A Look at “The Walking Dead” #157: “The Whisperer War- Part 1 of 6”

The Walking Dead #157- Cover

So we are indeed headed to war with the aptly named “The Whisperer War.”  Right off the bat, I’ll say that this was a fun read.  It once again managed to balance multiple storylines and give us just enough of different locations without making the issue feel stuffed.  And the meatier parts, namely Negan’s talk with Rick and Andrea, held more weight because Negan will likely play a key role in this war.

The Walking Dead #157- Beta and other Whisperers

But we’ll get to that in a bit.  I’ll start off with the Whisperers themselves since we get a snippet of what they’re doing in light of Alpha’s death.  Despite losing Alpha, Beta remains fiercely loyal to her, which I like because it would have been easy for him to step into that leadership role.  But no.  He shuts down any possibility of someone taking Alpha’s spot and rejects the notion that Negan was ever one of them.

So more than ever, Beta has motivation to retaliate not just against Negan, but all of the survivor communities.  We know that he has the roamer army to do so and the Whisperers have already shown how they can blend in, so an attack is inevitable.  And like Alpha, it’s a nice change of pace to see the Whisperers grieve and show emotion.  At the same time, they still don’t show much to keep up appearances.

The Walking Dead #157- Negan approaches Dwight's group

Meanwhile, we get a brief moment of friendship between Dwight and Magna, which I like because it helps develop Dwight’s character since his turn to the allies and it gives Magna something to do since she and her team still haven’t been featured all that much.

I also liked Dwight’s immediate reaction to Negan approaching him.  Don’t even give the guy a chance to talk- just shoot on sight like he’s a roamer.  Nice moment of levity right there, followed by his dripping gift for Rick.

The Walking Dead #157- Negan negotiates with Rick and Andrea

And despite all the terrible things that he’s done, Negan makes a damn convincing case to Rick and Andrea.  Has the man changed for the better?  It’s better for Rick to assume not, but at the same time, Negan has had now two opportunities to break free or strike back at the survivors.  He stayed in his cell when it had been left open for a bit.  He didn’t take charge of the Whisperers to lead a revolt against Alexandria and other communities.

Even if Rick and Andrea may hate Negan, he’s shown that he deserves the smallest bit of trust because, hell, he literally gave Rick the head of the Whisperers.  And given what Alpha did, you couldn’t ask for a better present.  So maybe Negan is biding his time to rise again or he does now believe there’s a better way to survive than how he lead the Saviors.

I don’t think Rick has any choice but to trust Negan at this point.  It wouldn’t be like him to have Alpha’s head delivered to him by Negan, and then just throw him back in jail without a thought.  This is the same man who sought out Negan’s advice for how to lead his people.

So even if it’s minimal, I believe that Rick is slowly changing his tune towards Negan. He offers Negan the bare minimum to survive and promises that he won’t lead another group, so Negan won’t have much when this is all over, but it’s better than nothing and preferable than a jail cell.

The Walking Dead #157- Dwight and Rick talk about watching Negan

Whether Negan stays on his best behavior, we’ll see later, but I find it fitting that Rick would assign Dwight to watch Negan.  Not just because of their past during Negan’s reign, but this shows Rick’s trust in Dwight, as well as how much Dwight has changed since his time with the Saviors.  I think he may hate Negan more than Rick, and he has every reason to, but for Rick, he’s willing to put that aside to keep watch.

This is the same man who, under Negan’s orders, took part in attacking the survivors, but years later, he’s proven himself reliable and trustworthy…now that I think about it, this is exactly like Negan’s situation right now.  Huh.  Suppose this ends up being the case: Negan has already delivered Alpha’s head, but he could go further and be a key asset in the war against the Whisperers, thus setting him up to be a true ally to Rick.

Hey, it worked for Dwight.  Anything is possible.

The Walking Dead #157- Hilltop group plans to head out

Keep an eye on the Hilltop, by the way, because while they’re gearing up to help out with the impending war, Maggie tells Michonne that she can’t give up more people.  So I’m wondering if this means that the Hilltop’s defenses are weak right now.

Maggie isn’t stupid enough to give away her best or all she has, but the fact that she says she can’t give up more makes me wonder if the Hilltop could have saved those men to defend the community.  But even then, she’s still got Carl, who is more than ready to fight, even Michonne won’t let him come with her.  There’s also Lydia, who has lived among the Whisperers, so she can probably provide intel for Maggie in case the Hilltop is attacked.

The Walking Dead #157- Kingdom residents discuss the war

We haven’t spent a lot of time at the Kingdom since the time skip, but we get enough here to see that there’s some inner conflict and how some residents haven’t warmed up to Michonne.  It makes me wonder whether the Kingdom will defect or decide to stay on the sidelines during this war.  Since Ezekiel’s death, they still seem to be in disarray, so now we’ll hopefully see how they factor into the Whisperer war.

The Walking Dead #157- Eugene on the radio

Then you’ve got Eugene still talking on the radio to Stephanie and giving away his location. Could be problematic.  Could be even more problematic if Stephanie is lying about where she’s based.  There’s no indication that she is, mind you, though it doesn’t hurt to be cautious all the same, like Rick and Daryl initially did with Jesus on “The Next World” from Season Six, when they at first said they didn’t have a camp.

The Walking Dead #157- Andrea and Rick discuss Negan and the war

Back to Rick and Andrea, who are taking a backseat approach with this war.  Well, more so Rick than Andrea since she’s still an excellent sniper.  To be honest, Rick has earned this.  Not just with his injury from Negan, but he’s given orders and been on the front lines so many times that he should dial it back for once.

And even though he’s second guessing himself, he’s always got Andrea to snap him back to reality.  But even still, the two of them realize that they need to be extra cautious about Negan.  He’s proven he can be reliable at times, but they know Negan too well to just accept him with open arms.  But like Andrea said, she may not know if she can trust Negan, but she can at least trust Rick.

The Walking Dead #157- Calm before the storm

But with the war coming, this issue was the calm before the storm.  That final panel of the various communities, coupled with Rick telling the people at Alexandria that there is no cause for worry goes against Gabriel spotting that approaching herd of roamers and possibly Whisperers.  And that could just be the start.  Either way, get ready, because we’re headed to war.  Great issue.

Also, keep an eye on Aaron and Jesus.  Something may be brewing there…

A Look at “The Walking Dead” #156: “King and Queen”

The Walking Dead #156- Cover

Issue #156, “King and Queen,” feels like the equivalent of a bottle episode on television shows where the main storyline and everything around it is centralized in one location. Such is the case here, where we spend the entire issue at the Whisperers’ camp. This is good idea, but it presents a slight issue I have that I’ll address towards the end.

The Walking Dead #156- Beta disapproves of Negan

For now, though, we’re again seeing just how serious Alpha takes her position and how much of an offense it is to even consider challenging her. We’ve already seen what happens when someone else tries to become the next Alpha, but in the case of Negan, the Whisperers are presented with someone who has intel on Rick and the other survivors.

At the same time, Negan is no pushover and is more than willing to kill, even if he hates Rick as much as he hates the Whisperers. So there’s equal reason to dispose of him, but also keep him around.

We also see Beta’s loyalty tested when he’s in fierce opposition to keeping Negan alive, but relents the moment Alpha dares him to challenge her. What Alpha might lack in being physically imposing, she makes up with intimidation.

The Walking Dead #156- Alpha tells Negan to prove that he deserves to stay

And Negan uses this to his advantage to get in Alpha’s good graces and prove himself to her and the other Whisperers. This leads to my slight problem with the issue: seeing Negan live among the Whisperers and prove he has what it takes to be part of their group was interesting to read. It took Negan out of his element, but didn’t change who he was.

He retained his humor, which led to some funny moments in the issue, and proved that, even in a jam, he has what it takes to survive with people that dress like the dead.  Now there’s nothing wrong with that, but I feel this is something that could have spaced over two issues. We spent issue #155 at the Whisperer camp, Alexandria, the Hilltop, and on the road.

Me personally, I would have wanted to see more of Negan among the Whisperers. Plus, it seems like a quick progression for him to gain the trust of the Whisperers so soon. As far as I can tell, we aren’t given an indication of how much time has passed, so this issue could have taken place over a series of days, but again, this could have been spread over more than one issue.

It also would have allowed us to spend time with and get to know the Whisperers more now that we’re experiencing their world through the eyes of a character we follow, similar to when Negan brought Carl to the Sanctuary.

The Walking Dead #156- Negan spots two men taking a woman away to rape her

Also, it could have allowed for us to see Negan grow comfortable around the Whisperers for a longer period and then have him explode when he sees them engage in primitive behavior. As we’ve known for the longest time, Negan hates rape. Murder, kidnapping, theft, all of those things are, to him, done for a greater good, but he abhors rape.

Even if we hate Negan’s guts and can’t get over him killing Glenn, among the many horrible things that he’s done, even Negan has a line. In that moment where he saves that female Whisperer from being raped by the two male Whisperers, you root for Negan because he’s doing what any sane person would do.

While we’ve seen Carl and Rick react to how the Whisperers treat rape, Negan goes a step further and acts on his disgust.

The Walking Dead #156- Negan and Alpha argue

This leads to a great exchange between Negan and Alpha and we learn more about Negan’s philosophy. While the Whisperers may fear challenging Alpha’s authority, Negan has no fear. In spite of what we’ve seen him do, Negan led and protected the Savior. He may be a terrible person, but he does believe that protecting the weak is the basis for any civilization.

But Alpha disagrees, seeing humans as nothing more than primal instincts. And it’s interesting to see Negan justify the horrible things he’s done, saying it’s for a greater good. Like how in Negan’s introduction on The Walking Dead show, he does bad things not purely for the shits and giggles, but for a reason. In the show’s case, it was retribution for Rick and company killing a lot of his followers.

The Walking Dead #156- Negan talks to Alpha about losing someone close to him

However, as much as Alpha has nothing but contempt, this scene does show how the world has molded her. The same applies to Negan and how his loss right before the outbreak changed him.

Negan Ping Pong

Even without being direct, it’s a nice way to link this issue with the events of “Here’s Negan.” For those unfamiliar, “Here’s Negan” is an ongoing prequel story, told a few pages at a time, this fills out Negan’s backstory and explain how he became the character we know him as today.

Good connection and even without this backstory, I like how this moment helps build out his character. And in that moment, he shows Alpha how much he’s willing to devote himself to her, proving that he may belong with the Whisperers after all.

The Walking Dead #156- Negan slashes Alpha's throat

Until he kills her. If Spencer and Brandon are any indication, it’s that you don’t get in close contact with Negan when he’s holding a bladed weapon, but I digress. This is another reason why I wish Negan’s time with the Whisperers had been spread over more issues: Alpha is a fascinating character and I wanted to learn more about her. We’ve seen how exiling Lydia has affected her, but what else has she been feeling?

