A Look at Veep- Season 6, Episode 7: “Blurb”

Okay, so Selina’s international trip didn’t end so well.  Maybe she’ll fare better with the unveiling of her presidential portrait.  Maybe.

The episode begins at Selina’s office, where the team reads through a prepared speech that President Montez will read at Selina’s portrait unveiling.  While Selina is overjoyed to hear Montez say anything nice about her, there’s still the matter of the guest list, which needs to be finalized the day after yesterday. So, today.  Good job, Richard.  As you can probably guess, Jonah’s not invited.

Then Mike and Selina have a sit-down with the book’s editor: Greg Morehouse, played by Michael Hitchcock.  He finds the manuscript interesting, but the book needs more about the actual presidency.  After all, the book ends with Selina going to college.  Selina promises that the presidency will be in the second volume, and Greg is fine with Selina sticking with the book as is, but the publishing company will need its advance back.

Jonah and Shawnee attend an Intro to Judaism class, as Jonah is set to convert.  The Rabbi, played by Phil Abrams, reminds everyone that next week is the sanctuary’s re-dedication, but Jonah can’t attend because he’ll be at the portrait unveiling.  And that’s when Shawnee reveals that Jonah is not on the final invite list.Jonah learns that he’s not on the invite list for Selina’s ceremony.

So Mike and Jonah have 30 days to write a new draft, but most of Mike’s dates picked are filled with boring meetings that Selina doesn’t even remember.  Catherine, Marjorie, and Richard enter to tell everyone that they don’t want to know their baby’s gender.  Marjorie feels that the child will decide the gender when they’re ready.  The two even have baby names based on the sex.  Not the healthiest of a family visit, so the three leave.

Selina suggests Catherine’s lesbian love life with Marjorie for the book, but then decides on something juicier: a book about her sex life.  Plus, everyone knows that she dated Charlie Baird and slept with Tom James in the Oval Office.  The running mate love affair is news to Mike, who thinks the book would become a best-seller with that information. Selina opts to visit Tom in person.

Meanwhile, it’s the new CBS This Morning, with Brie taking Jane’s spot alongside Dan.  Jonah watches this while Kent informs him that he has an upcoming meeting at the White House to discuss raising the debt ceiling.  Jonah isn’t interested in any of this.  He’s upset to learn that Kent and Ben were invited to the unveiling, but they of course worked for Selina.  And they’re not about to have Jonah as their plus one.

When the CBS shoot ends, Stevie gives Dan and Brie some results from a testing of the new pairing: people don’t think Dan and Brie have chemistry.  People liked the sexual vibe between Dan and Jane, but Dan and Brie are apparently cold together.  The difference is that Dan is fucking Brie, who is engaged to a Yankee.  Dan isn’t about to take notes from Stevie on how to fuck, but Brie is willing to do anything.  Also,people hate Brie in yellow.

Hugh Laurie returns as Selina visits Tom James to talk about her book, and it turns out that he’s made a deal to write a book as well.  Selina even wrote a blurb about Tom’s book.  She mentions that she’d like to talk about their little encounter, but Tom perks up and apologizes for betraying Selina after she picked him for the presidential ticket.

At the very least, Selina admits that she would’ve tried to steal the presidency as well. That’s what made them such a beatable combination.  But Tom James doesn’t want this information to get out since he’s got a new life, wife, and is expecting a child.  So Selina realizes she’ll have to think outside of her box.  However, when the meeting ends, Selina tells Mike that yes, all details about the affair goes in the book.

At the Oval Office, President Montez assembles several politicians to discuss a debt ceiling compromise.  Jonah learns from Furlong that everyone but him was invited.  The teams argue over raising the debt ceiling, and they settle.

Jonah asks Candi Caruso about his invite, but both she and President Montez suggest that Jonah take up his issues with Meyer and company since it’s their invite list, not Montez’s…despite the fact that she’s the President.  Sounds like passing the buck, but okay.

Also, hey, D’Arcy Carden.  I see you.

Jonah joins his Jeffersons and tells them that they need to do something that will make Montez pay attention, like ending government waste.  No cutting aid to Israel, though. Cutting aid to veterans, though, that’s fair game since they volunteered.  Everyone applauds Jonah’s lead, but even they all got invited to the unveiling.

At the office, Mike and Selina work on the affair blurb when Richard gets Greg on the phone.  Selina tells him about the good news, but then Richard turns on CBS.  Turns out that Dan is interviewing Tom James, who admits on live television that he had an affair with Selina Meyer.

