A Look at “Veep” Season 4, Episode 6: “Storms and Pancakes”

What happens you get a running mate who may be more likable than you?  Then, you get Hugh Laurie.  Let’s jump into “Storms and Pancakes.”

Storms and Pancakes- Selina and Tom greet voters in Pennsylvania

The episode begins with the Meyer campaign making its way through Pennsylvania.  The mood is festive and full of energy as Tom and Selina greet voters, though the people are more in love with Tom than anyone else.  The press is falling for him as well: the New York Times did a great profile piece on James and there are positive headlines like “Best POTUS We Never Had.”  You probably don’t want Selina to see that one.

Storms and Pancakes- Selina tells Gary that she and Tom almost fucked

On the campaign bus, Selina tells an oblivious Gary that there’s obvious sexual tension between her and Tom, just going by the way he crosses his legs.  You see, the thing is, about 12 years ago, Selina and Tom almost fucked.

The campaign receives a call from Bill and Ben, who let them know that there’s a hurricane braced to take North Carolina from behind.  You can’t get that kind of line anywhere else, I’m sure.  Selina and company plan to keep up to date on it, but in the meantime, Selina tells Mike that she wants more op-ed pieces and headlines about how her choosing Tom was an act of real vision and leadership.  It’s fine that people like Tom, but Selina wants credit- never mind that it was Amy’s suggestion, but whatever.

Storms and Pancakes- Ben tries to talk with Sue

Back in Washington, Ben is bored.  He tries to make small talk with Sue, who prefers the quiet, so their small talk goes nowhere fast.  Get used to this.

Storms and Pancakes- Jonah, Richard, and Doyle watch Tom James

Though Teddy is gone, Jonah still has to deal with ridicule from other staffers.  He and Richard enter Doyle’s office with notes from a tariff meeting, but Doyle is watching coverage of Tom James at a rally.  Though Doyle isn’t a fan of James, Richard suggests that the outgoing Vice President write a memoir about his interesting life.  He was vice president, the campaign polled other candidates, and he was fucked in his slack old ass.  It’s a start, at the very least.

Storms and Pancakes- Selina talks to the press about Tom

We then cut back to the campaign at a Bike for Health Rally in Maine.  Tom’s a bit rusty with his biking.  He did the Tour of Italy in 2008, but his mountain times were apparently embarrassing.  I doubt anyone will judge him for that.  As he and Selina prepare for their ride, Selina takes an answer from a journalist about whether Tom James is a star.  He isn’t- he’s a super star and Selina made a good pick.

Storms and Pancakes- Mike receives another hate text from Amy

Not all is well with the campaign on the road, though.  Amy is still pissed at Mike since he sent out a press release saying she resigned because she’s unstable.  I mean, Amy is unstable, but it’s best not to put that out there.  Kent doesn’t get vendettas since they’re so time-consuming.  I can’t agree more.

Storms and Pancakes- Dan introduces Amy to Sidney Purcell

So what’s Amy up to now?  She’s at PKM Offices with Dan, but is still upset about the falling out.  Hell, the campaign is going to a pancake breakfast- something she suggested, but got shot down.  Dan tells her to clamp down on the complaints and then introduces her to Sidney Purcell, who has a GMJ client he needs tied up.  Some West Wing access would help.

Storms and Pancakes- Selina asks Tom about that one night

Selina talks with Tom about their shared moment from long ago after the Sharpley debate when they shared a cab, but Tom has no idea about this scandalous adventure.  In fact, he’s more focused on the green shoes that Selina wore.

When Selina informs Gary about Tom’s cluelessness on that night, she rejects Gary’s offer to talk to Tom himself.  She needs him to stop doing things for her, which is a reminder for the pancake breakfast tomorrow: she’s going commando, as in she wants no prompting.  I don’t recall that being what going commando means, but fine.

Storms and Pancakes- Dan throws a party for himself

Dan throws a welcome back celebratory party for himself because he’s just that vain.  Amy, though, is still bitching and keeps on doing so when the two enter a parking garage.  Dan reminds Amy that she loves D.C. and just needs a way to release it.

Storms and Pancakes- Amy's scream attracts police officers

She does so by screaming at the top of her lungs.  This, by itself, isn’t the best idea, but it’s made much worse when two officers exit a nearby police cruiser.  Initially, they think Dan is the problem, but Amy assures them that she’s fine.  Dan suggests that Amy find a different way to unwind.

Storms and Pancakes- Jonah joins other women who Teddy has touched

Later, Jonah and Richard meet with a group of women at Senator Wilkie’s office.  Senator Wilkie, though, is not present.  So what are these women doing here?  They’re all victims of Teddy Sykes’ inappropriate touching and are filing a class action suit.  Oh, and they’d like Jonah to testify.  Jonah is apparently the only male that Teddy touched so far.  There are several jokes in here somewhere.

Storms and Pancakes- Preparing for the pancake breakfast

On the campaign trail, Kent goes over the setup for the pancake breakfast.  However, after enough work, Selina needs to take a break from the preparation.  She might vomit on…Mike.  What made her single out Mike specifically, I don’t know.

Storms and Pancakes- Greeting people at the Pancake Brunch

We then cut to the Pancake Brunch at the Connecticut Country Club.  Selina and Tom greet various attendees, including Congressman Edgar Housman, played by Chris Kies, who has never met Selina before.  Again, Tom has that persona touch that Selina lacks, but at least she’s trying.

Storms and Pancakes- Amy tries and fails to relax at a spa

So Amy goes to a spa and tires that whole relaxation thing, but this is Amy, so she can’t help but check her phone and glance at Politico.  After relaxing for about seven minutes, Amy has had enough and leaves.

Storms and Pancakes- Amy wins a client

Back at PKM, Amy, through means I can’t really understand, manages to land business with a client, Paul, played by Brad Morris.  In fact, Amy has somehow done so well that Sidney decides to give her some of Dan’s biggest clients.  Oh, and she also gets his parking space and desk.  Ha!

Selina still isn’t winning the crowd like Tom is, but some good news heads her way when Ben lets her know that the storm is near.  This is a potential tragedy that could be great for her.  It’s also great for Ben, because when it’s just him and Sue, he feels like it’s just him.

Storms and Pancakes- Tom suggests heading to North Carolina now instead of later

On Air Force One, the plan is to wait in D.C. for the storm to pass, and then head to North Carolina.  Tom suggests going there now before the storm hits.  As soon as the hurricane passes, Selina will be there for the citizens in their hour of need.  That’s a Tom James of an idea!  That’s also how you master a disaster.  Despite Gary’s warning about wind, Selina decides to have the plane turn around and head for North Carolina.

Storms and Pancakes- Selina speaks with North Carolina Governor Cecile, played by Carolyn Mignini

The campaign has a conference call with North Carolina Governor Cecile, played by Carolyn Mignini.  A state of emergency in her state would shut down travel and cost millions.  Upon recognizing Tom James, however, Governor Cecile softens.  Selina tries to talk with the team without Cecile hearing or reading their lips, so they all turn their chairs around.  How very Seinfeld.

Tom thinks it would be unfair on Senator O’Brien and his running mate if there were a travel lockdown because they would be stranded in Florida. They would not be able to visit the disaster site like Selina’s team campaign.  Just throwing that into the barbecue sauce.  Selina decides to ground flights.  Tom sweetens the deal with a light dusting of federal funds.

Storms and Pancakes- Selina learns that the hurricane went south and is headed for North Carolina

In North Carolina, though, there’s no hurricane.  There’s no wind, no rain, no sign of any real storm at all.  Turns out that the storm moved south and is headed to Florida, meaning O’Brien and Montez will get the storm photos and headlines.

Storms and Pancakes- Jonah meets with Louise Benjamin from Cabinet Affairs

Jonah meets with Louise Benjamin from Cabinet Affairs, as she’s collecting agency responses.

The episode comes to a close with the Meyer campaign surveying the minimal damage of an egg plant.  And I do mean minimal damage.

“Storms and Pancakes” is a transition episode.  The Meyer campaign is still moving right along, but now the mood has changed for the better since Tom James’ arrival.  This is both a good and bad thing.  Again, a running mate can make the presidential candidate look better in areas where they’re weak.  We don’t know yet what areas in policy Tom may outclass Selina, but we do know from this episode that he’s a more relatable kind of guy.

Storms and Pancakes- Tom and Selina serve pancakes

Without doing any sort of scientific research and just going off the flurry of political ads that we get in the States, politicians really want voters to like them.  Whether it’s holding town halls, kissing babies, volunteering at shelters, and tons of shaking hands, our politicians want to come off as relatable.  If they try too hard, we’ll know it’s not genuine and that they’re just doing it for the votes.  This is what Selina’s doing.  Not to say that Selina isn’t a relatable person, but within the context of this episode, she’s pushing for good press.

Storms and Pancakes- Tom serves pancakes

Tom, however, doesn’t need to do that.  Part of it has to do with the charm of Hugh Laurie’s performance, but Tom James just comes off as a nice guy.  He’s personable with people and never comes off like he’s trying to force an association.  Sure, it helps that he already has a lot of established connections with people, but he never acts like he knows someone that he clearly doesn’t, as Selina does.  Some would call this sort of kindness annoying, but I think it helps set James apart from the rest of the campaign team.

Storms and Pancakes- Selina wants credit for picking Tom

Remember that on “Convention,” Ben said that everyone likes Tom, and that’s very clear here from how he’s able to click with people.  There’s nothing fake about him right now- he just appears to be a nice guy.  This is the kind of person that Selina needs and he’s not trying to one-up her.  The press just happens to like him more, but Selina wants credit and does not want to be taken out of the spotlight.

Storms and Pancakes- Tom charms the voters

For example, before the campaign leaves Pennsylvania, Tom charms the crowd with some funny one-liners.  Not to be outdone, Selina steps off the campaign bus with a funny remark of her own…not because she has to, but because she might not want Tom to have the last word and the crowd to have a lasting impression of him instead of her.

We don’t know yet whether he’s feigning ignorance about this night he shared with Selina or just doesn’t know, but he seems to have his mind on other things.  Tom is a bit quirky to me, but in a good way.  I love his random fun facts that he shares and how he’s able to sweet talk the Governor of North Carolina while Selina is trying hard to negotiate.  He’s fun, but good at what he does, which I can’t say for most of Selina’s team.  With the exception of Sue, Bill, and maybe Ben and Kent, the people who work for Selina are walking punch lines.  Tom is a change of pace.

Aside from Tom interacting with various characters, this episode was a lot of fun.  It was nice seeing the team back on the campaign trail after spending so much time with legislative business.  Even then, they’re still the same people, and I couldn’t help but laugh at the idea that Selina and her team would take advantage of a national disaster for the sake of good press and photos.  It’s not out of the realm of possibility for real life politicians and I certainly wouldn’t put it past Selina to exploit this, but then we get the reveal that she missed the storm.

Storms and Pancakes- Kent goes over the pancake breakfast setup

And sticking with the campaign crew for a second, Kent appears to be doing a good job as campaign manager.  Since he’s not one to hold grudges or have vendettas, he may be better equipped for this position than either Dan or Amy.  Granted, we haven’t seen Kent do much and even Amy seemed better than Dan during her first few days, but Kent seems more competent at his job.

