Another win for Veep’s alterna-America: When they have a vacant Supreme Court seat, they really hustle to fill it. For purposes of this recap, I will choose to ignore the total, beyond-belief absurdity of a president “reaching across the aisle” for a freaking Supreme Court appointment.
Selina has absolutely no reason to believe that she, a woman with a blink-and-you-missed-it presidency and no consistent political opinions to speak of, would even be on the long list for the vacancy left by the Honorable Justice Tenny — “a friend to all people, especially corporations, who he legally considered to be people” — until Mike denies the (nonexistent) rumor that she is in contention for said seat. CNN, bless their hearts, takes it from there.
Side note: I don’t mean to undermine this episode of our nation’s greatest comedy by saying that this whole story line is virtually identical to the plot of Gossip, that trashy-great Kate Hudson–James Marsden–Cersei Lannister movie from 2000 about the class project where they spread a lie and it becomes the truth. But also, I’m not not going to say that.
At the same time Selina finds herself thinking she has a shot at the Supreme Court, she’s also hustling to raise money for her library, which finally has a home: Maryland’s Eastern Shore. As Amy says, “If it was anymore Kennedy-esque, it would drive you into the ocean.” And yes, that is Amy, ringless and back in the crew as if she never left. I hope Buddy doesn’t let this breakup stop him from enjoying Downton Abbey.
Selina meets with Sherman Tanz, that private-prison magnate she pardoned who really brings out a fun, anti-Semitic side of her personality. Selina forces Gary to give Sherman a massage, and it’s all very Joan’s-rapey-husband-making-her-play-the-accordion. Gary’s massage (plus a hot compress!) is apparently worth $5 million, because that’s what Sherman promises Selina … if she can find him somebody on the Hill to help him save the for-profit prison system, which reformers are trying to dismantle, can you believe it? “We can find you a man,” Selina assures him. “Or a woman. But it’ll probably be a man if you want to get anything done.”
As Selina squirms in a very specific kind of pain — “My tits feel like Hot Pockets” — brave slash suicidal Amy suggests Selina see a doctor because she might be experiencing menopause. No one in all of Veep hates women more than Selina does, so the idea that she is being felled by such a womanly condition absolutely enrages her. “That is like a sexist beyond sexist reaction. I’m just tired, I’m uncomfortable, Mike’s hair reminds me of graham cracker crumbs, I can’t get any air in here because all you people are in here sucking it. GET OUT.” (As everyone exits: “Gary, where are you going?”)
But it turns out Selina has nothing to fear. Just as she’s resigned herself to getting “a prescription for Eileen Fisher, Fosamax, and lube,” the doctor tells her she actually had a small heart attack.” This, literally, causes Gary to have a heart attack.
At George Washington University Hospital, Selina and Gary are heart-attack twins. Look at their cute matching hospital gowns! Gary is in way worse shape than Selina — he keeps waking up and asking, “Is this heaven?” probably because Selina is standing over him — but that doesn’t stop Selina from obliviously drinking his ice water. Of course Selina’s way of encouraging Gary to stay alive is reminding him that he can look forward to buying her book next year (no free copies, though) and that he has a birthday coming up. Gary, naturally, assumes that Selina remembered his upcoming big 4-0, whereas Selina just meant, well, he has a birthday because everyone has a birthday every year. Do we think there’ll be a destination episode of Veep next season with everyone attending Gary’s birthday party in Alabama?
Catherine insists Gary stay at the brownstone until he gets better because the alternative for this 39-year-old man is his place in Hoboken with three roommates. I guess he just wakes up at, like, 4 a.m. every day and takes the path to Selina’s place. God, Gary’s life is so sad.
Meanwhile, the stunning incompetence of everyone around Selina, save for maybe Amy, helps the spread of the SCOTUS rumor. Richard follows Selina’s orders to tell Dan that she’s “in a closed-door meeting,” totally unaware of how Dan will interpret that vague term of art. The vetting process has begun, starting with a hunt for everything Selina has ever written on abortion. “Well, I can give them my actual abortion if I can find it lying around here somewhere.” (Richard: “I’ll check the freezer.”)
