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.

A Look at “Veep” Season 3, Episode 9: “Crate”

And so we’re back on the campaign trail as Veep wraps up its third season in a two-parter.  And what a two-parter it was, as we got a surprise turn of events.

Crate- Team Selina in New Hampshire, watching Thornhill's speech

The episode begins with just four days left until the New Hampshire Primary.  Team Selina is watching Thornhill’s speeches and amazed at how someone so average could get a crowd fired up.  And yet Thornhill is killing in the polls because people like someone who comes off as normal.  Selina, eager to get away from politicos for a moment, believes that she can be folksy.  All right, I guess.  The team plans to plant her on street corners, malls, schools and on local call-in shows in order to get her in touch with the proletariat.

Crate- Kent helps Selina onto her new crate

Kent has a genius idea: a heavy, reinforced titanium crate that Gary struggles to take out of the box.  However, he won’t be able to watch Selina give her literal stump speeches.  He’s headed back to D.C. to the President care to the First Lady.

From this, we get a brief montage of Selina delivering stump speech after stump speech- along with Dan briefly congratulating Amy on the campaign manager position.  Well, at least he’s not bitter.

Crate- Jonah has breakfast with Bill Ericsson

We revisit Bill Ericsson as he sits down to have breakfast with Jonah, who has bad news: the Maddox campaign is floundering and everyone is ready to abandon ship.  Jonah brags about having offers, but the truth is that he has none because, as Ericsson points out, he has no skills.  Jonah’s only useful because his uncle has the power to sway the senior vote.  In the end, Ericsson offers Jonah nothing.

Crate- Team Selina meets Quincy Carter, The Endorser

Selina meets with voters at a mall before her meeting with Quincy Carter, played by Nick Wyman: a writer at a local newspaper who can swing the vote, which is why he’s known as The Endorser.  He comments on the $1200 price tag for the crate.  Did that come out of Kent’s wallet?  Amy tells Dan to go grab Mike.

Crate- Wendy and Mike discuss their future

Mike, getting literally a few moments away from the campaign, speaks with Wendy about their future.  Though Mike at first can’t fathom the idea of leaving Selina, the prospect of him and his family having their home away from the world of partisan politics is tempting.  But Dan arrives and takes him away from his momentary happiness to bring him to Selina.  By the time they do, however, the reporter has already agreed to do a more substantial interview at another time.

Crate- Jonah speaks with his mother

Three days until the primary, Jonah makes phone calls while neglecting to help his mother, played by Nancy Lenehan, sort out her pills.  Dick.  Jonah admits that he has no D.C. friends- they just call him names behind his back.  Literally behind his back so he can hear them.  All the times they called him names to his face must not count.  But what he could use now is a phone call to Uncle Jeff.

Crate- Quincy Carter's one-on-one interview with Selina

During the one-on-one interview, Carter asks Selina three quirky questions he asks all people he interviews: who, dead or alive, does she most despite?  She tries not to hate anyone, but turns out most people would just go with Hitler.  Second, if she could alter one personality trait, what would it be?  Selina responds that she can be a bit impatient- Mike fully agrees- and turns out that Neil Diamond had the same response.  Finally, why does God allow suffering?  Mike tries to help out by asking Siri, but Selina’s response about childhood cancers will have to suffice.

Carter leaves as Ben and Sue enter.  Sue, as has been her job this episode, delivers more news of campaign donations.  The team talks of the various names they give to particular donors who they feel don’t donate enough money, such as GUMMI: Give Us More Money, Idiots.  Dan just calls them dicks.  It doesn’t stand for anything, though.

Crate- Team Selina realizes that Quincy Carter left his phone and it's still recording

And it’s at this point that Amy draws their attention to Carter’s phone, which is on the table and still recording.  They scramble to cut it off or, at least, delete the recording, but end up getting locked out after too many password tries.  Gary tries to stall for time, but Carter returns and reclaims his phone.

