'Veep' recap: 'East Wing'
“You are unimportant!”
Of all the cruel phrases that Selina Meyer has used to take down both her most-loathed opponents and her closest confidantes, nothing has ever cut so deeply as the three words she spews at Gary following his spending spree. All Gary wanted to do was make sure the centerpieces popped for President Meyer’s first state dinner, but between pushing the White House social secretary to the brink of madness and alienating the entire Native American art community, he found himself at the wrong end of one of Selina’s sharpest takedowns.
To his credit, Gary does not back down. “I’m your calendar, I’m your Google, I’m your Wilson the Volleyball!” he declares while informing Selina about a senator’s daughter in rehab and correcting her on her own daughter’s birthday. Ultimately, cooler heads prevail and the relationship between Selina and her trusty bag man heals with the help of some light sponge cake.
Gary is ultimately right, too: Despite his multiple PR mistakes that threatened to eclipse Selina’s peace talks with Israel, he represents the most intimate relationship she currently has—even more than her daughter Catherine, the other big focus of this week’s episode. Catherine’s likability numbers are in the toilet, so it falls to Kent to boost her ratings. His first two suggestions of military service and childbirth are off the table (“Okay, God no, and oh my God no, in that order,” says Catherine), but even when charged with handing out awards to a girl scout troop (or whatever was going on there), she can barely keep it together. “Can you pull me out the second it becomes acceptable to leave?” she asks a handler.
Let’s take time out to appreciate Sarah Sutherland, who plays Catherine. Of all the excellent performances on Veep—and the cast is, to a person, pretty much perfect—Sutherland has perhaps the most difficult job of anybody. Her character is essentially a grown-up version of Ann from Arrested Development, a person so fundamentally dull she becomes offensive to people (how she transformed the film society at her college is anybody’s guess). Despite having to be horrifyingly uninteresting, Sutherland has managed to turn Catherine into an underdog with bite, and she does it with grace and impeccable timing. And for the record, she didn’t do drugs with those guys, she was just on their bus for a half hour.
With Catherine and Gary deadlocked in the top spot in this week’s poll numbers and way ahead of the rest of the field, let’s take a look at how everybody else fared.
Bill Ericsson (17%)
The new Communications Director in the Meyer White House deposes poor bearded boozehound Jim (played gamely by Zak Orth) and provides a much more pointed threat to Amy. “I just wanted to say a friendly hello in an unfriendly way,” he tells Amy. “Hello.” Like everybody in the Meyer camp, he’ll almost certainly fall on his face pretty much immediately, but for now it’s nice having a non-Jonah villain hanging around to smugly float above the fray.
Mike McLintock (15%)
Mike opened this week’s episode having dyed his mustache (“I call it ‘Tangerine Dream'”) and basking in his newfound fame as the public face of the Meyer administration. The scene where he asks Jim to announce his own firing was the kind of top-level cringe comedy the show has gotten away from as it has evolved, and his unfortunate use of the word “cleansed” when discussing the Native American painting was even better.
Amy Brookheimer (15%)
Though Selina’s episode-ending takedown of Gary was harsh, Amy certainly prepared Gary for the drubbing he would later take. “You look whiter than a Georgia country club” and “Your inner child needs to grow an outer man” were both fantastic.
Sue Wilson (13%)
I think my favorite line in the entire episode was when Sue told the gaggle looking to talk to the President, “Sure, I’ll just tell the Israelis to move on, because they love that.” She also remained the stern taskmaster when Gary first admitted his budgeting blunders, though that scene was completely eclipsed by Amy.
Selina Meyer (12%)
GaryGate obviously took up the bulk of the episode, but I’m pretty sure I could listen to Selina riff with Native American artists about the pretty colors (“I believe the title is Massacre“), react to offers of baby elephants from South Korea, and harp about her used-to-be-chubby daughter’s relative lack of likability in photos. Also, bonus points for accusing Gary of “Suckering onto me like some sort of car window Garfield!”
Ben Cafferty (11%)
Once again, Ben takes some of the episode’s greatest lines—he’s more like the President’s Greek chorus than an adviser. He was unable to deal with Amy Skyping herself into a meeting (“I feel like I’m on trial in the future”), had the perfect encapsulation of Gary’s spending spree (“Imagine Elton John on a day he feels fat”), and, apropos of nothing, shouted out “I need a shirt! This isn’t Die Hard!”
Who Is That? (7%)
Does anybody else have a sense that she’ll end up being kind of important down the line? Through two episodes, the show seems to be giving this mysterious new staffer an awful lot of screen time. Sure, the fact that nobody can remember her name is a pretty solid joke, and she even gets a great moment when moving the Israelis out of the Oval Office (“I don’t mean to be abrupt, but this is over”), but I have to assume that her anonymous nature is going to bubble up as the season moves forward.
Jonah Ryan/Dan Egan (6%)
I would absolutely watch a spin-off just focusing around these two frenemies lying to various members of Congress about Presidential bowling parties and Scorsese premieres for movies that don’t exist yet (“He’s got to have a new one dropping, right?” says a panicked Jonah. “He’s really prolific!”). You know how Broad City is the purest expression of female friendship on television right now? The Jonah/Dan dynamic is a surgically accurate example of male nemeses, as there is an underlying begrudged respect that lies underneath their barbs at one another. Both Jonah and Dan understand that they sort of need one another, and they each recognize the other’s skills. This kind of relationship is particularly pointed at work—I’ve totally worked with dudes who I only sort of tolerate but maintain a mildly aggressive relationship with for the sake of business. Feel free to pick out your favorite EW staffer and write up some conspiracy-laden fan fiction about it!
“He’s eager and hard-working and never complains and every night I dream of drowning him.” Richard’s move from Amy to Jonah is just delightful, and he should be quite a foil for Jonah moving forward. “Fudge me! No!” he exclaims when passing the Oval Office during Jonah’s West Wing tour. “You are like the coolest guy I’ve ever met!” This can only end disastrously.
Selina Meyer and her staff try to take on the White House in this HBO sitcom.