A Look at Veep- Season 5, Episode 7: “Congressional Ball”

It was Thanksgiving two episodes ago, and now it’s Christmas time at the House that Selina Meyer is trying to keep.  In New Hampshire, meanwhile, the Jon H Ryan campaign hits a snag when a nemesis of Jonah’s returns to put throw a wrench into his New Hampshire run.

Congressional Ball- Selina speaks with Congresswoman Penny Nickerson, played by Stephnie Weir

The episode begins on Air Force One with Selina talking to Congresswoman Penny Nickerson, played by Stephnie Weir.  I instantly like this casting.  Anyway, wants to reauthorize amphibious fighting boats in Nevada, but Nickerson will need to back Selina in exchange.  Selina then offers her a chance to call someone from Air Force One.  She chooses to call her husband, who is going through chemotherapy now.

Congressional Ball- Ryan Campaign Rally

At a Concord rally, Jonah rails on Selina’s handling of the economy.  His anti-Selina Meyer rant has bumped him up in the poll by five points.

Congressional Ball- Mike drops some hockey talk into his press briefing

At a White House press briefing, journalists tell Mike that some people in Nickerson’s district don’t want the boat, but Mike disagrees.  Another journalist asks about Catherine, but that’s where Mike stops questions.  Oh, and by the way, keep in mind that Mike makes a hockey reference by saying ‘drop the puck.’  This will become important later.

Congressional Ball- Team discusses the staffers list

It’s Christmas time at the White House.  With Congresswoman Nickerson’s support, Selina takes Nevada.  Also, the 50 hottest staffers list is out.  Amy hates it and Kent doesn’t like the list’s methodology.  Candi Caruso at least ranks high.  As does Gary, who ranks number 21.

Congressional Ball- Dan, Jonah, and Richard discuss the list

Dan, Jeffrey, and Richard feed news to Jonah about his campaign, though Jonah is also preoccupied with the staffers’ list, specifically because he is not on it.  Dan is number 26, though he has a strategy.  Richard at least agrees with Gary’s ranking because of his eyes.

Congressional Ball- Selina wonders what is up with Tom James

Roger Furlong details roles and responsibilities of everyone on Selina’s team for the annual holiday party.  Tom James has nothing to add, though.  Once he leaves, Selina wonders whether Tom is helping O’Brien, based on his meeting with Sidney Purcell.  Then, she remembers that Tom asked for Treasury Secretary.  She tells everyone to keep an eye on Tom.  Mike checks to see if there was another meeting about him.  No.

Congressional Ball- Jonah and Richard mock debate

Dan and Jeffrey field potential debate questions to Jonah.  Richard does a better job of being Jonah, as it turns out.  Then the team learns that Jonah mentioned the town of Brattleboro, which is in Vermont, not New Hampshire.  No one on Jonah’s team is tracking Judy Sherman, so Richard is selected to do so.  Also, according to Jeffrey, if Richard was 10 percent less Black, he could be President.

Congressional Ball- Selina asks Catherine and Marjorie if they're more Ellen Degeneres or Jodie Foster

Selina and Gary dress up for the party when Catherine enters with Marjorie.  Seriously, the fuck?  Selina asks how the two will play the lesbian angle, based on the questions Mike has received.  Will they be more like Ellen Degeneres or Jodie Foster?  Marjorie and Catherine respond that they don’t want their private life to be politicized.  Good luck with that.

Congressional Ball- Ball begins

The party begins and it’s time for the orgy to start.  Selina still doesn’t like how Catherine’s hair looks.  Selina greets various politicians and their aides, while also asking for their support.

Congressional Ball- Mike tells Sue that he might have a new job lined up for him

Meanwhile, various people, Sue included, talk up Mike’s hockey reference.  Turns out that he wants to leave and get a different gig as Director of Communications at the NHL.  Also, the surrogate for him and Wendy is now pregnant.

Congressional Ball- Selina learns of plans for a 9-11 memorial in Bozeman

Selina learns about a potential 9-11 memorial in Bozeman that focuses on first responders…who were traumatized by what happened to the first responders in New York.  Furlong responds that this can go under the Homeland Security budget.

One woman introduces Gary to her daughter because he was seen in the list.  Amy is baffled when Gary shares this news with her, so I can only wager that Gary is in for a rude awakening soon.

