A Look at “Veep” Season 4 Finale: “Election Night”

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.”

Election Night- Selina stares into the distance

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.

Election Night- Dan and Amy talk with Matty Curtis, played by Neil Casey

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.

Election Night- Jonah tells Richard that Selina wants to thank him

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.

Election Night- Selina awaits incoming results

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.

Election Night- Bill and Catherine talk about fiances

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.

Election Night- Karen returns

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.

Election Night- CNN panel

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.

Election Night- Sue and her friend, Kim, played by Susan Kelechi Watson

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.

Election Night- Selina asks Tom what would happen if they switched positions

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.

Election Night- Tom wants to be Treasury Secretary

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.

Election Night- Sue stuck listening to Amy sing

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.

Election Night- Catherine wants some mother-daughter time with Selina

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.

Election Night- Jonah gives it up for Band of the Horses

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.

Election Night- Mother-daughter time

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.

Election Night- Pennsylvania is called for O'Brien

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.

Election Night- Mike about to learn that Pennsylvania could go for Selina

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.

Election Night- Sue tells everyone that if Selina wins Virginia, then the election is a tie

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.

Election Night- Team learns that Tom could become the next President of the United States

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.

Election Night- Selina joins Tom on stage

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.

New Hampshire- President Meyer on the warpath

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.

Election Night- Selina addresses the crowd

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.

Election Night- Tom warms up the crowd

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.

Election Night- Tom realizes that he could be the next President

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.

Election Night- Kent learns that the Wisconsin result has been taken back

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.

Election Night- Jonah and Richard at the Baltimore rally

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.

Election Night- Selina rages

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.

Election Night- Selina realizes that she could lose the presidency to Tom James

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.

Election Night- Selina brings the team on stage

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.

A Look at “Veep” Season 4, Episode 9: “Testimony”

C-SPAN 3 just became a lot more entertaining as the Meyer Administration eats its own in the midst of an ongoing investigation.  Welcome to “Testimony.”

Testimony- Selina takes questions from the press about whether she knew what was going on in her name on the day of the Families First vote

The episode begins with a press conference as Selina takes questions from the media about whether she knew what was going on in her name on the day of the Families First vote.  If she did, she would have done something about it.  She says that there’s no truth to these allegations.  Actually, she says it twice.

What follows is possibly one of the most interesting committee hearings ever to grace C-SPAN 3.  Almost everyone within Selina’s inner circle and staff are sworn in to answer questions regarding the ongoing issues in the Meyer Administration.  I’m tackling these scenes a bit differently

Testimony- Ben speaks about why the Families First bill failed

First up is Ben, who is asked why the Families First bill failed.  His response?  It happens.  However, the panel notes that Ben doesn’t seem to be too upset that the bill failed.  When asked who was responsible for the breach, Ben tells the panel that Dan was fired due to his relation to the breach.  That doesn’t answer the question of was he responsible and the fact that Dan was fired when he was innocent, but Ben is adamant.  A sacrifice was needed.  Life is unfair and Dan needed to go.

Testimony- Amy, Dan, and Jonah testify before the committee, Amy turns nouns into verbs

With Jonah, Dan, and a conservative, not-at-all-guilty Amy, after Jonah gives his assessment of the two, Dan admits that he loves money.  He and Amy are patriots that speak for the common citizen.  Amy doesn’t help by trying to differ between consultants and lobbyists- she just turns the nouns into verbs.  The panel brings up a certain document on a J drive entitled the Jonad Files, which Jonah confirms.  Dan apparently encouraged staffers to add to this abusive glossary, though Dan is surprisingly blank about this.  Until the panel starts reading off some of the names.  Where do I even begin with this?  Some include…

Jonad, J Rock, Jizzy Gillespie, Jack and the Giant Jackoff, Gaylien, Tinkerballs, Wadzilla, One Erection, The Pointless Giant, Jimpanzee. The 60-Foot Virgin, Jono Ono, Hagrid’s Nutsacks, Scrotum Pole, Transgenderformers, 12 Years a Slave to Jerking Off, Benedict Cum-in-his-own-hand, Guyscraper, The Cloud Botherer, Supercalifragilisticexpialidickcheese, Teenage Mutant Ninja Asshole, Spewbacca.

…damn.  So what’s the point of this?  To prove that Dan and Amy don’t hold Jonah in high regard, as they apparently claimed.  If it’s any consolation, Jonah throws in a nickname others called him: Tall McCartney.

Testimony- Leigh reveals that she was fired to cover something bigger

Leigh Patterson finally returns to testify after being fired in April.  She has nothing to hide, as she values confidentiality and paradoxically doesn’t care who knows.  Leigh tells the panel that she was fired to conceal something bigger: the Meyer campaign using child mortality data from the same breach that named Jennifer Graham as an HIV victim and used this data to target bereaved parents.

Leigh isn’t concerned about the serious repercussions.  She names Bill and Gary as the ones closest to Selina during this scandal.

Testimony- Dan's deposition

During a deposition, Dan tells the interviewers that Leigh has no idea why she’s being scapegoated.  He’s one step behind, as the information he reveals about the data breach is something the interviewers already know, thanks to Leigh’s testimony.

Testimony- Bill and Kent testify

Next up are Bill and Kent.  Kent sticks up for Leigh and calls her a good kid, as Jimmy Cagney would have said, but Bill also says that Leigh had no real idea what was happening.  However, according to a deposition from a witness, it’s known that Bill ordered Leigh.  Bill feels that he’s being snowballed.  When asked if that’s what he did to Leigh, Kent- who still hasn’t directly been asked anything- interjects and says that was scapegoating.

What’s the difference?  It’s not Bill’s fault- that’s the difference.  Bill feels that he shouldn’t be raked over the coals when he’s sitting right next to the campaign manager, despite the fact that Kent was not the campaign manager at the time of the breach.  Yet he said nothing?  Well, in Kent’s defense, it may appear that there was a lot of nothing going on, there was lots going on underneath, like a swan or Professor Stephen Hawking.

