Welcome back to the unpredictable world of Veep. In the end of Season Four, the presidential election came to a screeching halt when Selina Meyer won the state of Virginia, which didn’t settle, but tied the number of electoral votes between herself and O’Brien. But then, all the House races weren’t settled, so this race was far from over. How are things now? Well, not much better. This is the “Morning After.”
The season begins the day after the vote. Still no decision, but no matter. As she addresses the nation, Selina Mayer stands in barefaced awe of the nation’s democratic system. Right. It’s a tie, but she won the popular vote and the nation only attempted to pick a leader. She says that the country is not without a leader. No matter how the nation voted, she is still currently the President.
But when the cameras stop rolling, Selina is still miffed about this rule that prolongs the election and there’s no way she’ll be Tom James’ VP. Catherine, meanwhile, is filming a documentary about the tie as her thesis. She didn’t get to pick a thesis her advisor liked because she had that thing last year where she was tired all the time.
Like every good mother, Selina doesn’t have time to hear about her daughter’s troubles. She thinks that Catherine to focus on her minor, dance, but also stop whining like a bitch because she could shatter the bulletproof glass. Selina gives Catherine full access, but only after she deals with a pressing issue in Yemen. Four Christian missionaries were burned to death. Lovely.
Selina goes to Amy, who has been on the phone with constitutional law experts. Amy isn’t back yet- just helping out. She suggests that Selina see a doctor for her stress pimple. Mike enters with big personal news: he and Wendy are adopting a child from China. Mike is bad about keeping secrets, so Wendy kept it a secret from him. Of course Selina doesn’t give a shit about a Chinese baby.
Kent arrives with the final House results, though. From this moment forward, Selina is all about the House vote. Kent suggests direct engagement with individual congressmen, and Selina has to do the one thing that O’Brien can’t do: be the President. So Selina will be as goddamn presidential as she can, but she should consider moving up the symposium on race. Not yet for that, though.
Bill Ericsson arrives out of nowhere and suggests re-purposing the election Twitter account to a POTUS account so she can speak right to the American people. Ben shuffles Bill outside of the meeting room to remind him that he’s isn’t welcome since he’s about to be indicted.
Right now, Bill is about as welcome as a swastika-shaped shit in a synagogue. Oddly specific. Selina is willing to give Bill full pardon if he surrenders quietly. And no media for Bill right now. Neither Ben nor Bill seem to notice Catherine filming in the background.
Mike shows a photo to Sue, who thinks that all pictures of children look alike. Both Mike and Sue have Fitbit watches, by the way, and Sue is somehow crushing it at a current 12,000 steps to Mike’s 3,000. The job keeps Sue active. At doing what, I don’t know.
At CNN, Dan meets up with Greg to get back on the air, but for that to happen, Dan has to make a name and build a profile for himself. It doesn’t help that he cratered one week into running Selina’s campaign. After he’s established himself, he can talk about a career in television.
Selina’s zit doesn’t look any better. Also, Chinese hackers bridged an NSA firewall. But in relevant news, the director of the Secret Service arrives with a new lead agent for her detail. The team is introduced to Special Agent Marjorie Palmiotti, played by Clea DuVall.
A key requirement for being lead agent is someone who looks like the president, especially from behind, to provide an additional decoy target for any would-be assailants. Selina doesn’t see it, and the only difference that Gary senses is smell.
Ben bursts in, mistaking Marjorie for Selina in the process and thus disproving Selina’s argument, with an election update: Senator O’Brien’s lead over Selina is now less than half a percent. By Nevada law, that allows for a recount. If Selina wins a Nevada recount, she wins Nevada’s six electoral votes and, as a result, wins the Presidency. Now it’s time to put all the focus in Nevada.
But, as Richard points out, most of the voting in Nevada is done electronically. When the Nevada Secretary of State certifies the count, the team will have 72 hours to request a recount. This, in turn, means that five percent of the precincts will be selected, and if there’s a discrepancy of more than one percent, a full hand recount will be requested. Yeah, Richard did his doctorate in recount procedures in the West.
