Because it couldn’t be that easy, even for Selina Meyer. One season ago this time, Selina and company were headed to the White House to watch Selina Meyer take the Oath of Office and become the next President of the United States. One season later, one Hugh Laurie, and a bunch of political hiccups later, we’ve arrived at “Election Night.”
The episode begins with Selina in a hotel room, staring out into the distance. Kent pops in and lets her know that East Coast polls are closing, Tom James tells her that history is calling, and Gary enters purely to make sure that Selina is okay. She’s not. It’s time to get an answer on whether America wants Selina Meyer to be her President. Luckily, America doesn’t just love Selina- they’re in love with her.
Oh, and they’ve just lost Kentucky.
It’s Election Night, 7:15 pm. At CNN, Dan and Amy discuss their futures based on who may win the election. If O’Brien wins, their lobbying stocks will drop. They need to be in touch with him, though Amy is convinced that the two need to be in with Selina as well. In enters Greg, played by Scott Adsit, who lets the two know that they will be joined by Sally Davenport and Matty Curtis. Curtis is an online statistics savant: he predicted the margin in every Senate seat.
Over in Baltimore, Richard and Jonah prepare for a Meyer-James really. Thanks to the hearing, the whole harassment situation has done wonders for Jonah. I mean, the hearing was terrible, but now Jonah is the face of workplace bullying and genital health. Plus, he gets word from Mike that Selina wants him in the presidential suite to get a one-on-one thank you from Selina.
At election HQ, Selina’s team awaits incoming results. Indiana and South Carolina have gone for O’Brien, but Vermont and Connecticut went for Selina. Only Gary is ecstatic, as, according to Selina, a bowl of hair could win those states. Bowl of Hair 2016. Calling it now. Anyway, Jonah enters and his thank you from Selina is over as soon as it begins.
To my surprise, Bill Ericsson is here, but he’s still steaming over being tossed under the bus during the hearings. Catherine reminds him that no one got out of those hearing unscathed- which I don’t completely buy, but whatever- as she had to ditch her fiancé. Bill plans to think that over when some guy makes him his prison fiancé. He then asks Selina, should she lose, if she could pardon him, but she hasn’t got time to think about his potential imprisonment.
Oh, and Selina invited Karen to be with her tonight, and she’s as indecisive as ever. Or is she? I’m unsure right now.
Over at CNN, the panel, Dan and Amy join a panel that includes Sally Davenport, played by Orlagh Cassidy, and Matty Curtis, played by Neil Casey. By CNN’s projection, Senator O’Brien has 33 electoral votes, while President Meyer only has 10. However, it’s still too early to tell. Get used to hearing that a lot. The uncertainty of the election is bleeding into those pesky battleground states.
Oklahoma is lost as well, but Selina expected that. O’Brien is then projected to be the winner of Minnesota.
Over at the West Wing, Sue and her friend, Kim, played by Susan Kelechi Watson, asks Sue what she’ll do if O’Brien wins. She won’t be returning to politics, as they bore her. Sue notices Amy’s lack of focus, but it lines up perfectly with her avoiding dealing with her weird mix of lack of self-worth and narcissism.
At CNN, Wisconsin is projected as a win for O’Brien- and this keeps Mike from having to bear the bad news to Selina. Dan calls this a big win for O’Brien, but Amy reminds him that the polls have not closed. Amy decides to leave so she can watch this play out with Selina, and no one really gives a shit what shrill Amy does right now, so she’s free to go. Because Amy is so focused on leaving, I’m assuming she misses the call that Sue makes, as she’s also on her way to join Selina.
Back with Selina, she asks an optimistic Tom if she thinks they would win if their roles were reversed and Tom was at the top of the ticket. Karen, though, has no straight answer. Shocking. However, then the Wisconsin call is rescinded, so all hope is not yet lost. In addition, CNN and Fox have called Colorado for Selina.
Following this, Tom and Selina talk in private. Tom likes to think he’s been of great use to the campaign, but he doesn’t want to be impotent…in her administration. No, he’s not talking about being first in and last out of cabinet meetings. No. Tom James wants to be Treasury Secretary as well as Vice President.
Bold move, but Tom believes that this administration was coming apart at the seams during those hearings and he used six rolls of Magic Tape to stick it back together. Needless to say, Selina isn’t happy.
Nor is Sue, as she’s stuck in the car while Amy tries her best to impersonate someone who can sing. We do learn what Sue applied for: United Seasonings, which supplies 90 percent of the world’s paprika. Hey, Amy and Dan lobbied for them, her hands are dirty with paprika money.
Illinois is still in Selina’s camp, but Iowa goes for O’Brien. Pennsylvania and Florida are too close to call, though. The congressional races are just as tight. Everything’s tight tonight. There may be a clearer picture in an hour. Selina is tense, so Catherine takes her aside for mother-daughter time.
Back at the Meyer-James rally, MC Jonah gives it up for Band of the Horses…Band of Horses. He thanks everyone for supporting the men’s health campaign and letting him tell guys that they should feel themselves up. Easiest job ever. But then he tries to warm up the crowd with some A-Team references, but they’re not feeling him at all.
Okay, mother-daughter time. Selina feels that she’s losing control of everything around her. She apologizes to Catherine for the end of her engagement- even though it was Selina’s fault- and imparts some words of wisdom: men are horrible. All of them. The key is to find a man who’s the least horrible.
