Veep Recap: Once a Body Man, Always a Body Man
Hail, Wonketariat! Veep, season 3, episode 2, IT’S RECAPPENING!
This episode begins with a little bit of character development for the two Selina staffers who are in stable(ish) relationships. Gary is having a fighting-but-not-fighting fight with his lady when he gets a call from Mike, who immediately brags about his awesome bachelor-fantasy-cum-honeymoon. Mike tells Gary that the outgoing POTUS’s bag man is quitting. This means that Gary could advance further up the body man ladder, but instead, he feels a touch of the ol’ existential dread—“I don’t want to be a guy in his 40s carrying a bag!”—and makes him think he can become an “advisor” to Selina.
Ah, the treasured “advisor” role. This is one of the more coveted positions in politics, for many of the same reasons that a banking license is coveted in the private sector: the upside risk is largely privatized, while the downside risk is largely socialized. If you’re an advisor to a winning campaign, you are a genius, a latter-day Machiavelli whose giant brain bent the will of a great nation to your whims. But if you’re an advisor to a losing campaign, you’re still doing pretty great—there are all sorts of other people to blame for the loss, and you can still probably end up in a cushy gig on the TV, lecture, or book circuit. Heck, the “advisor” who managed to help a Democrat lose in Massachusetts is once again being called a “leading Dem pollster,” so cram it with walnuts, F. Scott Fitzgerald, because for political advisors, there are too second acts in American life.
So advisors are where it’s at, and Gary wants to get his beak wet. But he’s a bit late to the game, as we see Amy and Selina making a visit to an unfinished office that is definitely not going to be Selina’s campaign HQ, wink wink nudge nudge. And hey, it’s Hapless Iowa Advance Man! He’s back, and not necessarily because he’s the only POC in Selina’s entourage aside from Sue.
Selina doesn’t understand why Amy brought this guy all the way from Iowa; Amy says, Hey, you said he was great on the book tour, I do not understand why you are mad at me? And Gary laughs, because Gary’s role is to be finely tuned to every miniscule tic and inflection in Selina’s voice.
Gary takes his shot at being Selina’s new ideas guy, insisting that Selina should just tell the American people that she’s running on and count on her obvious awesomeness to keep everyone interested. Selina excuses herself to the bathroom, allowing Dan to swoop in and tell Gary how electoral cycles actually work. “It’s way too early. You don’t announce your candidacy while the incumbent is still warm…that’s like trying to bang the widow at the funeral,” Dan declares, and we’re pretty sure he’s speaking from personal experience.
And it’s in this exchange where we see either growth in Selina the politician or a new willingness to treat her team with the same disdain she has for the voters. Selina used to depend on Gary to get her out of awkward scrapes with morons like this—now, Gary’s the moron, so she makes up her own non-reason to leave the conversation, allowing Dan’s natural dickheadedness resolve the problem for her. WAY TO DELEGATE, SELINA.
Selina reassures Gary that he’s a very smart boy indeed, and so handsome! And they’re off to the Coast Guard boat, where an ashen Dan tries to keep his lunch down. Dan does not like boats, which is a fantastic callback to his ass-kissing of Kent last season (“I went power-boating on Lake Erie once.”).
At 5:22 on the HBO Go timer, we have our first confirmed Jonah sighting! Oh boy it’s Jonah, what’s gonna happen with Jonah the best non-Amy character this week, you guys? Sadly, not much. We get some good comic relief, but Jonah’s arc is an afterthought in this episode. There’s a tease that he’s going to be on TV and we’re thinking OH WOW JONAH’S GONNA BE A TALKING HEAD ALL SEASON, but no, he fails in his first time as on-camera talent.
Editor’s note: needz moar Jonah. Don’t care how you get him in there—smuggle him in a duffel bag, wrap him in a puff pastry, put him in a bottle and fling him into the bosom of the eternal sea—one way or another, we need more Jonah than this episode gave us. Oh, Jonah’s first attempt at A Business Thing after leaving the West Wing is called Ryantology, which we’re sorta hoping goes away or turns into something much more awesome than it was during this episode.
Back on the Coast Guard boat, Selina gets word that POTUS has made his big announcement—and it’s not what everyone thought. Instead of announcing his resignation, POTUS has announced that he’s pro-life. That’s not even a curveball, that’s some other sports metaphor that hasn’t even been invented yet. Back to the land! Selina cries, and back to the land they go.
In the Veep’s office, Kent hits on Sue. WUT!? Is this really going to be a thing now? More news as it becomes available, probably next week.
With POTUS’s announcement on abortion, the rest of the episode revolves around Selina trying to decide when, exactly, life begins. POTUS tries to force Selina to get out in front of the media and give him some cover, to which Selina says hell naw, and she meets with every major pressure group in the country instead. Mike suggests Selina position herself as, y’know, a woman on the subject of choice, and once again we see Selina’s natural gift for politics:
I can’t identify myself as a woman, people can’t know that! Men hate that, and women who hate women hate that—which, I believe is most women, don’t you agree with that, Amy?
Amy does agree with that, as do plenty of polls. A friend of Yr Wonkette refers to this as “The ‘I Went to High School with That Bitch’ Effect,” and we do not think this friend is necessarily wrong!
There’s a blow-up moment where Dan gets sick of Selina’s dithering and just tells her to pick between what he sees as two black-and-white options: “two doors: pro-choice, pro-life, that’s it!” As usual, Dan has a point, but for kinda the wrong reasons. With his typical lack of a moral compass, Dan simply wants his boss to stop wasting time on this decision—Dan knows Selina’s a policy lightweight, and he’s honestly exacerbated with the fact that she doesn’t know where she stands on this. And with her typically thin skin, Selina is offended that Dan has successfully pointed out that while she may have some real convictions on the subject—“How about I just say, ‘Get the government out of my fuckin’ snatch,’ y’know?’”—she’s definitely prioritizing polls over principles.
Instead, Selina takes the opportunity to remind Dan that she and she alone has the ability to shitcan him, and she does so in moralistic language, asking, “You’re suggesting that I should be a hypocrite like Maddox?” while blithely ignoring the fact that she was already a hypocrite on the subject, in print, in the book Dan wrote for her.
Selina’s take on abortion also gives us a glimpse into where her real red lines lie. When Kent and Ben suggest that “as a woman” she can chart her own course on the issue, Selina responds, “As a woman, I am not going to start a sentence with ‘as a woman.’” If Selina’s spine keeps growing at this rate, she might need to buy some new, roomier blouses.
Oh, and Gary is totes pro-life, which he tries to illustrate with a bunch of fruit, which Selina ignores and other people eat.
Not your strongest move, Gary. But Selina knows she needs Gary, and at the end of the episode, she assures him that he’s the body man for her. For the same reason the Lannisters selected all those incompetent knights to run the Kingsguard (you guys are reading the GoT recaps, right?), Selina knows that in some positions, loyalty is far more important that skill.
Oh, and when Selina finally does go on TV following POTUS’s announcement, she begins a sentence with, “As a woman, myself” before saying absolutely nothing about her position.
You don’t have to like Dan, but we sort of like Dan.
Catch up in the archives.