Veep is sneaky. Veep distracts you with its theatrics, the day-in-day-out absurdity that our profane crew of free-world leaders must navigate. And it is only when, in this week’s episode, you see that the Dow Jones is plummeting and the banks need bailouts — that’s “massive capital infusions” to the public — that you might remember that Ben-and-Selina back-and-forth about the financial system’s imminent collapse. (“They’re already calling it Black Wednesday,” Ben said. Selina’s reply: “Jesus, it’s only Wednesday?”)
Our economy has been crumbling this entire time! Did you notice? I thought everything seemed fine, but then again I haven’t taken econ since high school. They can only afford to bail out two of the three big banks. Amy asks, hypothetically, what would happen if they did nothing. “You go to the ATM on Monday and dust comes out,” Tom James says, before gravely adding, “This is not a decision we can make based on politics.” Ha! I half-expected the screen to go blank at this point and replace the rest of the episode with a 404 error.
The question before Selina: Should she massively infuse capital into Charlie’s bank? (Sounds hot.) It turns out the decision she likes personally — helping out her boyfriend — and the decision that would be best for the country are the same decision. Except, LOL, the country doesn’t know that, because all the country will see is Selina bailing out her boyfriend.
Poor Selina. “At least when Truman made the decision to drop the bomb, he wasn’t fucking anyone in Hiroshima,” she says. (“That we know of,” Ben adds.) Charlie and Selina have a dinner-eh-screw-it-let’s-just-have-sex date, at which Charlie promises nothing in their relationship will change, even if Selina doesn’t bail out his bank. This is the Chekhov’s gun of promises. It will come back to shoot Selina in the face. Important note about this date, though: Isn’t Selina wearing the dress Michelle Obama wore to the State of the Union? Which is also a dress Olivia Pope wore this season on Scandal? Great minds.
To make matters more challenging for our fair POTUS, Selina (who cannot get her iPad to orient a news story properly; Selina Meyer is all of us) discovers that Politico has someone in Selina’s inner circle calling her “the C-word.”
Everyone acts appalled, so, yeah, everyone has said it. (Everyone but Gary, obviously.) What surprised me is that no one immediately realized everyone else had said it. Don’t they know each other at all? Selina sends Amy out to “bring me a head.” Fortunately, it becomes very clear, very quickly, that everyone is guilty here. Mike — who is wearing a loud paisley tie with a polka-dot pocket square, honestly can’t decide if that pattern-clash is more or less offensive than the C-word — tells Amy that “I shouted it into my phone on the Acela quiet car.” I would say one of my favorite small joys in this brutal world is public figures getting caught saying and/or doing dumb things on the Northeast Regional. I am especially into stories about noisy people who find themselves expelled from the quiet car by its law-abiding riders. Never change, you foolhardy Boxcar Children.
This witch hunt brings us to one of the most powerful images in Veep’s five seasons: Selina is in a bathrobe, smoking a cigarette in the Oval Office. It’s after hours. Amy arrives. It’s just these two women, in the room where it happens, this space that has excluded and continues to exclude women, and they’re just in there, talking about what it’s like to deal with rampant, relentless misogyny.
“I’ll tell you something, Amy,” Selina says. “A lot of people don’t want me to be president. And you know why? Because fundamentally, people hate women. Right? They’ll just stop at nothing to get me out of here. Everybody’s trying to get me. But I’m not going to let them.”
And then the kicker: “Have you ever been called a cunt?” Amy: “Yes.” “Well,” Selina says. “Now I have, too, apparently. Once.”
Selina goes on an “opinion shopping spree” before finally deciding not to bail out Charlie’s bank. (“You can thank When Gary Met Sally for that one.”) Charlie finds this out while he and Selina are at Kramerbooks shopping for staged Christmas gifts: a book of poetry by a black writer and a graphic novel “with a strong female protagonist.” Charlie is … not pleased. As Selina stands in front of a display of books that call her the liar-in-chief, Charlie rips her apart for making him “CEO of a fucking yard sale,” tells her he knows she got that surgery, and bounces. Farewell, Charlie!
At least someone in the Meyer family has found love: Catherine is dating Marjorie! That’s why they’ve been so silly, you guys. Nothing about this is more amazing than the way Gary says “amazing.” I’m not even going to try to unpack how weird it is that Catherine found romantic love with a woman who was hired because of her physical resemblance to Selina, who has withheld her love from Catherine all her li— nope! Nope, I’m just not going to deal with that.
“I wish mother was alive,” Selina says. “Because this definitely would’ve killed her. You know how she was.”
And now, let us journey to New Hampshire, where Jonah’s congressional run is getting under way. A campaign ad shows him looking like he took a tumble through the L.L. Bean catalogue. (I think my dad has that flannel shirt? I think all of our dads have that flannel shirt.) The ad shows Jonah chasing a child through a playground in a way that doesn’t not make him look like a pedophile.
The focus group is not impressed with Jonah, who, in turn, is not impressed with the focus group. He bursts into the room: “Do you morons really not understand that this is a two-way mirror? Seriously? Are you shocked by that technology? I work in the fucking West Wing, you Pepperidge Farm ads motherfuckers!”
Also not a fan of Jonah: Rush, Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, and a bunch of other musicians who keep sending Jonah cease-and-desist letters to get him to stop playing their music at his rallies.
The Widow Sherman was Jonah’s second-grade teacher and her campaign is being run by Bill, who is out of prison. So far, he seems to be doing okay! He has learned not to make jokes and he is consumed by hard feelings. But other than that, he seems relatively unscathed.
Dan has been dispatched to run Jonah’s campaign; he gives Jonah some Clark Kent glasses and they bond over how mean Selina is. Jonah’s speech starts out badly — Bill hired hecklers, oof — but he picks up steam when he starts picking on Selina, who “single-handedly destroyed the economy, but she doesn’t care because she’s too busy cuddling up to her billionaire boyfriend.” Oh my God, do the people of New Hampshire like Jonah? Do they like-like Jonah?
And a Few Other Things …
- You know how you can tell Hugh Laurie is a Brit? The way he emphasizes the “end” in “weekend.”
- Selina, doing Jonah Ryan damage control: “We need a Jonah whisperer, except someone who is going to yell in his face and call him stupid. We need Dan Egan!”
- “Jesus, Dan, you wouldn’t know the smart move if it bent you over and fucked you with a Coke bottle.” I love Amy.
- Very into the brief return of Candi-with-an-i and her sad déjà vu job interview.
- Don’t mind Catherine, she’s just getting some B-roll of the fax machine.
- Amy, to herself: “Set a reminder: Make an appointment to freeze eggs.”
- “Nobody understands the economy. Literally, nobody.”
- Sue, of whom our nation is not worthy, speaks Korean.
- I just want to say I agree with Amy and Mike on this one: It is not a gate! Not everything is a gate! Most things are not gates. And Watergate is a dated reference.
Insult of the Episode:
How can I choose but one of the perfectly cutting things the focus group said about Jonah? “His head is too big for his body. But then, sometimes his body is too big for his head.” “He’s the wrong shape.”
Also, big points to Amy dissing Leon: “It’s always good to see the most left-swiped face on Tinder.”
Compliment of the Episode:
The way Dan tells Jonah “go fuck yourself.” So sweet!
Jonah Shall Henceforth Be Known As:
“The first mentally impaired Frankenstein’s monster to ever win an election.” A-plus work, Dan Egan.