Storms and Pancakes- Amy screams

Amy and Dan, though, are working together again, but Amy just cannot get the White House off of her mind.  It shows how connected she was to that job, but also how hard wired she is to work in general, as she can’t bring herself to relax for even a moment without glancing at her phone.  Chlumsky is still great at letting Amy’s inner rage fly and I loved that scream in the parking garage.

Storms and Pancakes- Dan celebrates himself

Yet Dan is back in competition with her and she’s somehow managed to one-up him in no time at all.  I don’t get how she did that when they both presumably have the same contacts and access to the White House, but Amy looks to be ahead of Dan for now.  This just makes me wonder why Dan would go through the trouble of helping Amy get a job in the first place when there’s the possibility of her surpassing him, which she’s now done.  These two could work well together if they put their differences aside and acted like good people, but this being Veep, that’s probably not going to happen.

Storms and Pancakes- Jonah realizes that all the other women look like him

Jonah is the only man whose been inappropriately touched by Teddy and all of the other victims are not only female, but they all look like him.  The jokes literally write themselves and Richard is just so straight laced and open about everything that he helps to balance out the more hard-wired Jonah.  And I loved Richard’s line about how “a number of tall women were molested and Mr. Ryan was one of them.”  Good writing and a great delivery by Sam Richardson.

Storms and Pancakes- Sue hides from Ben

And Ben trying to have a conversation with Sue of all people was as funny as it was awkward.  If the office was completely empty, I’m certain that Ben would lose his mind while Sue would just go on with business as usual.  Though I honestly don’t know what she does all day.

“Storms and Pancakes” was another great installment of Veep.  Each storyline was executed effectively and had great humor throughout.  Amy is back on her feet, sort of, Jonah now realizes his potential future as a middle aged woman, and Tom James is taking off with the voters.  Onward to next week.

A Look at “Veep” Season 4, Episode 5: “Convention”

Is the Vice President really all that important?  Not like they’re of any real value- they’re just there to make the President look good and give speeches while the Commander-in-Chief does all the hard stuff.  So why is it so bloody hard to pick a potential running mate?  I don’t know, but let’s see what the folks on Veep think.  This is “Convention.”

Convention- Catherine goes over her speech

The episode begins with Team Selina watching Roger Furlong deliver his speech at the convention.  Catherine is practicing her speech and includes a mention of her boyfriend, Jason, but Selina wants her to say it like she means it.  It doesn’t sound like she’s in love, more like she’s been kidnapped by the Taliban.  Karen agrees.  Well, she just goes along with Selina.

Convention- Amy really doesn't like Karen

Amy, though, is not a fan of Karen, as she’s yet to speak a declarative sentence.

Convention- Dan speaks about zucchinis

At Purcell’s office, Purcell brings Dan in to lobby for one of the world’s zucchini exporters.  He wants to take zucchini to the next level.  Luckily, Dan is fresh from the White House and probably has tons of contacts in Washington.  However, it’s tricky for Dan to get a meeting with anyone because everyone is out of town for the convention.  Dan throws out Jonah’s name and says that he can get a meeting with him today.

Still practicing her speech, Catherine brings on Jason for a kiss.  Selina and Karen feel a need to focus on this human emotion segment, though Amy would prefer to focus on Selina’s speech.

Convention- Sue speaks about a death row inmate in Louisiana who was given a botched and new drug cocktail

Then we get the sort of subplot here when Sue mentions that there’s a death row inmate in Louisiana who was given a botched and new drug cocktail.  Since it failed, the inmate isn’t dead.  He’s half-dead, and remember that there’s a big difference between mostly dead and all dead.  Selina decides to deliver a statement that can be repurposed, depending on whether the inmate lives or died.

Sue also reveals that she has a friend in the other camp who has a small brain and big mouth.  That’s not the important part.  The important thing is that Senator O’Brien’s running mate is New Mexico Senator Laura Montez.  Team Selina is enraged at this decision.  Montez is brilliant, charming, a woman, and not to mention ethnic to boot.  There’s nothing on the internet about her aside from the usual Photoshopped nudity.  Selina, meanwhile, is stuck with Steve Martin’s older brother, who she really wants off of the ticket.

Convention- Doyle tells Teddy that he plans to leave the Presidential ticket

Speaking of, Doyle learns about the data breach.  Between that and the polling, he decides that he’s leaving the ticket.  Teddy, though, thinks Doyle shouldn’t do that.  After all, Selina doesn’t have time to replace him.

Convention- Doyle tells Ben and Selina that he wants out

Doyle heads to Selina’s room and informs her that he’s leaving the ticket.  He’ll stay on as Vice President through the inauguration, but he’s gone after that.  It’s a matter of principle, but Ben tells Doyle that there’s no way on God’s green cock- how and why does Ben know the exact color?- that he can get out on matter of principle.  It has to be a health issue, like prostate problems.

That and Team Selina don’t want the data breach to go public.  So they bring up the sexual abuse allegations surrounding Jonah…as in Jonah’s been the victim.  How can he be a man of principle if he’s condoning sexual abuse?  I personally don’t see how it matters either way since Doyle is stepping down anyway.

Whatever.  Anyway, Selina shares the news that Doyle is stepping down and she could not be happier.  The team needs a backup, though, and they settle on Danny Chung.  Exactly what Karen was thinking.  Funny how that worked out.  Also, the folks in Louisiana found a pulse on the death row guy.

Convention- Dan has to get Richard and Jonah coffee

Back at PKM, Dan introduces Jonah and Richard to Purcell, but then he’s forced to get coffee for them.  You’re really making your way up in the world, Dan.  Though Dan tries to talk up Jonah as the man to find levers to make pesticides happen, but the meeting is sidetracked when everyone learns at the same time that Doyle has left the ticket.  Dan and Jonah decide to call Amy.

Convention- Amy still really doesn't like Karen

As if on cue, we then cut to Amy, who still isn’t a fan of Karen and wonders what she did to deserve it.  Maybe she gave the go-ahead for Pearl Harbor, but the point is that Karen is Selina’s best friend.  Best female friend, as Gary clarifies.  Hard to top that.

Convention- Selina offers Danny Chung the Vice Presidential slot

So Selina and Danny meet, though he focuses on the first time he spoke at the convention and how everyone called it Chung-mania.  Lovely.  Selina gets right to the chase and asks Danny if he’d serve alongside her as Vice President.  Chung is honored, but he’ll need to consult his wife and his Bible- he has two Bibles- first.

Convention- Doyle fires Teddy for fondling Jonah

While Mike speaks with a journalist about Doyle’s decision, Doyle himself confronts Teddy about twirling Jonah’s balls like they’re some kind of exotic stress reducer.  Furlong, also present, finds it all humorous and wishes that someone would assault his staff, meaning his penis.  At least he clarified.  Doyle fires Teddy, but Teddy maintains that everything he did has been to serve Doyle, and that goes double for fondling Jonah.

Convention- Danny Chung declines the Vice Presidential slot

Chung ends up declining Selina’s offer due to family issues, but more the way that Selina operates.  He has no problem with it, but it’s not the way he likes to operate.  Chung can’t stick around to see Selina’s full reaction- he has to address the convention.  But Selina reminds him that the Vice President is just one heartbeat away from the Presidency.

Now the team needs another choice to announce for the Vice President.  Amy throws out Tom James.  It makes sense.  People like him, he was wounded while serving his country, and he has a disabled son.  Everyone is on board with the choice except for Selina and, by extension, Karen.  Instead, Selina asks Mike to find George Maddox.  Oh, and the death row guy has died.

Convention- Selina offers Maddox the Vice President slot

Now it’s Maddox’s turn.  He sees himself as an ambitious person who knows how to get things done.  People say that Selina, however, does not.  Well, that didn’t work.

Convention- Team Selina go over potential running mates

So the team goes through more potential candidates.  Kent suggests an all-female ticket, but Selina thinks that voters won’t go for two women on the ticket.  Amy continues to mention Tom James, but Selina still doesn’t give it any consideration.  Instead, she settles for Owen Pierce.  He’s inept, but you can make inept work.  When Selina asks for Karen’s opinion, Karen responds that there are pros and cons to every candidate, so they just need to weigh the pros and cons.

Convention- Amy rages at Karen

And this is what sends Amy over the edge.  She first asks if Karen has been sent from the future to destroy her, because it’s working.  Bullshitting takes talent, Amy says, and Karen has none.

But Amy turns her rage on Selina, who has made it impossible to do her job.  In Amy’s mind, Selina has two settings: no decision and bad decision.  That’s Veep as a whole, really.  Amy wouldn’t let Selina run a bath without having the Coast Guard and the fire department standing by, but yet she’s running America.

Convention- Amy tells Selina that there will be no more female presidents because Selina did a terrible job

Amy is done…for a second.  As she shows herself out, she comes back and says that Selina has achieved nothing.  The fact that she is a woman means there will be no more female presidents because America tried one and she fucking sucked.

After a moment, Selina decides to speak with Tom James.  She asks for Karen’s opinion on that, and Karen just says that there’s a lot to think.

Convention- Learning that Amy has left Selina's team

At PKM, Dan and Jonah learn that Amy has left the team, which is why she’s not returning their call.  Everyone else has already learned that she walked.

Convention- Enter Tom James, played by Hugh Laurie

Back at the convention, help has arrived.  Enter Tom James, played by Dr. House himself, Hugh Laurie!  James greets Selina- who happens to be the one skeleton in his closet- and the two head to a room where they can talk on their own.

Convention- Tom James accepts the Vice Presidential slot

When Selina drops the offer, Tom, with deep regret…accepts!  Selina brings in the rest of the team and they are overjoyed that James has accepted.  In fact, Selina was so fooled by Tom appearing to reject the offer that she has him repeat the line over and over again.  Tom wants to sit down with Amy to find out where he fits in with the campaign, but Selina explains that she had to let Amy go.  As for new campaign manager?  Oh, it’s Kent.

Convention- Karen learns that she's being let go from the team

Oh, and Ben pulls Karen aside to let her know that she’s fired.  She doesn’t know how to feel, and that’s exactly the point.  Well done, Veep.

Is this what it’s like for presidential candidates when they go about selecting and vetting potential vice-president running mates?  “Convention” works because it takes a complex issue like picking the vice-president and Team Selina making it even more complex because they don’t have any good options.  And the options they do have either don’t want the position or want nothing to do with Selina and her team.

Convention- Tom retells his joke

Veep always hits home with the political satire, and this was no exception.  What does a presidential candidate need to do in order to ensure they’ll win the election?  Does the vice-presidential pick matter?  Well, if the country isn’t a fan of the presidential candidate, you want someone to counterbalance that.  Consider: Kennedy chose Lyndon Johnson in order to help him garner the Southern vote since the South wasn’t exactly Kennedy friendly.

McCain introduces Sarah Palin

Obama chose Joe Biden to help counter claims that he had little to no foreign policy experience.  McCain chose Sarah Palin because…well, I honestly don’t know, other than trying to garner the female vote or throw a wild card into the equation.  Similarly here, Selina wants either Chung or Maddox not because of their abilities, but because they could help her with the minority vote.

