Veep Recap: Heavy is the Head
Selina has to repeat her oath, Jonah’s back in the West Wing, and we finally learn POTUS’ real name on the thrilling conclusion of the two-part season finale of “Veep.”
We begin with some montage-y exposition to remind viewers that Selina is now President, including a fake cover of the Washington Post in which we finally, finally learn POTUS’ real name. It is Stuart Hughes, and we are still trying to puzzle out all the inside jokes contained on that fake newspaper front page. Stuart Hughes is a present-day English politician, as well as a well-regarded Canadian actor. We cannot figure out what the other four names at the top of the page mean, but two of them (Alex Boundy and Jake Holdsworth) belong to actors associated with the film Concrete Castles. Is there a larger significance here? We have literally no idea and are not going to waste any more time digging through the Google box. Back to the recap.
Selina and the rest of Team Veep is streaking through Washington in the Presidential motorcade and enjoying a good larf about how awesome they all are. Amy says that Selina needs to remember that she’s still in the middle of a campaign, to which Dan replies, hey, check out this congratulatory note Selina just got from Beyonce! QUEEN BEY. Selina is thrilled because Beyonce called her a single lady.
This episode is all about Selina, as you knew it would be. As the soon-to-be-45th President walks through the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, she’s greeted by an adoring staffer.
Staffer: Congratulations, ma’am, first female President, I’m so happy to be alive to see this!
Selina: I’m so happy it’s me!
Senator Doyle makes a quick appearance to kiss the Presidential ring before Amy informs Selina that one of the other Presidential candidates has dropped out of the race. As Selina says, it’s all falling into place. She briskly walks into her office, discusses her first Presidential visit to a foreign country, and off-handedly tells Kent to get rid of “Leslie Kerr.” Kent asks, “Did you say ‘Leslie Kerr?'” and Selina confidently says yes, she said “Leslie Kerr.” Kent is puzzled for reasons we’ll understand a bit later.
Then Selina asks for some alone time with Ben. She offers him a position as her acting Chief of Staff, which she rightly sees as a positive PR move. Ben is a steady hand at the helm of the ship of state, and his appointment will be seen as Serious and Wise by all the correct people. Ben, however, wants nothing to do with the job. The stresses of being White House Chief of Staff nearly killed him before, and he begs Selina to not make him do it again.
Don’t ask me that. It just destroyed me. I mean, I was bulimic the whole first year, and I didn’t even lose any weight from it.
But Ben relents, and Selina gets the Chief of Staff she wants.
In the White House Press Briefing Room, Mike McLintock has completed his ascent to the peak of Mount Political Hack. He revels in the glow of the new Presidency, telling horrible dad jokes to an adoring press corps who are all too happy to let him think they’re his friend.
Amy remains in her role as Campaign Manager, and after firing up the troops with a rousing speech, she’s greeted by two original volunteers on Selina’s current campaign, including our old friend from the beginning of the season, Hapless Iowa Advance Man. These two super-volunteers remember Amy, but of course, Amy does not remember them. She treats them as the help—the naive, unpaid help—and tells them to hit the phones.
Nearly eight minutes into the episode, we get our first hint of conflict. The rumor about Gov. Chung torturing Iraqis has been traced back to Handsome Dan Egan, and Kent unceremoniously demands his resignation within six hours. Dan tracks down Ben, who fed him the rumor in the first place, at which point Ben gives Dan a valuable lesson in how the rumor mill gets its grist. Acting Chief of Staff Ben claims he never said anything to Dan:
No, you misheard me, Dan. Torture is a terrible thing. Y’know, I told you when I was telling you I wasn’t telling you what I told you. The fuck stops here, Dan.
So Dan makes a bee line for the only person who can save his career: Jonah, who broke the rumor as part of Ryantology’s first big non-scoop. Dan needs Jonah to disavow the rumor, and he has to offer Jonah a West Wing job to do it. Jonah has been contemplating a career move to the Peace Corps, or maybe Wall St. (same difference), and he jumps at the job to get back into the White House.