If anything, it does leave Alpha’s life shrouded in mystery, but it also feels like we’re just dropping her and moving forward with the story. Alpha made a huge impression not just because of the Whisperers killing 12 people from the various communities, but because of her presence. I wanted more of that.

The Walking Dead #156- Negan hacks at Alpha

So where does that leave Negan? As is, he could present Alpha’s head to Rick and show that he wants to help. Hell, he could show it to Maggie, too. Or go back to the Saviors? I don’t know. As of now, I think Negan wants to prove to Rick that he’s changed, or that he hates the Whisperers as much as Rick does.

As for the Whisperers, though, will Beta rise up and lead the Whisperers to revolt against the survivors? We’ll find out next time.

A Look at “Veep” Season 5 Finale: “Inauguration”

At the end of Veep’s third season, Selina Meyer’s life went through a major change when she became, not through the will of the people, the President of the United States.  Fast-forward two seasons and that political life is on the verge of coming to a close.  Can Selina and her team salvage anything when the odds are stacked against them?  Let’s see.  This is “Inauguration.”

Inauguration- Mike takes questions from the press

The episode begins with one day until the Senate vote.  Mike tells the press that Selina won’t make a statement about the House results and she is not interested in becoming Vice President again.  Mike stakes his reputation on that.

Inauguration- Selina and Tom talk about Vice President

In fact, Selina tells Tom James that he may just become an accidental president, as she did.  She offers her assistance with the transition of power by joining his administration.  He thought the same.  She wants Secretary of State, but he thought Vice President was the least he could offer.  Selina refuses to be Tom’s Vice President.

Inauguration- Team meeting

She then tells her team about Tom’s terms.  Mike is tired at the team meeting.  Kent ran polls on Selina, meanwhile: she’s the 43rd most effective president, right ahead of James Buchanan.  Selina asks about whether Marjorie and Catherine will be married, but then she turns her attention to Tibet.  If anything else, she wants that to happen in order to smoothen out her legacy.

But there’s radio silence from the Chinese.  She wants her goddamn Nobel Peace Prize.  It’s all about legacy.  Legacy meeting adjourned.  While Dan receives television offers, Selina tells Ben to help make sure that the Tibet deal happens.

Inauguration- Jonah and Richard settle into their new office

At the Rayburn building, Richard and Jonah settle into the office.  Jonah wants to spruce up the place with some fancy female interns.  Keep that in mind.

Inauguration- Ambassador Al Jaffar speaks with Selina about the Chinese

Ambassador Al Jaffar tells Selina that the Chinese are now nervous about the Tibet arrangement since Selina isn’t in power anymore.  She counters that she’s not out of power yet.  Plus, it’s unannounced as of now, but she’ll be continuing on as Tom James’ Vice President.

This turns out to be of interest to the Chinese after all.  However, it turns out that Tom James is at the Senate for the vote.  Selina and Ben enter the Vice President’s office.  After a moment, Selina decides that she can do this.

Inauguration- Tom offers to make Selina his Vice President

She then meets with Tom, who guesses correctly that she’s decided to accept the offer of Vice President.  And Selina won’t be any Vice President.  She’ll be a partner, but Tom can’t take this seriously and starts laughing.  It is quite funny.

Inauguration- Jonah meets his new aides

So Richard did get some interns, but they’re all dudes.  Not exactly fancy ladies, but they do make a damn good latte for Jonah.

Inauguration- Selina and Ben talk with the Chinese

Time for the Senate vote to start.  Selina, meanwhile, speaks with the Chinese about working together for four more years.  The Chinese President looks forward to working with Tom James.  Ben reminds Selina that she needs to keep an eye on what’s happening in the Senate.

Inauguration- Watching the Senate vote

The Senate vote is tighter than expected and Montez ends up overtaking Tom James.  Eventually, the vote ends in another tie.  As such, a tie in the Senate is broken by the President of the Senate: the Vice President.  Since Tom James never technically became the Vice President, the deciding vote goes to Andrew Doyle, who declares his vote for Laura Montez.

It’s official: Laura Montez is the next President of the United States, as the team realizes that Doyle has masterminded this entire affair in exchanging for becoming the next Secretary of State.

Inauguration- Gary rants at the team

As Selina leaves with heavy hatred for her country, Gary damns the team for letting down their leader.  He goes on a profanity laced rant and attacks everyone while Dan records.  Gary at least did his job.  He cared.  Well, okay.  Later, Selina destroys her coffee machine and tells Gary to get her some fruit.

Inauguration- Mike shows Amy a picture of his Chinese baby

One day until the inauguration, Mike shows Amy a photo of his baby, Ellen- who looks large for her age- while Selina goes through the rooms to take down various paintings.  Ben and Kent, meanwhile, both arrive at Robert Richards and Associates.  Following this, Mike briefs the press on Selina’s final plans before the inauguration: she’ll be meeting with Montez for coffee in the Red Room.

Inauguration- Selina has a drink with Richard

Charlie Baird will be nominated for Treasury Secretary.  Well, that’s a payoff.  Selina finds Richard packing up Jonah’s old office.  She invites him into the Oval Office, saying he was one of the good ones and could have been relied upon much more.  Selina is in disarray.  She doesn’t even remember how to drive.  Selina wishes that she won.  She lays down on the carpet for a nap and asks Richard to stay.

Inauguration- Catherine asks Selina about her hard drive

Inauguration Day arrives.  Gary finds Selina looking like a fucking wreck.  Luckily, it doesn’t look like she fucked Richard.  Catherine arrives in a fancy-ass dress and new hairdo, but she’s looking for a hard drive of her film.  Gary reminds a despondent Selina that everything can be taken away from her except her beauty.

Inauguration- Furlong tears into Jonah

Furlong breaks up the party in Jonah’s office and tells him that interns need to be less attractive than the politician.  He rips into Jonah and his team, but Jonah remains unaffected.  He is affected when he takes a hit to the nuts.

Inauguration- Amy talks with Candi Caruso

Buddy and Amy talk, but they’re interrupted by the arrival of Candi Caruso, who just got a new job as Montez’s Chief of Staff.

Inauguration- Mike and Wendy with their possibly six year old child

Mike and Wendy introduce Kent to their surrogate and Ellen, who is three, but Kent believes she that her head has the circumference of a six year old. Ellen confirms this when she says that, yes, she’s six.

Inauguration- Coffee with President-elect Laura Montez

Laura Montez meets with Doyle, Selina, and other representatives, and talk about the weather, which could drop low for tonight’s inaugural ball.  Selina ruins the moment by bringing up Laura’s heritage, which is questionable, to say the least.  The team, meanwhile, turns in their White House badges, but Mike can’t find his.  Shocker.

Inauguration- Laura Montez takes the Oath of Office

As Laura Montez is inaugurated, Selina asks Doyle why he did what he did.  Sure, Selina offered him Secretary of State, yes, but she did the same for a lot of people.  Montez takes the Oath of Office and gives her Inaugural Address, telling the American people that this is the dawn of a new era.

Meanwhile, we learn that President Montez has freed Tibet as the baby lamas are released.  This sort of announcement would put her in line for the Nobel Peace Prize.  Oh, how could this get any worse?

Inauguration- Tom and Selina talk about their futures

Later, Tom James speaks with Selina about the speech, but Selina just noticed the size of Montez’s tits.  Tom speaks about his future of running a multibillion-dollar hedge fund and then compliments Selina on her shoes.  Of course.

Inauguration- Selina, Gary, Amy, Catherine, and Marjorie wait in the rain

Selina bids farewell to her team.  She boards Air Force One, but then takes Amy with her for some reason.  However, the copter is forced to land due to engine troubles.  Still no word on Catherine’s hard drive, too.  As Selina overhears the festivities from the parade, she waits and waits until it starts to rain.

So where does everyone else end up?

Dan, now on CNN, may be in line for a full time gig to cover the State Department, but he turns it down once he receives an offer from CBS News.

At George Washington Hospital, Jonah heals up and tries to pawn off his second ticket to the Inaugural Ball.  Also, there’s a lump on his left testicle, so the doctor will run a biopsy to check.  Bob “The Eagle,” meanwhile, tells Montez that, in light of the missing ballots, Selina won Nevada.

Sue, for whatever reason, is still at the White House.  Well, at least life for her remains the same as the fifth season of Veep comes to a close.

Well, here we are at the end of Veep’s fifth season and the end, right now, it seems, of Selina Meyer’s time in the White House.  To say the ride was unpredictable would undercut the twists and turns that Selina and her team experienced up until the point where they realized the Presidency was lost.

Inauguration- Selina watches the Senate vote tally while Kent tells Gary that Doyle has the deciding vote

Like “Kissing Your Sister,” there’s time devoted to Team Selina standing around and awaiting their fates, but the stakes are higher here because even though the Presidency is beyond them, there’s the chance that they could all remain involved in a Tom James administration.  And given James’ popularity and likability with voters and politicians alike, this seemed an ideal route.

Inauguration- Selina wants to be Secretary of State

The key word being ideal.  We would expect Selina to step back into that thankless Vice Presidential position.  She’d have to swallow her pride and embrace the job she despised, but she’d still be a somewhat key player in Washington politics and she would still have her team.  More than that, though it’d be a step down from being President, Selina would have something at the end of the day.

Inauguration- Selina hates her country

This is Veep, though, where anything is possible.  I’ll commend the writing staff for not taking the easy way out and just putting Selina back where she started.  I wouldn’t go as far as calling it a regression for the show to make Selina someone else’s Vice President, but it would feel like familiar territory that could still garner great, comedic moments.  Veep could make a Vice President Meyer Redux work.

Inauguration- Selina looks down at Washington

So it was to my absolute surprise when it turned out that Tom James’ plan to usurp power from Selina ended up failing.  And with that, Selina’s political career came to a screeching halt.  And it comes after she fought to maintain her power and integrity.  She refused to serve as second to Tom James, but realized that if she wanted to keep her legacy, she needed to swallow her pride and return to that Vice President slot she so loathed.

Inauguration- Selina and Tom watch the Senate vote

But now, she doesn’t even get that.  It’s a ballsy move to remove Selina from power altogether, given the nature and title of the show, but it’s a welcome one that puts her in an interesting position come next season.  Does Selina just reenter civilian life?  As someone who has gotten by with others doing what she wants, it’s hard for her to accept normalcy.  She’s not used to things like driving or caring for herself.

Inauguration- Selina tells Tom that he now knows what it feels like to lose

Yes, Selina is a vain asshole and her incompetency should bar her from being in Washington altogether, but through the writing and Dreyfus’ performance, you sympathize with Selina when she leaves the White House.  Her telling Tom after the Senate vote that he now knew what it felt like felt honest.  He’s now in the same rut as her and it’s a stinging feeling to have your aspirations and career snatched away from you.

