No more negativity in this presidential campaign, please. Selina Meyer would really appreciate it.
The episode begins with Team Selina watching Kemi Talbot holding a massive campaign rally with wall-to-wall media coverage. But if Selina is worried about a lack of attention, she can relish in the fact that ex-husband Andrew Meyer is soon headed to court to be questioned by a grand jury.
So here’s that attention that you wanted so badly, Selina.
Selina also heads to her own campaign rally at the University of Iowa…and it’s quite sparse compared to Talbot. She tells the crowd that it’s time to finish the unfinished business of four years ago. Doesn’t quite roll off the tongue, but more than that, everyone should, per the campaign slogan, celebrate New Selina. Now.
At the campaign headquarters in Des Moines, Selina, once ahead in the polls, laments that Ben is losing Iowa for her. Kemi is all the rage. Kent has scrapped Selina’s schedule- she’ll instead be attending the Waterloo County Fair. Retail politics. As for Keith Quinn, he’s off being interviewed by The New York Times, so don’t count on him to pop up.
Selina’s focus is on countering Talbot, who has picked up the endorsement of both a union and two Senators. Marjorie and Catherine both like Talbot, though. Marjorie in particular likes her because she’s a strong woman and she has a thing for that. Doesn’t explain what she sees in Catherine, but okay.
It’s time for debate prep. Dan starts off with a question about accusations of Andrew and the Meyer Fund stealing millions. As if on cue, Andrew arrives at the campaign headquarters. Along with his paralegal, Felicia, played by Morgan Lester.
Not to be outdone in the area of unannounced visits, Sophie arrives and spills that Amy is getting an abortion. Good job, Sophie. Meanwhile, Marjorie and Catherine tell an exhausted Richard that he’s tiring himself out from working on both Selina and Jonah’s campaigns. As such, Catherine suggests that he leave Team Selina, but Richard has a compelling reason to stay on both: the two campaigns are each giving him a raise.
That includes Jonah, who, along with Teddy and Beth, is watching a campaign ad that he filmed in preparation for the debate. Teddy won’t have this going out since Jonah went off-script. The aad was focus-tested and people don’t like seeing a White man kick a Black woman in the vagina. Go figure.
Richard arrives with news from the debate committee: due to the number of candidates, two separate debates will be held based on how the candidates are being polled. Jonah will be in the undercard debate. Tough luck.
Selina and Andrew talk about the trouble with the Meyer Fund- she even tells Keith Quinn to leave- with Andrew admitting that he was lying about any sort of illegal activity with the fund. Andrew asks if Marjorie has the complete ledgers for the Meyer Fund accounts. Technically, Selina stole the money because Andrew signed her name on some documents. Still, Andrew promises to keep Selina out of it.
Let’s see how well that goes.
Gary enters with General Stattler, who has tried to get Selina’s office to sign off on a Presidential funeral plan. Since Selina’s tenure as Presidential was brief, Stattler has used President Ford’s ceremony as a template. Selina is not on board with that. She’d prefer a classier take on Princess Diana’s funeral. No Prince Charles, though. Selina then suggests to Gary that they make a list of who they don’t want attending.
While Selina could get re-elected, these plans apparently should have been done before she left office. So both Andrew and Laura Montez go on the list.
At the Waterloo County Fair, Jonah deep throats some corn dogs, but Teddy proposes that he eat a potato instead. A reporter approaches and asks Jonah how he feels about being in the undercard debate. Jonah feels that he deserves to be in the main debate. That he isn’t in the main debate is, in Jonah’s words, the definition of retarded.
Teddy shoves Jonah aside and tells him that he can’t say the word ‘retarded.’ Not that Jonah himself is, though. He doesn’t have the face for it and doctors ran tests. Regardless, Teddy tells Jonah to watch his words. Jonah has to watch what he says, but since that’s not a guarantee, Teddy calls in a favor.
At the Buzzfeed Press Headquarters in Des Moines, Mike speaks with Wendy, who is curious if they’re both on board with adopting another child from China. It would be good for Ellen. However, they’re barely making ends meet, and ever since Mike wrote the piece on Felix Wade, Buzzfeed believes that he’s a good reporter. Come on, Mike. Buzzfeed doesn’t have good reporters. Or reporters.
Anyway, one of the ‘reporters’ offers Mike some ‘study buddies’ to help him meet his article quota.