Crate- Jonah's mother calls Uncle Jeff

Jonah’s mom makes a call to Uncle Jeff to apologize for their spat, though she’s mostly there to help Jonah get a job with the Chung campaign.  All seems to be going well until mom and Joe fall back into their arguments, which leads to Uncle Jeff hanging up.

Crate- Team Selina learns that Quincy Carter wrote article on GUMMI code

At Selina’s New Hampshire campaign office, the team learns that Quincy ran a piece on what Team Selina really makes of its donors, some of whom have withdrawn their donations.  After a long silence, Selina acknowledges that there’s no way out of this for a sitting Vice President who is on the verge of losing New Hampshire.  But no, she’s not to blame.  Her team of ragtag morons is!

Crate- Reporters swarm Selina with questions

So during the next stop on the campaign trail, Selina and company are swarmed with questions, left and right.  She eventually gets to a room with some quiet and meets a couple from Syria.  Their conversation is cut short by the return of Kent who, as Amy notes, is acting weird.

Crate- Kent tells Selina that POTUS is resigning to spend more time with his wife, meaning Selina is about to become President

Kent reveals that the First Lady is not in a good place.  The President is going to resign in order to spend more time with her.

In other words, Selina Meyer is about to become the President of the United States.

Crate- Gary and Selina react to the Presidential news

Selina, clearly overcome with emotion, enters the nearest restroom.  Gary soon joins her and when he learns of the good news, he gets a nosebleed.  The two are overcome with elation and start laughing as if they’re on some kind of drug.  Whatever it is, I want some.

Word passes down the Veep grapevine.  Though the plan is to return to D.C. as soon as possible for the swearing-in ceremony, Amy points out that Selina is technically still running for President, so someone has to remain in New Hampshire and be the face of the campaign.  That someone is none other than Gary.

Jonah gets the news of Selina’s ascent.  It’s as if someone just flew two planes into his career.

With the odds heavily against Selina, “Crate” was mostly about setup.  I won’t address much of what I liked and disliked about it because I feel it would go along much better in the second half of these two episodes.  However, I will say that this had all the trimmings of any presidential campaign: stump speeches, going to local newspapers and media, and trying to appeal to the everyday voter.  Team Selina, as usual, finds ways to screw things up.  It’s just in their nature that things will go wrong.

Crate- Mike was going to raise ducks

And Selina’s rise had some negative implications for some, such as the aforementioned Jonah, but even Mike, who looked to be on his way out to spend more time with his family, is now drawn back into the fray when his boss gains the Presidency.

Crate- Gary's nose bleeds

The highlight of this episode had to be Gary and Selina’s overjoyed reactions in the bathroom.  And it all felt natural, as if they’d just been told to react to receiving the greatest news ever, and it was great.  Gary ending up with a nosebleed, coupled with there being no toilet paper and his bag having tons of tampons made the scene funnier.

Again, there’s much to say about this episode, but we’ll save that for Part Two.

A Look at “Veep” Season 3, Episode 8: “Debate”

You know, politicians are just like people.  No, scratch that.  In a way, they’re more like athletes.  They’re always read to step up to the plate, hit the political ball out of the park, make their way around all 50 bases-I mean states- and eventually land on home plate at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  Or something like that.  “Debate” is a fun episode from start to finish and turns the American political system on its well shaven, red, white and blue head.  As always the case is with Veep, nothing goes according to plan.  This week, we tackle the Presidential debates and see how our candidates think on the spot, how much the American people will eat that up and, more importantly, wonder how in the world these people became politicians in the first place.

Debate- Debate Prep

The episode begins at the Meyer Campaign Headquarters, where Team Selina and temporary Dan stand-in, Jackson, played by Andrew Leeds, go over Selina’s rivals, primarily her biggest targets: Maddox and Chung.  Gary interrupts the debate prep to introduce the new and improved Selina Meyer!