Inauguration- Selina listens to the inaugural parade

If she can’t be President, can she at least secure Tibet as a final victory?  Nope!  And this is a tad unfair, but hilarious all the same to watch Montez, the first elected female President of the United States, get credit for Selina’s deal with China.  It’s funny, yet sad at the same time because even Selina’s attempt at carving out her legacy goes to someone else.  Now that is pouring salt in the wound and kicking a character when they’re down.

Inauguration- Selina tells Richard that she wishes she had won the race

There are several moments where you can see a sadness in Selina’s eyes and I’ll admit, it hurt to watch her world crumble around her.  Selina is great when she’s ranting and raving, but it’s the quieter moments that let us see the person who does care about doing a good job and wants some validation for her work.  When Selina tells Richard that she wishes she had won, it felt real and not just her wanting to claim victory.

In fact, it makes me curious what a Selina Meyer administration would look like if she had a more competent staff.  Richard is bumbling, yes, but he was pivotal when it came to the Nevada recount and can be both useful and knowledgeable.  Put him on Team Selina and there would still be errors, but those moments where he showcases how much he knows about politics could have made for an almost better team.

Leslie_19

I kind of see Selina as a less-competent Leslie Knope from Parks and Recreation.  She has political aspirations in her future and wants to serve her country, but has many missteps along the way.  And given how far Selina has come from becoming an accidental President, it’s a stinging blow that she never really won the Presidency.  She walked into this position, but also had to fight to keep it.

Inauguration- Mike introduces his baby to Kent

In the end, she lost, and some television shows would just stick with Selina’s reactions, but the greatness of Veep comes not just from Selina, but her staff’s antics.  We watch them grow agitated and then despondent when most of them realize that they’re out of work.  There are some bright spots: Mike gets to be a father, Dan is on the road to becoming a media personality, and Sue at least gets to stay on at the White House.

Inauguration- Gary says that Tom screwed Selina in all the ways

But nowhere was the reaction more visceral than Gary chewing out his team.  Not since “East Wing” have we seen him tear into another character, but it felt earned.  For five seasons, Gary has been Selina’s right man and taken more than his fair share of criticism from damn near everyone.  But despite a short flirtation with Charlie Baird due to his kindness, Gary has remained loyal to Selina.

Inauguration- Gary ranting

To see her in such a low position hurts him.  As if her failure makes it his failure by proxy.  But again, Gary has remained committed to Selina.  Others on the team, not so much.  Or, at least, not as devoted as he has been.  For him to blame Selina’s loss on them was extreme, but very satisfying to watch nonetheless.  As great as Tony Hale is as the mild-mannered Gary, it was fun to watch him let loose.

Inauguration- President Laura Montez gives her inaugural address

In a season of errors, backroom deals, political sex scandals, and all the mismanagement that makes Veep what it is, this was a very good finale that makes me anxious to see where Veep goes next now that Selina has been shown the door.  Does Selina go on to write a book about her life in Washington?  Will she ever return to politics in any capacity?  Will President Laura Montez really usher in a new era?

So many questions and possibilities, and too much time between now and Season Six.  Either way, even if some of the stuff in Nevada fell flat at times, this was another great season of Veep that definitely has me hooked for the next chapter in Selina Meyer’s life.  See you then.

A Look at “Veep” Season 5, Episode 9: “Kissing Your Sister”

Catherine, out.  All those times Selina sent Catherine from the room or we’ve watched the First Daughter recording in the background have led to this.  With the election still undecided and now left to the House, let’s check in on Catherine Meyer and see just what she’s put together all this time.  This is “Kissing Your Sister.”

Kissing Your Sister- Team Selina watches the House vote

The episode begins with Selina’s team watching the House vote on the next President.  Also here watching is the ever-present Catherine, who is not only still recording, but has enough footage to present her documentary about her passions and interests.

Kissing Your Sister- New York Times article on election

One of the biggest things that happened to the Meyer clan was the House, for the first time, selecting the President since Election Night ended in a tie.  Catherine gives us a recap of the last season finale and presents the title of her documentary: “Kissing Your Sister.”  I’m feeling confident in this product already.

So Catherine takes us through the journey and how she ended up discovering something about herself.  Sue did not agree to be on film, by the way, so her face will be blurred.  Of course.

Kissing Your Sister- Selina is asked when she first knew that she wanted to be president

In the first of many interviews, Catherine asks her mother when she first knew that she wanted to be President.  It began in 1973 when she was asked to be her father’s date to President Nixon’s inaugural ball.  Dad said that people didn’t like Nixon, but they respected the hell out of him.  The same applied for Selina.  That is not the best way to encourage your child.

Kissing Your Sister- Richard talks with Jonah about the vote

And while the vote for the next President is underway, not every member of the House is present.  As in Jonah hasn’t made it to the Hill and Richard sets off to retrieve him.

Kissing Your Sister- Catherine interviews Tom James when Sidney Purcell enters the room

Following the election, we recount Selina selecting, nay, forcing Tom James serving as Economy Czar.  Catherine interviews Tom James about the job: there’s a lot to it, but he’s clearly not a fan.  Catherine also happens to catch Sidney Purcell and the Speaker of the House joining Tom for a meeting.

Kissing Your Sister- Bill Ericsson is interviewed in jail

Even Bill Ericsson is interviewed during his stint in jail.  Still counts.  He’s still bitter about Team Selina, but he hopes that Tom James wins the Presidency just so Selina can be dealt a major blow.

Kissing Your Sister- Selina talks about boxing up negative feelings

Back to the interview with Mom, Selina balks when Catherine asks how she’ll react if she loses the election.  When you have negative feelings, you put them in your box, stuff that box down tight, and then shove it into the back of your head.

Kissing Your Sister- Gary is asked about the economic crisis

Next up is Gary, who is asked about the financial crisis, but prefers to talk about how he prepares tea for Selina.  He does eventually answer a question about the economy, though: the country ran out of money.

Kissing Your Sister- Mike shows Catherine the baby's room

And we learn that Selina did think of firing Mike, who tells Catherine that he feels he is improving at his job.  After all, it requires him being fast on his feet.  He takes us through his home and a room that has been converted into a nursery for the incoming Chinese baby.  He hasn’t checked the room for lead.

Kissing Your Sister- Amy begs Selina to send her to Nevada

Then we catch up with Amy basically pleading that Selina send her to Nevada instead of Candi Caruso.  Selina calls it Amy eating shit and takes this opportunity to throw Amy’s words about Selina being a terrible president back at her.

Kissing Your Sister- Selina talks while Charlie Baird is nude in the background

Again, Selina doesn’t want to think about losing.  After all, she lost the first time she ran for Congress.  After that, she went to Arizona, which is apparently where she had her nervous breakdown.  If you watch in the background, you’ll notice Charlie Baird walks out without any clothes.

Kissing Your Sister- Jonah finally joins Richard and talks about this historic day

Jonah rushes out to join Richard, who is documenting the trip on Catherine’s behalf.  Selina is also on the line and tells him, in the nicest way possible, to vote for her.

Kissing Your Sister- Selina and Catherine show Grandma around the White House

We then watch Selina showing her mother around the White House.  I’m guessing her mother is deaf because she’s shouting at her.  Later, at the funeral, Selina feels the hole for her mother’s casket is not deep enough.

Kissing Your Sister- Amy attempts to ask out Dan

Next up is Dan, whose grandparents are apparently dead.  Catherine catches Amy try to ask out Dan, but he’s far too distracted to give a damn.

Kissing Your Sister- Amy keeps starting over her interview

Then it’s Amy’s turn.  She’s far too concerned with making sure she gets her age right and that she controls the filming process, not Catherine.  Amy is vain like that.

Kissing Your Sister- Mike has converted the nursery into a man cave

Mike was upset about the sanctions, so he turned the nursery into a cave for himself.  This transformation somehow cost the same as the child.  Wendy does not know about this.  Oh, Mike still has not checked for lead yet.

Kissing Your Sister- Marjorie is interviewed

Marjorie’s answers are short and to the point.  She won’t say if she’s killed a man and pauses when asked if Selina is a good president.  Then, she asks Catherine to dinner, even though Catherine isn’t a lesbian.  Marjorie just assumed.

Kissing Your Sister- Jonah gets vulgar at an elementary school

With Harry Sherman’s death, Catherine followed Jonah to New Hampshire. There, we learn that Jonah is eating so much pussy that he’s shitting clits.  Good to know, but not so much for the classroom of elementary school students.  Then, during the taping of his political ad, he’s unable to chop a block of wood.  So Richard does it, which would explain why we saw Black hands in the actual ad.

Kissing Your Sister- Richard talks about working with Jonah

Richard is next up, and he says that his only downside is that he’ll miss his Gilbert and Sullivan Society annual shows.  But he likes working for Jonah.

Kissing Your Sister- Paul Graves votes for Selina

Paul Graves, who paused for the longest prayer ever, eventually casts his vote for Selina Catherine Meyer.  Richard soon crashes into a stop sign.  Jonah can’t take an Uber because he’s been banned, so the two decide on Lyft instead.  Missouri abstains, which Ben thinks is Tom making his move.

Kissing Your Sister- Dan asks Catherine about going hallway to hallway with Marjorie

For whatever reason, Catherine films herself waking up Marjorie.  Following this, Dan asks Catherine if it’s weird going hallway to hallway with her mother’s twin.  Well, there’s a description of scissoring I’ve never heard before.

Kissing Your Sister- Ben introduces his wife, Joyce, played by Sumalee Montano, to Catherine

Ben has no idea what he’d do if Selina lost the election.  Oh, and Ben has an Asian wife, Joyce, played by Sumalee Montano.  She took care of Ben after his third heart attack.  Joyce is his best nurse, apparently.

Kissing Your Sister- Kent in a motorcycle group

Gary tries to call Charlie Baird to hang out because of course.  But onto something more intriguing: Kent’s life outside of Team Selina.  He’s part of a motorcycle club, which might be the most awesome thing ever.  This helps him keep the Washington skirmishes in perspective.

Kissing Your Sister- Roger Furlong discusses Selina

Furlong will miss Selina if she loses.  Apparently, she’s the only person in Washington who understands him.  Sure.

Kissing Your Sister- Mike has converted the nursery again

After watching Selina again chew out Mike behind his back, we learn that the man cave has been converted yet again.  The television will remain for educational purposes.  He still hasn’t checked for lead.  Also, there’s a ton of hockey memorabilia.

Kissing Your Sister- Catherine in the closet while Selina and Tom James fuck

And, to my surprise, we learn that Catherine was actually in the closet as Tom and Selina fucked at the Christmas party.

Kissing Your Sister- Gary wants the sofa removed

Gary tells Catherine that he’ll be fine if Selina loses the election.  Given what he just witnessed, it’s understandable why he’s fumbling with his words.  He even has the love couch removed.  After Gary, we watch Catherine have a brief talk with Andrew Doyle, who is excited to be Secretary of State, even though that job is to be assigned to Paul Graves.