Selina, impressed with Richard’s knowledge, immediately makes him her recount specialist. As a bonus, Jonah now works for him. O’Brien is prepared to give a press conference about the recount, so Selina rushes to say stuff before him.
Somehow, both Jonah and Richard are upset about Jonah being made to work for Richard. Jonah equates himself to Harry Potter’s struggles, with Selina as Uncle Dursley.
The team wastes no time in getting some stuff for Selina to say. As she speaks to the press, Amy, Ben, and Gary can’t help but notice that Selina’s zit is too damn noticeable, as is her butchering of the pronunciation of Nevada. Also, the Dow starts plummeting due to panic from the recount. It’s being called Black Wednesday.
Selina soon learns of the horrible news. O’Brien’s statement says that this caused a blotch on the face of America. Nothing to do with Selina’s face, but she now wants to see a doctor to examine the fucking soufflé on her face. Though she does agree to move up the race symposium.
Team meeting about the economy. Right now, they need to appoint an economy czar to essentially take the fall. In other news, Tom James just gave an interview to make sure the absentee ballots are also counted. Since the military hates Selina, this would lead to move votes for O’Brien.
Selina doesn’t want Tom James deviating, so Amy suggests making him the economy czar. Also, Selina asks Amy about Candi Caruso, not her, heading up Nevada. Amy, who thought it would be her, says nothing but glowing things about her.
Back to CNN, Dan wants to make some changes, though Sydney Purcell actually texts, in-person, that Dan is fired. They’re doubling down on O’Brien, so Dan is about as useless as a 40-year-old woman. Damn. Also, Dan doesn’t get fired. He quibs. Gotta love auto-correct.
There’s now a Twitter account for the pimple. It has more followers than Selina. The symposium on race is at least set for this afternoon. Selina speaks with Tom James about Nevada and the market, which is why she wants to offer him the position of economy czar. Tom turns it down. He knows that he’d be blamed for the economy disaster.
And there’s a difference between stock market patsy- which this is- and his original wish of Treasury Secretary. So yeah, Tom respectfully declines. Selina doesn’t feel respect, but she’s getting the decline.
Amy, meanwhile, is bitter about Candi. Selina doesn’t need her for anything right now. So she interrupts Selina’s meeting with Candi Caruso, played by Morgan Smith. Mere seconds later, Sue tells Candi that the position has been filled. If it’s by Amy, it won’t be filled for long, I’m guessing. Amy visits Richard to hand off recount tasks to accomplish, only to learn that Jonah recruited Cliff to their team.
Selina then heads to the Children’s National Medical Center and tells the press that Tom James accepted her offer of economy czar, which is bullshit, but the press doesn’t know that. Meanwhile, Amy tells Dan to head to Nevada. After all, she’s offering him a job. She doesn’t ask him as nice as Candi Caruso. Mike gloats about his step run to Sue, who then ups him by the flight of stairs she’s climbed.
Tom James is livid about Selina saying he took the position, but Selina’s got an appointment. She meets Dr. Weisglass, played by Andrew Thacher, who tells her that heat is the last thing her face needs in regards to the zit. Also, stay away from irritants.
Ben and Kent enter with updates regarding the symposium and a mudslide in Idaho. The governor requests a federal state of emergency, but since Selina lost Idaho in the election, she’s not feeling charitable.
As Catherine continues filming her documentary, Team Selina heads to the symposium conference, which is made of almost exclusively White people, some of whom teach at historically black colleges. Ben asks for some Blacks to be rounded up, but don’t repeat that on the radio. Hey, you said it, Ben.
Mike gets his workout on the stairs, but because he’s bad at reading signs, he opens a nearby door that’s for restricted use.
As a result, alarms blare and the area is put on lockdown. Because Sue is black, the guards immediately tell her to put her hands up and almost shoot when she arrives to show some colored representation.