Convention- Chung turns down the vice presidential offer

We’ve known for quite awhile that Selina Meyer and her many sidekicks are, for the most part, pretty incompetent, but they at least somehow manage to get their jobs done.  They aren’t very good at what they do, but they accomplish something.  In the eyes of everyone else, though, they don’t know how to operate.  Both Chung and Maddox turn down the option of being Selina’s running mate because they don’t trust her judgment.  Given Selina’s history, I can’t blame them.

Convention- Selina listens to Amy rant

The problem is that Selina herself is smart, but she’s surrounded by inept idiots that, for the most part, don’t know how to function at what they do.  Selina has steadily been making moves that garnered her good press, but for every positive move, there’s been a negative.  That comes through in her reluctant decision to let Owen Pierce be her running mate.  She knows that Pierce is a bad choice, but she just wants to make a decision and get it done.

Convention- Amy rants

And that’s what sets off Amy.  As for the rant, I think Anna Chlumsky was excellent at channeling Amy’s inner rage that she’s been holding in this entire time.  I mean, watch the scene- Amy’s eyes are fierce and she’s shaking like she’s reached her breaking point, which she pretty much has.

Convention- Tom, Selina, and Karen pose for a photo

She’s slowly been phased out of the loop through Bill being brought onto the team and she’s dealt with the stress of being campaign manager and not receiving all of the details from the others.  And now Karen, who literally came out of nowhere, is a member of Selina’s inner circle only because of their past friendship.

Convention- Karen, Selina, and Gary discuss Catherine's speech

Karen’s inability to be decisive and just parroting what everyone else says may be what Selina liked to hear, but she didn’t have an original thought to produce.  This makes me wonder why Selina brought her on in the first place, but maybe she just wanted a close friend by her side.

Convention- Amy stares down Karen

But back to Amy.  It’s interesting that Amy has been holding onto so much anger towards her boss for this long, but we learn that she had good intentions.  Amy truly believes that Selina probably could be a great President, but she’s watched Selina make blunder after blunder.  She calls Selina the worst thing to happen to the country since food in buckets and possibly slavery, which is a great line, by the way.  This is more than her holding Selina accountable for all of her errors.

She doesn’t cut Selina any slack, proving that when she says that Selina hasn’t achieved anything and points out that America won’t elect any more female presidents because Selina did such a terrible job.  I hope I’m not the only person thinking of Hillary Clinton’s presidential prospects right now.  In many ways, Amy says what we’ve know about Selina all along: she doesn’t know how to govern.  Any good thing she does is negated when she screws up something else.

Convention- Selina asks for Karen's opinion on Tom James

I do appreciate that Selina seemed to take what Amy said to heart.  Like Dan’s rant during Season 3’s “The Choice” about Selina’s inability to pick a stance on abortion, Amy cuts Selina to the core with her words, but she does so in order to force Selina to make a concrete decision that she feels confident about, not just pick something for the sake of deciding.  And this is made clear when she decides to cut Karen from the team, despite their friendship.

Convention- Karen calls Amy irritating

While I wish that Lennon Parham had been around longer, since she’d only been introduced at the end of the previous episode, at least Selina cut out a weaker and temporary element of the team.

I’m assuming that Amy will end up in a similar situation like Dan, as he’s struggling to stay afloat at PKM right now.  Like Amy, he ends up being one of the last to learn about something coming out of Selina’s inner circle, and his attempt to impress suffers because of that.

Convention- Jonah helps Dan

Also, I’m not sure why Jonah would agree to help Dan when he relished in Dan getting fired, but hey, he doesn’t have to deal with Teddy tapping his balls anymore…for now.  I hope this isn’t the end of that storyline because Patton Oswalt has great comedic timing and I’d like to see more of him.

Convention- Mike after Selina talks about eating pussy

For all the dramatic stuff, this episode still had plenty of funny moments, whether it’s Catherine’s speech, Sue’s elated face, and the ongoing tale of the death row inmate.  Plus, like many episodes, one thing that makes Veep so funny is the quick facial expressions we see from characters reacting, such as Mike’s face after Selina shoots down the idea of an all female ticket and everyone just eating pussy all day long.  It’s brief, but hilarious.  Speaking of Mike, by the way, I’m assuming Air Force One picked him and Gary up after they ended up stuck in Iran last week.

Convention- Sue's elated face

Oh, and Sue’s elated face?  You’re killing me, Veep.

Convention- Hugh Laurie as Tom James

Before Season Four’s premiere, we’d been told awhile ago that Hugh Laurie would be on Veep, and I’m glad he finally made his appearance.  He seems like a good fit, but now I’m interested in learning more about the history behind why Selina is the skeleton in James’ closet.  We’ll find out next time.

A Look at “Veep” Season 4, Episode 4: “Tehran”

This is why foreign policy is such a pain in the ass for Presidents.  “Tehran” actually has a bit of continuity with “Data,” but it also has Selina continuing on her upswing of success in the Middle East.  And now she has a chance to be a hero by freeing a detained American hostage…sort of.

Tehran- Dan watches news of Selina's Middle East travels

The episode begins with an unemployed Dan watching the news.  President Meyer has had successful trips in Jordan and Egypt and her Middle East trip will soon take her to Israel.  Selina even decides to extend her time in Israel by one day, but the trip will end with a surprise visit to Iran.  It’s also believed that Selina will secure the release of detained American journalist Leon West, who has been held for two weeks.

Tehran- Selina and the team talk about Leon West's detention

On Air Force One, Ben loads up on Ambien while Mike and Gary discuss Leon’s detention- as he’s been held captive for two weeks.  It’s just a good thing that the team had nothing to do with him being detained.  Before Gary can receive some clarity, out comes a refreshed and energized Selina, who is so ecstatic with today that she decides to give Mike a two day weekend.  The team soon learns that Leon is being detained for one more hour.  Bad as that is, it’s imperative that Selina secure a photo with West.  Oh, and Mike has to deliver the delay news to the press.  That’ll be fun.

Tehran- Bill Ericsson addresses the press

Back in the States, Bill Ericsson briefs the press about Selina’s trip.  In her absence, Vice President Doyle will be picking up part of the President’s schedule, starting with the Rainbow Jersey event that supports all sexualities in sports and will feature NBA star Freddy Wallace.  Sue and Kent, watching this play out, aren’t a fan of Ericsson finishing everyone’s sentences and his apparent lack of people skills.

Tehran- Mike addresses the press about the delay

Mike, meanwhile, tells the folks on the press plane about the delay.  He’s soon pelted with objects.

Tehran- Teddy and Jonah come up with explanations for the acronym LGBT

As Richard and Jonah head to Doyle’s office, Sue intercepts them and asks if they can get an autograph from Freddy Wallace for Sue’s son, who is also named Sue Wilson.  Interesting.  In the Vice President’s office, Doyle goes over Selina’s speech while the others go over the acronym LGBT.  Jonah and Teddy have an interesting way of looking at it: L is for ladies who play tennis, G is for guys who do other guys, B is for bisexual- he couldn’t think of one to go for that – and T – is for tucking it in or tacking it on.  Richard ruins the joke by pointing out that it’s transgender.

Back on Air Force One, Selina is even more ecstatic at the positive polling that Kent has done.  She couldn’t be more likable if she’d given her kidneys to some sick kid.

Tehran- Freddy Wallace, played by LaMonica Garrett, speaks with Vice President Doyle at his side

It’s time for the Rainbow Jersey event.  Star Freddy Wallace, played by LaMonica Garrett, is proud to have the Vice President at his side.  Who wouldn’t?  Doyle gives the speech, though he has to alter it on the spot to avoid mentioning something that references Selina.

Tehran- Abbas, played by Navid Negahban, talks with Mike and Leon

At the hotel where West is being kept and soon released, Mike speaks with Abbas, played by Navid Negahban, mentions to both Mike and Leon that both countries had to deny the visit, but can now confirm.

Tehran- Amy learns that Kent polled the Vice President

As Kent and Amy watch the address, Kent mentions- Jonah within earshot of this- the polling that revealed Doyle is perceived as being very wooden.  Kent only did the polling against other potential running mates, but Selina apparently promised Doyle that he would be on the ticket and her team wouldn’t poll other possible running mates.  Well, no one told Kent that.  In another miscommunication snafu, Amy sums it up well: “Yet again, the left hand has no idea what the right hand is doing and the freakish middle hand is punching me repeatedly in the tits.”

Tehran- Sidney Purcell, played by Peter Grosz, shows Dan around PKM offices

At PKM, Dan catches a break as he’s shown around an office building by Sidney Purcell, played by Peter Grosz.  Purcell has a proposition for Dan that involves him taking on clients who are best served by him shitting on the Meyer agenda.

Tehran- Selina has a photo-op moment with Leon

Mike brings Leon aboard Air Force One and he has a photo-op moment with Selina.  Of course, she’s there to welcome him back from captivity, right?

Tehran- Teddy grabs Jonah's balls again

Teddy confronts those lovely legs of Jonah’s.  He’s blames the Rainbow Jersey mishaps on Jonah who, in turn, spills that Kent polled other candidates for Vice President.  So the plan from the VP’s office is to leak that Doyle is dissatisfied and considering walking.  Jonah plans to get right on it through his media contacts- starting with Liz Kerrigan.

Tehran- Leon speaks with Selina about his detention

Selina is still on her presidential high for the good she’s done.  People are even comparing her to Nixon.  Not so much for Nixon’s looks, but Selina will take the compliment anyway.  However, she needs to hear what happened with Leon, so she has Gary get some of the press clippings.  Then Selina tells Leon that the talks in Israel went so well that she was delayed by a day in getting to Iran.  Coincidentally, Leon’s release was delayed by a day.

Word gets to Mike and Ben that Liz Kerrigan ran a story about Doyle being unhappy.  More than that, Selina is worried about Leon thinking that the only reason his release was delayed because Selina’s arrival was delayed by a day.  Thus, he could figure out that they didn’t okay his release until now, meaning he could write something negative about all of this.  It’d look pretty bad if people thought that American government detained an American journalist just to secure a photo-op.  Just as Leon threatens to inform the journalists on the press plane, Selina decides to detain him on Air Force One.  Oh, Mike and Gary aren’t onboard, so this could be a problem.

Tehran- Dan meets Erica

Back at PKM, Purcell enlists Dan to get some new clothes with the help of Erica.  Tonight, Dan will be on television as a political commentator.  However, the company has started lobbying for glacé cherries, so he needs to incorporate that into his discussion.

Tehran- Gary and Mike watch Air Force One take off without them

Mike and Gary watch Air Force One take off from a distance and they’re unable to do anything about it.  Now they have to find the backup plane.

Tehran- Leon figures out why he was detained

Leon starts to piece the events together: the US Government plans a secret trip and the Iranians ask them to confirm this, but they deny a secret trip because then it wouldn’t be a secret.  The Iranians detained Leon because of this, but then he was delayed an extra day as well because the President wanted to grab headlines for freeing an America she deliberately did not de-detain.

Tehran- Jonah talks about Teddy groping him

Jonah and Richard, meanwhile, are en-route to the base with Leon’s mother, played by Mary Joy.  Bill and Kent contact Jonah to find out what’s happening in the VP’s office, and all Jonah can mention is the number of times that Teddy has patted, groped, grabbed, and overall just had his hands all over Jonah’s nuts.  Oh, Sue and Catherine are present for this call, though Catherine is just there to announce that she’s gotten engaged.  Sue’s just there to take notes.  Well, they didn’t get much out of this except a funny story.

