Veep Recap: It's Happening!
Selina’s campaign is sinking, Mike is looking for a lifeboat, and you won’t have POTUS to kick around anymore. It’s all finally happening on the super-special double-feature season finale of “Veep.”
The flinty voters of New Hampshire know a thing or two about a thing or two, and they like them some ordinary, plain-talkin’ folk whut they can have a beer or eight with. Sure, the state’s politics have been polluted by the influx of mouth-breathing Ayn Rand humpers, but Granite Staters are real Americans, real white Americans, Americans who wear plaid shirts without a hint of irony and know that running a continent-spanning, multi-confessional nation of 314 million people requires nothing more than good ol’ fashioned common sense.
As a result, baseball manager Joe Thornhill is absolutely killing the rest of the New Hampshire primary field, with his folksy expressions and his lantern sportsball jaw.
Ben: People like someone who’s normal, okay? Gritty? Y’know, folks who actually eat grits.
Selina: I’m normal! I can be so folksy! …doing the…folksy thing with…folks…
With 96 hours until the primary, Selina needs a miracle. Instead, she gets a crate. Kent arrives and presents Selina with a literal soapbox, which will be the prop that saves her candidacy. She puts on her shouty speechifyin’ voice, and Kent says hey, great, I gotta get back to D.C. because there is ongoing blowback from FLOTUS’s recent suicide attempt. #FORESHADOWING.
Selina pounds the pavement as much as anyone with a Secret Service detail can, doing her darnedest to Just-Regular-Folks her way back into contention.
Towns like this are what I call the real towns of America[…]I wanna hear what you see, and I wanna see what you feel! Y’know what, guys? My job is to communicate with you, the people. Because if I don’t communicate, guys, I communi-can’t.
It’s not very effective, but it’s a step in the right direction improvement. Maybe there’s hope for Selina’s campaign after all.
In one of the folksy New Hampshire diners where regular, everyday folks eat regular, everyday diner food, Jonah meets up with Rex Kwan Do, who, you’ll recall, chose to be Joe Thornhill’s campaign manager rather than Selina’s. Jonah is having eggs with his eggs, and he’s also desperately casting about for a new job. The Clay Davis Maddox campaign is flying apart at the seams, and Rex Kwan Do skillfully uses Jonah to get some marginally useful information. Jonah insists that if the Thornhill camp takes him onboard, he can bring senior staff from the Maddox campaign, which Jonah obviously can’t do. Rex Kwan Do laughs in his face and leaves.
This has been a rough season for Jonah, and he still hasn’t hit rock bottom. Jonah has one arrow left in the quiver, a call to his uncle who controls New Hampshire’s senior-citizen vote. He skulks back to his mom’s house in the hopes she can prevail upon her brother to get Jonah hired somewhere.
Meanwhile, the editor of a New Hampshire newspaper wants to talk to Selina about her awesome new crate. The editor may be a fancy-talkin’ asshat, but he is not a terrible reporter: he’s tracked down the manufacturer of Selina’s titanium-reinforced crate and discovered it’s $1,200 price tag. Twelve-hundred-dollar crates are not particularly folksy, and Selina knows it.
Mike arrives to convince the editor that he should spike the crate story in exchange for a longer interview with Selina, and the editor agrees. Mike’s mind, however, is not on the campaign trail. His reporter wife, Wendy (Kathy Najimy, aaaaahhhhh!!!), says that editor man is retiring soon, and maybe Mike could take his job and they could settle down somewhere?
Mike’s gone through a pretty huge (LAAHGE, in New Hampshire-ese) character arc this season, becoming both more professionally competent and personally fulfilled. Once, when we were considering a career as a campaign operative, we met with a hardened veteran of many campaigns in a cafe just outside Boston. Much to his credit, the hardened vet told our neophyte selves to remember that the campaign is always your life, and that makes it tough to do things like get married and settle down and pop out babbies. This reality is smacking Mike right between the eyes. He’ll never have a career opportunity like this again, but all he really wants to do is raise ducks on an old mill pond with Kathy Najimy (aaaaahhhhh!!!)
