: It turns out the “I Care” mailer Selina’s people sent out, featuring photos of Selina with babies and children — it did really well! — targeted bereaved parents using breached government data. Which, as Selina points out quietly, is a federal crime. People could go to jail.

Everyone gathers around Selina’s desk, this perfect, still moment of everyone silently evaluating just how screwed they are. (“I’m-afraid-it’s-spread-to-the-liver fucked.”) At the suggestion Selina maybe lie low, like in a bunker, she flips out with the best line of the episode: “Don’t give me that bunker shit! Hitler went into a bunker, and when he came out, he wasn’t chancellor anymore, was he? Plus, he was dead! And I’ll tell you something, if he were alive right now, he would be very anxious to distance himself from ME at this moment.”

At first it looks like Ben is going to fall on the sword for Selina, but Ben has a surprise: It’s Dan who has to resign. “It’s a perfect fit. Worked on the Families First bill and handsome, therefore, guilty-looking.”

In other news, Catherine wants to work with an anti-bullying charity because she’s feeling bullied by the media/the world, but Selina thinks the public will just assume Catherine was bullied by her mother. (Does that panic even make sense? Wouldn’t they think Catherine had been bullied … in school? Like most girls are?) Catherine accuses Selina of “bullying me into dropping an anti-bullying charity,” and Selina’s all, “Am I bullying, Gary?” and of course Gary says, “Uhh, you’re parenting!” Dream team.

And a few other things:

-“I’m a sucker for fireworks! The noise, the lights, mostly those aspects.” Richard forever.

-Amy: “We’re losing microdonors. We’ll be down to nanodonors.”

-Selina, trying to peel a banana: “It doesn’t even fucking work.”

-“Whatever happened to Ebola? I loved Ebola!” Thank you, Erickson.

-Sue is perfect, as per usual: “If you see a fire, do you put it out or do you just say, ‘I’m aware of that?’”

-Selina, on firing Jonah: “Throw him under a bus, if you can find one that’s long enough.”

-“Amy, the gates of hell have opened, and you’re my plus-one.”

-Selina shuts down a child who tries to read along during the Easter Egg roll: “Now it’s the president’s turn to tell the story.” (The kid’s “you’re the president?” reaction is priceless.)

-That Marine did two tours in Afghanistan and watched his best buddy get blown up by an IED and now he has to wear the creepy Easter Bunny costume, isn’t this country amazing.

Backhanded compliment of the episode
Selina, on Catherine’s boyfriend: “I see you’re still seeing Jason. He photographs well, for his age.”

Insult of the episode
The guy at the fireworks place naming the lowest-ranking package “The Presidential.” “I named it because of that asshole, Ford.”

Jonah shall henceforth be known as…
I am Groot.

Correction: An earlier version of this recap mistyped IED as IUD.

Veep Recap: The Expenda-belles