Tehran- Mike and Gary on the backup Air Force One

Mike and Gary arrive at the backup plane, but it’s broken.  There’s actually a backup Air Force One.  They need to get on the press plane, even though the press despises Mike.  So the two decide to stock up on alcohol.  That works for bribing, right?

Tehran- Eric and Kent tell Selina about the polling

Kent and Ben call Selina to let her know that they’re worried since Doyle knows about the polling.  Only now does Selina learn what Kent had been doing, but he thought it’d be useful to see how Doyle had been performing as Vice President.  It produced some interesting results…results that he will report at a less angry moment.

Never fear, the two have a plan of action: tell Doyle about the stolen data used to target bereaved parents.  This will bind him to them, plus elements of his office were CC’d on emails mentioning the breach.  Given the sensitivity of this conversation, Selina would prefer speaking in code, like cupcake instead of data and use happy instead of bereaved.

Tehran- Amy and Dan on CNN, Dan mentions glacé cherries

By the way, Dan manages to work in glacé cherries to his political discussion, as the visit to Iran is the glacé cherry on the cake of Selina Meyer’s tour.  Afterwards, he and Amy celebrate a job well done later on at a bar, though Dan would also like some access to the White House.  Not what Amy wanted to hear.  Neither did she expect a call from Sue, who informs her that Ericsson told Doyle that the campaign used dead kids’ data to target recently bereaved parents.

Tehran- Selina talks to Ben about not being in control

That evening, still on Air Force One, Ben and Selina talk: between Leon, Kent’s polling, and dead kids baked in the cupcakes, she doesn’t feel like she’s in control anymore.  All of this confirmed that she made the right decision when she decided to bring in someone else- Karen Collins, a friend from Selina’s lawyering days.  She’s smart, capable, and organized, so she’d be a drastic change of pace from the rest of Team Selina, I’m sure.  Ben’s already asleep.

Tehran- Karen Collins, played by Lennon Parham, meets Team Selina

Everyone is set to greet Selina, Leon, and the rest when they arrive at Joint Base Andrews.  Selina isn’t on board with Catherine’s engagement, Catherine herself has no idea what Jonah is talking about when he mentions molestation, and Karen Collins, played by Lennon Parham, makes herself known to the rest of the team.  Her specialty?  Common sense.

Tehran- Mike and Gary stuck

Mike and Gary, though, are still stuck.

She almost had it.  “Tehran” continues the positive effects of Selina Meyer’s administration that we saw during the previous episode, “Data.”  She’s managed a peace agreement in the Middle East and wants to capitalize on that success by going abroad on a surprise trip that hasn’t been done since 1977.  It makes sense.  Think about how hard we hammer potential presidential candidates in real life for their lack of foreign policy experience.  Selina is already being seen as a short term President, so she’s trying to neutralize that negativity by furthering her efforts to push for peace in the Middle East.

Tehran- CNN reports on Selina's trip

Unfortunately, like everything else on Veep, it’s the actions of Selina and her team that end up leading to their undoing.  On first glance, spending an extra day in Israel doesn’t sound that bad.  If people like what she’s doing, why not stick around?  But as we learn that this extra day is what led to Leon West being detained for an extra day and that the Americans didn’t okay his release until this very moment, it stops becoming such a joyous occasion.  Not to mention that it was imperative that Selina have a photo-op with Leon.

Tehran- Selina freaks about Leon learning why his release was delayed

If you took away the humor and satire of Veep, what Selina is doing is pretty despicable since her team could have freed West sooner.  However, they wanted to grab some more positive press at the expense of withholding West’s freedom.  The team already had some good news for a change, but they wanted more.  And then trying to scramble to make sure West didn’t talk and deal with the Doyle situation in the States did show they know how to do damage control, but also how they’re still as incompetent as ever.  I swear, watching Veep is sometimes like watching a house of cards.

House of Cards

Not the actual House of Cards drama with Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright.  An actual house of cards-oh, never mind.

However, despite the underhanded tactics of the Meyer administration to score some more good press, there was a lot to like about this episode.  First off, I liked the immediate connection to “Data” since everyone is still reeling from the stolen government data and wondering how to deal with this.  Unlike a lot of other scandals that Team Selina has dealt with in the past, this one didn’t just go away.

Tehran- Bill and Kent talk with Jonah

But they’ve found a way to use this to their advantage by roping in Vice President Doyle, which they’re only doing because of Kent polling Doyle without anyone else’s knowledge.  It’s a huge gamble to admit everything, but Bill and Kent have a good point: telling Doyle everything there is to know could make him look guilty by association and, as a result, less likely to jump ship.

Tehran- Jonah admits that Teddy gropes him

And sticking with the Vice President and his staff for a moment, Jonah’s admission about Teddy groping him only managed to give Team Selina a funny story to remember.  It’s good that he finally got it off of his chest, but I don’t see this being the end…I also don’t want it to be.  Teddy has managed to grope Jonah at least once every episode this season so far.  It’s a running joke that I accept because I’m always wondering when or how Teddy will try to do it or if Jonah will try and defend himself.  He needs a way to get on an upswing.

Tehran- Dan and Amy talk at a bar about White House access

Speaking of, Dan managed to rebound pretty quickly, but now it looks like he’ll be using Amy as a way to get inside information about his former team.  I did like the brief conversations between the two at the bar as they dropped their defenses and actually acted normal for once.  That’s pretty hard for these people to do because they’re so consumed with their jobs and themselves, but Dan and Amy actually talked like friends.  Of course, they can’t allow that to go on for long, but I appreciate them having a regular talk.  Amy got to vent about the changing landscape at work, while Dan slowly had to crawl back into the working world.

Tehran- Amy expected Dan to say something else

I also liked how Amy expected Dan to ask something completely different than wanting White House access.  Too high of an expectation, there, Amy.

Everything that took place in the Middle East was great, whether it was Ben looking tired as hell and nodding off or Mike being overjoyed at the idea of a two day weekend.  And him and Gary getting stuck in Iran and freaking out about it was a great way to end the episode.  Now to see how in the world they get back.  Next time.

A Look at “Veep” Season 4, Episode 3: “Data”

And you wonder why Americans aren’t all that worried about privacy.  In this week’s “Data,” Team Selina deals with matters of privacy in light of a government data breach.  But don’t worry.  The culprits- I mean, the scapegoats, are caught before they can flee to Russia.

Data- Selina discusses the Families First bill during an interview

The episode begins on Good Thursday with Selina discussing the Families First bill during an interview.  This bill, the President says, will help children in need, such as the young girl who contracted HIV through breast milk, but still wants to be a ballerina.  It’s always good to have examples, you know?  Makes you seem more personable.

Data- Dan, Mike, Ben, and Bill need to figure out about the data leak on Jennifer Graham

Unfortunately, Selina couldn’t have picked a worse example because the town where the previously mentioned girl, named Jennifer Graham, lives now knows her identity and word has spread.  Dan, Ben, Mike and Bill now need to figure out how the team had access to the medical records, but for the love of God, do not tell Selina because she’ll lose her shit.

Data- Catherine brings an article about her vaping to Selina

Selina, though, already has her hands full with Catherine, whose personal life is still being invaded by the press.  There’s even an article in a newspaper that includes a photo of her vaping, not smoking, but vaping.  Catherine feels that her private life should be kept just that– private.  There’s even a photoshopped image that shows what Selina and Catherine will look like when Selina has completed her term.  Selina…almost looks the same, but Catherine, well…

Data- What eight years of Presidency would do to the Meyers

…does not.

Data- Mike takes questions from the press about whether Selina will make a statement on Jennifer Graham’s private information

Mike, meanwhile, deals with the press’ questions about whether Selina will make a statement on Jennifer Graham’s private information.  Selina, not briefed on any of this, enters the room and asks the journalists to give Catherine some personal space.  However, one of the journalists asks Selina if that same privacy should be afforded an eight-year-old girl with HIV.  Where did HIV come from?  Well, Mike says that it may have started when a guy fucked a monkey.

Data- Selina learns about the data breach

Selina then learns about the data breach: medical and social security records were hacked by a member of the campaign team and used in the Families First press pack.  It would make sense to just admit that, but instead, Selina tasks the team with finding a scapegoat to fire since it’d be impossible to identify the responsible party.  After all, the press will need a culprit.

Data- Catherine and Selina have lunch

Catherine and Selina have lunch, with Catherine still reeling over the press’ invasion of her privacy.  But hey, the honeymoon period is over.  Even still, Selina isn’t spared from ridicule, as The Onion ran an article implying she’d only be president for a few months.  Given the nature of this show and Selina’s stellar track record as Vice President, I tend to agree with The Onion.

Data- Sue tells Mike to fix this situation

As Jennifer Graham’s father speaks out about the lack of privacy, Sue informs Mike that various associations and organizations slowly cut their support for the Families First bill.  Gary wonders why the press is only focusing on the negative.  After all, Selina is working to make children’s lives better.  Sue tells Mike to take care of this.

Data- Jonah and Richard speak with a salesman, played by Dakin Matthews

Over at a warehouse, Richard and Jonah meet with a pleasant salesman, played by Dakin Matthews, who doesn’t give a shit what the two pick for their fireworks display, but does want you to know that he’s got a giant grudge against Gerald Ford.  I want this guy to return.

Data- Mike tells Amy that Vice President Doyle will be walking out to “Every Breath You Take” by The Police

Next up is a Meyer campaign rally over in Towson, Maryland.  Mike pulls Amy aside to inform her that Vice President Doyle will be walking out to “Every Breath You Take” by The Police.  That, by itself, isn’t the problem.  The issue is that the song could be interpreted as being about spying since every line apparently ends with “I’ll be watching you.”  I’ve never listened to this song before, so I’ll just take Mike’s word on that.

Data- Jonah asks Richard if Doyle's music can be changed without messing with the light show

Team Selina tells Jonah to change Doyle’s music, but Jonah is reluctant since the music is timed to a lightshow.  He eventually decides to go with “Eye of the Tiger” instead, at Richard’s suggestion, but “Every Breath You Take” ends up playing anyway.  Richard just blames Windows 8 since he’s used to using a Mac.  The goof ends up trending on Twitter, with the hash tag #EveryLittleThingSheDoesIsTragic.  Given Selina’s past goofs, I can’t imagine this being the first time that Twitter has gone after her.

Data- Selina addresses the press about the Jennifer Graham situation

After the rally, Amy informs Selina that the campaign is losing microdonors and will soon be down to nanodonors who want to be removed from the database because they fear it isn’t secure.  When a journalist mentions that Jennifer Graham’s aunt said that only an unfit mother would be immune to her niece’s suffering, Selina decides to just give an on-camera statement to the press about Jennifer Graham.  She admits that she had no knowledge of the data breach, but takes full responsibility for it and vows to hold someone accountable for this.

Data- Fireworks go off while Selina addresses the press

Problem is that fireworks go off behind her. Very mixed messaging.

Dan has found a scapegoat in the random female White House staffer whose name no one knows.  After all, she was in the writers’ room for the Joint Session address and was at the campaign rally.  Side-note, Kent isn’t fully on board with this since he actually likes the staffer and even sees splashes of himself in her.  He then instantly regrets saying that.  I love the writers for this show.