Back to Deposition Dan, he implicates Gary.  He tries to make a comparison to The Usual Suspects, but the interviewer has not seen the film.  Don’t you hate that when you try to make a reference?

Testimony- A nervous Gary testifies

Okay, so it’s Gary’s turn, and he’s visibly shaken by the large presence of cameras and people in the audience.  The committee informs Gary that several people have put him at the center of events, so they need him to outline his duties and responsibilities.  However, Gary expected to testify under different circumstances.  When he was originally summoned, it was a much smaller hearing and his executive privileges were waived.  Now it’s like a U2 concert.

He doesn’t un-waive his privileges and starts to say that he’s friendly with Dan, but walks that back.  In addition, he was spotted with both Dan and Amy on the day of the Families First vote.  When asked to describe his relationship with the President, Gary describes himself as a pipeline carrying information straight into Selina’s head.

When asked if he knew that Selina lobbied against her own bill, Gary then downplays his effectiveness to the campaign.  He’s more of a prompter.  The pipeline remark was just him being big-headed and arrogant.  He wouldn’t have contact with lobbyists, but Catherine’s fiancé, Jason, is a lobbyist at times, so there’s that.  Up until now, though, he’d been referred to as a consultant.

Testimony- Selina's deposition

Now it’s time for Selina’s deposition.  Unlike Gary, she elected to waive her executive privileges.  When asked if she’s concerned about her daughter being engaged to a lobbyist, Selina corrects the interviewers and says that Jason is a consultant.  Upon learning what Gary said, Selina replies that Gary has…limited skills.  Such skills include taking care of Selina’s sanitary needs.  Lovely…

Even though Selina says that Jason isn’t a lobbyist, the firm of Merryman & Cotter lists him as a lobbyist on the “Our Lobbyists” section of their website.  Very specific.  In addition, he’s lobbied for Christian Aid, OxFam, the World Health Organization, various IT organizations, and investment banks.

Testimony- Catherine's deposition, Catherine is a smart-ass

And during another deposition, Catherine confirms that her fiancé is indeed a lobbyist.  She doesn’t see any difficulty with this in her relationship, not to mention she doesn’t like questions on her personal life.  After a snack, she’s less snappy and more cheery.  Nah, let’s just say it: she’s a real smartass.

Selina sees the conflict of interest here due to the investigation of direct links between lobbying and her administration.  However, it’s come to our immediate attention that Catherine and Jason may not be engaged anymore.  Jason was never right for Catherine, despite Selina calling him sweet not too long ago.  She then goes to call the President of South Africa.

Testimony- Sue's testimony

Now it’s Sue’s turn.  What can you possibly hold on Sue, as straight-laced as she is?  She has no record of any meeting between the President and Congressman Owen Pierce.  That’s because Pierce was not disposed in a matter indicative of a meeting…which makes no fucking sense.  To Sue, there’s a difference between a meeting a having a meeting.  She keeps meticulous records of emails, texts, voice memos, letters…wait, what was that about voice memos?  The panel focuses on that, but Sue says that wasn’t her responsibility.  Whose was it then?

Testimony- Mike testifies and demonstrates his app

In enters Mike.  A witness places him in a parking lot with Dan and Amy.  Mike does not deny this.  It just happened by chance, as he went to get something from his car.  What was it?  Knee medicine.  For his left knee.  When asked to name it, Mike comes up with the creative title of Crouch Cream.  No, more like Knee-Z Cream.

He demonstrates the app he recommended to Selina by sending a message to himself.  Oh, he remembers the name of the cream: Knee Free.  The panel inquires about messages from the President, but Mike says that most of them were about lemons and Advil.  He’s deleted them all.  Unfortunately, they still exist in the Cloud.  Well, that sucks.  I never saw the movie Sex Tape, but didn’t the Cloud come up in that film, too?

Testimony- Selina is asked whether Congresswoman Bennett is on the committee to divert focus away from the scandal

Back to Selina, who delivers a statement confirming the end of Catherine and Jason’s engagement.  This breakup is unconnected to the ongoing inquiries into her administration other than the strain the inquiry has brought upon the relationship.

Selina is then asked about her relationship with one of the panel members, Congresswoman Bennett, played by Melanie Nicholls-King.  Selina claims that they aren’t friends, though it’s suggested that Bennett is there just to steer the committee away from any issues that would be uncomfortable to Selina.  Selina doesn’t have time for friends, though.  She’s the President.  And yet, Selina appointed a special prosecutor, and the legal folks talking to her are the team under her appointee.

Testimony- Congresswoman Bennett, played by Melanie Nicholls-King, asks Jonah about his harassment

Interesting theory on the team’s part.  Let’s put it to the test.  Jonah, Dan, and Amy are joined by Richard.  The committee, well, Congresswoman Bennett specifically, wants to touch upon Jonah’s emotional issues during the run-up to the Families First Bill.  He mentions that he was touched in a private place, but does not mention Teddy Sykes’ name.  When asked if there was ever any contact between testicles and hands, Jonah states that his spheres were clothed.

Testimony- Amy, Dan, Jonah, and Richard testify; Jonah is asked about sexual harassment

It’s at this point that Jonah notices how Congresswoman Bennett is indeed pulling focus away from the lobbying issue.  In fact, Bennett won’t even allow any of the male members ask questions.  Jonah is asked who else knew about this, and that’s where Richard jumps into the conversation.

He not only knew about this, he witnessed it in a hallway around the same time that Dan came to fire Jonah as a scapegoat for the child mortality data breach.  Ha!  I know Richard didn’t mean to say that, but I’ll be damned if that isn’t a great way to unintentionally screw over Dan.  Though Bennett wants to hear more about the alleged molestation, the panel quickly shifts back to the data breach.  A name is necessary or this administration will be in deep shit.