In an unidentified New Hampshire home, Jonah is crying on his mom’s shoulder. This scene exists to remind us that Jonah needs his mom to call his uncle, but it also includes some of Jonah’s best dialogue all season. We cannot resist blockquoting most of this scene.
Jonah: I don’t have any friends in D.C., Mom, they all call me a dick behind my back. But like, right behind my back, so I can hear them. […] Mom, do you think that you could talk to uncle Jeff for me? I want a job on my own merits, and I think he’s the guy to get it for me.
Mom: You know we’re not on good terms.
Jonah: Well you don’t have to fuck him, Mom, you just have to call him.
Mom: J.J. …
Jonah: Don’t give me that look! It’s how D.C. people talk. If you want to walk the walk, you have to talk that talk.
Back at the Meyer campaign HQ, the Veep is bumbling her way through the newspaper editor’s questions. It is not going well, but the editor is being nice, and then he leaves. Sue walks in with news about campaign donations, and Selina runs her yap about what a bunch of moe-rons her donors are. And then…and then the other shoe drops.
The newspaper editor has forgotten his iPhone on Selina’s desk, and it has recorded everything she and her team have said about both the Veep’s donors and the newspaper editor himself. Team Veep plays hot potato with the phone and fails to destroy the evidence before the editor comes back in to retrieve it. Already trailing Thornhill in the polls and fresh off a defeat in Iowa, Selina’s campaign is well and truly screwed, and everyone knows it.
As the editor leaves the room, the light goes out in Selina’s eyes. Similarly, Jonah watches as his mother gets achingly close to landing her son a job, only to let it slip away.
Jonah: But he’s going to make the call to Chung, right?
Mom: That’s not going to happen.
Jonah: Augh, mom! You are so annoying! How do you not just punch yourself in the face! Call him back!
Mom: Oh he’s not going to answer. Who else can we call?
Jonah: Oh, I don’t know, mom, is there anyone else in our family who controls the senior citizen vote in New England? Because that’d be my next fucking call.
We would probably watch an entire show of just Jonah being unemployed at home with his mom. We are just saying, HBO execs, we are just saying.
Selina’s on her way to meet with two refugees of the Syrian civil war when Sue arrives with bad news: two of Selina’s campaign donors are pulling their funds. The newspaper editor is now fully aware of the shit-talking Team Veep engaged in after he left the room, and the story has just hit the Google machines. There is nowhere left to run, and Selina knows it. She does not take the news well.
Okay, well…well there’s, there’s just, there’s no way out of this. I mean, y’know, not for a sitting Vice President, who’s lost Iowa and New Hampshire. Y’know what VP stands for? It stands for Victory Perma-fucked. I don’t deserve this. Y’know, goddammit…I don’t, but you do. Because you are all losers! Every motherfuckin’ one of you! Loser! Loser!
Selina’s freakout reminds us of Kirstie Alley’s amazing breakdown in Drop Dead Gorgeous, which we will link to because that movie is awesome. But there’s a deus ex machina coming. Just as the meeting with the Syrian refugees begins, Amy steps in and tells Selina that Kent needs to see her right now. The Veep steps outside the meeting, and Kent drops the bombshell: POTUS is stepping down to care for his suicidal wife. Like Frank Underwood, Selina will be the leader of the free world without a single vote cast in her name.
Selina steps into a nearby bathroom, and Gary follows. She tells him the good news, and they completely lose their shit. Gary starts bleeding from the nose, because that’s what happens when Gary gets excited. Team Veep hustles out of meeting with the Syrian refugees, because the little people are meaningless now that Selina will be running as the incumbent.
The news breaks nationally, and Jonah watches in horror—even if his uncle were to make a call to the Chung campaign, it would be meaningless now. As part one of the two-part season finale concludes, Selina recognizes the obvious and depressing truth: “I’m gonna be the fuckin’ President.”
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