Data- Dan speaks with Leigh Patterson, played by Jessie Ennis

So Dan delivers the bad news to the staffer, who we can finally identify as Leigh Patterson, played by Jessie Ennis, who can’t stay even if she cries.  She’s talking to a guy who once broke off an engagement in Applebees and then ordered dessert.

Data- Dan tells Selina that he plans to fire Jonah

However, come Easter Monday, the story still has not gone away.  Leigh wasn’t very high up the chain of command, so the press isn’t satisfied with her firing.  I doubt anyone would be, to be honest.  Anyway, Dan announces that he’s been prepping Jonah for this moment and plans to link him with every other campaign screw-up.  Plus, he has an inherently guilty face, like a surprised masturbator.  Selina is on board with this.  All Dan needs is a bus long enough to run over Jonah.

Data- Dan watched Teddy grope Jonah's balls

But when Dan tries to fire Jonah, he witnesses Teddy grope Jonah’s balls, which are apparently so big that they’re practically tits.  This, in a rare moment of human decency for Veep, prompts Dan to call this out as sexual harassment.  But this is pushed aside when Richard arrives with Jonah’s sandwich and asks if Jonah is being fired for the ‘campaign data thing.’  It’s revealed that Selina’s “I Care” mailer deliberately targeted recently bereft parents.  Someone from the campaign used child mortality data from the same federal data breach that identified Jennifer Graham.

Data- Selina tells Catherine to drop the anti-bullying campaign

Catherine wants to get involved with an anti-bullying campaign, but Selina won’t allow her.  It’s not that Selina ever bullied Catherine, it’s that Catherine was bullied because of Selina.  Catherine is adamant about doing this, prompting Selina to threaten taking away their Hawaii trip for Thanksgiving.  Who the hell visits Hawaii for Thanksgiving, by the way?

Anyway, Dan and Amy enter and deliver the news to Selina.  Using stolen government data is a federal crime and someone could go to jail.  In short, they’re fucked.  To stop the press’ onslaught, though, the team decides there needs to be a major resignation.  Oh, and Mike learns that the second breach came from a student volunteer who is no longer present.  Ben volunteers to fall onto the sword for Selina.

Data- Dan wants to know whose getting fired, leaves a gap for Ben

In the men’s room, Dan stands right next to Ben despite the whole ‘leave a gap’ rule.  There are rules in the men’s room, you know.  Ben reveals that he’s volunteering himself to be fired and makes Dan promise to not reveal this until there’s been an official statement from Selina.

Data- Dan tells the team that Ben is being fired

At the Easter Egg Roll, Dan immediately spills about Ben’s upcoming resignation, though Mike believed that Dan was referring to the man in the Easter Bunny costume at first.

Data- Dan learns that he's the one being fired

However, Kent pulls Dan aside and reveals that not only has Selina changed her mind about Ben, she’s decided that Dan will resign instead.  After all, he has a guilty look.  When Dan instead threatens to reveal the use of federal data to target bereaved families for the campaign flyers, Ben…well, let me just repost what he said:

“You listen to me you little fucking turd’s assistant, you don’t threaten this administration, because we will fucking destroy you. We’ll skin you like a squirrel, clean you out like a dirty fucking chimney, and wear you like a glove puppet with my fingers sticking out your dead, fucking eyeballs.”

Though Kent can’t endorse that message, he does acknowledge it.

Data- Aide delivers a new statement to Mike about Dan's firing

A staffer manages to reach Mike just in time as he then delivers word of the new firing of Dan Egan.

As Dan packs up his things, Jonah promises to lead him away from the press.

Data- Jonah leads Dan right to the press

Wait, never mind.

And people here thought the Edward Snowden situation wouldn’t go away from the news cycle.  “Data” is another great episode and another example of how the tiniest thing to come out of Team Selina can turn into something huge.  Granted, using federal data to target bereft parents is not small potatoes and someone should be held accountable, but the fun came out of watching the team flounder as they tried to solve this.

Watching this episode- or pretty much any episode of Veep– is like watching a snowball grow larger as it rolls down a hill.  Or, to use an example close to this episode, it’s like watching an exploding gas station in a Michael Bay movie: things are going to get worse before they get…well, worse since things rarely get better in Veep.  Selina has the best of intentions with her Families First bill, but there’s no way she could have known about the data breach.

But like posting something on the internet- which isn’t just Alta Vista and the Star Wars kid anymore- once you put it out there, it’s out there for good.  No amount of undo or backspace will save you there.

Because Veep has often been about turning politics on its head, it’s fun to watch these people struggle to nail someone to the wall, even when they don’t know where to start or who to blame.

Data- Leigh learns that she's being fired

It’s unfortunate that Leigh was the first to be fired and I do hope she reappears, as her random appearances did make me laugh.

Data- Dan is reamed out by Ben

But Dan ultimately getting the axe was a bit satisfying to me- particularly of how smug he was when getting rid of Leigh- because he’s been so busy prepping Jonah for this that he forgot to cover his own ass.  And wouldn’t you know it?  He makes Jonah and Richard promise not to reveal the truth about the data breach, but then, after Ben makes him promise not to tell that he’s resigning, he goes and blabs to the team, only to learn that he’s the one being removed.  It’s unfortunate for Dan, but he kind of deserves it.  Then again, I doubt this is the last we’ll see of him.  He may not return in the same capacity, but I’m sure he’ll return.

Data- Dan sees Teddy grope Jonah

Again, though, I do appreciate that he had a moment of human decency to him when he called out Teddy’s sexual harassment of Jonah, even though the moment evaporated when Richard arrived.

Data- Bill asks Mike if he smiled at the idea of Bill being fired

However, as Dan falls, Bill Ericsson continues to rise, as we learn that he’s the one who suggested to Selina that Dan be fired.  Ericsson is very calculated with his moves and knows about the incompetency of Team Selina.  Hell, he’s the one who suggested during his first meet with Selina that she get rid of Amy, Dan, Gary, and Mike.  I doubt she’ll dump Gary since the two look to be back on good terms- boob brush and nonfunctioning banana aside- but he had a point and he’s slowly working his way up the totem pole of Selina’s inner circle.

Like the previous episode dealing with her popularity, “Data” touched upon what the children of politicians endure when their lives are out in the open.  Catherine can’t live a normal life because she’ll be scrutinized, criticized, and analyzed by any and every news outlet out there.  That’s the nature of the business: you want news, but you want to try something more sociable, so you check in on the lives of the First Kids.

Data- Catherine doesn't want attention from the press

But Catherine doesn’t want any of that attention.  More than that, any attempts to make herself seem more relatable bring her into conflict with her own mother because Selina thinks people will think she bullied Catherine.  Catherine won’t have that privacy, though.  She was already the Vice President’s daughter, and now that Selina is the President, her private life will shrink even more.  At the very least, I give her credit for at least trying to be personable, even if Selina tries to stop her.

As with many episodes, the jokes and funny lines don’t stop coming on Veep, whether it’s Mike talking about how HIV first came about, the one kid’s reaction to Selina being the President, or the man in the Easter Bunny costume talking about how he’d seen his friend blown to pieces by an IED in Afghanistan…that sounds horrible when I say it.  Veep is funny, but it can get pretty damn dark in no time.

Data- Kent sees splashes of himself in Leigh

Though another standout had to be Kent’s defense of Leigh when he talks about seeing splashes of himself in her…until he instantly recognizes what he said before then regretting that phrase.

“Data” was another fun episode and showed how much we value our privacy.  I hope our real life politicians handled data breaches a bit better than Selina Meyer did, though.  There’s also been a major change in Team Selina’s staff with Dan’s firing and Leigh being removed.  Again, I hope these two do return.  But I learned something this week: if I come down with a disease or illness, I must do everything in my power to make sure the President never learns this.

A Look at “Veep” Season 4, Episode 2: “East Wing”

Who knew a painting could cause so much controversy?

East Wing- Mike addresses the press

The episode begins with Mike delivering a press briefing.  Selina will soon be hosting her first state visit to the Prime Minister of Israel and preparation is underway.  As the Vice President’s staff watches, they can’t help but notice that Mike has dyed his moustache.  Teddy calls it vanity.  Mike calls it Tangerine Dream.  I’m personally not a fan of either.

At the conference, one journalist notes that President Meyer is serving her 33rd day in office, officially meaning she has outlived William Henry Harrison.  You know, the war hero who gave his oath of office in the cold and without much protection.  He died of pneumonia soon after that.

East Wing- Team Selina observes The Man Who Shits Triangles painting

In the Roosevelt Room, Team Selina plans to allow Selina to have time to speak on her Families First bill.  However, there’s a concern regarding some of the White House artwork, particularly a piece of art that Ben refers to as The Man Who Shits Triangles.  Now that’s a funny name.  Oh, and you know who happens to be absent from this campaign strategy session?

East Wing- Amy and Richard stuck in traffic

The campaign manager, Amy, who is stuck in traffic with Richard.  She does keep in touch with the team by texting Dan and letting him know that she’s a latté.  Easy mistake to make.  She tries virtually calling into the meeting, but the connection is shit.  Commendable effort on Amy’s part, but not the smartest of ideas.

East Wing- Amy's frozen face

However, we do get a freeze frame of her surprised face when she manages to hear that Selina is bringing in Bill Ericsson because she needs a steady hand….it’s a funny face.

East Wing- Kent shows Selina what the nation thinks of Catherine

Kent, after asking Catherine to leave the room, brings up a matter of national security: Everybody Hates Catherine.  I mean, not everybody, but Kent ran a poll and the results show that the First Daughter has a low likability index.  Selina is initially upset that Kent would run a poll on her daughter’s popularity…but then she sees the numbers.  They stink.  No one wants to break the news to Catherine, but Kent has a knack for this, so he decides to take the task.  I’d say that’s taking one for the team, but this can’t really be that difficult of a task.

East Wing- Gary sends back the cake

Then Gary enters and tells everyone that it’s a special day- Ben’s birthday.  There’s no cake, though.  I mean, there is, but Gary has the chefs move it away just when they’re close to the room.

East Wing- Teddy taps Jonah

Elsewhere, Teddy managed to do Jonah a solid.  On his advice, the Vice President will ask Jonah to be in the Families First talks with Dan.  So though Jonah is elated that Teddy made his day and possibly ruined Jonah’s, his day may have possibly been ruined when Teddy gives him another scrotum tap.  Sorry, several taps.

East Wing- Gary speaks with White House social secretary Patty, played Michaela Watkins

Gary takes it upon himself to plan for the upcoming dinner, and the cost matters not to him.  While preparing, he gets a surprise visit from his favorite White House social secretary, Patty, played by Michaela Watkins.  All these orders, though, are coming from his group, not necessarily Selina, and that includes swapping out the painting.

East Wing- Bill gives Amy a friendly hello in an unfriendly way

Amy finally arrives and is unable to have an audience with Selina at the moment, but she does have a run-in with Bill Ericsson.  He now has a very specific title, but a wide brief: eliminate weaknesses.  He’s the new Director of Communications.  Oh, and he bids Amy a friendly hello, but in an unfriendly way.  Hello.

East Wing- Selina is briefed on the crazy triangles painting

So Selina has a very brief Press Spray with the Prime Minister of Israel, Mike and Jim let Selina know about that removed crazy triangles looking piece of artwork: turns out it was the only work of an art by a Native American artist in the building.  Now what are the odds of that?  Native Americans are taking it as a slight.  Selina tells them to have Ericsson deliver a statement that the painting was removed to be cleaned.