The episode comes to a close as Mike tells the press that Bill Ericsson has been arrested, a pardon is off of the table, and he was apparently responsible for the chaos at the symposium. These assholes, I swear. Meanwhile, Team Meyer is headed to Nevada. Amy, Jonah, Cliff, and Dan arrive at a hotel that’s sold out if you don’t have reservations. Jonah is left to wait in line and take care of this.
If you needed a good juxtaposition of words and images to get an accurate depiction of Veep, look no further than the first few seconds: Selina Meyer professing her pride in the democratic system and how she is still the nation’s leader. Set against this is the clean-up crew dealing with the aftermath of the Meyer-James rally. Selina delivers a mountain of bullshit while others handle her mess in the background.
Five seasons of Veep and the Meyer team is as inept as ever. No matter how much they try to progress, and everything they think they’re out, someone or something pulls them back into the thick of it.
But this mess is pretty damn thick because the nation still has not made up its mind on its next leader. That’s a problem when you’re trying to prove that you and your team are capable of continuing the job that you’ve managed to botch at almost every opportunity. If there’s one thing Selina Meyer can do, it’s weather a storm.
And with one mess they have to clean, seven others arise. Despite the largeness of the cast and separate storylines, Veep doesn’t come off as cluttered. It moves at a brisk pace, gives you just enough of each character’s respective storylines, keeps the jokes going at a rapid pace, and then moves to the next scene.
Despite the departure of Armando Iannucci, Veep’s satire of the political process, right in the middle of one of the most interesting elections with the 2016 race, remains sharp, the barbs and insults are constant, and everyone is as despicable and foul-mouthed as they’ve ever been. Even more so because of how much is on the line with this recount.
But even with the great writing and performances from everyone across the board, it’s the character’s little ticks and moments that make Veep, for my money, one of the most tightly written comedies on television right now.
Whether it’s Gary remedies for Selina’s pimple, Sue somehow outmaneuvering Mike to stay ahead of him on Fitbit, Mike wanting to get in shape for fatherhood, Kent’s constant need to correct people’s pronunciation, Jonah’s reaction to being made Richard’s assistant, or Richard’s very specific expertise in recount procedures in the West, the characters on Veep remain interesting and vibrant.
Five seasons in and I still care about their arcs, even if most of them are terrible people.
Like everything else on Veep, these people can’t catch a break. Right now, Selina’s political future hinges on a Nevada recount, but she also has to appeal to the minority vote.
In Veep fashion, the symposium ends up being Whiter than the audience at a hockey game and security trains their guns on Sue, thinking she’s the culprit of the alarm. And in the subsequent press conference, Mike is asked whether Selina cares about Black people.
Selina has next to no control over the administration. She tries to keep her zit in checked, but it gets worse. She tries to capitalize on the Nevada recount, but stocks go down out of fear. I get her need for a fall guy and putting Tom James in that position keeps him distracted since he could end up becoming the President.
But this has the potential to backfire. Since his introduction, the people have loved Tom James and gravitate more towards him than Selina. If he was somehow blamed for this mess, I’m sure he could talk his way out of an economic crisis and end up looking like the hero.
There’s a lot set up in this premiere. As mentioned, putting Tom James in charge of the economic crisis keeps him from interfering with Selina, but he could end up being a savior instead of a pariah.
And then Selina gave Catherine full access for her documentary. She’s got to know that could come back to bite her in the ass at some point if she says something damaging or incriminating, which is probably every other sentence. And very subtle, Catherine is with some of her positioning, as I missed her a few times on the first viewing when she was recording in the background
“Morning After” is a strong return for Veep showed more of the anxiousness coming out of this very close election. The humor remains strong, the insults piercing, and Team Selina is still trying to make the best out of bad situations, while somehow making them worse.
With Tom James in charge of the economy, Catherine’s documentary, Selina’s security detail, the Nevada recount, and the ever-complex electoral system, Veep’s fifth season is off to a strong start.
And hey, if there are any problems that need fixing, talk to Jonah.