This revelation is going into his book, excerpted in this month’s Vanity Fair. So how did Selina miss this?  Mike thought the phone calls from Vanity Fair were about renewing his prescription. putting it in his book that’s going to be in Vanity Fair.  Oh, and Tom says that Selina is a year older than him, and this, more than the affair, is what angers Selina.

That evening, Selina tells Gary to call the White House to cancel the portrait unveiling because she doesn’t want to go.  She’s taken the election loss, Andrew’s infidelity, Catherine’s whatever, but Tom James?  Who will also be at the unveiling?  That’s too much.  Selina won’t give Gary permission to 89 Tom, but Montez does still have a great speech to give about Selina.

Plus, Gary asked the White House staff to use the Jackie Kennedy crystal service. After all, nobody since Jackie has given as much to their country as Selina.  So says Gary, anyway.  Gary assures Selina that she’ll be able to forget all about the affair after tomorrow.  Selina finally agrees to attend.

On the House floor, Jonah and his Jeffersons vote no on H.R. 2970.  Furlong is furious that Jonah would try to go against raising the debt ceiling, not to mention Kent warns Jonah that his actions could cause a government shutdown.  Jonah sticks to his guns, saying that maybe the government should be shut down since it’s broken.

When something’s broken, you shut it down and turn it back on, like a router.  Indeed, Jonah approaches the podium and votes No.

Selina and Gary arrive for the unveiling, but due to the actions of Jonah’s team on the debt ceiling vote, Treasury  Secretary Barid has ordered a full government shutdown, meaning all non-essential White House staff have been furloughed. As such, Selina’s festivities have no Jackie glasses, but cups, sodas, and candy.  Also, Catherine and Marjorie’s baby is a boy.  How?  Because Kent said so and Kent knows all.

Across the hall, Furlong tells Amy that he decided against hiring her, and odd as it sounds, Amy tells Mike that she really like to work for him.  Well, I suppose anyone is an upgrade from Selina.

Selina pulls Tom aside to chew him out for calling her an aggressor.  She at least had the courtesy to make it seem like she wouldn’t mention the affair.  She then asks what she did to deserve this, and she realizes that Tom is upset because she didn’t call him.  He yells for her to shut the fuck up and when it looks like there’s going to be a second lovemaking round, Tom apologizes for raising his voice.

Selina reminds Tom that she at least got to be President.  Well, yeah, Selina, but you were never elected.  But semantics.  After briefly leaving the room, Selina returns to claim that Tom still loves her now.  Despite Tom being happily married, there still seems to be some semblance of a spark between them.  In enters Tom’s wife, Alethia, played by Crystal Hayes.

Time for the ceremony to begin.  Before Montez can deliver her good words on Selina, she has to head back to the Oval Office to deal with the shutdown.  Selina takes the stage as the painting is unveiled and it’s…not to Selina’s liking.  As Selina looks around the portraits, she tells the crowd that past presidents have had many accomplishments, but she also thinks about their not-so shining moments.

Maybe none of them matter since, far from now, at least people will remember that you have your portrait hanging on a wall in the White House.  Out of respect for the furlough, Selina cuts her speech short.  She has some issues with the painting: Helen put a chair in front of Selina- the same one where Andrew fucked her, and Selina also doesn’t like how her neck looks.

Montez’s right hand man, John Corbin, played by Jayk Gallagher, tells the group to head out so the rest of the staff can be furloughed.  Selina blames Gary because he convinced her to attend, but at least Johan wasn’t present.

In fact, Jonah tells the press that he’s proud for shutting down the government.  Per Shawnee’s lead, Jonah won’t be taking any questions.

Brie and Dan, meanwhile, report on the shutdown and have some semblance of chemistry.  Well, it’s a start.  Some folks in the audience don’t seem as enthused.

Consider this: Selina Meyer may be an unlucky politician, but as much shit that she’s waded through, one thing is for certain- she’s not all that interesting.  Kind of like how her presidency may be written off as a footnote on the road to Montez, there’s not much captivating about Selina.  Much of her vice-presidency and presidency involved putting out one fire after another.

So it’s no surprise when Selina and Mike can’t come up with anything memorable for the book.  The many briefings and trips aren’t going to catch readers’ attention as much as sex with your running mate would, and the scandals are the most memorable parts of Selina’s tenure, so there’s great reading material in adding the affair with Tom James.