Unlike so many of Selina’s moderately plausible hopes like the election and the library at Smith, this Supreme Court thing makes her seem totally, utterly delusional. Maybe this explains why she acts so tender toward Gary — she’s still pretty heartless and selfish, but way more considerate than usual — after he has a mini-stroke while doing too much manual labor for someone in his recently heart-attacked condition. Gary reacts to the dinner Selina made him with a beautiful combination of actual joy (Selina cares about him!) and patronizing kindness at her shocking ineptitude, like a parent admiring bad macaroni art. “I cut up a chicken sandwich and I put it into pasta,” Selina says proudly. Gary wows in reply: “And you left the bun on it!”
Selina losing the presidency continues to be the best thing that ever happened to Gary. They accidentally have a little slumber party in the maid’s quarters, where Selina knows she should not be, and Gary is the big spoon. Such friendship, such devotion, such discomfort in the morning.
Back in Congress, Selina has sent Sherman to Jonah. An inauspicious start — Jonah running an hour late to the meeting because he doesn’t understand daylight saving, not savings, time — turns out to be a perfect partnership. Sherman’s people just draft legislation that Jonah doesn’t even bother to read before supporting it. This means, alas, Sherman can’t give Selina the whole $5 million anymore. “I am all in on Jonah Ryan!” he says. I maintain that the series finale of Veep will show Jonah Ryan being sworn in as president.
In daytime news, Danny Egan’s charm offensive is so effective that everyone thinks he’s screwing his boss, Jane, despite his insistence that he hasn’t slept with a woman over 30 since he was 14. (“And that’s just because I needed the grade.”) Also filed under “women Dan is not having sex with” is Catherine. While they briefly flirt with the idea of a more natural method of sperm donation — Dan’s offer: “Why don’t we just puppy pile? We’ll all get a bite to eat afterwards, see a movie or something, could be nice” — the doctor informs Dan that he’s got slow-swimming sperm. Rather than be crushed at the news that he may struggle, someday, to conceive children of his very own, Dan is overjoyed at the “fortune” he’ll save in morning-after pills. “There are, like, three girls that owe me an abortion refund.”
You don’t need me to tell you that Selina doesn’t get the Supreme Court seat. It goes to President Hughes. But as Gary says, it would’ve been a shame to hide that body under a robe.
A Few Other Things
• Very into the parody of TV news at CBS This Morning. “Reading: Could it be bad for your child’s self-esteem? Why one Texas housewife wants to phase it out.”
• Selina is never going to write a page of this memoir, is she? Mike’s questions are not helping the process. “As a female, do you feel that —” “PASS.”
• “I lost my back virginity at Assateague.” Remember in the season premiere when Selina said she’d been getting reacquainted with her good friend Selina Meyer? Apparently, so are we!
• When Gary still thinks Selina has menopause, he jokes, “Good news is, without tampons, that’ll free up some space in my bag!” Selina, unamused: “What about your tampons, Gary?”
• “If I am speaking, I am sure.” I want to be Jane when I grow up.
• “I feel like my chest has been trampled in a Puerto Rican nightclub fire.” You know what’s so great about Selina? She never misses an opportunity to be racist. She just sprinkles it onto otherwise basically inoffensive sentences, like salt.
• Daylight savings time is Richard’s favorite holiday because “it’s like living in Back to the Future.”
• Dan gets the head of the makeup department fired over her heavy hand with the bronzer brush, but not before he issues the warning, “Can we go easy on the bronzer, please? I’m starting to look like a diversity hire.”
Insult of the Episode
Selina, to Amy: “If they’re wondering why I’m at the hospital, you just put that on Gary, because he had a massive heart attack, luckily.”
Compliment of the Episode
Gary, to Catherine: “Your mom doesn’t think you’re pretty but I think you’re stunning.”
Jonah Shall Henceforth Be Known As …
A plus-size homunculus. (I also like “Twinless Tower.” Brutal.)