East Wing- Random staffer, who is that

Per the random staffer who no one knows, Selina also receives some points of departure for the possible agreements on the scale-down of blockades.  This staffer technically does have a name, but she just hasn’t been identified yet.  As of now, everyone still doesn’t know who the hell she is.

East Wing- Kent breaks the news to Catherine that America doesn’t like her

Kent breaks the news to Catherine that America doesn’t like her.  Well, there’s a perception that she’s unlikable, anyway.  Kent suggests changing the narrative so Catherine’s frown can turn into the inverse of a frown.  You know, like a smile.  Customary shortcuts to public affirmation are military service or childbirth, but Catherine won’t go with either of those.

East Wing- Dan and Jonah speak with Congressman Owen Pierce, played by Paul Fitzgerald

Dan isn’t a fan of Jonah coming with him in these meetings.  The two first sit down with Congressman Owen Pierce, played by Paul Fitzgerald, to discuss the Families First bill, specifically the pre-K program for low-income families.  Pierce’s constituents just want the money to be spent wisely.  Dan agrees, which is why they’re investing in education.  Hell, don’t even think of them as kids, but little start-ups.  There’s something inherently awful about that.

Anyway, Pierce knows all about economics.  He keeps a box of coupons so he remembers to be economical, even though some of the coupons are expired.  Pierce’s time has been taken up by his sessions on the Rules’ Committee.  Jonah correctly figures that Pierce would support the bill in principle, but is worried that an escalation of cost wouldn’t go well with his House colleagues.  Dan tries to take control by inviting Pierce to bowl at the White House bowling alley tomorrow night.

East Wing- Jim says no

Mike tries to console Jim by asking him to tell the press that Bill Ericsson is taking his job.  It would sound more amicable that way.  Jim considers it for a moment, places his hand on Mike’s shoulder, and responds with a very warm no.

East Wing- Selina negotiates peace while Ben receives notes about the painting crisis

Selina, meanwhile, tries to get some actual presidential stuff done and is on the verge of brokering a peace deal, but everyone can’t help but notice that Ben is receiving note after note about the painting.  She goes to Ben and tells him to let tell Sacheen Littlefeather to get off the rag and get over it.  And she never said that.  You know how Selina has such a way with words.

East Wing- Mike briefs the press on the status of the painting

So at a press briefing, Mike explains to the journalists that the painting wasn’t removed, but taken out to be cleaned.  It was just a preemptive cleaning, much like a juice cleanse.  Holy hell, I’m just glad that Mike didn’t say something along the lines of juice cleansing.  That line went over my head the first time I heard it, but I didn’t give it some thought until the second viewing and saw Ericsson’s reaction to it.  Anyway, other paintings will be cleansed.  No, wiped.  No…cleaned.

East Wing- Gary tells Sue and Amy that he spent a lot of money on the State Dinner

A frightened Gary comes to Sue and admits to her and Amy that he’s responsible for moving the painting.  It’s worse than that.  He wanted this dinner to be nice, so he spent a lot of money.  It’s not as easy as just telling her, but Amy tells him that his inner child needs to grow an outer man.

Neither he nor anyone else is able to get a word through to an overwhelmed Selina, not even mystery staffer girl with the GDP figures.  Those go to Kent, who now wants the GDP figures.  No, Selina’s priority is that the office needs a lot more butt-ugly Native American paintings because the first butt-ugly one was removed by some jerkoff with a hair ball for a brain.

East Wing- Dan and Jonah speak with speak with Congresswoman Angstrom, played by Amy Wilson

Back to the continuing adventures of Dan and Jonah, who speak with Congresswoman Angstrom, played by Amy Wilson.  Jonah’s proposal is a minimum and a safety check on all providers.  Wilson, though, is concerned by the fact that, within the bill, Title 2, Section 3 and Title 8, Section 5, contradict each other.  And do you really think that either Dan or Jonah actually read the bill?  That’d be like asking whether all of Congress reads the bills they force through for the sake of passage.

So instead, Jonah asks if Wilson likes Martin Scorsese because there will be a private screening of his new film at the White House.  And he’ll be there, too.  Of course, Jonah just assumes that because this is Martin Scorsese, he’ll have a new film coming out this year.  It’s understandable.  It’d be like wondering whether Meryl Streep will appear in a new film this year, and I believe she is, but don’t quote me on that.

When Wilson is called away by one of her staffers, Dan tells Jonah that he can’t lie about stuff like that.  Jonah stands his ground.  After all, he has to go to about this all on his own, while Dan at least has a staff.  He wants a staff.  The confrontation almost gets physical when Jonah threatens to reveal that Dan was the one who planted the Danny Chung torture rumors.

Wilson returns.  There are a lot of Navajo in her district and this painting news is escalating.  She’ll have to postpone.

East Wing- Selina wants to see Catherine's smile

As the First Lady and her daughter get their hair done, Selina asks to see Catherine’s new smile.  It looks happy, but the trick is she just needs to pretend she is.  I feel that can apply beyond politics.

East Wing- Dan gives Richard to Jonah to help out Amy

Back at the White House, final preparations are being made for the dinner.  Dan figures out a way to get eager Richard off of Amy’s back, so he gives him to Jonah.  Richard is ecstatic about being able to work at the White House.  Amy owes Dan one.  Otherwise, he wouldn’t have done it.

East Wing- Reviewing Gary's expenses

One hour to the State Dinner, some of the team reviews the expenses on the event.  It’s as if Gary wanted to max out America, if such a thing is possible, given our national debt.  Selina doesn’t know now and she may not need to since she already has a full plate.  Nonetheless, someone has to tell her, and given that Selina actually likes Bill, he has no intention of talking.

East Wing- State Dinner

It’s finally time for the dinner in the White House State Dining Room.  Selina slowly learns from word of mouth about how much Gary spent on the dinner.  Imagine Elton John on a day he feels fat.  I assume that’s a good comparison.  The press kept sniffing after the stink about the painting, which was also Gary’s doing.  Even though Selina has achieved something as big as a peace deal with Israel, she is now sharing headline news with a painting because of Gary.

When Selina addresses the crowd, she speaks about the power of hope and how it can outlast the power of hatred.  Hope can build, but for it to grow, you first need trust.

East Wing- Selina finds Gary hiding

So Selina pursues Gary and corners him in an office.  His hiding space could have been better.  He tries to explain himself, but she goes on the offensive and calls him unimportant.  He has suckered onto her like a car window Garfield.

East Wing- Gary stands his ground, tells Selina that she's wrong

But Gary does not back down.  In fact, he tells Selina that she’s wrong.  He is her calendar, Google and Wilson the volleyball.  He’s broken his body and allowed himself to be laughed at and humiliated, but he’s happy to do it.  Most of the time, Selina doesn’t even know that he exists, but he is fucking everything to her.  She’ll never be able to find someone who did what he did.

Oh, did he mean Labor Day, which he promised to never mention?  After that heated moment, the two apologize for their choice of words, but it’s good to clear the air.  They then bond over light sponge cake.

The episode comes to a close with Selina meeting with some Native Americans and looking at their art, while Catherine tries her hand at being likable to some scouts.  Also, South Korea wants to know if Selina would like a baby elephant.  No words to that, really.

In a rare show of competence, “East Wing” actually has Selina Meyer, the President, manage to achieve something, which is virtually unheard of, especially on this show.  One of the strength of Veep’s humor, I feel, is watching these characters trying their damndest to get something done without any screw-ups or hiccups.  More often than not, that doesn’t happen, but when they do manage to accomplish something, it’s noteworthy.  Consider, brokering peace in the Middle East isn’t small potatoes.  It is, to quote our gaffe worthy Vice President, Joe Biden, it’s a big, fucking deal.

East Wing- Negotiating while notes are passed about the painting

But it’s not the biggest deal this week.  Dealing with the painting turns into a politically correct mess as Selina and her team scramble to explain and justify the removal of the painting that none of them even liked.  It’s incredible that so much focus and attention goes to this painting in the first place and that everyone, from the politicians to the press, would devote their time to that instead of peace agreements.  Such is the screwy, political world that is Veep.

East Wing- Mike misuses the word cleanse

So Team Selina has to tiptoe its way out of a mess, but they can’t help but let one or two offensive lines slip by, such as Mike trying to describe the process of cleaning the paintings without using terms like cleansed or wiped.  Much like in the real world of politics, it’s impossible to make everyone happy.

You can’t please one side without pissing off another, and Selina confronted this head-on with last season’s “The Choice.”  No one in her inner circle is fond of the painting, but it’s an uphill battle to explain why they had it removed when they learn it was done by the only Native American artist in the building.  I’m willing to bet they didn’t even know they had one up until this point.

For the sake of referencing TV Tropes, you know how people get sidetracked by analogies?  Well, here, we have people sidetracked by the painting.  The painting is not the most important thing in the world right now and chances are that the peace arrangements will be more significant in the long run, but the painting is priority because you don’t want to piss off the Native Americans when you’re technically still occupying their land.  It leads to that awkward and uncomfortably true humor that Veep excels at so well.

But this is just one part of a larger, excellent episode.  Veep has always delivered great dialogue, but this episode stood out to me because the lines were so good, but you don’t have time to process them all before another comes your way.  It’s the little things like Ben needing a shirt because this isn’t Die Hard, Kent needing to ask Selina for something before being handed GDP figures he didn’t ask for, Amy telling Gary to grow a pair, Catherine learning about how unpopular she is, each scene had a funny or memorable line to me.

East Wing- Kent discusses Catherine's low popularity

That extends to the social commentary Veep throws in whenever it can.  Kent’s polling of Catherine and her being so unlikable mirror the amount of attention and scrutiny that pundits and even everyday folks give to the First Family’s children.  Do they even need to have so much attention and be brought out like props?  Not necessarily, though politicians do like to show off their family to prove to voters that they’re just like them.  That doesn’t always work and bringing out the family can feel more like a stunt than genuine love, but I appreciate that Veep touched upon this.  And Catherine being such a blank slate made her the perfect target for such undeserved hatred and scorn.  Hopefully she has another moment to assert herself.

East Wing- Jonah after Teddy taps him

And hopefully Jonah has a moment to just assert himself at all.  His moment with Teddy this week was possibly even more uncomfortable than their first encounter, but Timothy Simons played it completely straight when Teddy gave Jonah’s sack several love taps.  I mean, this is sexual harassment, right?  But then, this is also Jonah, who is the butt of almost every joke on Veep.  These scenes are as awkward as they are fun to watch and I hope there are more of them.  Not just for the awkward stuff.  At the very least, he has an aide now with an eager to please Richard.

East Wing- Bill Ericsson's unfriendly hello

So Amy doesn’t have Richard on her back, but she will probably still have to put up with Ericsson.  The unfriendly hello was a highlight for me, made better by Diedrich Bader’s delivery.

East Wing- Selina and Gary make up over cake

And now let’s get to what is easily the episode’s most memorable scene to me.  Gary and Selina have one of the more interesting relationships of Team Selina.  He’s literally at her beck and call for any and every reason and Selina is glad to accept his aid.  He’s done more good than bad and has put himself on the front line for Selina, time and time again, without asking for much in return.  I get the feeling that their relationship had been building to this point.

