Veep recap: Testimony
Bill gets snowballed.
I had a friend in college who was in the film department, and he had a remarkable reputation for being lazy. He always executed his projects and turned them in on time, but they were often simple to the point of being Spartan. But here’s the twist: They always killed. He was a sort of minimalist genius who had figured out exactly how to execute transcendent work with the least effort and fuss possible. He was sort of a savant.
It’s possible he could have made “Testimony,” the penultimate episode of Veep’s fourth season. Though it addresses many of the underlying stories of the past few episodes—particularly the ’86ing of the Families First bill from last week but also the data leak and Jonah’s sexual harassment—the half hour is primarily an excuse to deliver an incredibly dense cavalcade of one-liners. Most everything spoken in this episode, especially by the core cast, is a joke (most of which are gut-bustingly hilarious). That makes “Testimony” something of a bad episode of television, but as a comedy-delivery system, it was as effective as heroin.
The big news moving into the season finale is the dispatching of Bill Ericsson, who never really got a chance to shine after he was brought in earlier this season. He was initially presented as a challenger to Amy’s job running the Meyer re-election campaign, though her still-amazing exit completely changed that dynamic. (And when Kent was named campaign manager, it didn’t seem like Bill cared very much.) Bill always seemed to be floating on the edges of the frame, never quite developing into a fully-formed character. It’s as though the producers got really excited when they found out Diedrich Bader would be available, but then went on such a Bader bender that they forgot to write him anything. We’ll miss you, Bill, but we’ll always have anonymous suicide-ready hotel rooms.
There will be no poll numbers this week—in keeping with the theme of “Testimony,” I’ll skip putting any effort into math and simply list my favorite zingers below. But with only one episode left and a fifth season already greenlit, it’s probably best to start speculating about what’s going to happen during next week’s finale. The entire season has been walking up to the election that will determine whether or not Selina Meyer will end up in the history books next to Lyndon Johnson (who successfully parlayed his post-JFK assassination ascent to the presidency into actually being elected to the office in 1964) or alongside Gerald Ford (who filled the Oval Office after Nixon resigned but was sent home in defeat at the hands of Jimmy Carter in 1976). The next episode is helpfully titled “Election Night,” so by the time the credits roll, we should know whether or not President Meyer is still President Meyer.
There are two obvious outcomes: Either Meyer wins the election, or she loses it. The former would provide for a certain maintenance of the status quo, and next season would probably look a lot like this season (depending on where all of our characters end up, of course). But narratively speaking, doesn’t it seem like Selina is being set up to lose the election? Though there have been hints that her campaign has been effective in some ways (she apparently handily won the first debate), the data leak (and the subsequent investigation) seems like too big a scandal, and logic would dictate that the taint of the hearings would inspire voters to head in the other direction. Then again, we don’t know a ton about Selina’s opponent, so it’s possible he’s been using racial slurs and threatening to burn down Kentucky off-screen.
In both of those aforementioned realities, the title of the show still makes no sense, as it seems relatively impossible for Selina to return to the vice presidency in the immediate future. But if she loses the election, what does she do? Does she end up opening her own lobbying firm with Ben and go head-to-head with Dan and Amy? Does she luck into some other governmental appointment? Does she move out of politics completely and go run a tech company or something? Moving her out of Washington would be a mistake, but I would have said the same thing about separating Selina and Amy, and that happened anyway.
The likeliest scenario is a third one that keeps the election results vague or contested—perhaps they’ll play the 2000 Bush/Gore election all the way out and get into some sort of serious electoral college nonsense. Or maybe Gary ends up becoming president. The only sure thing on Veep, as in Washington, is that nothing is certain, even when it comes to elections. In the meantime, I’ve got my fingers crossed that Amy and Selina somehow mend their fissure, setting up a fifth season with the core cast at full strength.
Best Lines From “Testimony”
- Jonah: “Dan Egan is a solid five-and-a-half, weak six.”
- The best nicknames for Jonah can’t be printed here, though I am partial to “The Cloud Botherer”
- Leigh: “I value confidentiality, and paradoxically I don’t care who knows it.”
- Kent: “Though it may appear there was nothing going on, I can assure you there was lots going on underneath. Like a swan, or Professor Hawking.”
- Selina: “Gary has a very limited set of skills. Mainly I would say they are picking objects up and putting objects back down.”
- Mike: “I want to say it’s called Crouch Cream. But that’s not right.”
- Selina: “This may be a good day for truth, but a sad day for love.”
- Mike: “I guess that’s why they say don’t work with animals or technology. That’s why Jaws was such a nightmare to shoot. I mean, mechanical shark? Forget it!”
- Jonah: “My spheres were always clothed.”
- Tom: “Gary Walsh is a 12-year-old boy trapped in the body of a 12-year-old girl.”
Selina Meyer and her staff try to take on the White House in this HBO sitcom.