Back in the West Wing, the jockeying for office space begins, and Kent and Sue’s non-relationship appears to be officially on the skids. There had better be a big ol’ reveal about that non-story in the next season, but we are not holding our breath. But first, Selina has to take the oath of office.
It does not go well! She’s parroting the oath, doing that thing where she looks like she really means what she says, and then Mike smacks a crystal lamp, interrupting Selina in the middle of the word “preserve.” Couple parallels with recent events, because “satire.”
After the inauguration, Jonah tells Dan he is not pleased with his new job on the most marginal margins of the Meyer Administration. Jonah has burned his Internet bridges, so if this job doesn’t work out, he’s kind of screwed.
Jonah: I publicly denounced the Internet, Dan, okay? Those are my people! I’m getting so much online hate—there are memes of me being burned alive! There’s one of me fucking a chicken while dressed as Bin Laden.
Dan: The chicken is dressed as Bin Laden, or you’re dressed as Bin Laden?
Jonah: No, I’m dressed as Bin Laden, Dan, and it’s really well done, so it legitimately looks like I am engaging in bestiality while insulting 9/11 victims.
Right before she makes her first Presidential address, Selina receives a touching/creepy gift from Gary. They’re new shoes, a little something Gary picked up when Selina once made an off-handed remark about what she’d like to wear if she ever became President. Gary remembers the event, buys the shoes, and holds onto them all these years. He is finally getting the chance to put these shoes on Selina’s feet, and the viewer is left to wonder, “Will Gary be able to carry out his official duties with a raging, rock-hard boner?” A question for another episode, we are sure.
There’s one problem with Gary’s new shoes: they squeak. This undercuts the gravitas of Selina’s long walk to the podium and provides ample fodder for hacky political jokes. Gary begins self-flaggelation, and we now have a pretty good idea of what gets Gary’s rocks off.
Selina is livid at Gary’s fuck up, and she informs Dan, Ben, and anyone else who will listen that no more fuck ups will be permitted. Then Kent walks in and says that her firing of “Leslie Kerr” has roiled diplomatic relations with Iran. Selina is even more pissed now, because she meant for Kent to fire “Leslie Carr.” Kent politely reminds Selina that “Leslie Carr” is actually named Leanne Carr. Selina’s inability to remember the names of all the little people is finally coming back to bite her in the ass. Still, though, Selina’s pretty sure this is all Kent’s fault, because she has learned nothing.
Selina dispatches Kent to New Hampshire, where he and Amy try to ride the Presidential bump to victory. Team Veep realizes that they need Jonah’s uncle and his vat of elderly votes to have any chance of winning. It will not be a fun ask.
Amy: Do we really want to push the Jonah’s uncle alarm?
Kent: We have to. We just need bodies now. I need warm, upright bodies that can still punch a hole in a card.
Amy: Kent, your rhetoric is, as always, inspiring.
Selina’s campaign settles on a visit to a New Hampshire factory, and they get to the Granite State thanks to a really not-very-good shot of Air Force One against a twilight sky backdrop. But during the factory visit, the flubbed inauguration rears its ugly head. Selina will have to take the oath of office again, but she deftly channels the spirit of Calvin Coolidge and opts for an unceremonious swearing-in from a local judge.
Coolidge was sworn in by his father in neighboring Vermont following the death of Coolidge’s predecessor, Warren G. Harding. Amy immediately grasps the brilliance of Selina’s decision.
That could be great for us—play up to New Hampshire’s already inflated sense of self-importance.
And so it came to pass that the first female President in the history of the republic was correctly inaugurated on a factory floor in Nashua. But the folksy photo-op wasn’t enough: Danny Chung cruised to victory in the New Hampshire primary, while Joe Thornhill edged Selina by a point. The sitting President of the United States has now lost in Iowa and come in third in New Hampshire. As the season draws to a close, Selina is facing declining approval ratings, deteriorating relations with Iran, and a campaign machine that can’t seem to win.
We can’t wait for season four.
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