Testimony- Tom Jones is asked about Gary Walsh

Tom James finally makes an appearance and is asked if it’s possible for Gary to have been responsible for paying Dan and Amy to lobby against the Families First bill.  He laughs at the notion of Gary, a 12-year-old boy trapped inside the body of a 12-year-old girl, could do this.

Testimony- Gary names Bill Ericsson as the scapegoat

During Gary’s deposition, he confirms that he did indeed contact Amy Brookheimer and Daniel Clifford Egan after they had left the White House with regard to the Families First Bill, but someone else made the arrangement for the payment: Bill Ericsson.

And, one by one, the episode comes to a close with the rest of Selina’s team throwing Bill Ericsson under the bus for this entire fiasco.

The most interesting thing to hit C-SPAN 3 in some time?  “Testimony” is a strong entry into the series and one that explores not just the fallout and woes of the Meyer administration this season, but the incompetence of almost everyone within Selina’s inner circle.  We’ve known that they’re a bunch of fuck-ups, but this puts their mistakes on full display.

Testimony- Jonah talks about Amy's suddenly conservative looking outfit

And this isn’t a scenario where the characters can just lash out at each other in profanity-laden sentences, as is often the norm.  This might be the cleanest episode of Veep thus far because outside of the reading of the Jonad Files, there’s no swearing here.  You could almost get away with airing this on network television.  I’d almost call this a bottle episode, except we do spend portions of “Testimony” away from the committee hearings when we watch the depositions.

This episode dealt with the corruption in Selina Meyer’s team and how all of their screw-ups have managed to catch up to them.  Great.  No, I mean that.  This is something that I wanted from Veep last year, as the events throughout the season have led up to this rather than just being isolated incidents.  Again, because Selina is now the President and not the Vice-President, every single move she and her team make will be examined with extra scrutiny.

Testimony- Ben says that Washington needed a scapegoat; Dan

It’s scrutiny that that they deserve.  Everyone is right in character here, but they’re all walking slim tightropes, with the exception of possibly Ben.  Kevin Dunn in particular is excellent here as he attempts to skewer the committee for questioning the actions of the administration, but the fact is that they’re asking valid questions.  He can’t just force this issue away.  He admits that Washington needed a scapegoat, but that’s not a justifiable reason, in my opinion.

Testimony- Leigh testifies before the panel

At the very least, I’m glad that this meant Leigh could not only return for an episode, but get back at the administration for throwing her under the bus.  Her appearance was brief, but to the point and effective.  If this is the last time we see this character, I’m glad she went out on a high note.  She, Ben, and Kent, I believe, handled the committee questions quite well.

Testimony- Sue's screw-up

And I don’t think anyone ever expected someone as stoic and meticulous as Sue to slip up, but it happened.  Granted, it wasn’t intentional and she only mentioned voice memos in addition to the other forms of communication that she keeps records of, but the committee didn’t know about the memos, so that’s another problem for Team Selina.  Like everyone else, Sue opted to save her own ass by passing the buck to someone else.  It was brief, but Sue had a humanizing moment that made her feel more real and less of a machine.

Testimony- Amy doesn't help her own case

If anything, this episode exposed many of the character’s main flaws.  Dan is arrogant, Amy can be guided purely by money- though she tries to reject that claim- Bill cracks under pressure, and Jonah is the oddest person you may come across on this show.

And in my honest opinion, that reading of the Jonad Files will probably be a standout moment of this season, right up there with Tom James skewering the team or Amy skewering Selina.  Lots of skewering.

Testimony- Richard implicates Dan

But if I had a favorite moment of this episode, it would have to be Richard involuntarily mentions that Dan meant to fire Jonah for the child mortality data breach.  It was such a ‘bang’ moment because, at that point, Dan, who had been building up to firing Jonah in the first place, realized he was screwed.  And yet it wasn’t done out of ill-intent on Richard’s part.  It just came out because he’s that open of a guy.  Just when it looked like the committee would shift its focus to the molestation allegations, Richard manages to shoot that down without even trying.

To that point, though, not only is it dastardly to try and sabotage your own bill just to win an election, but now we see that Selina might have taken that a step further by bringing someone in just to take attention away from her.  The administration really is just digging its own grave.

In effect, any of Selina’s positive work may be forgotten because of this.  And she’s strived to prove she can be an effective leader.  She even asked Tom last week whether she was doing the right thing in regards to the bill.  Now everyone is paying the consequences.

Testimony- Bill is nervous

If I had any qualms with this episode, it’s that Bill Ericsson is tossed aside way too quickly.  Since becoming the Director of Communications, Bill hasn’t really had much to do and wasn’t given a lot of material.  He was competent, mind you, but nothing he did since joining the team was as memorable as his unfriendly hello to Amy and we never got to see him really show what he could do for Selina.

When we first met Bill, he knew the political scene very well.  Someone with that sort of knowledge is the kind of person that Selina would want on her team.  She finally brought him on, but the show didn’t do much with him.  It’s unfortunate because Diedrich Bader is great with the material he’s given and there’s really no reason as to why Bill specifically is the scapegoat.  Given Bill’s expertise, I’m sure he’ll be fine.

Testimony- Tom James' deposition

Another minor issue I have is that Tom James is barely in this episode.  Hell, his deposition isn’t until near the end, and that’s just for his perspective on the situation.  He’s not asked many questions regarding the investigation.  I just wish he’d been featured a bit more, if only because of Hugh Laurie’s performance.

Like last year’s “Crate,” “Testimony” is a strong episode that provides a lot of setup going into the season finale.  The Meyer administration is in major trouble with the scandals piling on top of one another.  It makes me wonder how this will all end.  Will Selina maintain the Presidency?  Can she even go back to being Vice President after all of this?  The team has booted off Dan, Amy, and now Bill, so is anyone else next on the chopping block?  Who knows?  We’ll find out, next time on C-SPAN 3.