Kissing Your Sister- Richard and Jonah end up outside

Back to the House vote, Jonah and Richard have finally arrived at Capitol Hill and end up rushing through security, but in their haste to find the House chamber, they end up outside.

Kissing Your Sister- Meeting Marjorie's family

Then we follow Catherine to join Marjorie and visit her parents.  Marjorie merely refers to Catherine as a work friend.

Kissing Your Sister- Catherine tells us that she and Marjorie had a fight

Instantly following this, Catherine tells us that she and Marjorie had a fight.

Kissing Your Sister- Selina consoles Catherine

When Catherine shares this with her mother, Selina isn’t affected by it.  At all.  She calls Marjorie insufferable and says that there are other lesbians in the secret service.  Anyway, Selina isn’t concerned with legacy.  She just wants to do the best possible job.  Catherine can’t keep up since she’s still sobbing.

Kissing Your Sister- Mike finds Selina interviewing Wayne

Mike catches Selina interviewing Wayne, but he has no idea that he’s about to lose his job.

Kissing Your Sister- The baby room is now the love palace

The baby room, meanwhile is now the love palace.  Mike has still yet to check for lead.

Kissing Your Sister- Selina realizes that she might lose the House election vote

When it looks like Jonah has made it to the House, it turns out that this was earlier for the swearing-in ceremony.  In the present, though, there are now three abstentions when Virginia votes for O’Brien.  Right now, neither O’Brien nor Selina has the votes to win this in the House.  Gary tries to console Selina by saying that she can run again in four years.  Then Washington votes for O’Brien, too.

Kissing Your Sister- Selina tells Amy that she wants Jonah to vote for O'Brien

Selina has everyone leave except for Amy.  She wants her to call Jonah so he can vote for O’Brien because that way, she can run again in a shorter amount of time compared to Tom James, who would probably win a second term.

Kissing Your Sister- Marjorie tells Catherine that she loves her

Jonah is still searching for the House chamber when O’Brien then gets his 25th vote.  Marjorie then tells Catherine that she admitted the truth to her parents and she loves her.  Oh, and Jonah finally makes it and votes for Selina Meyer.  It’s too late for Jonah to change his vote, too.  No do-over.  Good news and bad news all at once.

Kissing Your Sister- Selina talks about the possibility of losing

So it’s a no-decision for the House of Representatives.  The potential race between Tom James and Laura Montez heads to the Senate.  If Selina loses, then she loses.  Selina knows that other Presidents have lost and gone on to do great things.  But she tells Gary that she can’t lose this.

Kissing Your Sister- Selina meets with fans

Selina is in the Red Room when a group of tourists enter.  She’s as overjoyed as they are and enjoys the love from her supporters.  This is a bittersweet moment, isn’t it?

Kissing Your Sister- Catherine and Marjorie at an animal sanctuary

A tie is apparently like kissing your sister.  Catherine got to kiss the sister she never knew she had.  And she did indeed get to start up that sanctuary for rescued animals.  Well, it’s progress.

In essence, “Kissing Your Sister” has two main stories at play here: Selina and company awaiting the results of the House vote, while Catherine presents the work and results of her documentary.  It’s similar to last year’s “Testimony,” but the difference is that episode had to stick with Team Selina.  After all, they were the focus of that episode due to the investigation.

Kissing Your Sister- Selina bumps into the camera

By contract, “Kissing Your Sister” deals a lot with Selina and her team, yes, but it’s through Catherine’s perspective.  If we spent the bulk of this episode watching Selina wait around and do nothing while results filed in, it would have been funny, sure, but nothing noteworthy.  Also, it would have been too similar to Season 4’s “Election Night,” where the bulk of the episode was Selina waiting to see if she would win the election.

So this is a good place to let us see the fruits of Catherine’s labor.  The payoff to the many instances of Catherine recording in the background felt earned.  If Catherine had only popped up once or twice, we’d have to wonder when she got all of these scandalous moments when Veep is filled with nothing but.  Yet, Catherine has been lurking since the premiere and been a constant presence, so it’s rewarding to see the result of her work.

What’s great about “Kissing Your Sister,” which is a weird thing to say, now that I think about it, is that it’s not just an excuse to have a montage or season recap.  Yes, we’re seeing previous scenes from Catherine’s perspective, but it felt refreshing.  We’re watching Washington politics unfold from her view, but also giving us further insight and revelations on well-threaded moments throughout the season.

Kissing Your Sister- Selina wants Mike gone

For example, now we know that there was a separate meeting regarding Selina wanting to fire Mike, Amy attempting to get a drink with Dan, we saw Tom James meeting with Sidney Purcell, and Catherine captured Gary’s horrified reaction to Tom and Selina boning.  Of course he would want that couch removed.

Community

It reminded me of the Community episode “Paradigms of Human Memory” where we’re watching previous moments and scenes unfold, but with new material.  It’s scary to think back to “Congressional Ball” and realize that while Selina and Tom are fucking, Selina’s daughter is just a few feet away and hearing the entire ordeal unfold.

Kissing Your Sister- Mike in the man cave nursery

But as enjoyable as it was to relive previous episodes through Catherine, I much enjoyed the time spent with various characters, Mike in particular.  His subplot about adopting a baby has been in the background.  In addition, we saw his dreams crushed when he didn’t get the hockey job, which makes me assume all the moments in the remodeled room took place before or during the events of “Congressional Ball.”

In addition, these interviews show just how little Selina has valued Mike as an employee as the season progressed.  Sure, he’s not the only one on Team Selina screwing up, but as Director of Communications and often voice of the President, his foibles are more noticeable.  So it was smart to juxtapose Mike’s constant forgetfulness of checking for lead against Selina deciding that it was time to replace him.

Kissing Your Sister- Ben and Joyce

Also big reveals for the episode were Ben and Kent.  I don’t remember ever learning that much about either of their personal lives, so it was a welcome treat to see that Ben only has a loving wife, but that he seems to have a thing for nurses.

Kissing Your SIster- Kent and his motorcycle group

And I never expected Kent of all people to be part of a motorcycle club.  Kent?  The man is so straight laced and meticulous that this out of left field reveal surprised me.  And yet, I can see it, given how it helps him keep Washington affairs in order.

Kissing Your Sister- Selina tells a story about Nixon

When we get into Selina’s head, we get not just more of her vanity, but desire to be treated as a serious leader.  Her story about her father saying that people didn’t like Nixon, but respected him speaks volumes about Selina.  Think back to “Cuntgate” when she accepted that most people on her staff have called her a cunt.  She’s less interested in people liking her and more that she be seen as someone who knows how to lead.

Camp David- Selina meets with the Chinese delegation

There have been instances where we’ve seen Selina negotiate and be diplomatic, but those moments are outweighed by the many screw-ups and errors on both her part and the fault of her administration.  But she’s still a fighter who will do and say anything to ensure that, when the dust has settled, she has some sort of win.

So when she attempts to have Jonah throw his vote for O’Brien, she’s already accepted that she won’t become President, so she’s willing to be patient for a shorter amount of time under Doyle.  As the previous season established, Tom James is well liked by the general public, so of course he’d serve for 12 years since, as Amy pointed out, his Tom’s first term wouldn’t count since he would be an elevated vice president.

Kissing Your Sister- Selina with supporters

Selina isn’t going through the stages of grief yet, but she’s getting close.  Until the end of the House vote, she refuses to consider the possibility that she would not win the election.  And when Selina is in the Red Room with supporters, Dreyfus is great at showing the despair on Selina’s face.

Here’s a woman who has endured mishap after mishap, and just when she had a Plan B to minimize the damage, even that failed due to Jonah not getting the message in time.

Kissing Your Sister- Richard and Jonah at security

Which brings me to Jonah and Richard, who mostly played catch-up, but had their moments.  I loved the glimpse at Richard’s life outside of politics, as well as Jonah’s language used at an elementary school.  And much as Jonah loved to brag about working for the President in the past, it’s funny that he would not have any sort of identification when he arrived at the House, more so now that he’s a new Congressman.

Kissing Your Sister- Catherine cries

Then there’s Catherine herself.  It’s nice that Sarah Sutherland gets the spotlight for a change and she’s great in this episode.  Catherine is just as odd as her mother, but she just wants to be recognized.  She’s not an attention-seeker like her mother- she’s just lived in Selina’s shadow for so long.  This documentary is one of the ways for us to see the true Catherine.  When she’s away from all the political bullshit, I see a happier woman.

Kissing Your Sister- Marjorie and Catherine pet animals

Those little moments with Marjorie still show how weird this relationship is, but we saw a Catherine not shackled down by her mother.  Though I still maintain that Catherine has some pretty big mother issues.  Catherine is used to getting shafted by Selina, but when it comes from someone who looks just like her, when Marjorie calls her a work friend, she crumbles.  But by the end, she’s rekindled her supposed love.  Good for her.

“Kissing Your Sister” was a nice break from the usual Veep episode and felt refreshing with the reveal of Catherine’s many hours of recording.  It added layers to an already complex character who for so long has been ignored and relegated to the background.  In addition to Catherine, it filled in the blanks on plot points planted throughout the season.  With neither O’Brien nor Meyer having secured the votes, we’re headed to the Senate.

And with the season finale coming up next, what will become of Selina Meyer?  Will be she knocked back to the Vice Presidential position she so loathed?  Would Tom James even want or need her in his administration, should he win?  Well, if last season’s tied election is indicative of anything, it’s that we might be in for a surprise.  See you all at the finale.

A Look at “Orphan Black” Season 4 Finale: “From Dancing Mice to Psychopaths”

Last time on Orphan Black, Helena showed what she learned from watching The Revenant, Evie Cho made a major error in judgment, and Delphine turned to almost look at the camera.  And now, welcome back to Orphan Black for the Season Four finale.

From Dancing Mice to Psychopaths- Krystal watches Duko about to shoot Delphine

The episode begins with a flashback to the events of Season Three as Krystal watches Detective Duko shoot Delphine in the parking garage.  Before he can finish her off, Krystal’s phone rings, distracting him.  Why Krystal even has her phone on or why Duko didn’t just finish Delphine off is anyone’s guess.  But Duko leaves.

From Dancing Mice to Psychopaths- Dr. Van Lier, played by Scott Wentworth, rescues Delphine

Krystal rushes to Delphine, but a van arrives and men come to pick up Delphine.  These men also happen to know Krystal’s name.  One of the men in particular is Dr. Van Lier, the same man who has served as Evie Cho’s doctor.  We follow Delphine through her surgery and recovery as she’s patched up and healed.  One of the men working on her just happens to be the same man that Rachel has been seeing in her glitches.