East Wing- Gary is Selina's calendar, Google and Wilson the volleyball

Even if he called out his boss, Gary has a point: he’s been humiliated and marginalized by so many people, and even Selina herself, but he comes in every day to help in any way that he can.  Despite Selina becoming the President and his role being minimized, Gary remained fiercely loyal.  He wants to stay relevant in Selina’s life, even when she has 99 other problems on her hands.  He is her calendar, Google, and Wilson the volleyball, even if Selina doesn’t want to admit it.

East Wing- Selina's stunned silence

And when Gary throws out the line about Selina finding someone else to do what he did, and she doesn’t have an immediate response, she realizes that he’s right.  Gary won’t abandon Selina because he’s done so much for her already.  We don’t know what this whole Labor Day incident is, but chances are it involved another instance of Gary proving his fierce devotion to Selina.  He’s a central part of Selina’s political and personal life and may even know more intimate details about Selina than she herself does.  Hell, he knew Catherine’s birthday when Selina did not.

I’m glad that Gary didn’t hold anything back or let himself be bullied around by Selina.  This is something he’s been holding onto for a long time.  It’s a visceral scene that made me feel uncomfortable for how harsh Gary and Selina spoke to one another.

East Wing- Gary asks Selina if she can find someone else who did what he did

It’s a testament to the incredible performances and chemistry between Tony Hale and Julia Louis-Dreyfus.  It’s too soon to tell and this could be very presumptuous, but if either Hale or Dreyfus ends up being nominated again for Veep, my best guess is that their Emmy nomination clip will be from this scene.  It was a fantastic moment to wrap up another fantastic episode of Veep.

A Look at “Veep” Season 4 Premiere: “Joint Session”

Last season ended on somewhat of a high note for Selina Meyer and company.  POTUS decided to step down, meaning that Meyer herself would become the next President of the United States.  It’s a new day in Washington.  She gets to call the shots and no more fuck-ups for her and her crew.  Of course, by the time we closed out the season, there were just as many goofs and errors for Team Selina, not to mention losing the New Hampshire primary.  So hopefully Team Selina has had a chance to regain its stride, right?  Wait, this is Veep?  What am I even talking about?  Let’s dive right into “Joint Session.”

Joint Session- President Selina greets audience

The season begins with President Selina Meyer addressing a joint session of Congress.  It’s finally here- Selina’s big moment to show the nation and world what she’s capable of.  After shaking hands and greeting many people, President Meyer heads to the podium and begins to deliver the speech that will define her presidency.

Joint Session- Teleprompter fail

But then, in Veep fashion, the teleprompter displaying her speech suddenly shows an emoticon instead.  Ha!

Joint Session- Going over Selina's speech

So what led to this moment?  We go back 24 hours earlier as Team Selina works on the President’s upcoming speech.  The problem is that the speech itself is too vague, which Selina apparently wanted.  Luckily, in addition to her team, she has the assistance of a new communications director, who has worked for as many as one president prior to Selina, and even that didn’t work out too well.

Joint Session- Sue briefs Selina on her upcoming activities and meetings

Selina, meanwhile, is leading a very busy life as the Commander in Chief.  She still receives daily updates from Sue and will need to prepare a statement to address two recent fatalities.  She doesn’t even have time to talk to Jim, Dan, and Mike yet.  She wants to, though.

Joint Session- Selina visits her team to discuss her speech

So Selina takes time to do just that- the others even stand when she enters- and tells them to take the cuts section of her speech and put it with spending.  Oh, and some random new girl lets everyone know that three hikers haven’t been found yet.  Who is this new employee?  Who actually knows?  Anyway, Selina plans to say a few words about former President Hughes and then give her vision for the country.

Joint Session- Gary can't join Selina in the intelligence briefing, but the bag can

And Selina is so busy with constant meetings that Gary doesn’t even get to tag along at her side anymore.  So he’s left to his own devices while Selina goes into an intelligence meeting.  The bag is welcome, though, but not Gary.  Selina decides against inviting the Vice President to the meeting, as she wouldn’t want them to endure what she did.

Joint Session- Jonah meets Chief of Staff Teddy Sykes, played by Patton Oswalt

Jonah, meanwhile, is now working for the new Vice President and has a fun moment with the VP’s new Chief of Staff, Teddy Sykes, played by Patton Oswalt.  I already like this casting.  Teddy is welcoming, but he’s thrown off a bit since Jonah didn’t let him know that he was coming.  Anyway, Jonah is brought on to spy on the President, since that’s what he’s apparently good at.

Joint Session- Teddy grabs Jonah's balls

As Jonah heads for the elevator, Teddy has a few words for him.  This sort of game takes guts.  To work in this industry, you gotta have balls.  Teddy grabs Jonah’s goody bag just to make sure that Jonah has some.  He does.  Oh, and next time that Jonah wants to swing by the VP’s office, just give some advance notice.  That shouldn’t be too hard.

Joint Session- Team Selina proposes military cuts

Back to prepping for Selina’s speech.  She isn’t a fan of Hughes’ plan, but she knows that she can’t advocate her Families First bill and have huge cuts at the same time.  Therein is a potential solution: propose cuts to the military.  That should lead to some negotiating if the military doesn’t like that.  Oh, and the Prime Minister of India sent Selina a golden duck.  Selina doesn’t want it.

Even though Selina still wants to find some middle ground, Ben informs her that such a task isn’t easy.  This sort of job never is easy.  What remains to be seen is what the Joint Chiefs of Staff will offer when they hear of Selina’s proposed cuts.

Joint Session- Amy and Richard at Selina's campaign headquarters

Amy, meanwhile, is stationed at Selina’s campaign office, along with Richard, who I’m glad is still around, if I’m honest.  When Amy learns of Selina’s proposal, she wants to know which will actually go through: cuts or spending.  Mike, however, isn’t sure of that yet.  There’s also a rumor that Joe Thornhill may drop out of the race.

Joint Session- Bill Ericsson talks with Amy about potentially leaving Thornhill's campaign

To clarify this, Amy and Bill Ericsson meet up while Richard awkwardly tries to remember what it is that they want.  Anyway, the rumor about Thornhill isn’t completely true.  It’s not Thornhill who may be quitting- it’s Ericsson who could be planning to abandon his position as Thornhill’s campaign manager.  As much as he enjoyed Thornhill as a challenge, he now finds Thornhill boring.  Amy’s position, however, is very challenging.  Hell, if Bill wanted, he could probably have Amy’s job!

Joint Session- Jonah asks Gary about Teddy

As Gary watches Selina from afar, Sue asks him about the location of a certain black binder.  He then gets a surprise from Jonah, who wants information on Teddy Sykes.  Luckily, Gary is already familiar with him.  He’s a great guy and very hands on.  Oh, I think Jonah knows that part already.

Joint Session- Selina meets with the Joint Chiefs of Staff

Selina meets up with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who all have their own proposal for Selina: cutting $50 billion.  Holy shit snacks, that’s one hell of a cut!  As soon as the staff leaves, Selina and the team are instantly elated.  That is how you do business.  Sadly, by the time the Vice President arrives, though, the meeting is already over.

Joint Session- Congressman Furlong and Military Industrial Complex confront Selina

Well, we can’t let this happy moment last for long.  In enters the Military Industrial Complex, or Congressman Furlong, who is livid because the cuts will mean a lot of people in his district will be out of jobs.  He lets Selina know that many of the lawmakers will vote against this Families First bill if the spending isn’t there.  So what happens now?  Time to cut the cuts!

Joint Session- Gary takes Selina's glasses

Oh, and just before speech time, Gary takes Selina’s glasses from her since the outline of them make it look as if she has a penis.  That’s always something you need to watch.

Joint Session- Team edits Selina's speech, Gary realizes he has Selina's glasses

But as Selina delivers the speech, the team realizes that the speech displayed is actually the one with Hughes’ plans, which Selina doesn’t want.  As such, Selina asks for a moment of silence to remember President Hughes and his wife.  No, I take that back.  She asks for a long moment of silence so her team of idiots can get the damned speech back up.  It’s worth noting that both Hughes and his wife are still alive.

And even though Selina may have a hard copy of the speech, she can’t read it without her glasses.  Nice going, Gary.  You have officially blinded the President.

Joint Session- Selina asks for a moment of silence

So when the speech does come back up, Selina begins to deliver it, until she ends up on “FUTURE WHATEVER” and starts to adlib the shit out of her speech.  She wants to tell the American people who she is and meet them at that train station!  The crowd loves it!  But then the team realizes that Selina mentioned the investment on submarines.  Whoops.  Also, she didn’t announce a dead guy’s plan since Hughes isn’t dead!

Joint Session- Selina rips into her team

Later on, a now livid President Meyer chews out her incompetent team for including spending in the speech instead of cuts.  This was supposed to be the speech that defined her presidency, but now that’s ruined.  She was going to help kids in poverty, but now she’s funding obsolete, giant metal dildos.  Hooray!  Even as Selina sends her team away, they slowly, one-by-one, slip back in with various updates, such as an upcoming campaign meeting, Gary enters and instantly leaves with new glasses, the wrong guy’s truck in Yemen was droned, and the two hikers are dead.  Wait, what hikers?

Veep, never change.  “Joint Session” showed the continuing transition for Team Selina as they move from Vice Presidential duties to Presidential duties.  While it would have been nice to spend more time with everyone and see how they’re adjusting, this episode showed just how fast paced the political world is, even if these people have next to no idea how to competently do their jobs.

Joint Session- Selina briefed on two fatalities due to a boat accident

There’s no time to breathe in this episode.  Everything and everyone is constantly moving from one arrangement or meeting to the next because there’s relaxation or grace period.  We got all that in the Season Three finale when Selina and her team headed to Washington, but you have to keep in mind that it’s still time to get down to business.  When Selina was the Vice President, she could have those moments of downtime where she and the team could shoot the shit or go over their next move.  Here, every move is their next move, but because these people aren’t good at their jobs, most of their moves end up being the wrong moves.

And that wrong move could end up costing Selina the job.  We don’t get a sense of how much time has passed since “New Hampshire,” but keep in mind that Selina didn’t win the Presidency so much as just ascend into the position since Hughes resigned.  She still needs to actually win the Primary and be a competent President at the same time.  That’s hard to do when she’s getting stonewalled from all directions, whether from other politicians, her staff, or her own incompetency.

Joint Session- Selina's glasses are crooked

At the very least, we know that Selina has good intentions.  She still wants to push her Families First bill forward, but also has to please the military industrial complex that is at danger of losing many jobs if Selina decides to go with cuts instead of spending.  She wants to do the best job and knows that she and her staff need to step it up because this isn’t the Vice Presidency anymore.  Even still, some things never change.

Joint Session- Gary realizes that he has Selina's glasses

Whether it’s the team flubbing the speech, Mike not staying in the media loop despite working in communications, or Gary’s meltdown after blinding Selina, we see that, despite Selina being the President, there are just as many, if not more problems than when she was the Vice President.  Gary has now had two major flubs between this and Selina’s duck sounding shoes from the Season Three finale.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Selina decided to give him as even more limited access.

And at least some of the team members do try.  Sue is just as much of a busybody as she always has been and, luckily, doesn’t really muck up compared to the rest of the team.