Debate- Selina's new do

Complete with a new haircut that no one in their right mind would like.

Debate- Dan returns

Also sporting a new look is Dan, who has returned from London as a new man.  He diagnosed himself and apologizes to Selina for his behavior, so I suppose all is well.

During debate prep, everyone notices Selina’s right eye twitching, which is sure to cause a huge distraction during the debate.  Dan may have a smoking gun to take out Joe Thornhill: he has a friend in the MLB who says that Thornhill once had an affair.  It could be a finishing blow, but the team needs the sources to confirm this, first.

Debate- Mike tells Gary that he hates Selina's new hairdo

Mike talks to Gary in private about Selina’s look: he doesn’t like it.  At all.  He thinks it’s too short and Selina is opening herself to an onslaught of lesbian jokes.  So now they’ll have to find reporters and get them on their side so they won’t make fun of Selina.  They’ll probably do that anyway, but whatever makes these guys feel better.

Debate- Presidential candidates team photo

Three days later, debate night has arrived and we go to the University of New Hampshire.  We already know Meyer, Chung and Maddox, but now we’re introduced to Joe Thornhill, played by Glenn Wrage, and Owen Pierce, played by Paul Fitzgerald.  The five take the obligatory ‘Play nice and get along’ group photo before heading out to face the audience.

Oh, and Selina’s twitch is still there.

Debate- Joe Thornhill wows the audience and focus group

Thornhill kicks off the debate by pacing the stage and speaking about America because America.  What the country needs is someone who is ready to coach America and he’s just the coach for the job.

In the hallway, the campaign teams monitor focus group reactions.  Surprise, they all love Thornhill.

Chung talks about being in the army again and rescuing a soldier from a burning tank again.  Move along.

Debate- Wendy shows up to do a puff piece on Selina

Wendy shows up to do a puff piece on Selina, so nothing major.  Gary unintentionally spills that Selina listened to what Ray wanted, which contradicts what Selina says seconds later on stage that her fitness instructor played no part in the decision making.  Oops.

Debate- Owen Pierce brings out the plug

Oh, and Owen Pierce uses a plug for a visual.  How different, I guess.

Debate- Thornhill blocks Selina

When the candidates are asked about the military, Chung begins to respond, but Thornhill not only cuts him off, he doesn’t let Chung finish and he blocks Selina in the process.

Dan’s source confirms that Thornhill did have an affair.  When Amy gives Selina the signal to go ahead with this bombshell, Selina speaks to the fact that she has absolutely no skeletons in her closet.

Debate- Thornhill admits to having an affair

So what does Thornhill do?  He openly admits to having an affair on live television during a presidential debate!  But he still asks the American people for forgiveness!

Who knew that honesty could be such a powerful weapon?  This also means that Wendy can’t run with that story, so Mike better start talking about the First Lady’s condition.

Debate- Selina forgets the third of her three R's of immigration

Selina does still have one hopeful ace up her sleeve when the topic comes to immigration- her three R’s: reaffirm, reform and…she can’t remember the last one.  Instead of remembering that it’s “renew,” she says “repel” unwanted immigration.  And yet, the focus groups love her.  Why?  Because Meyer wills it, I guess.

Also, Selina’s twitch, which returns during her forgetful phase, turns into a useful distraction when Maddox focuses on it too much and pays little attention to the question from the audience.  Instead, he talks about holes, big ones, small ones and legitimate holes.

And Thornhill wins the focus group poll, so maybe Ericsson wasn’t too far off when he said voters would respond well to his kind of story.

Debate- Maddox takes center stage

“Debate” was the opposite way to present yourself to the American people, with methods such as using props, talking over and blocking candidates, not paying attention to the questions, bad word choice and forgetting your message.  These are the makings of a presidential debate doomed to fail from the start, and that’s just what happens.  Veep has always been about the unpredictability of politics, but also how no promises are kept and everyone will inevitably fail in one of the worst ways possible.  All this time we’ve followed Selina’s journey, but on the stage, we see that none of these contenders are truly ready for prime time.