From Dancing Mice to Psychopaths- Cosima and Susan make a breakthrough

Back on the island, Cosima and Susan continue their research.  The vector was effective and the sequence has remained stable.  Science success!  Translation to Sarah and Mrs. S., there’s a cure for Cosima.  There’s a functioning therapy for all of the sestras.  But then, Cosima is denied access from the database.

From Dancing Mice to Psychopaths- Krystal speaks with Felix

Krystal talks with a friend about Evie Cho’s comments when she spots Van Lier on television, saying that he will be taking over as CEO of Brightborn.  Krystal calls Felix to give more information about Delphine, but she won’t give anything unless Felix tells her everything.

From Dancing Mice to Psychopaths- Ira tells Rachel that he can't get in touch with Susan

Ira, meanwhile, is unable to get in touch with Susan.  Sarah calls Rachel to discuss Brightborn and Evie Cho’s troubles, but Rachel is having her own communication issues.  Well, bringing down Evie Cho was bound to bring about problems.  The doctor is Evie Cho’s personal physician and saw the transition of power.  As Rachel later gets herself ready, she gets an unexpected visit from Ferdinand.

From Dancing Mice to Psychopaths- Felix tells S and Sarah about Krystal's information

Felix arrives and tells S and Sarah about Krystal’s information regarding Delphine.  The name of the game is bots versus clones.  S will keep trying to contact Cosima while Sarah and Felix talk with Krystal.

From Dancing Mice to Psychopaths- Charlotte points out Cosima's nosebleed

Internet at the island is no better.  Cosima tries to comfort Charlotte, but all of a sudden, she gets a nosebleed and feels woozy.

From Dancing Mice to Psychopaths- Dr. Van Lier activates the bot in Evie's mouth

Evie talks with a gathering of executives about Brightborn’s exposure and the following damage control.  She’s presented with papers that absolve Brightborn of any responsibilities or troubles.  However, Evie won’t sign anything away since this is her technology.  After all, this is a minor setback.  But then, Van Lier activates the bot in Evie’s mouth.  Well, that should put her down.

From Dancing Mice to Psychopaths- Helena and Donnie in the woods

In the woods that time forgot, S tells Helena and Donnie to keep out of the conflict for now, even though Helena wants to help.  But that first involves figuring out the enemy.  Hope you enjoyed that, because it’s the only time we’ll see Donnie and Helena in the finale.  Oh, and Alison apparently has the shits, which must be why she’s not in the scene.

From Dancing Mice to Psychopaths- Rachel gets Ferdinand on his knees

Rachel fills Ferdinand in, but he just wants to fool around.  Rachel isn’t the same person due to her infirmities.  She doesn’t feel much of anything anymore.  Ferdinand tells Rachel that he’s lost a great deal in his quest to find her.  The two of them had plans.  Also, he’s not a fan of her self-pity.  So Rachel forces Ferdinand to his knees for some foreplay.

From Dancing Mice to Psychopaths- Krystal enters the comic book shop and talks with Felix, Scott, and Hell-Wizard

Krystal strolls into the safe house like she owns the damn place and talks with Felix.  They’re both wearing sunglasses even though they know each other and no one else is in the shop except for Scott and Hell-Wizard.  Krystal doesn’t want to be left out of the loop and won’t budge on divulging information about Delphine.

From Dancing Mice to Psychopaths- Krystal thinks she looks nothing like Sarah

Okay, so Felix takes her downstairs, where she comes face to face with Sarah, who tells Krystal that she is her clone.  Krystal thinks she looks nothing like Sarah.  In fact, she looks better.  Krystal lays it out: this is about human experiments and two factions fighting for control.  Dr. Van Lier is Neolution because he showed up after Delphine was shot and had medical equipment ready.

From Dancing Mice to Psychopaths- Ira walks in on Rachel and Ferdinand

Rachel and Ferdinand’s foreplay continues with Ferdinand tied to the bed and Rachel spouting on about controlling Neolution, which she finds to be the ultimate power.  She demands that Ferdinand say convert, but then Ira enters and spots her in the middle of playtime.  He tells Rachel that Susan is about to call.  Side-note, Tatiana Maslany has got an ass.  Okay, I’m finished.

From Dancing Mice to Psychopaths- Cosima overhears Susan's conversation with Rachel

Susan does call and talk with Rachel about restarting human cloning.  Neolution will apparently back her now that Evie Cho has been retired.  The board will make its recommendations soon.  Oh, and Cosima heard all of this.  She thinks that Susan doesn’t care about a cure and believes that Susan will keep making mistakes.

From Dancing Mice to Psychopaths- Cosima confronts Susan over cloning

So Susan talks about Neolution’s founders, who understood progress.  She can’t risk Cosima interfering, so she locks her in the room.  She could have just taken out a gun and shot her, but whatever.

From Dancing Mice to Psychopaths- Rachel tells Ira that he won't be necessary for the board meeting

Rachel tells Ira that he won’t be necessary for this board meeting.  Well, that’s not good for Ira.

From Dancing Mice to Psychopaths- 'Krystal' questions Dr. Van Lier about Brightborn and Delphine's shooting

Dr. Van Lier takes questions from the press about Evie Cho and legal action taken against her.  Krystal joins in, claiming to be TMZ, and asks questions about Neolution and Dr. Cormier.  She asks him to meet around the corner, and because he’s stupid, he does.

From Dancing Mice to Psychopaths- S and Sarah question Dr. Van Lier

That way, he’s unprepared when Mrs. S. surprises him with a gun.  Oh, and Krystal is Sarah.  Van Lier tells them that he sent Delphine to be healed.  He tells the two that their side has won and Susan already plans to restart human cloning.  Right now, Sarah’s problem isn’t Susan Duncan, but Rachel since she has reconvened the board without Susan.

From Dancing Mice to Psychopaths- Rachel meets with the board

Rachel meets the board and congratulates them for putting human cloning back on the table.  So Rachel talks to the board about how she is not her mother.  She wants to be a part of the goal of genetic change in the general population.  This would involve operating in countries where human cloning is not illegal and can be done with Susan’s baseline and Evie’s technology.

From Dancing Mice to Psychopaths- Art and Felix find Ira

At the same time, Art and Felix enter Rachel’s hotel room and find Ira strapped to the bed, while the doctor tells Sarah and S about Rachel’s plan.

From Dancing Mice to Psychopaths- Sarah tells Ira that they're headed to the island

Sarah arrives at Felix’s place to tell Ira that they’re going to the island to save Susan.  Neolution apparently follows the signs, and so will Sarah.

From Dancing Mice to Psychopaths- Cosima looks at Charlotte's paintings

Back on the island, Cosima searches the room for anything that could help her escape when she spots one of Charlotte’s painting.  On it, she spots three tiny homes.

From Dancing Mice to Psychopaths- Sarah prepares to leave for the island, but Ira can't go

Sarah won’t allow S to go with her to the island not because of Rachel, but to help Cosima.  Plus, someone has to stay behind and take care of Kira, who is in the middle of talking to Ira.  Ira won’t get to go after all.  Instead, he’s staying behind as collateral.  Kira tells her mother that there are other sisters out there that they don’t even know about yet.  Hopefully, they will be free soon.

From Dancing Mice to Psychopaths- Rachel confronts Susan

Rachel arrives at the island and yells for Susan, but gets no response.  Instead, she runs into the man from her glitches.  He tells her that Susan is in the kitchen and advises her to not waiver.  The man, Susan says, is a messenger from the board.  Rachel maintains that she knows what she is doing.  Power, though, does not equal free will.  Susan believes that Rachel won’t be accepted and can’t believe that her own daughter is betraying her.

From Dancing Mice to Psychopaths- Cosima and Charlotte prepare to leave the mansion

Charlotte frees Cosima to tell her that they must get to the boat.  Charlotte confirms that there are other people on the island, but she’s not allowed to go see them.

From Dancing Mice to Psychopaths- Susan tells Rachel that she regrets making her

Rachel thinks that Susan should be thanking her for arriving at this point.  After all, Susan gave Rachel to this.  Susan admits that she shouldn’t have left Rachel, but Rachel is still angry.  Right now, Rachel must make the hard choice.  She asks about the cell line.  Susan finally admits that she regrets making Rachel.  Ouch.

From Dancing Mice to Psychopaths- Rachel stabs Susan

By the way, you’ll probably notice that Rachel is standing very close to some kitchen knives, and that’s important because as Rachel continues to glitch, she picks up a knife and plunges it into her mother’s gut.

From Dancing Mice to Psychopaths- Charlotte and Cosima rest

Charlotte and Cosima venture outside, but Cosima’s condition is not getting any better, as she’s still coughing up blood.  They continue just as Sarah arrives at the island.  As night falls, the two take a moment to rest.

From Dancing Mice to Psychopaths- Sarah finds Susan bleeding

Sarah explores the house and follows a trail of blood downstairs.  She finds Susan trying to patch herself up.  Susan tells Sarah that she sent Cosima and Charlotte away, but also, Rachel has escaped with the entire cell line as a cure.  Unfortunately, there was no time to cure Cosima.

From Dancing Mice to Psychopaths- Rachel tortures Sarah

And that’s when Rachel surprises Sarah from behind.  A three way tussle ensues with Rachel managing to stab Sarah in her thigh.  Sarah maintains that Rachel is one of the clones.  But Rachel denies this.  Hell, she says that Sarah didn’t even know who she was until Beth stepped onto that train platform.

That’s when Susan points a gun at her own daughter.  Okay, when did Susan get that gun and how has she not bled out yet?  Anyway, Rachel goes on a villain monologue and fires at Sarah, but misses because she has the aim of a Stormtrooper, giving Sarah an opportunity to hobble outside.

From Dancing Mice to Psychopaths- Cosima and Charlotte are brought to a sanctuary

The man from Rachel’s vision spots and aids Charlotte and Cosima to his sanctuary- the section of homes Charlotte was told to not visit.  It’s here that Cosima reunites with Delphine.  Doctors get to work on Cosima, who tells Delphine that she might be dying.  At the very least, Cosima tells Delphine that she finished their homework.  Delphine stays with Cosima to keep her warm.  This somehow involves her taking off her clothes.

From Dancing Mice to Psychopaths- Rachel and Susan talk

Susan is somehow still alive.  Rachel tells Susan that she’s made her own decision, but she was led here and has seen things in her eyes: the messenger, the swan, and such.  Rachel asks who built her eye, but Susan says that she already knows.  It’s the man who wrote the book on Neolution over a century ago.  Sounds impossible, but not for him.  Rachel leaves Susan in the room.  She doesn’t finish her off.

From Dancing Mice to Psychopaths- Delphine talks about Cosima

Delphine and the doctor talk about Cosima’s condition, with Delphine maintaining that Cosima is her patient.  Delphine tells Cosima that they have to be careful here because it’s not safe.  Oh, and she has the cure on hand, too.  Delphine makes Cosima promise to not tell anyone.