You can watch this entire committee hearing and other programs online at c-spanvideo.org

A Look at “Veep” Season 4, Episode 8: “B/ill”

Killing your own bill is like wanting to kill your own baby, but then, keep in mind that it’s actually a bill.

B-ill- Gary meets with Amy and Dan to discuss lobbying and the Families First bill

The episode begins at the Columbia Arts Center.  Dan and Amy are here for a not so secret meeting with Gary, who is on official business with orders from Selina.  You see, the President is going through a hard time right now due to the unpopularity of the Families First bill.  She wants it to go away and needs Amy and Dan to lobby Congressmen under the wire.  The question aside of why Selina didn’t pick people more competent at their jobs, Amy and Dan agree to help, but only for money, not out of loyalty to Selina.

B-ill- Sick Selina gets updates on the vote from Bill and Kent, and communication updates from Mike

At the White House, we’re ten hours away from voting time, but Selina is under the weather and restricted to bed.  Kent and Bill enter her quarters with a graph detailing the Yes and No votes.  There are currently 211 congressmen slated to vote against the bill, five undecided, and three Yes’ that are being worked on to become No’s.  Defeat is just within their grasp and the team has to lose this vote if they want any chance of winning the election.  If they can kill the bill, the criticism will hopefully end.

To help Selina with communication, Mike brings her an iPad with a voice app similar to his.  He doesn’t want to know details of who is voting for the bill, as it makes his already hard job even more difficult.  What won’t be hard, though, is killing the bill, as the team has put their worst people on this.

B-ill- Congressman Moyes, played by Tom McGowan, listens to Richard and Jonah discuss the Families First bill

As if on cue, we cut to the office of Congressman Moyes.  Moyes, played by Tom McGowan, listens to Jonah and Richard tell him that Families First is a great bill, but Moyes points out that Title 4, Section 7 negates the entire point of the legislation.  Well, someone at least read the bill.  Or his staffers did.  Whatever.  Either way, in addition to the possibility of that section going away, Jonah gives Moyes a folder of numbers.  What do the numbers mean?  Jonah has no idea.

B-ill- Ben tells Tom that everyone needs to do all that they can in order to stop the bill

While Sue sets up an office right outside of Selina’s bedroom, Ben tells Tom that everyone needs to do all that they can in order to stop the bill.  Tom, like Mike, doesn’t want to know any of the details- he just wants it done.

B-ill- Team discussing 'bill' in front Selina and a doctor

The entire team has to watch their language in front of everyone not a part of their inner circle to avoid spilling any details.  For example, a doctor advising Selina to get more rest only knows that Moyes is voting no, but the team spills some bullshit and feigns disappointment.  Now only four votes are needed to kill the bill.  Against Gary’s advice to get more rest, Selina needs to get ready for her meeting with the Secretary of Defense.

B-ill- Congressman Moyes notices that Dan and Amy have the same folder and numbers as Jonah Ryan, switches his vote to Yes

With only six hours and 30 minutes to vote time, Amy and Dan speak with Congressman Moyes about how there is absolutely nothing good in the Families First bill.  Moyes, though, is already familiar with this and doesn’t need a reminder that he’ll be voting no.

However, he does get suspicious when Dan and Amy give him a folder of numbers- the same folder that Jonah Ryan showed him.  Interesting, since Dan and Amy don’t work for the White House.  Now, not only is Moyes interested in the possibility that Meyer wants her own bill to fail, he’s switching his vote to Yes.  Great lobbying, these two.

B-ill- Tom prepares for his Vice Presidential debate

Tom James’ preparation for his Vice Presidential debate is constantly interrupted by Bill and Ben receiving memos from Selina.  Selina herself is watching the prep via iPad.  I had no idea that iPads could do that.  Anyway, as Selina tells her running mate that he needs to be more aggressive, she suddenly learns that Moyes has changed his vote.

B-ill- Learning that Amy, Dan, Jonah, and Richard all met with Congressman Moyes due to Ben and Kent having the same list

Turns out that Ben and Kent both had a list of who Richard and Jonah, as well as Amy and Dan, visited, but the two apparently never compared their lists.  Though Ben isn’t going to let Gary question his fucking methods, Tom James most definitely will question Ben’s fucking methods.  Someone competent should have done this, but this is Veep, so that’s next to impossible.  Mike enters and doesn’t want to anything, but Gary blabs anyway.  The team will need to wait for Selina’s meeting with the joint chiefs to end.

B-ill- Amy isn't worried about the mess

Amy isn’t so concerned about this mess.  She doesn’t work for Selina anymore anyway, plus she always likes a good cover story.  This is fun to her.  Dan, though, disagrees and misses the old Amy that was always an uptight bitch.

B-ill- Conspiracy plot and cash trail blame game

Team Selina is in freefall.  Gary was only supposed to give Amy and Dan access, but if campaign funds are being diverted to them in exchange for lobbying to kill the bill, then the administrating is committing fraud.  And if they try to destroy the evidence, then that’s conspiracy to commit fraud.  A cash trail would be and is bad news indeed.  Tom wants no part of this, but Ben tells him everything, meaning he’s now a part of this.  It’s actually that easy to implicate people, looks like.

But then, Selina, who everyone thought was passed out or asleep, is awake and heard everything, meaning she’s now a part of this as well.  Ruiz and Moyes have switched to Yes, meaning that it all comes down to one vote: Congressman Owen Pierce.

B-ill- Richard and Jonah speak with Congressman Owen Pierce

Over at GW Hospital- the exterior shot lacking any people walking by, despite how busy that intersection is.  Will this show ever portray D.C. correctly?  I’m rambling now- Pierce’s visit with his mother is interrupted by the arrival of Richard and Jonah, who let him know that the President needs him to vote for the bill.