Debate- Maddox, Meyer and Chung react to Thornhill

The satire of American politics on Veep has always been great, but it really shined with the debate by showing how much candidates try and stand out or have some sort of zinger.  Whether it’s Selina thanking the staff for organizing the debate or having a Rick Perry moment by forgetting one of three R’s, Chung pulling a John Kerry and reminding the audience how he served in the military or Thornhill trying to be the All-American style candidate, the country is doomed if this is the best we have to vote for.  I love it.

Debate- Amy talks with Selina

Selina’s in a transitional phase right now.  With the London trip over, it’s time to get back to business.  Ray is gone and she’s got both a new haircut and a new campaign manager.  In a way, it feels like a fresh start, but like the twitch, there are little nuisances that keep her from going as far as she could- nuisances that range from her staff, Jonah, her family, other politicians and even her own issues.  Sure, as Vice President, Selina may have a political edge over her competitors, but as we see in this episode, none of them come off as very polished.

Debate- Mike and Wendy's conflict of interest marriage

Everyone else on staff looks like they’d rather be doing something else.  Mike’s conflict of interest with his wife deepens when he and Gary try to cover up a mess that they end up making worse, and turns out that no one even spent time talking about Selina’s haircut anyway.  Hopefully these two don’t fall apart because of the conflict of interest, because I do think they make a good pair.

Debate- Selina's twitch returns

And Amy at least appears to be more competent at the campaign manager position than Dan did.  Good.  Whether she’ll remain that way, I don’t know.  Given the preview for next week’s episode, it doesn’t seem likely.

Debate- Selina meets Joe Thornhill

Oh, and I loved Thornhill’s debate debut.  Part of me wants this guy to actually win the Presidency not because I think he’d do a good job- none of them would, really- but because the voters seem to love him and as far as we know, he doesn’t have any political or personal baggage he’s unwilling to admit.

While there wasn’t a lot of debate so much as there was preparation for the debate and reacting to the debate, this episode had great writing, memorable lines and more misfortunes not just for our presidential candidates, but their staffs who must spin flaws into strengths.  Good luck with that.  Onward to the campaign trail!

 

A Look at “Veep” Season 3, Episode 7: “Special Relationship”

Even in another country, Vice President Selina Meyer has troubles all around her.  Learning that your campaign manager pimped you out is probably the biggest way to ruin your trip to London, even more so when you didn’t make any money out of it.  “Special Relationship” takes Team Selina to London, where they’re to meet with the Deputy Prime Minister.  Dan continues his work as campaign manager, but when he’s speaking quickly and downing Red Bulls to fuel himself, you know he’s headed for a crash.

The episode begins in London, where Super Campaign Manager Dan relays information to the team in D.C. about Selina’s upcoming visit to a pub.  Did I say super?  I meant on edge, as Dan is talking more frantically than before and downing Red Bull to give him a boost.

Special Relationship- Ben informs Selina about why the President couldn't come to London

At the Deputy Prime Minister’s Reception, Selina receives an update from Ben on the President’s status: he would have attended, but he had to remain in the states in order to close a deal with China.

Special Relationship- Meeting the Deputy Prime Minister

When Selina meets with the Deputy Prime Minister, he asks her about the accusations that the United States has been spying on them.  Huh.  That’s something I never read about in the Snowden leaks.  But no, Selina says, the United States doesn’t spy on other nations- they collect data.  There’s a difference.

Special Relationship- Mike and Amy not at the party

Mike and Amy don’t get to attend, though.  Mike’s preparing a speech for Selina and Amy is…well, Amy.

Special Relationship- Ray tries to learn a new word each day

Oh, and Ray’s not doing the team any favors, either.