From Dancing Mice to Psychopaths- Ferdinand speaks with Sarah

Sarah is still hobbling by the shore and looks like hell.  She calls S, but Ferdinand takes the phone and tells her that the family is fine.  He’s just holding them hostage.  That’s all.

From Dancing Mice to Psychopaths- Rachel tells Dr. Van Lier that it's done

Rachel cleans the blade she used to stab Susan and then pours herself a nice glass of wine.  She calls Dr. Van Lier and tells him that it’s done.  In response, he tells her that Dr. Westmoreland will now see her.  The season comes to a close with a now jubilant Rachel receiving a ring at the door.

When a season of a television show ends, you want it to answer any burning questions that may arise throughout the duration of the season.  At the same time, you hope that there’s some discovery, event, or revelation that will keep you invested to tune in when the program returns.

Orphan Black’s fourth season finale accomplishes both, but I think it raises more questions that I hope are addressed in the season’s fifth and now final season.

From Dancing Mice to Psychopaths- Delphine cares for Cosima

Earlier in the season, it felt like things had gone back to basics with the primary focus going to the clones and whatever shadowy organization they had to combat.  We got that, but between Brightborn and Neolution, not to mention the secret community housing Delphine, it feels like things got a bit crowded.  However, that’s not a huge problem because we aren’t constantly jumping from one group to the next.

From Dancing Mice to Psychopaths- Rachel details her master plan

Whether it’s Brightborn or Neolution, this all felt like a way for the show to put Rachel back into a position of power and return her to an antagonist for the clones.  And we see the anger on her face when Susan regrets creating her.  Whether by Susan or Evie, Rachel has gotten the shaft this season and been marginalized by those around her.

From Dancing Mice to Psychopaths- Rachel sees that Susan is about to shoot her

So she finally makes a power play that goes well beyond her mother’s desire for human cloning and is convinced she can do this by blending Susan’s work with Evie’s technology. For all the time Rachel has spent recovering this season, it was nice to see her take charge and prove that she is not her mother or Sarah, even though part of her might want that feeling of true family and camaraderie that Sarah has.

From Dancing Mice to Psychopaths- Rachel tells Susan that she's seeing things in her eye

What I’m curious is what Rachel intends to do with Susan. From what I can see, she doesn’t have much use of her and she wasn’t just trying to prick Susan when she stabbed her. Like Duko or Evie not killing Cosima when given the chance, I have to wonder why Rachel doesn’t just eliminate Susan altogether. She already has the cell line and knows what her mother thinks of her, so just save the trouble and get rid of her.

From Dancing Mice to Psychopaths- Rachel messes with Sarah's leg

Though maybe Rachel’s glitches would explain why she didn’t make the smartest decisions in the finale. Not just keeping Susan alive, but also missing her chance to kill Sarah. Stop doing villain monologues and eliminate the threat when you have the chance.

From Dancing Mice to Psychopaths- Sarah tells S that she's going to the island alone

Granted, Sarah wasn’t in the best of condition when she fled the mansion, so at least Rachel has that. I’m surprised that Sarah elected to visit the island alone without any sort of back-up plan, but I get why this feels more personal for her. Plus, if she had this come-from-behind idea to save her at the last second, it would have felt too similar to Helena rescuing the Hendrixes just when they needed help.

From Dancing Mice to Psychopaths- Sarah learns that Ferdinand is with S and Kira

But at what could be her lowest moment after she tried to commit suicide, Sarah is damaged and unable to help Mrs. S. and Kira. As strong and committed she is to protecting her family, what she’s unable to do here is save everyone. I get that she wouldn’t want to put anyone else at risk, given how dangerous Rachel can be, and Ira might not have provided much help, but you’d think there would be a Plan B.

From Dancing Mice to Psychopaths- Krystal has a question

Let’s talk about Krystal for a bit. As Felix points out, she has this uncanny ability to be right on the nose with her hunches, but still be off in a few areas. It’s almost like trying to dissect this show’s plot, but I digress. She proved useful with her information about Ian Van Lier and, unlike other allies, wasn’t shocked at all about the clone reveal, which was a nice change of pace.

From Dancing Mice to Psychopaths- Duko searches while Krystal hides

And how nice of her phone to be the thing that ended up saving Delphine’s life. Why she didn’t have her phone off while snooping, I don’t know. And why Duko? It felt like a way to bring his character back, but this reveal isn’t all that impacting. Granted, the show doesn’t play it up like it should be a big reveal, but like Kendall Malone, I’m left wondering why Duko didn’t just finish Delphine when he had the chance.

From Dancing Mice to Psychopaths- Dr. Van Lier ends Evie

Hell, it would have been a surprise if Evie Cho had been the one to shoot Delphine. Give this woman some level of menace. As is, Evie was a bit of a letdown as a villain. Sure, the show had to set Rachel back up, but really, what was on Evie’s list of accomplishments? Duko is the one who put the bullet in Kendall Malone’s head. She just gave the order.

From Dancing Mice to Psychopaths- Evie Cho's last stand

For as calm and collective as she’s been this season, when her world crumbles all around her, she loses that calmness and becomes petulant. Had she not been foolish enough to fall for Rachel’s ruse, she wouldn’t have ended up in this situation and ended up paying with her life. She was, as she saw the clones, obsolete. It’s unfortunate that Evie’s demise came from Brightborn itself and not someone from Clone Club.

From Dancing Mice to Psychopaths- Delphine and Cosima kiss

As for Cosima and Delphine’s reunion, it was a long time coming and I’ll admit that it was nice to see them reunite after being apart for so long.  It felt like the show was about to let Cosima die since her condition wasn’t improving, but no way would that happen before she see Delphine again.  I assume next season we’ll find out why Delphine has remained her for so long and presumably made no attempt to contact Cosima.

Though I do find it convenient that the hidden sanctuary happened to be located not too far from the mansion, just so Cosima and Charlotte could be rescued so they wouldn’t die in the middle of the woods.  And on Cosima, I like that she again took initiative and challenged Susan, as well as looking for a way out instead of waiting to be rescued.

From Dancing Mice to Psychopaths- Cosima finds one of Charlotte's paintings

Granted, she did have to wait since Charlotte was the one who sprung her, but at least she took the time to find out about the hidden community on the island.

From Dancing Mice to Psychopaths- Krystal and Felix in the comic book store

And for as dark as this episode was, it had its share of lighter moments.  Anytime Felix and Krystal interact, you’re bound for an entertaining scene.  Same goes for Ferdinand just wanting Rachel to dominate him.  And Ira’s line about Ferdinand still having his socks on might have been the funniest line of the episode.  Helena and Donnie, while brief, also have a nice moment, as well.

In a season of betrayal, death, and misery, there were still glimmers of hope throughout.  “From Dancing Mice to Psychopaths” worked well mostly with Sarah, Krystal, and Rachel, but also giving Cosima some happiness.  It didn’t all work well.  Evie Cho being dispatched of so simply shows how expendable she ended up being as a villain.

But now we’re left with more questions: What does Rachel want with Dr. Westmoreland?  Will her ultimate goal succeed?  How does Ferdinand factor into this, if at all?  Will Krystal become more involved with Clone Club?  Why does Delphine want Cosima to keep quiet? What has Delphine been doing this entire time?  And after learning that Kira and Siobhan are in danger, what will Sarah do now?

Here’s hoping we get some answers when we return for the final run of Orphan Black in Season Five.  See you then.

A Look at “House of Lies” Series Finale: “No Es Facil”

Well, here we are.  It’s been five seasons of consulting, backstabbing, and unpredictable bullshit from our friends at Kaan & Associates.  Five seasons of meetings, flights, parties, and afterwork have led the pod to Cuba for one final negotiation.  Will they succeed?  And if they do, where do they go from there?  Welcome, my friends, to the final episode of Showtime’s House of Lies.

The episode begins with glimpses of moments: Marty and Jeannie resting by a car on the beach, the Kohl brothers fighting, Monica seducing Marty, Jeannie chewing out Marty, and Doug making out with an older woman.

No es Facil- Marty has big plans for Cuba

Then we start proper with the pod coming close to their hotel, though Doug tells everyone that Cubans do business in cafes and restaurants.  Time for a time freeze.  Marty welcomes us to Cuba- the perfect jewel of newly budded capitalism.  Today, Marty Kaan is ready to make it rain for the Kohl brothers, who will spend so much money on buying Kaan & Associates that Marty doesn’t have to worry about anything for as long as he lives.

No es Facil- Monica and Skip speak with the pod

Big plans include a five star hotel on every beach, a Starbucks on every corner, and so on, but today, this will turn into Marty Kaan’s Cuba.  The time freeze stops as the pod continues along when they spot Monica, who taunts the pod by telling them that they don’t have a chance.  Skip comes out and joins in on the taunting, but Marty reminds Skip that this deal is up for grabs.

As the pod heads in, Monica asks Marty about his tell.  Quiet, humble Marty means that he has a shiv.  Marty at least thanks Monica for telling him that he has a tell.

No es Facil- Clyde screws with Doug

We then flash back to earlier, on the plane, where Clyde drops alcohol into Doug’s ear. Doug is livid since you can get an infection, and it doesn’t help that he needs to catch up on his sleep.  Doug apologizes, but Clyde soon does it again, so Doug gets up and sits next to a woman in another aisle.

No es Facil- Clyde talks with Marty

Clyde joins Marty, who is stressing over  plans, to ask about Jeannie, since the two are no longer sitting together.  Marty doesn’t want to talk about it, so he asks what Clyde will do with his share of the money if the pod wins this deal.  Clyde would live the dream, but he has no idea what that means.  Maybe build houses.

No es Facil- Doug kisses a random woman on the plane

Jeannie interrupts this talk to show the two something very important: Doug locking lips with the woman.  Clyde hits record in an instant.  And no point in saying anything to Doug about this.

No es Facil- Pod discusses the Cuba plan

Back in the present, Jeannie wants to visit Ernest Hemingway’s house, but Doug isn’t a fan of the man and his five word sentences. Very specific complaint, Doug.  Marty informs the pod that they’re meeting a man named Samuel, who Zobel thinks is a real asset.  He managed to make a dent in the marketplace, but the Kohl brothers will want to eat Cuba for breakfast.  Marty will feed them that meal.

Doug doesn’t remember his encounter on the plane due to the Ambien, but he at least remembers that it was pretty hot.  The team goes through the phases of the Kohl Brothers’ project, starting with Doug.

No es Facil- Samuel, played by Carlos Gómez, speaks with the pod about Cuba and its way of life

Soon enough, the pod comes face to face with Samuel, played by Carlos Gómez, who gets philosophical with the team.  He guesses that the pod has done their consulting work and plans for profits, which is true, so he tells them to throw those plans into the ocean. You can’t quantify anything in Cuba because nothing will match your projections.  To do business in Cuba, you have to surrender.

