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

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

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

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

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

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

Tehran- Bill Ericsson addresses the press

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

Tehran- Mike addresses the press about the delay

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tehran- Amy learns that Kent polled the Vice President

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

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

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

Tehran- Selina has a photo-op moment with Leon

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

Tehran- Teddy grabs Jonah's balls again

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

Tehran- Leon speaks with Selina about his detention

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

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

Tehran- Dan meets Erica

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

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

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

Tehran- Leon figures out why he was detained

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

Tehran- Jonah talks about Teddy groping him

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

Tehran- Mike and Gary on the backup Air Force One

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

Tehran- Eric and Kent tell Selina about the polling

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

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

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

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

Tehran- Selina talks to Ben about not being in control

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

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

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

Tehran- Mike and Gary stuck

Mike and Gary, though, are still stuck.

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

Tehran- CNN reports on Selina's trip

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

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

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

House of Cards

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

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

Tehran- Bill and Kent talk with Jonah

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

Tehran- Jonah admits that Teddy gropes him

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

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

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

Tehran- Amy expected Dan to say something else

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

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

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