B-ill- Amy and Dan try to convince Congressman Pierce to vote against the Families First bill

However, Amy and Dan arrive soon after and try to talk Pierce into voting against the bill, saying that it will negatively affect his district.  While the two sides clash, Pierce takes an opportunity to slip out.  Amy is soon right behind him and drives off, leaving Dan with Jonah and Richard.  Though Jonah still believes that he’s useful here, Dan tells him that he’s only being used because the administration knew he would screw up.

B-ill- Team learns that Pierce is gone

Back at the White House, Selina is preparing to take control of this situation- which she knows nothing about- and wants Pierce in her chambers now.  However, she’s losing her voice.  The situation worsens when Mike enters and passes on information from a reporter: Moyes thinks that the White House hired lobbyists to destroy its own bill.

B-ill- Tom shuts the team down and puts them in their place

The team argues amongst itself until Tom James shuts them all down and demands that they shut their fucking holes.  In his eyes, they’re all parasites, an infestation of mediocrity.  Their obligation is to serve the President, not themselves.  Selina reminds Tom that she does the team talks…but agrees with him.  Now go find Pierce.

B-ill- Owen Pierce arrives at the executive parking garage

Amy soon catches up to Pierce in the Sackler Gallery Gift Shop, but is soon joined by Dan, Jonah, and Richard.  They’re en-route to bring Pierce to Selina, but are intercepted by Bill, who takes over from here.  As Jonah and Richard have access, Dan and Amy are left in the executive parking lot on their own.

B-ill- Team tries to persuade Owen Pierce to vote against the bill

After a brief chat with Tom about the bill, Selina comes face to face with Pierce, who is willing to vote against the bill.  In exchange, he can become ambassador of his favorite city.  What’s his favorite city?  Dallas.  It needs to be a foreign city, though, so he picks Paris.  That won’t go either.  He agrees to vote against the bill, but needs to know now where he’ll be going.  Gary, on Selina’s behalf, tells Pierce that he’ll be going to Paris.  They can work the details later.

B-ill- Team watches the voting results for the bill

It’s voting time.  The team watches the results in and rejoices upon seeing that the bill is dead.  They’ve won by not winning.  However, all is not completely well yet, as Mike receives a notification that Moyes is threatening to go to the floor for an investigation over what happened today.  Ben tells Mike that he needs to deny like he’s never denied before.  That should be easy.

B-ill- Selina tells the American people that she'll put out a more streamlined Families First bill before Congress

Selina delivers a bullshit statement to the American people that she’ll put out a more streamlined Families First bill before Congress.  Once that’s done, the President of the United States crawls into bed, all while murmuring “Fuck you, America.”

And like that, “B/ill” shows how much Selina Meyer’s administration is in a sort of…no, not even sort of, it is in a downward tailspin.  Things go wrong, yes, but in this instance, Team Selina wants them to go wrong.  They’re thinking long-term, even though the short term effects of the bill’s failure could be disastrous for everyone involved, whether through direct involvement or even with passing knowledge.

Now I’m not an expert on anything political, but I’m going to assume that there are plenty of examples of politicians, whether from the tiniest State Representative to even any President, not being a fan of a certain bill.  They may threaten to veto, obstruct, filibuster, or employ any stalling tactics to ensure a bill’s defeat.  I’ve heard of politicians switching their votes at the last second due to intense pressure from either other politicians or their constituents.

I can’t say I’m familiar with a sitting President lobbying for the defeat of their own bill that they’ve fought so hard for, just so they can make sure they win the upcoming election.  For Selina to win in the long term, she has to lose in the short term.  Okay, fine, but to do so by enlisting the help of outside lobbyists is even worse and reeks of gross management.

B-ill- Kent and Ben pass argue about their lists

This is Veep, so gross management is par for the course, but this plan could have worked if there had been better communication.  This is one of those times where you’d probably want to have Mike handy, but since he’s trying to play plausible deniability, it falls to Ben and Kent to help Selina’s failure succeed.  Too bad they didn’t make sure that Dan and Amy had a very different approach to lobbying than Richard and Jonah.

B-ill- Congressman Moyes believes that Selina wants to sabotage her own bill

At the very least, mix up the order in which they visit politicians or give them different sets of data.  The fact that Moyes received back to back visits from Jonah and Richard, followed by Dan and Amy, smells suspicious by itself, but it’s confirmed when they have the same sets of useless data.  I’m not saying that this surprises me, given the show we’re talking about, but Kent and Ben could have been a bit smarter than this since they’re more competent at their jobs, I think, than either Dan or Amy.

B-ill- Selina is anxious for her bill to fail

It’s interesting that Selina is now rushing to make sure her bill dies in a fire.  Up until now, she championed it and it seemed like Tom James would do a better job selling it to constituents, but the growing unpopularity has caused her to throw it to the wind altogether.  It’s a risky move to take and part of me wonders whether Families First would have been such a liability that it would cost her the election.  Given the problems found in the bill and how poorly it appears to have been written, that’s not too far off.

B-ill- Selina talks with Tom about dying

But despite Selina being bedridden and sounding like an underwater Bob Dylan, as Mike put it, she still wields power and influence above everyone else on her team.  It’s funny that she still manages to give as many orders as she can when she can barely complete a sentence due to her coughing fits.

B-ill- Selina asks Tom if she's doing the right thing

In-between the sickness, though, we got to see a softer side to Selina during her brief conversation with Tom, which is one of my favorite moments of the episode.  She asks him if she’s doing the right thing here, as she feels that even a watered down bill could make a difference in people’s lives.  For a moment, we see that Selina realizes that she’s getting flanked from all sides, but does believe in her efforts to help families.  The bill may be unpopular, but Selina wants to have a lasting legacy and positive impact in people’s lives.

B-ill- Tom chews out the team

And even if she can’t speak for herself or doesn’t want Gary to translate for her, we now that Tom will be a solid voice for her.  His evisceration of the team was nice to watch.  It didn’t tell us anything new about them individually- aside from some new choice insults- but it was good to see Tom rake the team across the coals for their terrible performance, and he’s not wrong.  Plus, he went toe-to-toe with Ben on his methods.  Dan tried going against Ben and got taken to the cleaners, but Tom stood his ground.  He may have his flaws and is still a newcomer to the team, but he’s no pushover.