The guiding worldview of contemporary Cuba is “No es facil,” or “It’s not easy.”  However, that doesn’t mean that it’s not worthwhile.  It just means that it’s nice.  Everything that the pod believes and stakes its business on: capitalism, the free markets, trickle-down economics, Cuba exposes all of that for the pile of bullshit that it is.  So sometimes, it will be disaster, and other times, it won’t.  None of it will be what you expect.

Doug counters that everything in business is quantifiable, but Samuel states that is only possible when there is a series of constants.  The only constant is that nothing is constant.  Samuel leaves the pod to enjoy their evening.  Tomorrow, though, the leasing company.

No es Facil- Pod stumbles after presentation

So it’s time for the pod to present, and they do.  It went horribly.  So time for the meeting with commerce.  Still, nothing.  Cuba doesn’t just spread her legs and let you take her, like Jeannie apparently does.  As Samuel said, no es facil.

No es Facil- Pod plays futbol with some kids

Samuel takes the pod for a scenic tour of Cuba.  The pod plays futbol with some kids and later enjoys dancing and drinking.  Like most car trips, though, they experience car trouble and end up traveling in another traveler’s truck.  Marty lets his mind wander.

No es Facil- Marty and Jeannie end up at a random wedding

Later, Marty and Jeannie find themselves lost and end up at someone’s wedding.  Marty thinks that he knows the way back, but Jeannie isn’t interested in joining him.  She wants to be at this wedding because the people here are happy, but she isn’t.  She rages at Marty, telling him to fuck off when he suggests she stop being dramatic.  And so, Jeannie goes off to dance with people she’s never met.

No es Facil- Marty with Monica

Even later that evening, a drunk Marty finds himself sitting before Monica, who still wonders whether Marty will fuck up her acquisition.  However, Marty is over it.  Cuba won’t go for the Kohl brothers.  He likes the people, food, culture, and slow, sustainable growth of Cuba.  Monica, meanwhile, likes rapid growth.

No es Facil- Monica makes her case to the Cuban representatives

We cut to Monica and Skip giving their presentation to Cuban representatives about the willingness to exploit your labor force and reach a climate of maximum growth potential, similar to China.  The Kohl brothers can make this happen.  The Cuban representatives have heard enough.  In their minds, this is bad business.  The negotiation devolves into a full blown shouting match.

No es Facil- Kohl brothers fight

The Kohl brothers even start yelling at each other as Monica tries to make her case.  If anything, at least the Kohl brothers were kind enough to take their fight outside.  And now we get a payoff to that brief scene from the beginning as the Kohl brothers began to beat the shit out of each other.  The pod watches from the sidelines in triumph.

No es Facil- Marty understands that Cuba does not want the Kohl brothers

Then, we cut to earlier as the pod relaxes with Samuel.  Marty realizes ahead of time that Cuba doesn’t want the Kohl brothers.  Samuel asks if Marty would want that sort of thing, and he would not.  Indeed, no es fucking facil.

No es Facil- Monica straddles Marty, who tries to tell her that Cuba doesn't want the Kohl brothers

We then go back to Monica and Marty, who tells her that Cuba won’t go for the Kohl brothers.  Monica still likes rapid growth.  She removes her robe and straddles Marty, but he tells her that she already got what she want.  Monica thinks that Marty not fucking her is another tell.  With that, she leaves.

No es Facil- Marty tells the pod about his plan to trip up Monica

Marty later tells the pod that he was honest with Monica, so now they just wait to tell her the “truth.”  The pod will feed Monica an email that she’ll hack.  Doug accepts responsibility, saying that if not for his intellectual curiosity, the pod would not be able to manipulate Monica.  By curiosity, Doug opened up spam while trying to jerk off in the office.

The plan is to make it seem as if Cuba is in the mood for a China-style expansion.  And then, the pod just watches Monica crash and burn.  Clyde has one concern: if this is a bad strategy, then what’s their plan, because this is very familiar with the group’s plan.  In conclusion, Kaan & Associates is not selling to the Kohl brothers, much to Doug’s dismay. Besides, who wants to subject Cuba to aggressive imperialism?

No es Facil- Marty tells Jeannie that they should get married

So, we cut back to the wedding as Marty watches Jeannie dance with strangers.  Soon enough, Marty tells Jeannie that he thinks she should marry him.  No jokes.  He’s damn serious.  After realizing that this isn’t a joke, Jeannie accepts.  However, the two will still work.  They won’t sell off the business they worked their asses off to create.  And they can still raise a family.  The two kiss and dance the day away.

No es Facil- Pod bids farewell to Skip

Following this, as the pod is departing, Skip rushes up to ask Marty for a few minutes of his time.  He has a real offer to bring Marty in the door so everyone wins.  The problem is that Skip doesn’t lose.  Skip’s losing is tantamount to a win.  With that, the pod heads off.

No es Facil- Marty and Jeannie wake up at the beach

We then end up back at the beach with Marty and Jeannie awakening next to a car.  The two are officially married and Jeannie stole a car.

No es Facil- Marty and Jeannie are wed

Then, we flash back to the two joining in holy matrimony.  The festivities commence with even some of the show’s staff joining in on the dancing as House of Lies, and five seasons worth of management consulting madness with Don Cheadle, Kristen Bell, Josh Lawson, and Ben Schwartz comes to a close.

“No es Facil” takes the pod into Cuba for what we believed to be their final mission as they looked to selling off their company and living the rest of their lives in peace.  It would be that easy to just score so much money that you don’t have to worry about anything for the rest of your life.

No es Facil- Samuel explains to the pod what 'No es facil' means

But life isn’t set in stone, as the good people of Cuba know.  You can’t expect everything to go according to plan, more so if you want to plant your flag in unexplored territory and expect to do so without resistance.  As Samuel tells the pod, the only constant is that nothing is constant.  Not everything needs to be examined from a business perspective or quantified like some math equation.

No es Facil- Pod travels around Cuba

When we go on that ride through Cuba and see its culture up close, I get the sense that this is where Marty starts to change his mind on Cuba, in addition to Samuel’s words.  Marty has always been a businessman first, but bringing that consultant mentality into Cuba would just show how much the citizens are already fine with their lives.  There’s no need to meddle in their affairs just for a nice paycheck.

No es Facil- Marty smokes a cigar while watching the Kohl brothers fight

I don’t think Marty views this as a setback or failure, though.  He just realizes that there’s no point in trying to force his brand of capitalism and consumerism on Cuba.  Rather, he comes to embrace Cuba’s “No es facil” lifestyle by accepting that nothing is certain, no matter how far ahead you try to anticipate the outcome.

No es Facil- Jeannie tells Marty to fuck off

That’s why he’s clashed so often with Jeannie, who is thinking long-term, but also not trying to move as fast as Marty.  She has her entire life ahead of her to relax, not to mention raise her daughter.  Sure, she wants to do things like travel when Phoebe is older, but in general, she wants to take life one day at a time.

Violent Agreement- Jeannie and Marty talk about their lives after the Cuba mission

And I appreciate that this doesn’t just come out of nowhere.  We’ve watched Jeannie be at odds with Marty in a few episodes over their exit strategy and she already didn’t want to make this Cuba deal just for the money.  Now that she’s in the thick of the carefree Cuba, she just wants happiness in her life.  She won’t get that if she’s not working or keeping herself busy, never mind the money she would get.

No es Facil- Marty and Jeannie kiss at their wedding

So what other step is there for Marty and Jeannie than to get married?  They both accept that Cuba doesn’t want the Kohl brothers and they have acknowledged that it’s possible for them to be together and provide for Phoebe.  And between the back and forth the two have had since the beginning, this feels like a logical next step for them.

No es Facil- Marty decides that he wants to marry Jeannie

Yes, it does wrap up things in a nice, neat box, but at the same time, it does make for a hopefully bright future for the two of them.  They aren’t selling their company and letting life pass by them.  They’re returning to work and doing what they do best.  Kaan & Associates has a reputation and is a bigger, more bustling business than when Marty first started it.  The future, unpredictable as it is, looks bright for them.

No es Facil- Marty, Jeannie, and Clyde watch Doug kiss a random woman

This was a quick series finale, I’ll admit, and I bring that up because we don’t get to spend a ton of time with Doug and Clyde to get their perspective on Marty’s decision.  Did either of them look forward to selling the company and getting a nice paycheck?  Maybe Doug had a plan to get back into Tess’ good graces or Clyde wanted to self-fund his own political campaign.

No es Facil- Doug and Clyde on the plane

We don’t know and it’s something that I wish had been included in the finale.  Maybe a scene or two with Doug and Clyde getting honest with each other about their futures.  The two are funny as always and I did like the brief scene of Clyde messing with Doug on the plane, but it would have been nice to hear and see how they felt about this potential deal and how it would impact their lives.

No es Facil- Pod watches the Kohl brothers fight

I will admit that it was satisfying to see Marty one-up Monica by being honest and using the hacking to his advantage.  On the hacking, by the way, that debunks my theory that Tess did it to get revenge against Doug.

No es Facil- Monica's presentation goes down in flames

But not only did he let Monica’s presentation blow up in her face, he managed to hand Skip a major defeat and loss.  Had Monica not been so suspicious of Marty’s so-called tell, she might have looked better in front of the Cubans.  Instead, she blew her chance, giving Marty the ultimate victory against probably his most difficult rival and former lover.

No es Facil- Marty and Jeannie get ready to dance

“No Es Facil” might not have answered everything we wanted to know about the future of Marty, Jeannie, Clyde, and Doug, and it might have wrapped up a bit quicker than expected, given House of Lies’ cancellation, but it was a fun watch that took our pod into Cuba and a good episode that made history along the way with House of Lies being the first American program to film in Cuba since relations improved.

House of Lies was an entertaining ride from start to finish, showing us the dark side of management consulting, sprinkled with dark humor throughout.  It gave us flawed, yet relatable characters who thrive off of besting their clients their crazy, fucked-up lives.

The chemistry between Don Cheadle, Kristen Bell, Ben Schwartz, and Josh Lawson made for an entertaining comedy and given the shit that Marty, Jeannie, Clyde, and Doug have faced, it’s nice to see them end on a high note.  Does this make me want to become a management consultant?  Yeah, probably not.  As this show has shown, doing that sort of work?  No es facil.

Here’s to House of Lies.

A Look at “Veep” Season 5, Episode 8: “Camp David”

After making the tiniest bit of progress during “Congressional Ball,” Selina Meyer decides to take her family away to Camp David for some relaxation and to escape the busy world of politics.  Just ignore the Chinese delegation to your right.

Camp David- Meyer family and Gary headed to Camp David

The episode begins two days before the New Hampshire special election.  Selina is raging at Amy and Dan due to Jonah’s poor debate performance.  This, in turn, hands New Hampshire to O’Brien, but now, Selina can spend time with her family…and Gary.  Catherine is just happy her family can get to know fun Marjorie.