Selina arrives at the county fair and learns that Talbot is using an app to host a digital town hall. Team Selina does have an app, as Kent notes, but it asks for donations. Richard sees it as more of a virus than anything else. But then in comes the press, including Mike, who has a question and two follow-ups: how does Selina feel about Buddy Calhoun calling her unfit due to her involvement with Andrew’s alleged crimes?
But Selina is tired of the cheap attacks and reiterates that Andrew is her ex-husband. Selina challenges the other candidates in joining her in a non-negative pledge. It’s time to talk about the issues that help real Americans. Ben and Kent are surprised that Mike once again proved himself useful, but Mike wants to get ahold of Andrew, as he feels that he’s ripping him off. More on that in a minute…
Jonah and Teddy arrive at Crawford Bloom Associates as two…well, associates, want to make sure that Jonah isn’t misunderstood. In essence, they’re here to help him clean up his mouth. In addition to a less than flattering photo, Jonah is here because of his liberal use of the word ‘retarded.’ He tries to think of another word that means the same thing and lands on ‘mentally retarded.’
While not technically wrong, he’s still using the word. So the associates present the 360 degree perspective taking. It’s a way of using empathy to avoid hurting other people’s feelings. Jonah thinks that’s gay, but not ‘gay gay.’ He meant ‘gay’ like mentally retarded.
Amy pays a visit to Dan’s hotel room and informs him that Sophie was supposed to drive her to the abortion clinic, but now she’s nowhere to be seen. Actually, she just got fucked by Dan, who agrees to drive Amy to the clinic.
At the fair, Selina learns that Calhoun, James, and Talbot have signed onto her non-negative pledge. Also, the dog mayor of Lurleen- the one that Gary gave chocolate to- has passed away. As such, someone from the campaign should go to the funeral. Selina volunteers Amy, but since she’s getting her abortion, Richard will go.
Also, Marjorie kicks ass at carnival games. It pays to be an agricultural advisor, I guess.
Dan escorts Amy to the clinic to get her abortion, and because Amy can’t help herself, she gets into it with some of the protesters.
Back at the fair, Selina fails at ring toss, but never mind that. Ben arrives with the bombshell of the hour: according to Kemi Talbot’s sealed records, when she was 16, she accidentally killed her boyfriend by hitting him with her Volkswagen. This decapitated him. Selina wants this spread like wildfire, but social media is currently praising her non-negative pledge, so that could go badly.
Also, Kent rules at ring toss.
Anyway, Selina wants to know if the team can, in a positive way, accuse Talbot of murdering her boyfriend.
Back at the abortion clinic, Amy tells one of the doctors that she’s fully aware of the surgical risks that go with an abortion. Her body is Wonderland. More than that, Amy doesn’t want to see the ultrasound. Then Amy gets some medicine to help her relax. While she doesn’t feel that she needs it, she gets it anyway and it does help her relax.
As for why Dan is still here, he’s the proud father-to-not-be. Someone put that on a T-shirt.
Tom James meets up with Selina at the fair, and Selina informs him that she’s got a juicy bombshell to drop on Talbot, but she can’t drop it. Tom could, if he was willing to go back on Selina’s own pledge. If Tom goes negative on Talbot, then once she’s out of the way, the party will just be stuck with Tom and Selina. It’s just as nature intended.
So it’s time for Jonah to kiss and make up to the Crawford Bloom Associates. He apologizes for his harmful words- he is being recorded, after all- and Teddy asks for any copies of the tape so they can be used for reflection. The associates don’t answer, so Jonah puts on a mocking voice and asks if two heard what Teddy asked. This leads to one of the associates lashing out and asking if Jonah is fucking retarded.
Jonah very quickly accepts the apology, with Beth admiring one of the associates’ sweater. One voter at a time, I guess.
Back at Buzzfeed’s Iowa headquarters, the study buddies have helped turn Mike into a working machine as furiously cleaning- and leaving a message for Andrew Meyer, who may have stolen his life savings. He wants some more concentrated pills, but the other ‘reporter’ tells him that he’s had enough.
At the Lurlene Community Church, Richard, Catherine, and Marjorie have arrived for Mayor Biscuit’s funeral. It’s a larger crowd than you’d expect for a dog mayor, but apparently novelty mayors are Iowa’s number one source of tourism…after tornado chasing. Interesting.
A judge approaches and asks to speak with Richard afterward in regards to the search for a successor. See, the mayor was fixed and cloning would’ve been too expensive.
It’s time for the the CNN Undercard debate. Teddy informs Jonah that they’re being sued by the sensitivity trainers. Even though this is the undercard debate, Teddy informs Jonah to be politically correct, even if one of his opponents is Not-Dumbledore.