Special Relationship- Jonah in London

Jonah’s also in London because Jonah wills it, I guess.  But actually, he’s there spying for Maddox.  Kent, who is also in London, reports back to the team.

Special Relationship- Selina and crew at pub, about to drink up

During the pub visit, Selina manages to hold onto her liquor longer than the Deputy Prime Minister, which is great, but it’s not so great when Selina repeats “Daniwah” over and over after hearing the crowd cheer it.  It’s actually “Down and one,” according to Amy, but whose keeping track, really?

Of course, with the speed at which news moves, the term trends on Twitter in no time.

The main event is Selina giving a speech to commemorate fallen World War I soldiers.  Gary chooses a relatively small hat, but Ray also isn’t a fan of that or Mike’s speech, which he feels is too wordy and could be simplified.

Amy, meanwhile, slips off to make a call to the German Chancellor, when she actually calls Jonah.  I’m not sure why she or anyone else on Team Selina would have or keep his phone number, but anyway, in a faux British accent, Amy tells Jonah that she has juicy details about a damaging story regarding Selina Meyer.

Special Relationship- Selina's goofy hat

So when Selina gives her speech, not only is it overly simple in its style, but the hat Ray chose for her is anything but.

Special Relationship- Jonah tells security guard that he's there to meet a man

Jonah, thinking he’s walked into All the President’s Men, waits in a parking garage for his informant.  A man waiting in a dark garage for another man is already questionable by itself, as indicated by the look the nearby security guard gives Jonah.  When Jonah gets a call, he doesn’t help himself out by saying the words “Deep Throat” over the phone.

Special Relationship- Jonah meets with journalist to discuss Ray's blog

So he meets a journalist from The Daily Mirror at a coffee shop, even though the journalist insisted on a pub, and wasn’t keen on meeting in a garage.  Jonah mentions that before Ray was brought onboard Team Selina, he had a blog that has since been deleted.  Through Jonah’s expert research, meaning that he went on Google, he found screen grabs from the site: among the many things Ray wrote about, one of them was that obesity was a punishment.  Well, that could be a problem.  Jonah believes that the site could really hurt Selina and though the journalist isn’t originally interested in the story- you know, he has actual journalistic standards- he eventually jumps on board.

Special Relationship- Mike, Ben and Deputy Prime Minister spot Selina's hat

The Deputy Prime Minister congratulates Mike and Gary on Selina’s speech, though the Vice President is nowhere to be found.  He suspects that Selina is going to meet with the German Chancellor at a nearby chapel, and is proven correct when he can see the silhouette of Selina’s hideous hat through a window.  Hey, if Mike and Gary can’t see it, then the hat’s not there.

Special Relationship- Selina and Deputy Prime Minister at press conference

During a press conference, Ray’s blog is the main topic and Selina is unable to avoid it.  Hell, she’s forced to admit to the press that she was once a fat child.  Unlikely, but sure, let’s try and sympathize with Meyer for a moment.  That sympathy goes away when she learns that Ray wrote about obese children being possessed by devils.

In the middle of all of this, Ben is called back to D.C. and Dan falls into a nervous breakdown.  That’s our campaign manager.  While the others take Dan to a hospital, Mike is in charge.  Mike is in charge.  Mike is in charge.  He’s got this.

Special Relationship- Kent fires Ray

Kent fires Ray, and that gets no argument from Selina when she returns.  She’s not too concerned about the fat remarks.  Fat people don’t even vote, right?  Even though Selina had already planned to drop Ray, she soon makes another big decision when Gary tells her that Dan only hired Ray as a sex slave for Selina.  Yup.  The Veep just got pimped out and everyone knew about it.

Special Relationship- Amy and Dan at hospital

At the hospital, Amy consoles Dan, just like a true friend would.  When she learns that Dan has been fired, however, she’s on her way out and Jonah’s on his way in, like a true friend would.

