Veep Recap: Oops...
Dan’s back, Amy’s in charge, and enemies become frenemies on this week’s triumphant return of “Veep.” After a weeklong hiatus thanks to stupid Memorial Day, we’re dropped into Team Veep’s war room ahead of a primary debate. This will be Selina’s first chance to cement her frontrunner status in this race, and her coterie of advisors is strategizin’ and game-plannin’ just as hard as they can.
There’s a new writer on the team, goes by the name of Jackson (we hope it is “Jackson,” and not something stupider like “Jaxon”), and he will be the butt of many jokes this episode. And hey, there’s Congressman Roger Furlong, played by the hilarious and occasionally intemperate Dan Bakkedahl! Furlong will later be joined by Senator Doyle, played by the criminally under-utilized Phil Reeves, who you may recognize as Coach T from those Toyota commercials.
ANYWAY, enough fapping about Veep’s amazing supporting cast. Selina’s team is doing debate prep in the most fun way they can: by role-playing Selina’s various opponents, and getting in snarky asides. This is LITERALLY one of the most fun things you can do on a campaign, but it does not lend itself to quippy, blockquote-worthy jokes, which is sad for you, Dear Reader.
At long last (about three minutes into the episode), we get our first glimpse of Selina and her NEW SHORT HAIR, aaaaaah squeeeeeeeee, we think it looks super cute! Selina asks her team, “What do we think, I LOVE IT,” and they sorta-kinda half-smilingly agree with their boss. As the Veep leaves the room, Congressman Furlong turns to Selina’s daughter Catherine and remarks…
Just imagine, that’s what you’ll look like when you become a boy.
…and oh man, we sort of feel bad that he’s insulting a young woman who’s fresh out of college, but we are laughing too hard to care. We love mean jerkface Roger Furlong, and we hope he sticks around on the campaign trail.
New writer guy Jackson-not-Jaxon quips, “Short hair for the long haul,” and Amy halfway likes that. Catherine points out that it’s like Amy and the new writer are flirting, except “sort of sexless,” and then boom, in walks Dan Egan with his fancy new facial hair! We think Dan looks good in his beard, and not just because we are also a writer, named Dan, working in politics, who also happened to grow a beard rather recently.
Dan is fresh off his mental breakdown, and he’s a nicer, kinder, more human person. Mike notices this:
Dan: Can I get anybody a coffee?
Mike: Uh, yes, please, milk, and two heaping spoonfuls of whatever the fuck you’re on.
Now that he’s no longer running the campaign, Dan is free get back to what he does well: writing and rat-fucking. He seems happy with this, and he goes right to work on the second thing (the rat-fucking thing) by dropping a juicy rumor about one of Selina’s opponents, former baseball manager Joe Thornhill. Seems Thornhill had himself some extra-marital sexxxytimes a few years back, and Team Veep seems happy to have Dan back doing what he does well.
Catherine, however, isn’t sure that this is something the campaign should be doing. After all, why is Thornhill’s personal life in play here? Why isn’t Team Veep running an issues-based campaign?
Catherine: Call me naive, but isn’t that unethical?
Amy: You’re naive. Welcome to politics.
And THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is why Amy should have been the campaign manager all along. Amy loves this shit, she lives for it, and she’s pretty good at it. At this point, Sue walks in and notices that Selina has a twitch in her right eye, and Amy says JUST SMILE THROUGH IT, because Amy is a genius and we love her.
Meanwhile, Sue and Kent have a fight about something that is DEFINITELY not their relationship, and we’re officially eight episodes into the season without a single goddamn sexxxy word about Sue and Kent’s sexxxy, sexxxy times. At this point, we are left to conclude that the bulk of the Sue-Kent sexxxy times have been left on the cutting room floor, which makes us :-(
After some perfunctory debate prep and scene-setting, we fast-forward to three days later at the University of New Hampshire. We’re in the green room, getting a glimpse of the candidates pretending to be civil to one another when in reality, they just want to rip one another’s faces off. Danny Chung says something in his cloying, overly pronounced way, so that you can remember you’re supposed to hate him.