To help out, Jonah has written down the words that he cannot say.
The debate begins. It’s worth noting that this is being moderated by Brie Ramachandran, who I guess has made the jump from CBS to CNN since we last saw her in Season Six. I’m also assuming she got hitched since then because her last name is slightly different.
Okay, my love of continuity aside, Jonah is asked a question about Africa, specifically “Niger.” Jonah feels that no one should be able to say this word. Jonah then asks Not-Dumbledore a question about fixing the failing public education system, and he wins it with suggesting longer school years, free breakfast, and magic.
Richard arrives and informs both Selina and Jonah that he’ll be the new mayor of Lurleen, so he can no longer work on either of their campaigns. Technically, you’re supposed to be a dog, but that can’t be enforced. Also, Selina meets Beth for the first time and you can imagine how well that goes.
Kent then informs Selina about Mike’s published piece, which is an open letter to Andrew Meyer. Mike invested his life savings with Andrew, but he hasn’t seen a single dollar in return. The article as a whole isn’t going well. turns out, published a piece as an open letter on Andrew Meyer. Mike hasn’t seen any money from Andrew, and the article isn’t going well. So Selina wants Mike on the phone now.
However, Mike is crashing hard right now and sound asleep, so he won’t be taking calls from Selina.
The main Presidential debate begins- this time Greg’s in the moderator’s seat- with Selina growing tired of Talbot repeatedly referring to herself as a woman and woman of color. Selina reminds everyone that she’s actually sat in the Oval Office and made tough decisions.
Tom James jumps in, saying that he gets where Selina is headed. He drops the Talbot murder bombshell, saying that Selina meant to say that. Then he goes a step further, bringing up how the Meyer Fund defrauded millions of money.
Talbot interjects, saying that people want more than politics as usual. She admits that yes, she was in a car accident that resulted in the death of someone close to her, but she also looked up to President Meyer since she was a young girl. She then accepts Selina’s explanations for Andrew’s actions. Plus, everyone is tired of hearing about them. More than that, she doesn’t want to hear either Tom or Selina’s medical issues.
Backstage, Selina is desperate for something, anything that would help her take Talbot down. When Catherine pleads for Selina to not play dirty, Selina snaps, saying she’s tired of the whimpering and whining from Catherine’s generation. It’s time to man the fuck up. Well, that’s convincing.
Back at the debate, Selina again grows tired of Talbot repeatedly referring to herself as a woman of color. She finally speaks up and says that in her career, she never reminded people that she was a woman. People never let her forget it. Through all the harassment and secret meetings she was left out of, she wants thanks for the women who built the ladder that women that Talbot climb.
In essence, stop whining and just man up. This actually manages to get Selina a standing ovation. Well, Catherine actually managed to do something right.
With the debate over, Team Selina celebrate their victory, and it’s even given her a bump in the polls. Also watching this are Dan and a recovering Amy. Luckily, Dan has a frozen Maxi Pad for her. Before Amy can contemplate if she made a mistake, she gets a phone call from Teddy, who offers her the chance to help lead Jonah’s campaign.
She’s on board as long as she can be campaign manager. That’s fine, but the work won’t be any fun. See, cameras managed to snag a close-up of the hands on Jonah’s hand. Luckily, Amy’s schedule just got scraped clean, so she’s on board.
So there’s that nagging Meyer Fund that’s come back to haunt Selina. Didn’t think it’d be this soon, but also figured it would become the focal point. While Selina is trying to focus on her election, her past and present actions hold her back. Okay, not entirely her fault, but many of the problems can be traced back to her. She’s her own worst enemy, but it’s her tendency to fight against those problems that keeps her going.
Never let it be said that Selina Meyer is a woman’s woman. Or even someone who is proud of her gender, because she isn’t. Throughout the series, Selina has never relied on her gender as a crutch. Think about “The Choice” from Season Three. She was repulsed at the idea of using “As a woman.” As she said, men hate that and women who hate women also hate that.
Despite how she often isn’t taken seriously, Selina soldiers through every obstacle thrown in her path. She doesn’t exactly persevere, but she does survive it all- presidency notwithstanding. The point I’m getting at is that Selina is not someone who defines her success by her gender, but by her accomplishments.
That’s how anyone would want to be defined, right? By their qualifications and not whether they perfectly blend into a United Colors of Benetton ad.
