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

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

Convention- Catherine goes over her speech

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

Convention- Amy really doesn't like Karen

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

Convention- Dan speaks about zucchinis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Convention- Doyle tells Ben and Selina that he wants out

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

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

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

Convention- Dan has to get Richard and Jonah coffee

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

Convention- Amy still really doesn't like Karen

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

Convention- Selina offers Danny Chung the Vice Presidential slot

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

Convention- Doyle fires Teddy for fondling Jonah

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

Convention- Danny Chung declines the Vice Presidential slot

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

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

Convention- Selina offers Maddox the Vice President slot

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

Convention- Team Selina go over potential running mates

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

Convention- Amy rages at Karen

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

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

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

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

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

Convention- Learning that Amy has left Selina's team

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

Convention- Enter Tom James, played by Hugh Laurie

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

Convention- Tom James accepts the Vice Presidential slot

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

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

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

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

Convention- Tom retells his joke

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

McCain introduces Sarah Palin

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

Convention- Chung turns down the vice presidential offer

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

Convention- Selina listens to Amy rant

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

Convention- Amy rants

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

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

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

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

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

Convention- Amy stares down Karen

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

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

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

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

Convention- Karen calls Amy irritating

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

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

Convention- Jonah helps Dan

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

Convention- Mike after Selina talks about eating pussy

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

Convention- Sue's elated face

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

Convention- Hugh Laurie as Tom James

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

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