Veep recap: Election Night
It was never going to be cut and dried. As noted last week, neither of the results of this election were going to be truly satisfying: Either Selina would win the election and stay in the Oval Office (thus making the title of the show all the more irrelevant), or she would lose the election and try to find a way to tuck and roll. The third scenario is far more delicious: Both Selina and Bill O’Brien managed to collect 269 electoral votes, leaving them each one shy of picking up the 270 that are necessary for claiming victory.
The result is undoubtedly the first ever discussion of the 20th amendment on television, which lays out the process by which the president is selected in the event of an electoral tie. That’s disastrous for Selina, as her fate sits with the House of Representatives that is also likely to be deadlocked, which would cede the office to whoever the Senate has selected as vice president—in this case, running mate Tom James.
So that leaves us in a highly complicated (but legally accurate!) scenario that seems to be pointing to Selina Meyer returning to the office of the Vice President of the United States. The show’s title makes sense again!
Though Selina is pretty bummed by the end of it, this was a tremendous episode. Veep has been mildly uneven this season, primarily because the characters have been too separated, but this was the best finale the series has ever put out. Creator Armando Ianucci totally nailed it: Since he’s not coming back next season, he hit enough of a reset button to maintain something of a narrative status quo while still shaking up just enough of the continuity to keep some questions on the table for season 5. Outside of exactly where Selina ends up, there’s still mystery surrounding the fates of Bill (off to prison?), Dan (still lobbying?), Amy (it seemed like a proper reunion with Selina, but she didn’t seem particularly confident), Tom (will Hugh Laurie be back on the show?) and even Gary (now that Selina technically didn’t win, will he commit suicide?). And yet, with all those questions, it still felt like a satisfying wrap-up. He even gave most everybody in the cast a curtain call at the end, with Selina introducing everybody on her staff (including Amy, though she did include the addendum, “who so successfully ran my campaign until she became unwell”).
Naturally, everybody on the show tied in this week’s final poll but let’s see how they all got there.
Selina Meyer (20%)
What a roller coaster for Selina this week. She opened the episode wrapped in doubt, then got so low that she actually called Senator O’Brien to concede, only to reverse herself in confidence that she would win (though even when she was winning, she kept everything in check—after winning Vermont and Connecticut, she tells Gary, “Settle down. A bowl of hair could win those states.”).
In the end, she tied, and it was the ultimate kiss-your-sister moment. “The rule book has been torn up now, and America is wiping its nasty ass with it,” she yells. Later, of the electorate, she declares, “They’re ignorant, and they’re dumb as s—, and that’s democracy.”
Despite her obvious disappointment, this is exactly where Selina needs to be, at least for the sake of the show. She’s back at underdog status, possibly serving under a president that she mildly resents (her fun-poking at people who adore Tom James was priceless), and still at the center of a mildly insane crew of supporters and staffers. She may be depressed, but she’s funnier that way.
Tom James (20%)
Tom James is this season’s greatest construction. He’s exactly the type of painfully cheesy but ultimately idealistic person who becomes a political all-star. At the top of the show, he tells Selina, “History is calling, and it won’t go to voicemail,” which is just the perfect dumb line, and later he makes impossibly pandering jokes to the rally crowd about using the bathroom. But like anybody drawn to politics, he’s ultimately power hungry: He asks Selina to make him Secretary of the Treasury in addition to Vice President, and later he clearly seems to relish the idea of his move into the Oval Office, even as he demurs.
Still, he’s got some rage left in him: He doesn’t care for corn country (“F— Iowa. I’d say nuke it, but I think somebody already did.”), the Nate Silver stand-in working on CNN (“Go back to the Shire you f—ing moon-faced hobbit!”), and Senator O’Brien (“O’Brien can’t be president. He’s still contracted to be the KFC logo.”).
Ben Cafferty (20%)
“Election nights are my cocaine. It used to be election nights and cocaine were my cocaine.” Man, I love Ben Cafferty.
Jonah Ryan & Richard Splett (20%)
They played it relatively low-key this episode, though it does turn out that Jonah managed to lean into the whole groping controversy: He’s now the face of a testicle health awareness campaign that features the slogan “Check’em, don’t neglect’em.” “This whole scrotum situation is really working out for you, sir,” Richard tells Jonah. Until this show returns, I’m going to miss that guy’s interjections the most.
Amy Brookheimer (20%)
Of all the characters on Veep this season, Amy probably went through the most complete arc. Though she stormed out of the White House five episodes ago, she feels the gravitational pull of Planet Selina so profoundly that she abandons her election night TV gig and joins Selina at her hotel. Tellingly, when Selina realizes that she might be a loser, she weeps and falls specifically into Amy’s arms. It seems like Amy is back in the Meyer fold, though she still asks Dan to put in a good word in case she needs to keep her TV work moving.
But the easy highlight of the night was the teaming of Amy and Sue, who both got pulled back in even though they thought they were out. Amy’s “Low Turnout In Broward County” song was priceless, as was Sue’s glare.
Selina Meyer and her staff try to take on the White House in this HBO sitcom.