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.

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