At the United States Ambassador’s residence, the team learns of tragic news: the first lady tried to commit suicide through a combination of vodka and overdosing on sleeping pills.  Kind of makes your problems seem not so big, huh?

Oh, and Amy’s the new campaign manager.  I guess that’s something.

Not even abroad can Selina Meyer ever catch a break.  This was another fun episode that, in Veep fashion, shows just how freaking hard it is to be Selina Meyer.  Anything, and I do mean anything, that could go wrong does go wrong.  Trouble follows her everywhere she goes, and finding out that Dan hired Ray as a sex slave was the final straw as far as whether Selina needed Dan as campaign manager anymore.  You get the feeling that she’s really fed up with her team.  Maybe it’s time she took Ericsson’s advice and got rid of her crew.  Keep valuables like Ben, Kent and Sue along since they actually get things done.

The only people who really come out on top this week are Amy and Jonah, but that happiness probably won’t last long.

Special Relationship- Selina tells Mike she doesn't want to talk about horses

“Special Relationship” took a break from the fast paced world of American politics to the slower paced world of British politics.  With this came a lot of poking fun at American misconceptions about another culture, such as Selina debating with the pub owner about football and soccer.  There was some great real life humor as well, such as the revelation that the United States had been spying on other nations.  Because how could a superpower as noble as us do something like spy on others?  We’re completely transparent!  Just when we’re not.  I did also get a laugh when Selina said that the crew needed to drive back to the airport at Diana speed, but a little more careful.

Though the episode had its fair share of comedy, it wasn’t without its developments, as we see with Selina dropping Ray, dumping Dan for Amy, and learning of the First Lady’s condition.  For all the terrible things that happen with Team Selina, it is nice that they took a moment to reflect after learning about the First Lady’s condition.  They’re not completely selfish and out to satisfy their own needs and vanity.  Not completely, I said.

Special Relationship- Ray and Kent

If this is the last we’ll see of Ray, I am glad Christopher Meloni brought some energy to the show.  Much more animated and light hearted compared to the gruff, more serious performance we’d seen him give on Law and Order: SVU.  Given how Ray was brought on to distract Selina from Andrew, does this mean Andrew will eventually be reappearing?  I mean, Selina did say she wanted him on board, but neither he nor Catherine appeared this week.

Special Relationship- Selina learns that Mike is in charge

Dreyfus herself turns in another strong performance, showing a great range of emotions to absolute dismay when she learns Mike is temporarily in charge, to imitation sorrow when she talks about being fat, to cruelty when she talks about fat people not voting.  That’s our Vice President!

Special Relationship- Dan tells Amy that she's a true friend

As for Dan, I guess the pressure just got to be too much for him.  He was already frantic last week, but the stress of the job collapsed under him.  Hiring a sex slave for Selina didn’t help, but his self-destruction was fun to watch.  Hell, his overreaction during the abortion debate telegraphed that someone like this would happen.  Hopefully he bounces back, but judging by the preview for next week’s episode, he appears to have mellowed out.

Special Relationship- Amy

So, will Amy, ultimately, be any better of a campaign manager than Dan?  Maybe, but I doubt it.  I mean, I like Amy and I’m sure that, buried beneath all that self-centeredness she shares alongside the other characters, there’s some semblance of a hard worker, but hey, now it’s her turn.  I think she may last longer than Dan, but I’m just waiting for her implosion.  Hopefully that won’t also involve Jonah showing up to rub it in, as he did with Dan.  Her celebratory dance may be one of the last happy moments she has once her job as campaign manager kicks in.

The beauty of Veep is showing how such a group of clearly talented individuals all fall apart when they’re put together.  The turbulent world of politics just turns their days upside down even quicker.  Nothing ever goes according to plan, there’s always someone with a camera or recorder nearby, ready to record your every single moment, and you just can’t catch a break.  But Veep makes it so much fun to watch these characters implode and crumble that you put aside your politics and just enjoy the ride.