Camp David- Selina talks to Gary about her meeting with the Chinese

The group arrives at Camp David, while Selina tells Gary about her meeting with the Chinese, who, who want complete secrecy.  So Gary is tasked with keeping the rest of the Meyer clan away.

Camp David- Gary knows all about Monica's popcorn ornaments

Inside, Monica is decorating the Christmas tree with some popcorn ornaments.  Catherine tells Selina that Marjorie is a raw vegan, and she’s turned Catherine into one as such.  Andrew thought Marjorie was Selina.  Easy mistake.  Also, in light of the estate, Catherine is unsure how to spend the money.  Andrew wants her to sell, but Selina wants no talk of money.

Camp David- Minna Hokkinen arrives

Ben and Kent tell Selina that the Chinese are en route.  In exchange for lifting sanctions, a plant will be built in Ohio and another in North Carolina, which would go for Selina.  Mike has a press release ready.  Oh, and Sue tells Selina that not only will the Chinese be coming to Camp David, but Minna Häkkinen as well.  Indeed, the Finland Prime Minister does arrive.

Camp David- Minna gives Selina advice on the deal with China

While the Ryan campaign deals with flailing numbers, Selina and Minna talk the Chinese deal.  Minna tells Selina that, during negotiations, she needs to stand her ground also bang the table, which Selina never does.

Camp David- Meyer family exchanges gifts

Later, it’s time for the family to exchange gifts.  Catherine gives Selina a goddamn pen while Andrew gives Marjorie a goddamn book.  Specifically, a first edition of Gertrude Stein.  Truly the cutting edge of gifts.  Monica, meanwhile, noticed some Asian folks outside in golf carts.  That’s never good.

Camp David- Selina meets with the Chinese delegation

The Chinese soon arrive and Minna introduces them to Selina, all while Gary tries to whisper facts.  The Chinese present a photo of a sad piglet, which apparently looks like Catherine, but the gifts don’t stop.  The Chinese also present silk and a tapestry, which is a symbol of royalty.

Selina, in turn, only has one gift: a geode that represents the solid foundation between the two countries.  It also sparkles.  Gary then arrives with another gift: two bottles of wine.  The wine is at least an acceptable present.  Unfortunately, the President of China does not drink.  But wait, Selina has a final gift: Catherine’s goddamn pen.  This the Chinese accept.

Camp David- Team sees that Jonah shot himself in the foot

Selina is upset that the Chinese out-gifted her.  There’s more bad news, sort of, when Dan reports that Jonah literally shot himself in the foot, which is actually hilarious.  He’s is in critical condition.

Camp David- Selina takes the Chinese delegation on a walk

The President of China requests a nature walk, and though Selina doesn’t want it, she starts walking the Chinese delegation around the camp.  Mike asks one member from the Chinese team for a piece of gum.  He’s presented with…something and ingests it.  His phone thanks the man in Spanish.

Camp David- Catherine tells the Chinese delegation that she is a raw vegan

Catherine interrupts the walk and tells the Chinese that she and Marjorie are raw vegans.  Great that Catherine chose this moment to say that.  Selina tells the Chinese that her family are here for a cover story.

Camp David- Selina gives Marjorie the silk that the Chinese gave her

That evening, the family plays Monopoly when Gary and Selina arrive.  Catherine thinks that Gary has Marjorie’s gift, which ends up being the silk from the Chinese.  That silk is apparently government property.  This might also be the most emotion Marjorie has ever shown yet.

Camp David- Amy shows Dan an NRA attack ad on Judy Sherman

The next morning, Amy pops by in some very conservative looking pajamas to tell Dan that the NRA has issued an attack ad on Judy Sherman.  Dan then spots an NRA poster outside.  It’s a Christmas miracle.

Camp David- Team talks New Hampshire

Back at Camp David, Mina interrupts Selina’s meeting, which is apparently about Kuwait and not New Hampshire.

Camp David- Minna and the Chinese spot Catherine kissing Marjorie

Minna leaves to take the Chinese for a walk when they spot Catherine and Marjorie, wearing the silk, kissing.  However, because Marjorie’s back is to them, Minna and the Chinese think that it Catherine is kissing Selina.  Whoops.

Camp David- Minna tells Selina that the terms have changed

So the Chinese change their terms and want the United States to hand over the islands.  They were offended by the incident with Selina’s daughter.  But hey, Selina had to let Catherine finish.  Because Selina and Minna don’t get specific, they don’t know what the other person means.  And Mike learns that he’s been chewing nicotine gum, which he continues to eat because why the hell not?

Camp David- Selina storms out of the meeting

The Chinese and American meet to negotiate their terms.  Per Minna’s instruction, Selina declares this unacceptable and storms out when the spots Andrew talking with Catherine.  Andrew talks about his plans to destroy a Brazilian rainforest in order to start up a resort when Selina arrives and tells her daughter to talk to her about money concerns.

Camp David- Catherine learns that Selina gave her pen to the Chinese

And then Minna arrives to tell Selina that there have been seismic developments with the Chinese.  She also tells Catherine that her mother gave the Chinese leaders her pen as a gift.  The Chinese leaders that Catherine did not know about until now.

Camp David- Selina learns that she may be freeing Tibet

The Chinese economy is in a poor state.  If the United States lifts the sanctions, the Chinese might be prepared to discuss Tibet’s potential independence.  Selina would play a role in that, and this is some man-on-the-moon legacy shit.  Minna tries to explain some conditions because this deal just includes potential talks, but Selina is too ecstatic about Tibet.  Mike, by the way, gets the good news that the surrogate is pregnant with twins.

As the special election commences, Selina tries to tell Catherine about her good news, but Catherine only wants to talk with her father.

Camp David- Selina presents a culturally sensitive freedom log

So the Chinese/American deal goes through at long last.  Selina presents the traditional Christmas meal: a freedom log.  The Chinese don’t want Selina to deliver a statement on a sensitive issue, though Selina wants the world to know her accomplishments.

Camp David- Selina learns that the Chinese have her emails to prove that she lied

Oh, and the Chinese are aware that Selina lied about the Chinese hacking her servers, even though they really did.  They even have Selina’s emails to prove that she lied.  Selina wouldn’t want word about that to get out, would she?

Mike smokes up and learns from the Chinese that he’s going to have a Chinese baby due to the adoption papers going through.

Selina asks Andrew about his investments when Ben and Kent burst in to tell Selina that Judy Sherman has conceded.  As such, Jonah has won the race and will be voting for Selina, which would hand her the presidency.  Selina hangs up before Jonah can talk more about the issues.  As Amy and Dan realize that they just elected Jonah to Congress, Jonah calls out the various people who did not vote for him.

Jonah will be sworn in with the rest of the freshmen.  Catherine tells Selina that she’s keeping the beach house and turning it into a sanctuary for rescued farm animals.  Okay, sure.

I don’t want to say that “Camp David” feels like a filler episode because it isn’t.  It advances several plotlines that we’ve been getting throughout the season and continued to show Selina working hard on both the domestic and international front.  I can’t put my finger on why the episode feels a bit disjointed compared to others this season because I did still like it, but it felt a bit underwhelming.

Camp David- Mike gets good news

Maybe that’s because it didn’t utilize everyone so much as just show them.  If this is a family affair, I’m not certain why Selina’s team had to come to Camp David, more so since they had almost nothing to do.  Almost.  It was fun to hear Ben air his grievances with the Chinese and I’m glad that Mike got a plethora of good news, but other than that, this episode didn’t need any of them.

Camp David- Catherine will talk to Andrew about her money situation

Instead, let us spend more time with Selina’s family- and Gary- and see how they interact.  Hell, let this be an opportunity for Selina to operate without her entire team at her side.  Plus, they would just be a phone call away and if they needed to come up, then no problem.  My issue is I don’t think they needed to appear in this episode for as long as they did if they aren’t utilized as well as Veep uses its cast.

Camp David- Jonah in the hospital

The same applies to the New Hampshire team.  First off, Jonah seems to have bounced back from his gaffe off-screen.  His victory seems to come not from the team, but from his own blunder.  So really, Amy didn’t even need to make the voyage to New Hampshire.  The team calls out Jonah on his shit, which is what anyone would do, but in hindsight, Amy didn’t bring much that Dan, Jeffrey, and Richard accomplish.

Camp David- Jonah tells Selina that he plans to vote for her as President

However, it’s going to be interesting to watch Jonah as a Congressman.  Granted, he’s still a placeholder, but his bump in the polls has come from him railing on Selina’s record.  Of course, he’s pledged to back her, but I wonder how the people of New Hampshire will react when the man they elected to Congress ends up supporting the very politician that he attacked.

Camp David- Minna talks with Selina

As for the actual Camp David storyline, it says a lot about the quality of a character when Minna Häkkinen has only appeared three times and still makes every appearance memorable.  She’s the opposite of Selina: polite and diplomatic.  And she comes off as uncorrupted by the political process.  A great counter to the harsher, blunt Selina.

Camp David- Selina reacts to her possible involvement with a Tibet solution

And even her advice ended up working in Selina’s favor.  It was funny that, despite the setbacks, being out-gifted, having to maneuver around Andrew to talk with Catherine, and trying to balance work with family that Selina got some semblance of a win.  She’s got Jonah in her pocket and is on the verge of helping foster independence in Tibet.  However, the Chinese also assume that she kissed her daughter, so you can’t win them all.

So really, like “Congressional Ball,” Selina comes out of this looking like a winner.  A wounded winner because she can’t escape a situation unscathed, but a winner nonetheless.  And don’t get me wrong.  My criticisms of this episode don’t take away from another funny episode.

Whether it’s Gary whispering to Selina as she’s trying to hear Minna, Selina scrambling to find a new gift, or Catherine and Marjorie’s continuing relationship, there was a lot to find funny this week.

Camp David- Andrew tries to sway Catherine's decision on her money

Though it does leave me wondering who would be a better parent for Catherine.  I’m glad we followed up on her inheriting her grandmother’s estate, but she can’t even enjoy that.  It’s clear here that Andrew is willing to listen to Catherine, but he also wants her money.  Selina, by comparison, can never give Catherine the time of day, but at least wants to make sure she’s not being tempted.

Camp David- Selina reminds Catherine that Andrew is a crook

You know, scratch that.  Andrew and Selina are both bad parents.  Plus, Selina gave away the very gift that her daughter gave her.  And of course that pen ended up being the one gift that the Chinese loved.  Even at Camp David, Selina Meyer can’t catch a break.

But again, she scores a win by hopefully having a hand in Tibet.  And with Congressman-elect Jonah Ryan headed to the House of Representatives, she has the vote needed to secure her Presidency.  Despite the blunders, things are looking up for Selina.  So she must be headed for a misstep soon.