Congressional Ball- Selina introduces, Connie DiBenedetto, played by Concetta Tomei, to Catherine and Marjorie

Selina speaks with Connie DiBenedetto, played by Concetta Tomei, of Oregon.  She is the Chairman and only member of the Gay and Lesbian Caucus, who wants to talk about Selina’s environmental policy.  Rather than do that, Selina introduces her to Catherine and Marjorie because that’s appropriate.  After that, she gets out as soon as she can.

Congressional Ball- Richard has useless footage of Judy Sherman

Back in New Hampshire, Richard returns with footage of Judy Sherman calling him some horrible names.  Well, sort of, because he can’t operate a camera to save his life.  The footage ends up being useless.

Congressional Ball- Paul Graves, played by Phil LaMaar, tells Selina his terms in order to get his support

Selina is still taking photos with politicians, among them is Congressman Paul Graves, played by Phil LaMaar.  Another casting I instantly like.  And side-note, that’s two Mad TV cast members that I know of in one episode.  Graves would like to be the Secretary of State.  Selina may be able to accommodate, and with that, Graves will back Selina.  This position was promised to Doyle, but obviously, Selina can just change her mind.

Congressional Ball- Bill Jaeger tells Selina that he plans to abstain

Furlong then tells Selina that one member of Congress has flipped.  Bill Jaeger, after some soul searching, has decided to listen to his conscience and will abstain from the tie-break.  Selina tosses up a hypothetical scenario where a member of Bill’s staff is on her knees and he’s about to come all over her face.  Selina is not the staffer in this scenario.

Congressional Ball- Kent explains again how Tom James could become President

It turns out that Tom isn’t lobbying, he’s just asking members to abstain.  As Kent said on Election Night last season, if there’s a tie in the House, it goes to the Senate, meaning Tom could become the next President.

Congressional Ball- Selina confronts Tom about his plans

Selina confronts Tom by asking him for a dance.  On the floor, Selina mentions Tom’s encounter at the Korean BBQ and calls him a cocksucking backstabber.  How very direct.  As Tom attempts to explain, Selina pulls him aside to talk in private.

Congressional Ball- Tom and Selina argue before they decide to fuck

Yes, Selina knows about Tom’s meeting with Sidney Purcell and how he’s trying to fuck her.  Tom doesn’t back down.  He calls out Selina’s relationship with Charlie Baird and her bad decisions, of which there are many.  Tom believes in public service, but Selina counters that he just wanted to be close to the Presidency.  That much is also valid.

Selina brings up a night in the cabin with green shoes.  She wants the truth and gets it: Tom wanted to fuck her brains out.  Indeed, the two start fucking right then and there.

Congressional Ball- Gary catches Tom and Selina having sex

At the same time, Ben and Mike wonder where the President is.  Neither of them knows, but Gary does.  And he’s horrified by what he sees.

Congressional Ball- Teddy returns to taunt Jonah

We cut to a Ryan campaign rally at a bowling alley, where Polly, played by Lauren Potter, points out the spelling on Jonah’s campaign shirts.  Also at this alley is Teddy Sykes, who is looking forward to some bowling.  Jonah, though, doesn’t back down.  In fact, he tears into Teddy and calls him a bully.  Teddy is in cahoots with Bill and the Sherman campaign.  The two leave, their work apparently done.

Congressional Ball- Mike loses the NHL gig

Tom and Selina return to the party.  A reporter thanks Mike for helping him get out of Washington politics.  Better yet, he’s the new Director of Communications for the NHL.  If you look carefully, you can see the light in Mike’s eyes fade.

Congressional Ball- Selina threatens Nickerson for her vote

Nickerson is now on the fence, though Selina promises that, if she wins, her administration will come to her district and pretty much rain down hellfire.  Yes, Selina will have her vote after all.  Jesus Christ, Selina.

Congressional Ball- Candi Caruso tells Amy that she's engaged

Candi Caruso catches up with Amy.  In fact, Candi is surprised to see her after what happened in Nevada.  Candi, as it turns out, is engaged to Gary Welsh, who was supposed to be on the hottest staffers list, but his name was mixed up with someone else.  Well, what do you think about that?  Amy tells Gary that he’s a typo.

With the party winding down, Selina is in exactly the same place as when the party started as far as how many people will back her in Congress, plus Graves.  In New Hampshire, though, Jonah’s rant is caught on video.  Because of the way it’s presented and shot,it looks like Jonah is yelling at not Teddy, but Polly.