B-ill- Amy tells Dan that she's having fun

Dan and Amy’s storyline this week was slightly more interesting than the concrete convention from the previous episode if only because they got more to do than just react.  Unfortunately, they ended up in the awkward position of being one step behind Richard and Jonah.  I’m not completely sold on why they accepted Gary’s offer in the first place.  Working at Sidney Purcell seems to have its perks and Amy even said she was glad that she left, so I wonder why they agreed to help with lobbying when they could have ignored this altogether.  Oh well, it gave them something to do and it forced Dan to be stuck with Jonah for a bit, and their banter is always fun.

“B/ill” looks like it could have some major consequences.  With Moyes threatening to call for an investigation, Selina bringing in Dan and Amy to lobby congressmen under the wire, and potentially using campaign funds to pay them for their work, the stains on the Meyer administration don’t look to be going away anytime soon.  Judging from the preview for next week, it looks like everyone is going to have to testify before a committee.  I honestly cannot wait.

A Look at “Veep” Season 4, Episode 7: “Mommy Meyer”

Ah, the dreaded gun control question.  Always a fun topic, but if you’re Tom James, you can talk your way out of anything because you’re just that good.  If you’re Mike, though, the press secretary who is supposed to be good at talking, your life is just one massive headache.

Mommy Meyer- Mike talks to Wendy about the Families First bill

The episode begins with Mike and Kathy having breakfast.  It may be the only good moment that Mike has this entire episode, as he’s not looking forward to work.  He’s been getting hammered by the press on the Families First Bill.  Well, that was the original name.  Selina wanted it to be called the Meyer Bill, but the press likes calling it the Mommy Meyer Bill instead.  Kathy tries to encourage Mike, telling him that Selina won her first debate thanks to him.

Only two more debates to go, but the next one is on foreign policy- basically a pop quiz on the entire world.  Mike heads off and promises to get something for Kathy’s birthday, which is today, and which he forgot.

Mommy Meyer- Team watches Selina's debate performance

At the White House, while Team Selina watches the President’s first debate performance, Sue informs Selina that her dinner guests are confirmed for tonight.  Selina’s getting back together with some friends from Selina’s old law firm.  Also, there’s been a shooting in Pittsburgh.  Four dead, including the gunman, who was an ex-Marine.  Selina tells Sue to get Mike on drafting a statement.  Apparently, he has a thoughts and prayer template.  I can’t tell if that’s a good way to save time or just incredibly awful.

Mommy Meyer- Amy and Dan at the American Concrete Federation Convention

Elsewhere, at the American Concrete Foundation Convention, Dan and Amy find themselves lobbying for…well, concrete.  To assist, they need the help of sale bait.  As in independent, well-educated, young women that also happen to be very hot to lure congressmen into the room in a way that is deeply feminist.  I suppose that’s a better way to look at it than hot girls with tits and ass that use their assets to draw in men, but that’s just me.

Mommy Meyer- Mike speaks to the press about the 'Mommy Meyer' bill

Mike holds a press briefing and answers questions about the potentially doomed Mommy Meyer Bill.

Mommy Meyer- Team Selina discusses the Families First bill

Elsewhere, the rest of the team discusses the bill, which is getting crucified on the Hill, just like that Jesus guy.  O’Brien isn’t a fan of it and even issued a statement: “If Families First is passed, the whole concept of family will come to an end.”  Selina doesn’t care, though.  She feels that the people love it, but Tom disagrees.  People want to pay for their families, not other families.

All of a sudden, security swarm the room.  There’s an intruder and all precautions must be taken.  Much to Bill’s surprise, there is no secret bunker or elevator that leads to a secret bunker.  Soon enough, the culprit is caught, but apparently he came “to kill Tom James and that bitch.”  Never mind that someone set out to kill Selina- he didn’t even know her name.  Anyway, Kent heads off to help set up for Tom James’ town hall event.

Mommy Meyer- Richard and Jonah at the set-up for Tom James' town hall

At said setup, Richard and Jonah work with the lights and audio for the town hall.  Jonah is glad to be out and about on the campaign trail.  It really helps you forget about being molested.

Mommy Meyer- Mike sees the press laughing at a video of him ducking

Back at the White House, Mike notices members of the press watching what I think is either a gif or Vine video of him ducking when he heard about the shooter at the press conference.  Assuming this all takes place in real time, someone was able to create this in very little time, but hey, that’s technology for you.

Mommy Meyer- Catherine and Selina have lunch

Catherine finds it hard to believe that someone like the President can get an award from a country one day, and then almost be killed on another.  Selina isn’t too worried, though.  She’s more focused on tonight’s dinner- she only wants pizza.

Mommy Meyer- Amy and Dan meet with clients and congressmen

Back at the concrete convention, Sidney introduces Dan and Amy to Aiden Grant, played by Graham Winton, who won the previous Mexican border fence contract.  He would like to win the new one as well, which means he needs to speak with Congressman Martin, but not his obvious erection.  Obviously.

Mommy Meyer- Tom James' town hall, question on gun control

We then cut back to the town hall, where Tom James speaks about the connection between the lack of education and poverty, as well as poverty and crime.  Families First will break that link.  But then someone asks James, in light of the shooting in Pittsburgh, if it’s time for stricter gun control.  James’ response?  Reaction is easy, but understanding is hard.  Isn’t it possible that the shooter was also a victim?  After all, we’re talking about an ex-Marine whose mine was maimed in the service of his country.

Kent relays this to Ben, who tells him to make Tom stop talking, but it’s no good.

Mommy Meyer- Selina takes questions from the press

And no one at the White House is able to warn Selina about Tom’s comments in time before she directly addresses the press.  Luckily, she ducks out and lets Mike do his thing just when one reporter asks whether the President shares Tom James’ views on the shooter in Pittsburgh.