Joint Session- Ben advises Selina on cuts and spending

Ben is also a good fit as Chief of Staff, even if it’s a job he didn’t want.  He’s seen what Washington politics can do to people and it’s definitely had an impact on him.  At the same time, both he and Kent bring a certain level of experience and narcissism to the team.

Joint Session- Richard holds notes for Amy

Speaking of the team, I do like the fact that Richard has remained on from last season.  He’s just as bumbling as he was last season and almost makes Team Selina look competent by comparison, but we know that’s not saying much.  At the very least, this provides some continuity between the seasons.  Same with Ericsson’s looming presence and the possibility that he would try and take Amy’s job since he figures himself as a better campaign manager.

Joint Session- Teddy walks off

Also, Patton Oswalt is a welcome addition to Veep and Teddy is someone who could come off as a real and credible obstacle to Jonah.  That entire scene in front of the elevator, coupled with the ball grabbing, showed that Teddy is someone who could eat Jonah alive, if he wanted.  I already want more scenes between the two of them.

Joint Session- Selina addresses Congress

And Julia Louis-Dreyfus was excellent during Selina’s speech.  There seemed to be such passion in her improvised speech, even if it was bullshit and she made a major flub in the process.  I actually had my head in my hands as the speech went on because watching Team Selina try to operate is like watching a slow fire build.

Like “Some New Beginnings” before it, “Joint Session” is a great beginning for the season and continuation of Veep.  There’s still a big sense of optimism for the team as they stumble through the presidency and try to avoid the screw-ups during Selina’s term as Vice President.  They don’t want to make those same errors, but even though the stakes are bigger, the flubs and errors are as prevalent as ever.  Selina hoped to define her presidential legacy in this episode, but she put money toward metal dildos.  Such is a day in the life of President Selina Meyer.

Seriously, though, what hikers?

A Look at “Veep” Season 3 Finale: “New Hampshire”

And so it’s come to this: the second half of Veep’s two-part season finale.  Selina Meyer has suddenly been thrust into the presidency while still having to campaign for the coveted spot in New Hampshire.  Maybe now that she’s becoming one of the most powerful people in the world, things will start to look up for Team Selina.  Maybe all the screw-ups are now a thing of the past.  Maybe they will all make a change.

Wishful thinking, I know, but I can hope.

New Hampshire- Team Selina en route to Washington

The episode begins with news spreading of Meyer preparing to accept the offer of President of the United States.  Everyone is too busy celebrating the sudden turn of events- Dan even got a voice mail from Beyonce, congratulating Selina on her win.  How Beyonce got Dan’s number is a mystery.  Amy, however, reminds Selina that she needs to return to New Hampshire to continue campaigning.

New Hampshire- Staff congratulates Selina on becoming the President

Sorry, Amy, the staff is having too much fun soaking in the moment to even care.  Selina is trailing Chung by a point and Pierce is about to pull out, which leaves Chung, Maddox and Thornhill.  There are more people around since the White House’s staff is now merging with hers.

New Hampshire- Selina asks Ben to be her Chief of Staff

But on a serious note, Selina needs a moment alone with Ben.  Neither of them expected Selina to win the presidency like this.  Ben also probably didn’t expect Selina’s sudden offer: she wants him as her acting Chief of Staff.  Ben, who has already seen the underbelly of Washington D.C. politics, doesn’t want it.  At all.  The job has already worn and hardened him and he wouldn’t want to go through that again.  But when Selina threatens to bring back Prohibition- she can apparently do that- Ben has no choice but to sign back on board.

New Hampshire- Mike dazzles the journalists at a press briefing

With four hours to go until the oath of office, Mike dazzles the press at his very first official press briefing, while Amy returns to New Hampshire and finds…

New Hampshire- Amy runs into Kelly and Richard

…Kelly and Richard have returned.  Huh.  I was wondering what happened to those two.  The two are ready to work, but Amy just tells them to find their supervisor, whoever that may be.

New Hampshire- Kent reveals that the Chung campaign traced the torture rumor to Dan

Kent brings Dan into a closet with bad news: remember that Danny Chung torture story?  Well, the Chung campaign has traced the leak back to the source- Dan.  Kent gives Dan an ultimatum- six hours to resign.

After having a brief chat with Mike about the amazing press conference he ran on no sleep, Ben runs into Dan, who needs confirmation about the torture story.  But Ben suddenly has no idea what Dan is talking about.  And that is how you backpedal on controversial issues, people.

New Hampshire- Dan meets with Jonah

This leaves Dan with his last resort: Jonah.  He needs Jonah to flat out deny the story and rebuke his followers on the internet.  That the Internet would still consider Jonah credible is questionable, but that’s veering off topic.

New Hampshire- Selina takes the Oath of Office

On the big day, Selina is prepared to take the Oath of Office.  However, during the oath, Mike accidentally taps some nearby glass. Oh, Veep, never change.

Jonah has a job in the White House again, but it’s not a job he’d want, so he wants a new deal.

Gary, meanwhile, has been saving a particular pair of shoes for Selina.  She puts them on and prepares to give her first presidential address.  Problem is the shoes squeak like ducks with each and every step.  And it doesn’t help that the squeaks can still be heard when she’s done giving her address.

When Selina returns to her team, she is livid.  Any and every screw-up that happens from now on will be a part of her legacy, so no more screw-ups!  Lady, do you have any idea what show you’re on?

New Hampshire- Kent tells Selina that the Iranians don't like the removal of Leslie Kerr

Oh, speaking of screw-ups, the Iranians are pissed that Selina let go of Leslie Kerr from the State Department instead of Leanne Karr from Energy.  Easy mistake to make, right?  These kinds of goofs were probably easier to avoid as the Vice President, but now that Selina is the center of attention, every single pundit, outlet, paper, website, hack with a blog- you name it- is gunning for her, hard.  Maddox withdraws from the race, so there’s that, but Chung is still trouncing her in the polls.

There’s still Jeff Kane, who controls the senior vote.  Dan goes to Jonah, who wants a new deal that includes an assistant, but not someone named Jonah.

One day left until the New Hampshire primary.  Maddox and Pierce have endorsed Chung, meaning Selina has no choice but to go to New Hampshire to campaign.  The team has a meeting set with Jeff Kane, who would like to see Selina embrace social security reform.

New Hampshire- Team Selina at uniform factory

Everyone heads to a uniform factory in New Hampshire and the bad news train begins to roll on through: Ben tells Selina that she technically isn’t President because she didn’t say ‘preserve’ during the oath.  Thanks, Mike!  She’ll need to head back to D.C., but ther’s no time, so the plan is to have a local judge administer the oath.  However, Catherine’s not there to hold the Bible, so there’s one more inconvenience.  It gets worse.  Iran is still super pissed about Kerr’s firing, and this could a spike in gas prices.

New Hampshire- Selina takes the Oath of Office AGAIN

Catherine arrives, Uncle Jeff agrees to back Selina and the oath is redone.  So all is well, right?

Wrong.  Chung wins the New Hampshire primary.  The season comes to a close as Selina’s staff leaves the Vice President’s office and heads for the Oval Office.  I’d say it’s smooth sailing from here, but no.  Just no.

Ah, Veep, you never cease to make me laugh.  Combined with “Crate,” “New Hampshire” was a strong way to end the season.  In fact, I’d go as far to say that these were definitely my favorite two episodes of the entire season if only because everything built to this moment.  Granted, it wasn’t done in the way I had expected, but Veep has a habit of throwing a wrench into any plan you can think of.

So now that Selina is the President, the show’s very title is outdated.  Yeah, super minor and not even a nitpick, but can the show even be called Veep anymore?  Will it be called POTUS?  Can television shows even change their titles during their run?

New Hampshire- Selina listens to voice mail from Beyonce

There’s a real sense of optimism as Team Selina looks toward the horizon and heads to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, but for us viewers, there’s the possibility that Selina may actually turn out to be a damn good President.  This is something Selina’s wanted for as long as we’ve known her.  She’s been shafted left and right whenever the President makes a bad decision, her staff is completely incompetent and the day-to-day handlings of a Vice President aren’t all that exciting.  It’s realistic for her to think things would get better once she became the Commander-in-Chief.

New Hampshire- President Meyer on the warpath

But things don’t get any better for Selina once she becomes the President.  In fact, I think they actually get worse.  If she’d worn squeaky shoes and delivered an address as the Vice President, some pundits and sites may have gotten a laugh, but now she’s under a much larger microscope and every single move she makes will be scrutinized, criticized and analyzed to a greater extent.  But she tries to absolve herself of any blame, such as when she called the team a pack of idiots during “Crate” and telling Kent here that he should have questioned her authority when she removed Leslie Kerr instead of Leanne Karr.

New Hampshire- Selina's flubbed oath

Having to retake the Oath of Office and losing the New Hampshire primary certainly don’t help, either.  There was genuine truth to when Selina told her team that any screw-ups would become a part of her legacy.  She can’t afford to have someone muck things up for her, but it’s going to and already has happened right out of the gate.  The joy she and Gary felt when they first learned that she would become President dissipates by season’s end when nothing really changes.

New Hampshire- Mike thinks of other men named Leslie before Selina silences him

We do still get to see the honeymoon period where Team Selina relishes the good news.  Mike was absolutely giddy during his performance as Press Secretary and got big laughs from the journalists.  But once things go awry for Selina, he becomes more antagonistic.  While Mike seems to be on board for the long haul, you could hear the disappointment in his voice when he learned that Selina would gain the Presidency.  I get the sense that he’s just tired of politics in general and would prefer a less stressful job.  That or live out his life in peace with Wendy and his kids.

New Hampshire- Gary beats himself up over giving Selina squeaky shoes

And poor Gary just can’t catch a break.  Rachel Hordenthal told him to find a job he’s halfway decent at and throughout the season, he’s gotten progressively worse, even if Selina still considers him her right hand.  Then he gets left in New Hampshire, the first time Selina’s ever left him, and the shoes flub just created more embarrassment.  Tony Hale has been on-point this season and I loved his breakdown when he beat himself up over Selina’s squeaky shoes.

New Hampshire- Dan and Amy

I’m curious where the show will take Dan and Amy.  It seems like Dan is back to his old self, as seen through his spats with Jonah, and now that Selina might not need a campaign manager, where will the show take him and Amy?

New Hampshire- Jonah learns the internet is making fun of him

Speaking of, Jonah’s come a long way since the season premiere.  First, he got fired.  Then he tried his own blog and ran into conflicts with the Washington political elite.  Then Team Selina realized he was the linchpin to the senior vote.  And despite joining Team Maddox, the campaign went under.  And after all of this, he’s now back in the White House.  Of all the performances this season, Timothy Simons was definitely my favorite.

New Hampshire- Selina watches Chung's victory speech in the New Hampshire Primary

There is no joy for Selina Meyer and company, or any love in politics.  She becomes the President, but the daily problems continue.  In fact, I have to wonder if Selina will even still want the Presidency at this point.  This has been a very good season for Dreyfus, as she’s shown us Selina’s quiet moments of reflection and quick moments of anger.  Now she’s one of the most powerful people in the world.  Will it be what she expected?  If the season finale is any indication, it may just end up being more of the same for her and her ragtag team.  But that’s why we love Veep so much.  No one is promised happiness.