Mike, meanwhile, makes golf puns and is tells the press that he is ready to talk about Catherine and Marjorie again.

“Congressional Ball” is a fun episode that again showed Team Selina trying to solve a crisis while also making the most out of a black tie event where everyone should be filled with holiday cheer.  Of course, there is no such thing in Washington.

Congressional Ball- Jonah at his rally

But let’s jump to New Hampshire first.  So I might be wrong on whether Jonah would be called out for his wave in the previous episode.  Bill and Teddy having footage of him chewing out Polly just because Teddy is out of frame is a wicked move that I do not put past Bill Ericsson in light of his ejection from Team Selina.  I would guess that other people had to have recorded Jonah ranting, right?

Congressional Ball- Dan talks with Bill and Teddy

Having Bill and Teddy as antagonists to Dan and Jeffrey may force them to get nasty with their tactics when things appeared to be going fine for Jonah.  Dan is confident most of the time, but Bill and Ted make for a powerful duo, given their past relationship with Dan and Jonah.  Instead of capitalizing on Jonah’s momentum, they’re playing defensive.  It doesn’t help that Richard squandered his potential by not being able to operate a camera.

Congressional Ball- Jeffrey likes Richard

What’s worse, this puts a serious dent in Jeffrey’s plans.  While he may normally have the state wrapped up, not only is he contending with a widow of the deceased congressman, he has to deal with Jonah’s ineptitude- not to mention Dan and Richard’s- and might have to think outside the box when it comes to Teddy and Bill.  The House of Jonah could tumble at any moment, but I’ll be curious to see whether they have a counterattack ready.

Congressional Ball- Selina promises to rain down on Penny if she wins the election

As for Washington, I’ve got to give Selina credit.  While most people are preoccupied with the list of hottest staffers, she’s actually trying to get work done.  And she has to because being President of the United States requires little to no rest.  Whether it’s making deals and threats with various congressmen, Selina is trying to make sure she’s still President when this recount business is finished.

Congressional Ball- Selina greets partygoers

So even though, at the end of the day, she makes almost no progress, I appreciate Veep not having Selina get bogged down in things like the staffers list or Jonah’s campaign in New Hampshire.  Granted, this doesn’t mean her tactics are worth praise, if introducing the one member of a gay caucus to your now-lesbian daughter and threatening to bring down full force onto Congresswoman Nickerson’s district are any indication.

Congressional Ball- Penny Nickerson defies Selina

Side-note, now that I’ve mentioned Nickerson, I would like to see her become a recurring character, if just to see Stephnie Weir on a regular basis.  Even more so since The Comedians got the axe.

Congressional Ball- Tom and Selina face off

But onto Selina’s confrontation with Tom that resulted in sex.  Well, I didn’t see that one coming because it did feel like he was trying to take control from behind until he was in charge.  Yes, that could have been rephrased.  But we haven’t had heard it from his perspective- we’ve just seen Dan call him out and Mike spot him dining with Sidney Purcell.

Congressional Ball- Tom argues with Selina

It doesn’t help that Selina has tried to keep Tom on the sidelines, so of course it seemed like he got the shaft a few times.  Again, phrasing.  So why would two people who are on the same presidential ticket, yet have such disdain for each other, throw caution to the wind and start fucking mere seconds after an argument?  Repressed emotions?

Regardless, it seemed to give Selina her second wind and try to get those endorsements, only for that to not matter since she’s right back where she started, plus Graves.  So it remains to be seen how, if at all, this will affect her relationship with Charlie Baird, if that’s even still ongoing.

Congressional Ball- Selina gets Nickerson's vote

Even still, it’s nice to see that, for all of Selina’s faults and fuck-ups, she still knows how to negotiate and get her way.  Profane negotiations, mind you, but they produced results and she managed to put the fear of God into Congresswoman Nickerson.  If anything, sex with Tom at least seemed to light a fire under Selina’s ass and make her even more motivated to ensure she maintains the Presidency.

Congressional Ball- Gary watches Tom and Selina fuck

She might be the only one of her staff having a good day, since Mike had his dream job swept from underneath him and Gary not only spotted Selina and Tom fucking, but he learned that ending up on the list was a fluke.

So Team Jonah has to go on the offensive while Selina still needs to make more power plays to ensure she’s still President when the season ends.  I foresee one of these ending horribly, but since this is Veep, that could apply to both situations.

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