Veep showrunner David Mandel said that this show works best when people don’t get what they want, but I didn’t expect such an extreme level of not-getting-what-they-want. “Inauguration” is a totally brutal finale, even if you don’t think Selina Meyer deserves to be president (does anyone, except for Gary?), and if you don’t think Tom James deserves to be president (can’t say I have strong feelings one way or the other, but he does seem like the kind of guy you regret having sex with the minute it’s over), and if you think it’s cool that this alternate America is rallying behind a(nother) female president, especially one who throws some Spanish into her inaugural address.
But let’s relive Selina’s waking nightmare from the top: We begin one day from the Senate vote, as Mike assures the press that Selina really enjoys watching all this “democracy in action” — “I mean, the chances of this happening in Russia? Nyet.” — and that there is a zero-percent chance she will ever serve as vice-president again.
Cut, of course, to Selina turning down Tom James’s offer of the vice-presidency, in a depressing-as-hell negotiation in which Selina is under the delusion that she has any leverage whatsoever. (Reminds me of Jack Donaghy negotiating with his nanny, who just sat there peeling an orange, much like Tom leaning back and chomping on his apple.) Selina aims for secretary of state, “because I think that’s the least you could do,” and dismisses Tom’s VP suggestions as “literally the least you could do.”
Or, as Selina puts it later to Ben, “General George Washington could climb out of his grave right now and I would rather eat out his zombified wooden asshole twice a day than be his vice fucking fucking anything!” Interesting that she still refers to Washington as a general, not a president. Sort of rude, right?
Selina gathers her staff at a last-ditch effort at relevancy. How can they earn back — or, as the case may more likely be, earn in the first place — Selina’s popularity? A gay wedding at the White House for Catherine and Marjorie? No, Selina can’t take that much acoustic guitar. The solution is clear; the solution is Tibet. “That’s what’s going to be my legacy: Selina Meyer, the woman who freed Tibet.” Selina then yells, “I WANT MY NOBEL PEACE PRIZE,” and says the word “legacy” so many times she sounds like Alexander Hamilton just before the bullet hits. She wants to be more to this country than just “the first president to pee sitting down since FDR.”
Ambassador Al Jaffar reports that the Chinese are “nervous” about Tibet because Selina is “out of power.” Selina, with the facial expression and tone of voice of a person on the verge of projectile vomiting, says she will continue on as vice-president. “Between you and me, Tom James could be healthier,” she adds, as she pantomimes throwing back a bottle.
She stops at the VP’s office, and it looks so small and sad and pointless. I refuse to believe Joe Biden spends his days in such a dreary wasteland! I bet his office has a cotton-candy machine, 60 percent more natural light, and a shelf with all the Boxcar Children books. “Okay,” she says. “I can do this.”
Selina returns to Tom’s office to, as he puts it, “throw away every last shred of dignity you have and accept my offer of the vice-presidency.” He starts laughing while he makes the false promise of how she’s going to be “part of the team, you’re going to be at every meeting. Your country thanks you!” I can’t believe I was ever shipping this couple. Tom James is a dirtbag.
You know who else thinks Tom James is a dirtbag? Vice-President Doyle! That sneaky bastard planned this whole entire thing, and I am appalled but also impressed that anyone in such a high office actually understands the intricacies of such a wonky corner of the Constitution. Doyle gets to break the Senate tie, and he votes for Laura Montez — saying it with quite the put-on accent — because she promised him secretary of State.
Last year, Amy got to completely lose her shit in a glorious rant for the ages. This time around, it’s Gary who goes ballistic at the cavalier, not-crushed-enough reactions of his colleagues to Selina’s loss and loss-by-proxy.
“You fuckers. How dare you? That magnificent woman counted on you and you losers let her down!” (Dan, to whoever he’s talking to on the phone: “I’ve gotta call you back, something amazing is happening.”) As Mike catches him on camera, Gary tells everyone that they’re garbage. Then he wags his finger in Tom’s face: “You screwed her the worst. In all the ways.” I feel like Gary still refers to different sexual activities as bases, as in, “Did you guys get to second base?”
“At least I cared! I did my job. I fucking cared.” I think Gary just wrote his own epitaph: Here lies Gary. At least he cared. He did his job.
Some of the most poignant, hilarious-because-they-are-devastating scenes in this episode are mostly silent. (See: Selina, deigning to make her own coffee from a Keurig, then chucking the whole stupid apparatus on the floor.) Later, when her helicopter has to land because of a malfunction, because why wouldn’t this happen to her, Selina just stares into space while sitting on the bleachers, the Washington Monument framed in the background. As the kids sometimes say on the internet these days: It is everything.
