Veep stars on their characters' fates — and Selina's 'vile' actions — in series finale
On Sunday, Veep uncorked an unforgiving series finale that obliterated any foolish hopes that Selina would find some forgotten reserve of kindness concealed in the recesses of her soul and use it to fuel herself to Oval Office glory once again. The always-running politician played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus merely embraced her most dastardly instincts and destroyed the only person who had pledged undying fealty to her, Gary (Tony Hale), framing him for her corruption and sending him to prison. Louis-Dreyfus and Hale opened up about the critically beloved HBO comedy’s darkest-ever move right here, but now, their castmates weigh in on that shameful game-changer, as well as the fates of their own characters. But first, about Selina’s sinister sell-out….
“What Selina does to Gary is so unimaginable — but it’s character consistent,” offers Sarah Sutherland, who played Selina’s hangdog daughter, Catherine. “Ultimately if Veep tied things up with a happy ending where everyone wins, it wouldn’t actually be true to the show, but it’s so awful to see that character be treated in that way. There’s something so heartfelt about Gary, and also Tony Hale as an actor — and their relationship, although it’s abusive, it’s so special. If anything, you think that would be protected over her relationship with her own daughter, given the history of this show. It’s awful. It’s vile. It’s mean. It’s unconscionable.”
Matt Walsh — who starred as former fired, half-organized press secretary Mike McLintock — recalls that the show’s writers scoured their brains to scheme up the worst haunting, horrific crime that she could commit. “They were concocting dark things, they were thinking, ‘What’s the limit for her to do?’” he says. “I remember sitting with [executive producer David Mandel], and I’m like, ‘She should be able to get away with murder and then become president.’ And he’s like, ‘Believe me — yes.’ They were looking for a terrible thing. I think it’s brutal [what they chose]. It’s very cold. I feel bad for Gary.” Similar to Hale, though, Walsh believes that Gary should have realized to whom he was swearing blind loyalty. “Gary’s a little delusional,” he adds. “Gary could have looked at some signposts along the way — that’s all I say.”
“It’s exactly what would happen,” opines Sam Richardson, a.k.a. oblivious and rising political star Richard Splett. “It’s set up the whole time. It’s so dark. it was gut-punching, but so true to both of those characters and so true to their relationship that it’s like the perfect end to it. In the end, no matter what, she was going to sacrifice anything to get what she wanted, and he was going to sacrifice anything to give her what she wanted.”
Reid Scott, who played ex-deputy communications director and merciless d-bag Dan, praises the finale’s heartbreaking ending for being as fitting as it was surprising. “In a way, you don’t see it coming but when it happens, you’re like, ‘Of course she’s going to sell him out, she sells everyone out! She’s only in it for herself,'” says Scott. “Her most trusted confidant, the one who’s literally followed her to the ends of the earth, of course she’s going to screw him over, and of course he’s going to take it. It’s great.”
Tim Simons, a.k.a. hazardous halfwit Jonah, appreciated the jet-black turn that helped to propel Selina to the White House — and dumb-headed demagogue Jonah to the EEOB as her VP, with Anna Chlumsky’s Amy as his chief of staff; it just took him a minute to wrap his head around Jonah’s massive political promotion. “When we were rehearsing that scene, Anna says, ‘The vice president has a problem,’” recalls Simons. “And for eight years, whenever I’ve heard the information of, ‘The president or the vice president has a problem,’ that has only ever been Julia, so it didn’t register for me that she was talking about me in that moment. It was very weird. And it took me a couple of runs of that scene to realize, ‘Oh, I’m that vice president that has the problem, and that has to affect the way that I deliver the next line.”
Jonah’s VP scene was notable, of course, for another reason: it featured the return of Sufe Bradshaw, a.k.a. no-nonsense Sue. Bradshaw exited the show in season 5, and her Sue was last known to be working for Andrea Savage’s President Montez. And here she was, still sitting at that same assistant-to-POTUS desk, once again running interference for President Meyer. “It had been a while since I had been in a scene opposite Sufe,” says Simons, who filmed his final scene with Bradshaw and Chlumsky. “One of the things the show does really well is that even if you haven’t seen a character in a little while, you get the sense that the world is lived in. I love that Sue is as impenetrable as she was at any time that you saw it before. She is unfazed by any of this ridiculousness that anyone on the show has gone through. It does not affect her. It was great to have Sufe back. This scene ended up being great and was a wonderful cap to shooting. Because she and I started right at the same time, so it was really lovely to end at the same time.”
Speaking of unexpected endings, the final scenes of Veep‘s last-ever episode took place at Selina’s funeral, in the early 2040s, and featured a reunion of the old gang. Well, not everyone; Ben (Kevin Dunn) was finally done in by a heart attack, Jonah had been impeached and did not receive an invite, and Catherine watched remotely with Marjorie (Clea DuVall) and much bigger Little Richard. As familiar faces popped up at the vagina-shaped library — there’s Amy with husband (!) Ericsson (Diedrich Bader), there’s ex-con Gary paying complicated respects, and there’s… Selina’s not-so-dead ex-husband Andrew (David Pasquesi)? — so did the surprises about their fates. “I’m a sucker for what happens to people down the road, and I just think that’s fun,” Hale says, “I love when you’re watching a show and they always have things written [on the screen], ‘So and so went on to work for the Marines. It’s fun to see that play out.”