Mommy Meyer- Sidney, Amy, and Dan discuss Tom James' comments

Over at the concrete conference- this subplot isn’t really that interesting, if I’m honest- Sidney learns that Tom James may have just made himself an enemy of every stupid person with a gun, of which there are many.  If nothing happens now, the gun and security clients will wonder why they pay Sidney Purcell so much money, which is bad because he needs them to pay him and not try to shoot him in his sleep.

Amy suggests putting Congressman Reece in front of a camera so he can criticize Tom James for sympathizing with murderers.  In turn, Sidney Purcell is spared from any unhealthy gun debate.  Dan gets right on it.  Purcell notes that he enjoys this sibling rivalry between Dan and Amy, which would make him Daddy.

Mommy Meyer- Mike has had a shitty day, talks about the Families First bill with the team

At the White House, Selina is worried about Tom James being a loose cannon and if the press will know that she chose him at the last minute.  But then she and everyone tears into Mike for not being able to handle the situation, as well as the naming of the Mommy Meyer Bill.  Mike tries to stand his ground in an admirable show I can’t help but enjoy, but he’s outnumbered and overwhelmed.  It’s been a long, damn day.

Mommy Meyer- Tom apologizes for his comments

Back at the town hall, Tom James has a prepared statement, but he prefers to speak from the heart instead.  Nothing he says will help the victims, but he can say that he’s very sorry if he added to their grief.  It’s actually that simple.

Mommy Meyer- Tom speaks with Richard and Jonah, learns about another data breach

Jonah and Richard are so enthralled with Tom James’ apology that they think he should apologize for all of their screw-ups, like the data breach.  Tom initially thinks that they’re just talking about Jennifer Graham, but the two let on more than they know, prompting Tom to believe that there’s another data breach he didn’t know about.  He offers the two a ride back to DC.

Mommy Meyer- Sidney tells Dan and Amy that Tom James apologized

Sidney then learns that Tom James has apologized, but he doesn’t want to get rid of the gun guys since gun folks apparently don’t like it when you take things from them.  Go figure.  However, now Sidney wants to jump on mental health issues.  He introduces Amy to Alex Barry, played by Armand Schultz, from Gemmill Pharmaceuticals.  What’s a pharmaceuticals guy doing at a concrete convention?  Well, construction brings builders, builds bring sex workers, and sex workers bring STDs.  A very virtuous circle.

Mommy Meyer- Selina reunites with her friends

Selina finally gets to reunite with her friends: Anna, played by Suzy Nakamura, Deborah, played by Mo Gaffney, and a third woman played by Patricia Kalember.  The four bond, but things have changed between them.  For example, Deborah, now working pro bono, has been sober for five years and Anna’s husband died, so Anna ended up remarrying.  Her husband wasn’t gay- just an asshole.

Mommy Meyer- Friday Night drinks with the guys

Tom brings Richard and Jonah with him to Friday night drinks, which the crew has done for the past five years.  Well, presumably not that long for Bill.  Everyone is overjoyed for Tom managing to save the day, but they then wonder if there’s anything else about him that they should know.  There is: he thinks drugs should be legalized.  Having seen what his son went through, he thinks that it’s the only way.  That doesn’t sit well with the rest of Team Selina.

Soon enough, Tom wants to know about this other data breach.  Mike, though he’s a spokesman and apparently isn’t supposed to say anything, spills that the Meyer campaign used the health records of dead children to target and appeal to voters who were recently bereaved parents.  Tom could flip out and ask how the fuck this happened, but he just wants to move forward.  The men toast to even more shit.

Mommy Meyer- Dinner with friends, Anna, played by Suzy Nakamura, Deborah, played by Mo Gaffney, and Patricia Kalembar

Dinner with Selina and friends isn’t going that much better.  Her friends aren’t huge fans of the Families First Bill because of the added amendments- at least they read the bill- and think that Selina hasn’t thought through the tax margins.  However, based on Tom James’ appearance on “Meet the Press,” they would be in favor of the bill if he sold it.  But don’t worry, Selina.  They believe in you as well.

Mommy Meyer- Second gunman

And what other way to end the episode than with another lockdown?

“Mommy Meyer” was a good episode.  It illustrated how difficult running a presidential campaign can be when the president’s ideals and beliefs don’t match up with their running mate.  That’s not a rarity, but you’d expect their views to at least line up more often than not.  Consider how President Obama’s views on gay marriage didn’t really evolve- or flip flop, you decide- until Vice President Joe Biden brought it up.  You want the public to love you, but you also want them to know and believe that you and your partner agree on many things.

Mommy Meyer- Tom James gives his opinion on the Families First bill

That’s not really possible for Selina and Tom James, who isn’t trying to be a thorn in Selina’s side at all, but just sees some things a bit differently than her, based on his personal experience.  He calls the gunman a victim because of his history with war and he wants drugs legalized because of the time he’s spent with his son.  He isn’t just throwing out random positions and stances for political convenience, as we’ve seen Selina do before, but standing by what he believes.

Mommy Meyer- Tom tells the guys that he's in favor of legalizing drugs

Such stances are what put him at odds with the rest of the team, but not the general public.  Selina’s friends speak with adoration about Tom James, and his off-the-cuff apology for his remarks were so easily accepted by the public that it’s a surprise that they ever had any issue with what he said.

Mommy Meyer- Tom is sorry for his remarks

So though James is a bit more personable than Selina, we do see that he can stumble, which also makes him more relatable because we see that he isn’t perfect.  Not that James ever gave off that vibe, but he does appear a bit more careful than Selina.  In the end, Tom still had a good day.