The night before inauguration — or, as it’s known in Jonah’s office, the night before Colt’s birthday dinner — Selina runs into Richard packing up Jonah’s old office. They have a fantastic one-on-one. I wish we saw these two together more often, although I guess it requires a real deviation from the normal plot to justify that setup. Selina confesses that she doesn’t even remember how to drive. She needs a wallet. And stamps. And if she hasn’t bought stamps since before she got into office, she is in for a real rude awakening. Stamps are crazy expensive now!
Selina wanted to be president since she was a little girl, she tells Richard. “And then it was the 12 loneliest months of my life.”
I wonder if that’s actually true. Based on everything we’ve learned about Selina’s parents, how lousy her marriage was, and so on, maybe her whole life has been lonely. Maybe this wasn’t an exceptionally lonely time at all.
Anyway, rise and shine, hungover Selina! Fortunately for everyone, she did not have sex with Richard. Catherine shows up; she has employed a new stylist and her look is … interesting. It’s kind of a lot for daytime. Very Kocktails With Khloe. Also present for this glorious day, as one female president steps down so another can rise up: Mike, his six-year-old “baby,” Ellen, and Candi, Montez’s new chief of staff. Rumors are buzzing about one White House staffer who gets to stay on for the new administration, and you know it’s Sue, because Sue is secretly running the country.
As Montez is inaugurated, news breaks that — just mere minutes into her presidency! — President Montez freed Tibet. “This will no doubt put Montez in line for a Nobel Prize,” Dan says, as he reports on the proceedings for CNN. (He does get a call from CBS, not CVS, by the end of the night.)
Selina bids her staff farewell with the only thing she can think to say: “We gave America everything we had.” But her exit, like her ascent to office, cannot be a graceful one; engine troubles ground her helicopter almost immediately. She tears up listening to “Hail to the Chief” play for somebody else. I know I mentioned this earlier, but I’m so glad that director Becky Martin held that shot of her sitting on the bleachers alone. And I love her reaction as it starts to rain, as Gary holding his coat over her head: “Maybe it’ll ruin her parade.”
Because this is a cruel, cruel world where the Jonahs succeed more often than the rest of us, New Hampshire’s congressman is doing just fine. (Except for the cancer scare, but that’s a problem for season six.) He sends Richard out to hire him some hot interns — though you’d think, after his experience on the bad end of a groping scandal, Jonah would be marginally more sensitive to how sexually harassing underlings in the office can derail your life.
Richard proceeds to hire hot male interns, which is totally fine by this recapper. I, like Richard, think Colt should stay indefinitely. (Honestly wish Colt were here right now, to make me a latte while I write this recap.) When Jonah is later informed that the first rule of hiring male staff is that they shouldn’t be hotter than you are, he decides not to care and keeps them around for “roughhousing” which lands him in the hospital. It is here a nurse discovers a lump he would have already found if he’d followed the advice of his own PSA: Check ’em, don’t neglect ’em. Well, it could be worse, Jonah! You could be Ben, looking miserable as hell in the happiest place on Earth.
And a Few Final Things …
- Kent ran a flash poll of presidential scholars. They rated Selina “43rd most effective president ever,” just ahead of James Buchanan, who was … not great.
- Dan wants an agent to help him “take the Dan Egan brand to the next level.” Amy’s reply: “Too bad Goebbels killed himself.”
- Kent: “Data gives no warning.”
- A+ for the look on the secret-service agent’s face when Selina suggests he help Ben find some prostitutes. He just goes ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ like, yeah, that’s a guy who used our tax dollars to have too good a time in Colombia.
- Selina: “Statesman-ish, which is a joke.”
- Selina, to the Chinese: “Feel free to watch [the Senate vote] along on television, or on one of the many bugs you’ve planted throughout the White House.”
- Not sure what Kent was up to at the literary agency, but I’m into his theory that “alternate timelines are a crutch for lazy sci-fi premises, e.g., Star Trek.”
- Charlie Beard is the new treasury secretary. Way to bounce back from bankruptcy!
- I loved how Richard discovered, as he’s talking to a drunk Selina, that the woman he thought was his “auntie” was obviously his real mother and the woman he thought was his mother was his grandma.
- Selina to Doyle: “Your head is so far up Montez’s ass, next time it’s Alejandro’s birthday, he’s going to come all over your face.”
- Tom’s post–White House plans: “You know, I’ve always dreamed of living in a small town … and running my own little multimillion-dollar hedge fund. You know, back to basics.”
Insult of the Episode:
I would give it to Jonah for saying, “New Hampshire is just a fancy word for ‘It’s cold outside so I don’t shave my pubes.’”
But I think the clear winner is Selina’s heartbroken, exhausted knock on our entire nation: “I hate this country.” (Mike: “I know.”)
Compliment of the Episode:
Gary, to the White House: “Gosh, from a distance, it looks really beautiful.”
Jonah Shall Henceforth Be Known As:
Did I miss it, or did we not get a Jonah nickname in this finale?