This accomplishes a few other things as well.  Through the course of this season, whether it was her father or Andrew’s infidelity, the men closest to Selina have been…shall we say, less than stellar?  Or how about just downright horrible?  This doesn’t excuse Selina’s own awfulness, but not only does this continue the thread we’ve had throughout the season, but this presents an opportunity for Selina to confront one of those men.

And given that he was willing to screw over Selina in all the wrong ways, Tom James is the opportune target and convenient way for the show to bring him back.  Given how last season ended and how much this current season has been about Selina’s personal life, I didn’t think we’d see Hugh Laurie again, but it’s nice to see him back in the fold.

There’s an undeniable spark and obvious chemistry between Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Hugh Laurie that makes the will they/won’t they moments between them as funny as they are awkward.  As I watched them spar, I thought ‘They’re going for round two,’ but some force kept them apart and it was just a verbal spat.  For Gary’s sake, that was probably for the best.

No, instead Selina got to verbally lay into Tom for him still having feelings about her, not to mention that he’s upset about her not calling him.  Tom responds with anger, as if confirming that yes, despite being married, he probably wouldn’t mind another go at Selina. And why not?  If the two made such a horrible combination as a political duo, they may as well fuck and get some semblance of pleasure, even if Selina wasn’t a fan of it.

And even with Selina paying Tom a visit, he once again managed to get the jump on her by going public about the affair before she could include it in her book.  It’s like in Season Three when Thornhill admitted on the debate stage that he had an affair mere seconds before Selina could drop the bombshell.  Sometimes, honesty really is the best policy in politics.  That and scooping the very person who wants to include the affair in her book.

In addition to this, Selina’s post-presidency takes another hit when Helen gets another jab in by including the chair to Selina’s portrait.  Sure, most people won’t get what the chair signifies or have as many issues with the portrait as Selina, it’s representative of how her less than great moments, in and out of politics, will continue to haunt her.

But as much as life shits on Selina and while I love her profane rants, I also appreciate the quieter moments where she’s reflective or just downright fed up with the bad hand she’s been given.

If I can say one thing about Selina, it’s that she’s a fighter, but on occasion, we’ve seen her reach a point so low where she’d rather give up instead of fight.  And it’s those moments where others encourage her that we see the positives of Selina’s relationship with her team.  In fact, it might be the one positive I cay say about her team right now.

We’re given more bits and pieces of updates with how everyone else is doing: Dan can’t seem to hold onto viewers’ interest even though he is having sex with Brie, Catherine and Marjorie’s baby is apparently male thanks to all-knowing Kent, though the child will also be allowed to make up its own mind, and Amy actually considered working for Furlong.

Furlong.  One of, if not the most profane characters who seems to have an insult ready for every occasion and Will specifically.  Amy would rather unhitch her wagon with Selina’s ride and saddle up with someone as horrible as Furlong.  Well, I’ll give Amy this: she’s at least keeping her options open, even if most available options suck.

At least she’s not working for Jonah, as Kent and Ben have lost any control and influence they have left over the laughingstock of Congress.  For all attempts to ridicule and marginalize Jonah, he’s risen through the ranks, has a coalition that will line up behind him, and has a power partner in Shawnee Tanz.  This isn’t the same guy who served as POTUS’ lapdog.  He has power and influence now.

So for him to stand proud and trigger a government shutdown is not just a huge moment for him, but another reflection of American politics, as this is all too similar to the 2013 shutdown.  As much as Veep is a mirror of dysfunctional politics, this is taking our political climate and holding it up to a cracked mirror.  And who better to lead the charge than Jonah Ryan?

What’s he got to lose at this point?  Any attempts to damage him or his credibility have just made him stronger and that influence isn’t waning anytime soon.  As much as Jonah has been a thorn in everyone’s sides since the beginning, instead of going away, he’s managed to ascend.  And his journey upward is far from over.

“Blurb” was great.  The return of Hugh Laurie’s Tom James was a welcome surprise as we saw more sexual tension between Tom and Selina.  The damn book still isn’t finished, and with three episodes to go, Mike and Selina have their work cut out for them on this new draft.  The episode continued to advance characters’ storylines and left the government in jeopardy due to this new shutdown.  Thanks, Jonah Ryan.

Also, because I love The Good Place and Janet specifically, I hope we see more of D’Arcy Carden.

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