If there’s one complaint that could be levied against this season of Veep, it’s that it hasn’t done as good a job at juggling its impressive ensemble. It’s certainly the kind of problem you want to have—there are plenty of shows on the air that don’t have a single character worth watching—but it still becomes a source of frustration, especially as very talented people seem to just be hanging out doing not much of anything.
Diedrich Bader is a spectacularly funny comedic actor, and though his entry into the Veep inner circle was initially exciting, he has basically been invisible for the bulk of the season. I got optimistic when the title of this episode turned out to be “B/ill,” but the Bill in question was not Bader’s Bill Erickson but rather the Families First Bill (also known as the Meyer Bill, or the Mommy Meyer Bill). In order to win the presidential election, Selina needs the bill to die in Congress so she doesn’t get saddled with such an unpopular piece of legislation. But of course it can’t look like the White House is trying to smother its own baby, so Ben and Kent devise a plan: They draft Dan and Amy into lobbying against it.
But of course, the plan disintegrates rapidly, and not only do the “Yes” votes start piling up, but at least one member of Congress gets mighty suspicious when Dan and Amy present the exact same report to him that Jonah and Richard delivered only hours earlier. Will this lead to Gary’s worst nightmare, wherein everybody is implicated in an investigation? (Based on the preview of next week and the fact that episode of called “Testimony,” that’s an easy yes.)
The events of “B/ill” fall apart extra rapidly because Selina has such an intense flu that it feels like a rabid animal is defecating in her brain. By the time the conspiracy falls apart, she can barely speak, and the entire fate of the Families First Bill is left in the hands of Congressman Owen Pierce, a buffoon who sells his “No” vote for an international posting (he chooses France, but according to Ben, he’ll end up in Somalia). “Every time I see him, I hear circus music,” Selina says of Pierce. But he manages to make it to the floor to cast his vote. The bill fails, Selina addresses the nation (sounding like “an underwater Bob Dylan,” according to Mike), and collapses back onto her bed with an exhausted exit line: “F— you, America.”
Despite her lack of interest in our well-being, Selina wins this week’s Veep poll, because it’s hard to get angry at somebody so sick. Here’s how the rest of the numbers added up. Maybe we’ll get more Diedrich Bader next week?
Amy Bruckheimer & Dan Egan (41%)
The misadventures of Amy and Dan are the best parts of this show right now. The episode opened with a clandestine meeting between the two of them and Gary, who explained the Families First ordeal. Amy, still bitter about the way she was treated at the White House, really relishes the President’s odd and terrible position. “She’s gone full Colonel Kurtz,” Amy says of Selina. “Is she giving orders from under the desk?”
Once Dan and Amy figure out that both they and the Jonah/Richard tandem are on the same case, they finally collide in a hospital room where Congressman Pierce is visiting his dying mother. (Actually, she’s not dying, she’s just having some tests.) Their four-way throwdown, which ends in a chase across town to see who can deliver Pierce to the White House first (and collect the credit) makes a strong case for a spin-off that just features Dan, Amy, Jonah and Richard (with the four of them ultimately at a swingers’ retreat, a la Bob & Ted & Carol & Alice).
Also, Amy doesn’t think it’s ever fine to call somebody a bitch, unless it’s “Biiiiiitch,” so she’s a genius.
Tom James (36%)
Back at the White House, Tom James is suffering through a prep session for the Vice Presidential debate, although he mainly finds himself embroiled in the Families First fiasco. He initially wants no part of the plan, in hopes that he can stay on the sidelines and claim ignorance when the administration is inevitably investigated. But he can’t help but get sucked in, and when he finally takes control, it’s pretty amazing: He shouts down Ben, which is not something we often see, and then lays into Bill (he’s a 1950s radio broadcaster), Kent (a Nazi doctor), and Mike (a Fozzie Bear that has been torn apart for the purpose of smuggling heroin). It was fun to see James finally lose his cool (he was teetering earlier when Selina kept interrupting his debate prep session), though he remains somewhat above the fray, even thought Ben thinks otherwise. “Hold on there, hunk of the month. If I’m going down, you’re going down too,” Ben tells him. “Join the circle jerk. Grab a d—.”
Jonah Ryan & Richard Splett (11%)
Jonah and Richard (who had no trouble navigating out of their own mothers’ wombs, thank you very much) remain an incredible comic force on this show, but these votes mostly come from the fact that Jonah picked up a couple of delightful new nicknames this episode. Dan called him a “colossal f—ing fanny pack,” and one Congressman referred to the Jonah/Richard tandem as a “six foot waxwork and his cuddly boyfriend.” I could watch an entire episode of only Jonah reacting to people calling him mean names (which, come to think of it, was basically the bulk of Veep‘s first season).
Gary Walsh (7%)
Gary to Selina: “Now we’re all incriminated. But you’re not. Oh my God now you are!”
Ben Cafferty (5%)
“We should have hired Navy SEALs instead of those actual seals.”