HEY LOOK, IT’S JONAH! SecDef Clay Davis Maddox dispatches Jonah to find him some fruit, which Jonah gladly does. Outside the green room, Dan and Kent are talking, and Dan has shaved his beard. Kent approves.
Mr. Egan. See you’ve shaved. Wise. You don’t have the facial gravitas for a beard.
BOO KENT, BOOOOOO! You’re better than this, Kent! The whole reason you grow a beard in the first place is to acquire the facial gravitas you can’t get from your own weak jawline. Apparently, the rocky patch Kent is going through with Sue is taking its toll on his snarking abilities. Jonah also approaches and makes fun of Dan, but Dan shakes off the insults from both men. Perhaps he is a new man? (Honestly, do you think Dan’s a new man?)
Back in the green room, Amy whips out a time-tested debate tactic by bringing up “all the numbers on the sanctuary states” to Selina in front of neophyte Joe Thornhill. Policy lightweight Selina, of course, has no idea what “all the numbers” are, and she was never going to make this part of her debate strategy.
Like a pitcher looking back the runner at first, Amy just wants to plant a seed of doubt, to rattle Thornhill before the debate gets started. We have personally seen this tactic work in actual, real-life political debates; moments like this are why everyone in D.C. insists that “Veep” is the most accurate political show on TV. Thornhill, for his part, says he is unfazed, confident that he knows “all about sanctuary states.” Amy’s mission is accomplished, and have we mentioned that we’re in love with her?
Then it’s on to the actual debate, and all the candidates come out on stage and throw shade at each other the same way they’d been doing in the green room, only this time under the intense scrutiny of HD cameras. Congressman Furlong will be watching the debate alongside Senator Doyle, and PLEASE let this not be the last time these two get to play Statler and Waldorf.
Furlong: Here’s my favorite part, where they all pretend like they like each other. Fuck Broadway, this is real acting.
Doyle: Nice air kiss. I think he actually missed the air.
Furlong: Look how he spills his water! I swear, this kid is literally going to shit himself.
The debate gets started, and Joe Thornhill performs well, much to Kent’s dismay. SecDef Clay Davis Maddox is inexplicably off his game, the new guy is a blank slate, and Danny Chung remains a one-trick pony. But the big moment of the debate comes when Selina channels Rick Perry, forgetting the third R in her three R’s to immigration reform. All that’s great, but the B plot—Selina’s new hair—takes over the last half of the episode.
Mike’s wife, style reporter Wendy (played by Kathy Najimy, aaaaaaahhhh!!!), has been brought in to give a positive review of Selina’s new hairstyle. For no good reason, Mike dispatches Gary to talk to Wendy, and Gary immediately fucks up. Mike tries to pull Wendy away from Gary’s fuck-up by offering her a scoop on Thornhill’s affair, but then Thornhill admits to the affair during the course of the debate. He even points to his still-loving wife as evidence why America should overlook his diddling. Amy and Ben hate this.
Amy: If there’s one dirty trick that I cannot stand, it’s honesty. […]
Ben: I hate confessions. Unless they’ve been beaten out of someone.
So Thornhill wins the first debate in the court of public opinion, but that’s not really important. It’s a long campaign, and this is just the beginning. Frontrunner Selina just needed to not implode, and she kinda-sorta did, since her ad lib for a third R actually tested really, really well. Once again, Selina has failed up.
Oh, and as for the kinder, nicer Dan Egan? Jonah approaches him during the closing credits to offer an apology.
Jonah: Hey, Dan? Dan…I just wanted to say I’m sorry that I wasn’t very sympathetic to your mental, head issues…so, um, I’m sorry. Friends?
Dan: [smiles, hugs Jonah, whispers in his ear] Go fuck yourself, Jack and the Giant Freak-stalk. Your team lost, and you should be fitted with a leper bell, you sinking shit.
Dan then goes on to point out to Amy that the new writer is just a less-talented, less-attractive version of himself. Good to have you back, Mr. Egan.
Follow Dan on Twitter, just because.