Amy and Sue arrive just as Mike makes a run for the soda machine and Pennsylvania is called for O’Brien. Another loss for Matty Curtis’ predictions. On CNN, Dan wouldn’t be surprised if Selina decided to concede.
Though these are just projections and not concrete results, Selina decides to throw in the towel and call O’Brien to let him know that she’s conceding. She sees no point in dragging this on and wants to have a bit of dignity in defeat, so she’s going to bow out. For Selina, this job fucking sucks anyway.
At the same time, Mike manages to get a few sodas from the soda machine without being electrocuted when he gets word from Dan that Pennsylvania was the wrong call. It could end up going for Selina.
Mike rushes back to the room just as Selina is about to concede and lets her know that she’s still in the game. Once Pennsylvania does indeed swing her way, she calls off the concession. Jonah needs some backup and energy at the rally and wants Tom James to come, but Selina won’t have that.
More states come in: Washington State, Florida, and Iowa for Selina, New Hampshire and Ohio for O’Brien. Selina is at 256 electoral votes and it all comes down to Virginia. If O’Brien gets it, he wins, but if Selina gets it, they don’t win…they tie. Knowledge courtesy of Sue.
So what happens if there’s a presidential tie? The 12th Amendment is superseded by the 20th. The House is given until January 20th to elect the president, with each state getting one vote. First candidate to 26 votes becomes the president, while the Senate chooses the vice-president.
The obstacle here is that there are currently too many close House races. If there’s a tie in the House, then whoever the Senate picks as vice-president elect becomes the president. Hence, Tom James could become the next President of the United States. It is good to be prepared.
As Selina come to terms with the fact that she may lose the election to her running mate, Tom leaves and heads to the Meyer-James rally to fire up the audience.
But then Selina and company go after him. Though the crowd loves Tom James, they’re less enthusiastic about Selina. The entire team, minus the Professor and Mary-Ann, is brought on stage just as everyone sees that Selina Meyer wins Virginia! With some of the House races still too close to call, Veep’s fourth season comes to a close as we head into presidential overtime.
Now that is what I’d call an effective cliffhanger and a strong way not just to end a season of the show, but easily hold interest for when Veep returns in a year’s time.
Let’s look at this season in retrospect: Veep’s third season ended with Selina becoming the President of the United States. She didn’t win it through election- it only happened because the previous president stepped down. After taking the Oath of Office, she told her team that there would be no more fuck-ups.
But this is Veep and this is Selina Meyer. Almost everything that’s happened this season, in one way or another, has been a fuck-up. And unlike her service as Vice President, Selina’s problems didn’t just go away. Her presidential problems only built to the hearing and have left us here, with the possibility that Selina will lose the presidency to the very man she brought on that sparked energy and enthusiasm for her campaign.
You know, let me get to Tom James right off the bat. First off, it goes without saying that Hugh Laurie has been excellent in this role from start to finish. Though I wish he’d been brought on sooner, Laurie brought such energy and enthusiasm to his performance. Tom James was a much needed boost to Selina’s campaign because he got people even more excited about it. Tom is a suave man and a very suave politician. He knows how the game is played and is more than willing to help Selina.
So it’s not entirely unlikely that he would’ve known that, should there be a tie, he could become the next President and not Selina. Whether this happens may depend on whether Tom James even appears next season. I imagine Hugh Laurie may be a busy man and while it would be great if he returned for Season Five, I wouldn’t be surprised if Tom James was merely mentioned by name or kept off-screen, like Selina’s predecessor most of the time. That said, if there was any possibility that Hugh Laurie could return for the next season, I would welcome it open arms.
As for the episode itself, even though a lot of it involved waiting, there was a real sense of dread and tension about the fate of Selina Meyer’s political future. And Veep, as always, manages to turn the political process on its side, whether it’s the team trying frantically to figure out what happens if there’s an electoral tie. There’s also Karen’s line of “Why can’t the American people make up their minds? I mean, how hard is it to decide between two candidates?” It’s ridiculous, but there’s so much truth to this. It’s like the abortion issue: a bunch of people lean one way, the others lean the other, and then there’s everyone else in the middle.
This episode had a lot of great little character moments: Amy and Dan contemplating their future if Selina loses, Mike constantly getting shocked, Bill talking about prison, and even Sue got a moment to talk about her future outside of politics.
Plus, Jonah and Richard were great this week and I hope they remain a pair next season when talks begin about what to do with the balloons.
But this was Selina’s episode and Julia Louis-Dreyfus sold it this week. From the way she easily considers conceding, we see that the presidency has worn Selina down. Hell, the entire team looked mournful as Selina prepared to concede to O’Brien. She just wanted the night to be over. There was such optimism coming into this position, but now it’s no more fun than it was when she was just the vice-president. She did have time to be warm through her…less than great talk with Catherine about men and how she led to the end of the engagement.
And yet, despite the renewed energy, Selina is now in political limbo. She’s not the candidate that gets people enthusiastic and isn’t even that likable, so the odds would seem against her, yet enough Americans voted for her to ensure a tie.
So where do we go from here? “Election Night” was a great episode and good way to hook viewers in and keep them intrigued for next year. When we return, will the election already be sorted out? Will Selina retain the presidency or return to becoming a vice-president? If so, would she have to serve under her running mate? Will Tom James even return next year? Would Selina even want to go back to being a vice-president anyway? And if she comes through this as president again, how will she make up for the errors, flubs, and fuck-ups that have defined these past few months? Who knows?
We’ll find out when we return for Veep, season five.