If you think it’s been a rough year and change for real America — over whose citizens our Selina Meyer would love to preside, for reasons she can definitely explain — consider, for a moment, what a harrowing stretch it’s been for fictional America.
Over on House of Cards, the ghost of Kevin Spacey’s career haunted the final season as it sputtered to a gloomy, bloody end. And just when we needed her the most, Selina, our favorite fictional first female POTUS was, like Dan’s compassion, Amy’s chill, and Jonah’s common sense, nowhere in sight. (As Veep fans surely know, the series went on hiatus while Julia Louis-Dreyfus received treatment for breast cancer.) There was nothing for us to do but keep this show and its heroine in our thoughts and prayers.
Finally, Veep is returning, and with it are Selina’s hopes to win the White House. Like that friend who keeps getting back together with their objectively shitty ex, this time is going to be different, okay?? Selina will make sure of it. She is going to do things right. She is going to avoid humiliation and dysfunction at every turn. She is New. Selina. Now. (Gary, speaking for us all: “I don’t really get it, actually.”) She is landing in Iowa … not Cedar Rapids, where Amy is keeping the crowds photo-ready, but in Cedar Falls, where she is greeted by an empty airstrip. Campaign is off to a banner start!
One of my evergreen Veep questions, which I have posed to showrunner David Mandel, is: Why does Selina want to be president? The show is designed to avoid revealing her political persuasion, so it’s tricky to get a feel for her opinion on any political issue — generally speaking her stance is “whatever is most expedient to Selina at this particular moment, subject to change at any time.” And while she is obviously an ambition-monster, it seems like that sort of soulless climbing could be more swiftly rewarded in the private sector. So why does Selina aspire to the presidency?
Well, would it shock you to discover that Selina doesn’t know, either? She spends the whole episode asking her lackeys for an answer — Amy would take the Oval so she could nuke the whole country, Gary would win just so he could give it to Selina — and ultimately winds up finding a useful credo from a local working guy whose services she has no intention of paying for. The closest we get to an honest answer, a kind of egomaniacal word-vomit dictated to Gary, is that she believes she’s paid her dues and blazed all the trails and dumped on the glass ceiling — that she feels entitled to the presidency. I feel like Selina is the victim of some version of a Get Out experiment, but there’s a rich, tall, white man trapped inside her petite woman-body, begging to be set free.
Let’s check in on her team, shall we? There’s the baby, little Richard, handy campaign prop for grandma (or is it gam-gam?). Catherine has post-partum depression, and the only way to tell is her haircut and, if you ask her beloved Marjorie, her slightly decreased libido. Andrew is off-screen somewhere, running the Meyer Foundation, which I’m sure will be totally fine and involve no criminal dealings at all. Kent has a new predictive algorithm for election results, and its/her name is SHEILA. Ben is the secret campaign manager, and the public-facing campaign manager is Keith Quinn, who is not who Selina thought he was but it’s too late to fire him now! (My favorite JLD delivery of the episode: “It is not my job to know what Keith Quinn does or does not look like!”) Amy is still pregnant with Dan’s baby, even though he’d assumed she “sent that thing to the 7-11 dumpster in the sky already.” What are the odds Amy ends up having this baby not because she wants to, but just because she never gets around to scheduling her abortion and is always campaigning in states where the clinics are a day’s drive from any major city and once you get there, there are still all these convoluted waiting periods and policies and other assorted anti-choice whatthefuckery?
Sweet Richard is working on Selina’s campaign and Jonah’s campaign. He just can’t decide who to support, because they’re both so wonderful! Jonah’s campaign aesthetic can best be summed up as “white Urkel,” and, since we last saw him, he’s found himself a wife. One tiny catch about Beth, who seems lovely and travels with great snacks: She is Jonah’s former stepsister. How no one handles this by calling it “pulling a Clueless” is BEYOND me. Jonah, naturally, handles it very badly. Also speaking of handling things badly: On his team is Teddy, who you may recall as the man who was molesting Jonah at the office. Teddy supposedly had a court-ordered castration ( … did he though?) so as to become employable in politics again.
All these proceedings are punctuated by a series of mass shootings, because America. Selina takes a break from shaking Mayor Biscuit’s paw to offer up, well, not thoughts and prayers, obviously, she’s so over thoughts and prayers. No, she wants to send the families “my mindfulness, and meditations unto the Lord on their behalf.” As her team assembles for yet another botched announcement — this time at Susan B. Anthony’s residence, where Selina announced her first run back in 2008 — news of yet another shooting comes through. They pause for a moment, then two, and then Selina wonders aloud: “This … could … work for us?” And, well, it does. Prayer works, people!
Meanwhile, word has gotten out about Jonah’s stepsister-wife situation (or is it half sister? “Whichever one when I bone her she doesn’t give birth to a pile of legs”), so Jonah’s team tries to do damage control by sitting down with CBS, which means we get to see Dan’s old boss again. Hi there, Jane McCabe! As you might expect, being together during such an emotional, intense time is reminding Jonah’s mom and his stepdad how much they miss each other, and the segment ends with Jonah holding his hands over his ears, rocking back and forth, shouting, “I’M GONNA BE PRESIDENT.” In related news, Jonah’s numbers are up 3 percent.
Said it before and I’ll say it again: I maintain the show will end with Jonah winning the White House.
A Few Other Things …
• Selina solicits feedback on how to make the new campaign better than the old one, only to shut it all down within the first three minutes once she realizes the lion’s share of criticism will be aimed at “the candidate.” She dismisses Amy’s notes like so: “How about I write 500 pages about how you need to start wearing concealer?”
• After Beth makes a cute-dorky joke about how Jonah is going to “sweep” all the dirt out of Washington, Jonah steals back the microphone: “I just want to make it clear that she does do all the housework.”
• Mike is supposed to be posting ten times a day? What is this, 2011?
• Pray for Mayor Biscuit!
• Gary, when Selina asks if he think’s Amy is getting “fat in the front”: “It is literally all I think about.”
• Dan, ever the gentleman: “If you want to go Dutch or whatever on the abortion just send it to me on Venmo.”
• Jonah’s reaction to one of the shootings: “Sometimes hotshot lacrosse players who think they own the cafeteria can bring this on themselves.”
• Welcome to the race, Tom James.
Insult of the Episode
Selina, to the city of Lurlene: “Even the name sounds like it’s on meth.”
Compliment of the Episode
The way Gary tries to slip “pretty” into Selina’s speech (“Ever since I was a girl — ” “a pretty girl!”) and then, when she tells him to delete it, says to himself, “But you were so pretty.”
Jonah Shall Henceforth Be Known As
An 80-story sky-raper, h/t Teddy.