Perhaps most notable was the ascension of the altruistic Selina staffer-turned-dog-mayor-replacement-turned-Iowa governor Richard Splett (Sam Richardson) all the way the presidency. (“So fabulous!” raves Louis-Dreyfus about the revelation.) In the future, he was married to a woman named Annette Splett. (Cool fact: Mandel tried to cast Jennifer Lawrence as his First Lady, but she was unavailable.) Grey-haired from the pressures of the top job — “it weighed on him a lot,” reasons Richardson — Richard had accomplished the impossible by his second term: he effected peace in the Middle East. “Richard’s whole thing was his belief in the power of government to do good,” says Richardson. “That’s, like, his raison d’etre. That’s why he was so excited, that’s why he is a political nerd, and the fact that he gets to do that at the highest of heights, he’s rewarded for being a good person, which is nice.”
Richardson also appreciated the idea that Richard ended up in the most powerful job in the world, yet never craved or chased authority. “It’s like Game of Thrones,” he notes. “The last person who has had their eye on the throne ends up in it. I don’t know that’s what happens in Game of Thrones; I won’t know until the end of the season, but the person who certainly doesn’t have their eyes on trying to grab power ends up with the highest seat in the world, which I thought was perfect.”
“It was a perfect completion to that series,” Richardson continues. “Every character in that finale got a perfect wrap-up. Kent [Gary Cole] being a hippie and Ben having had a heart attack, and it was a long time coming, and Dan looking exactly the same, only tanner.”
Scott was thrilled that Dan received a happy ending (or at least, what would be one for him): he was married to a much-younger woman and selling real estate in Southern California. “For maybe the first time in seven f—ing seasons, Dan wins,” he says. “He’s got a hot, little trampy wife. He lives in Laguna Beach. He’s the hotshot real estate agent and he hasn’t aged a day. He’s got some crow’s feet, and he’s got some wrinkles on his very tanned spray-tanned neck, but he’s living his best life. Everyone else is falling apart, they’re aging badly, things didn’t go so well, they’re all in the place where you think they are, and Dan finally f—ing wins. I love that for him.”
Another character who seemed to be victorious, in a bittersweet way, was Selina’s daughter. She watched the funeral from afar with her partner, whom she can’t legally marry thanks to Selina’s dirty deals. Clearly mother and daughter had a massive falling out, and, for once, Catherine held true to her word that she would not forgive her mother for selling out LGBTQ rights. Hardly doleful about Selina’s death, she turned the event into a margarita party with Marjorie and Little Richard. While Catherine and Gary both had endured toxic dynamics with Selina, Catherine was the one to stand up for herself and make an active choice to distance herself from a deeply unhealthy, one-sided relationship.
“If nothing else with [Selina] ending on such a dark note, it definitely gave new meaning to the fact that Catherine never sees or speaks to her mother again,” says Sutherland. “In a sense of having been the keeper of that character and the keeper of these feelings that all she wants to be is close to her mother, I think I would have wanted a happy ending where they resolved things. However, in its very own sinister way, Catherine does get a happy ending, because she’s cut the cord from this person who is emotionally abusive. I think that moment once the doors are closed and Selina is alone and she has this reflection of, ‘Was this all worth it?’ — it’s such a poignant question and one of my favorite moments in the last episode. She’s lost everything and anything that ever could have mattered to her in any real way to get this — things that she’s fought so hard to get — and what does it matter at the end of the day?”
In the end, there was only one voice who could guide us through this monumental moment: CBS Evening News anchor Mike McLintock. He was providing solid coverage of the funeral of his old boss who fired him when suddenly broke news of Tom Hanks’ death, prompting Mike to cut away from Selina’s ceremony and pay tribute to America’s most loved actor. “[Executive producer] Frank Rich was pitching to have Tom Hanks die and then bring that joke back from the pilot,” says Walsh. “I love the connection to that. And then the comedic discredit to Selina’s legacy is so funny to me. I couldn’t think of a funnier [ending], but also very dark, but also very epic in a way.” Adds Chlumsky: “I looked at Dave and I was just crying. I just kept telling him, “That last joke is like a love letter,” and he was like, “We’re fans!” It was really cool.”
It is also worth noting that Mike — not-so-competent servant of Selina, flailing Buzzfeed correspondent, and guy just generally more interested in junk food than his job — wound up as America’s most trusted news anchor (though he still occasionally faces the wrong camera), and the man who utters the last words ever spoken on Veep. “That is weird. I thought that was wild,” Walsh says of the privilege of Mike delivering the literal final word on the show. “It’s a wonderful amazing moment. You’re a newscaster and you’re closing the chapter of that thing. It’s crazy. Wonderful. And I’m very bless-ed, as they say.”
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