To talk about real life for a moment, we live in an age where diversity is our strength. Your gender, your race, your background- those are all seen as strengths and are often highlighted over what you can actually bring to the table. I’m being general when I say that, but you’ve either heard something similar or witnessed it for yourself, whether taken seriously or as an object of ridicule.
In the case of Veep, it’s Talbot’s constant reminder that she is a woman of color that grinds Selina’s gears. Coupled with Catherine’s constant complaining, Selina takes that resentment towards the younger generation and says what I’m sure many of you would like to say to young people these days: stop crying and man the fuck up. You’re not defined by your race, but what you can do.
It’s honestly one of Selina’s finest moments, and it’s helped that this ends up working in her favor. She was just tired of people like Talbot throwing their race and gender around like it’s their only qualifying factor. But Selina didn’t go into that rant expecting to receive a standing ovation. That was just icing on the cake. But you know, with everything Selina has gone through, this is something that’s been brewing for six seasons.
So in a way, Selina walks out with a win by episode’s end. Yeah, the Meyer Fund shenanigans aren’t going away, but the public’s perception of her has shifted. She’s the tough, no-nonsense candidate that isn’t into mollycoddling the youth or those who just rely on their diversity as a plus.
Now does this mean that Selina was selfless this entire episode? Of course not. After all, she only proposed the no-negativity pledge so everyone would get off of her ass, but even that ended up working in her favor due to the positive feedback.
She didn’t bring up Talbot murdering her boyfriend, but instead pushed Tom James to bring it up instead. However, like Joe Thornhill in Season Three, Talbot coming clean and admitting her crimes ended up doing her a favor.
Talbot’s meteoric growth in the span of one episode is not unprecedented. She’s a young, fresh face who can represent a turning point for her party. Honestly, with that opening rally, I felt she had a little bit of a Michelle Obama thing going on there. I don’t know if that was intentional, but she brings some energy to the race that candidates like Selina and Tom lack.
But as Selina points out backstage, for all the energy that Talbot brings, her ideas, like any other candidate, probably won’t pan out. Selina might be running for President because she feels that it’s her turn, but she does have one edge over the others. For better or worse, she has served as both President and Vice President. She didn’t do a great job at either, but she’s been in the hot seat before.
Despite how quick an episode of Veep flies by, I enjoy how meaty each installment is. We discuss the Meyer Fund, make plans for Selina’s inevitable funeral- much to Gary’s chagrin- and we see her politicking when she attends the fair. This, in turn, gave us some great character moments, like both Kent and Marjorie being kick-ass at carnival games, and Mike proving his worth when his question sparks the non-negative pledge.
Speaking of Mike, it is again impressive to see how well he’s doing by not being part of Team Selina. Sure, he’s still tagging along and I like how Selina isn’t trying to keep him at a distance, but he’s doing a damn good job. Sure, it’s at Buzzfeed of all places, but the man has to feed his family.
It was also nice to follow-up with his family life and how that could soon be growing if he and Wendy will be on the same page.
Richard working on both Selina and Jonah’s campaigns finally got more attention as we see how tired he is. Before, he’s been full of the energy we’ve always seen him with, but all that work is catching up to him. Luckily, he’s got a big break with his promotion to Lurlene mayor. I’m curious to see how involved this job will be for him, but I imagine we’ll still see him around both Team Selina and Team Jonah in the episodes to come.
Then we’ve got Jonah. I swear this man may stumble his way into the White House. The sensitivity training being an absolute bust, the cameras catching a close-up of the words on his hand, and him deep-throating a corn-dog not unlike that one photo of Rick Perry, this week was a bust for Jonah. Fun to watch, though. Plus, he got one of the sensitivity trainers to unload onto him after so much restraint. Only Jonah could do that.
Curious how his campaign will run now that Amy is on the way. If Dan could survive working for Jonah’s congressional campaign, surely Amy can do just as well for a presidential run. Not like she’s getting much mileage working for Selina at this point anyway.
Funny, though. Amy was completely resolute in her decision to get this abortion, but for the briefest of moments, we saw her have second thoughts. Those instantly went away when she got the offer from Teddy, but it was interesting to see her show any doubt at all.
This being Veep and since we’ve already had an episode dedicated to abortion, I’m glad that we don’t dwell on this. The entire abortion subplot could’ve easily been done off-screen, but what we get here isn’t politicized. This isn’t that sort of show.
So Selina Meyer has a bit of momentum on her side with her telling the youth to man up, Richard’s got himself a promotion, and Amy is headed to Team Jonah Ryan. Which of these candidates will gain the momentum next? Could Buddy Calhoun be a dark horse in this race? We shall see.