Mommy Meyer- Mike is fed up

But the person who didn’t have a good day was Mike.  If I could think of an alternate title to this episode, it would be “Everybody Hates Mike.”  He’s come a long way since the inauguration.  At first, the press loved Mike, but the honeymoon is over.  That applies to everyone, but Mike, unlike Dan and Amy, has managed to keep it together, despite the difficulty of his job.  He’s the voice of the administration.  If something goes wrong, he gets shafted.  If something goes right, Selina is credited.

Mommy Meyer- Wendy cheers up Mike

It’s unfortunate because we see that he still wants to devote time with his wife, who is so patient and loving, despite how stressed out he is.  I did like the breakfast scene between Mike and Wendy.  We see Catherine and Selina together a lot, but we don’t get to see the personal lives of the rest of the team.  Mike, though, wants to have a healthy relationship with Wendy, but the job is taking its toll on him.  I’m glad he stood up to Selina, despite quickly backing down, because we see that even he isn’t willing to just be a shit kicker.  Given how Bill is now the Director of Communications, I would be surprised if he didn’t take Mike’s spot, should Mike decide to jump ship.

Mommy Meyer- Dinner with Catherine, Selina, and Selina's friends

As for Selina, we get a glimpse of how her life before politics took over, and she came off as more carefree and open with her friends.  At first.  As the night went on, their lives became too different.  Friends drift apart.  We don’t like it, but people change and move on to other endeavors.  In Selina’s case, not only did her friends change, but they’re also critical of her work as President, as seen when they say they’d buy the Families First bill if Tom sold it.  The more I think about it, people take their issue more with Selina than with her policies.

Mommy Meyer- Ben tells Selina what the shooter said

After all, the first shooter said he came to kill “Tom James and that bitch.”  He didn’t even refer to Selina by her name.

Mommy Meyer- Sidney thinks of himself as Dan and Amy's Daddy

The subplot with Dan and Amy wasn’t all that interesting to me.  I mean, I liked them giving a pep talk to the sales bait and Sidney thinking of himself as Dan and Amy’s father, but most of this subplot involved them reacting to things happening with Team Selina.  If the concrete lobbying is setup, then fine, but I just wish it was more engaging than it was this week.

With three episodes left this season, I’m curious how Veep will wrap up with Selina.  She’s trying to do well, but the odds seem to be against her and more in favor of her running mate, I think, but I could be wrong.  You can never underestimate the power that is Hugh Laurie.

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

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

Storms and Pancakes- Selina and Tom greet voters in Pennsylvania

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

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

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

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

Storms and Pancakes- Ben tries to talk with Sue

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

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

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

Storms and Pancakes- Selina talks to the press about Tom

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

Storms and Pancakes- Mike receives another hate text from Amy

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

Storms and Pancakes- Dan introduces Amy to Sidney Purcell

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

Storms and Pancakes- Selina asks Tom about that one night

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

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

Storms and Pancakes- Dan throws a party for himself

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

Storms and Pancakes- Amy's scream attracts police officers

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

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

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

Storms and Pancakes- Preparing for the pancake breakfast

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

Storms and Pancakes- Greeting people at the Pancake Brunch

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

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

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

Storms and Pancakes- Amy wins a client

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Storms and Pancakes- Tom and Selina serve pancakes

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

Storms and Pancakes- Tom serves pancakes

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

Storms and Pancakes- Selina wants credit for picking Tom

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

Storms and Pancakes- Tom charms the voters

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

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

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

Storms and Pancakes- Kent goes over the pancake breakfast setup

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

Storms and Pancakes- Amy screams

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

Storms and Pancakes- Dan celebrates himself

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

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

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

Storms and Pancakes- Sue hides from Ben

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

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

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

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

Convention- Catherine goes over her speech

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

Convention- Amy really doesn't like Karen

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

Convention- Dan speaks about zucchinis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Convention- Doyle tells Ben and Selina that he wants out

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

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

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

Convention- Dan has to get Richard and Jonah coffee

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

Convention- Amy still really doesn't like Karen

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

Convention- Selina offers Danny Chung the Vice Presidential slot

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

Convention- Doyle fires Teddy for fondling Jonah

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

Convention- Danny Chung declines the Vice Presidential slot

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

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

Convention- Selina offers Maddox the Vice President slot

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

Convention- Team Selina go over potential running mates

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

Convention- Amy rages at Karen

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

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

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

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

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

Convention- Learning that Amy has left Selina's team

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

Convention- Enter Tom James, played by Hugh Laurie

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

Convention- Tom James accepts the Vice Presidential slot

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

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

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

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

Convention- Tom retells his joke

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

McCain introduces Sarah Palin

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

Convention- Chung turns down the vice presidential offer

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

Convention- Selina listens to Amy rant

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

Convention- Amy rants

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

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

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

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

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

Convention- Amy stares down Karen

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

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

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

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

Convention- Karen calls Amy irritating

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

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

Convention- Jonah helps Dan

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

Convention- Mike after Selina talks about eating pussy

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

Convention- Sue's elated face

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

Convention- Hugh Laurie as Tom James

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tehran- Bill Ericsson addresses the press

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

Tehran- Mike addresses the press about the delay

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tehran- Amy learns that Kent polled the Vice President

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

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

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

Tehran- Selina has a photo-op moment with Leon

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

Tehran- Teddy grabs Jonah's balls again

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

Tehran- Leon speaks with Selina about his detention

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

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

Tehran- Dan meets Erica

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

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

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

Tehran- Leon figures out why he was detained

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

Tehran- Jonah talks about Teddy groping him

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

Tehran- Mike and Gary on the backup Air Force One

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

Tehran- Eric and Kent tell Selina about the polling

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

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

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

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

Tehran- Selina talks to Ben about not being in control

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

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

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

Tehran- Mike and Gary stuck

Mike and Gary, though, are still stuck.

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

Tehran- CNN reports on Selina's trip

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

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

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

House of Cards

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

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

Tehran- Bill and Kent talk with Jonah

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

Tehran- Jonah admits that Teddy gropes him

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

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

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

Tehran- Amy expected Dan to say something else

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

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