From throuples to secession, the second season of 'The Politician' is not short on outlandish developments in its storytelling.

By Maureen Lee Lenker
June 20, 2020 at 10:00 AM EDT
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Warning: This article contains spoilers about season 2 of The Politician.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a Ryan Murphy show will have at least one plot development so outrageous, so unexpected, so outré that all you can do is yell "WTF?!" at the television.

The second season of The Politician on Netflix, which debuted on the streaming service June 19, is bursting with plot developments so off-the-wall that it's nearly impossible to keep track from one moment to the next.

Co-created by Murphy hive Brad Falchuk, Ian Brennan, and Murphy himself, the series follows aspiring U.S. president Payton Hobart (Ben Platt). While season 1, which launched last fall, centered on Payton's bid for student body president of his high school, season 2 ups the ante, moving the action to New York City as Payton faces off against 30-year incumbent Dede Standish (Judith Light) for a state senate seat.

We knew we were in for a shocking season when the first season ended with the revelation that Dede Standish had been living in a throuple for a decade, but we truly had no idea how wild it could get. It's probably impossible to catalog every single moment that made us gasp, but here's a list of the plot developments that shocked us most.

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Georgina is running for California governor on a platform of secession

In what feels like a tongue-in-cheek send-up of her own wellness-brand obsessed self, Gwyneth Paltrow's Georgina decides to run for office. When Payton goes to watch her debate (moderated by Jake Tapper as himself because why the hell not?), she shocks the audience by announcing her key platform: California should secede from the union. Even more shocking? The platform is what carries her to a landslide victory.

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Alice (Julia Schlaepfer) goes full Elaine from The Graduate

In season 1, Payton and Alice were scheming to be the next John and Jackie, but three years later, she'd moved on and was literally walking down the aisle to marry another man. But it turns out she just can't quit Payton or her political aspirations, so she runs out on her wedding day. To live in his NYU dorm. K.

Andrew (Ryan J. Haddad) becomes a double agent

Andrew, who spent all of season 1 actively hating Payton, comes to work for Payton's campaign purely to broker a date with Infinity (Zoey Deutch). He becomes a double agent, also working for the Standish campaign. But that itself is only a ruse to bug their offices and apartments, which means they can overhear all of Dede and Hadassah's (Bette Midler) dirty deeds (literally). What makes it particularly delicious is that the bugs are hidden in iconic Chinese Lucky Cat clocks. Meow.

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Throuples are catching

From the start of the season, Dede is in a throuple, but despite it being dirt Payton feels he can use against her, he embarks on one himself with Astrid (Lucy Boynton) and Alice.

Hadassah's fake relationship with William (Teddy Sears) becomes very real

To try to bury the bombshell of Dede's throuple, Hadassah develops a plan to be caught in a relationship with one arm of their throuple, William. But after only one night sleeping at her apartment (which McAfee (Laura Dreyfuss) bears witness to after hiding in Hadassah's closet), William falls for Hadassah and the two embark on a May-December -- sorry, November -- romance.

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Dede goes public with her throuple

In a bid to undercut Payton's dirty politicking, Dede plans a video announcement, without consulting Hadassah, to go public with her throuple. The only problem? By the time she does it, William has moved on to Hadassah. So, now it's not the throuple that needs to be a secret, it's Hadassah and William's relationship. And William has to feign still being a part of the throuple for political reasons. Confused yet?

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Dede starts another throuple

Dede's primary tactic in going public with her throuple is to embrace the sexuality of older women. But it's no political act. As soon as William is out the door, she and her husband welcome a new partner to their bed and invite him to become a more permanent fixture. You go girl.

Tino (Sam Jaeger) starts an affair with Georgina...

Georgina flits between relationships pretty freely, but even we didn't see a clandestine relationship with a Texas senator eyeing a presidential bid coming. Not to mention, he's still married -- to a woman in a coma.

...and then his wife wakes up from her coma and has an epic press conference

Turns out, in case you couldn't guess from his affair with Georgina and lies to Dede, that Tino is a complete scumbag. While his wife has spent three years in a coma due to complications from trichinosis, he's not only been cheating on her, but has said terrible things to her and even asked the hospital staff which plug to pull. But his wife could hear every word he said while in a coma, and she has a press conference revealing all of the heinous things he said.

Payton takes a cold shower

Payton is determined to prove his commitment to his chosen platform, climate change, which leads him to not only take a cold shower but then to boil and drink the run-off. We love the environment too, but this seems a bit intense.

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Payton fires James for doing something underhanded

We're pretty use to Payton's underhanded Tracy Flick worthy tendencies, so it's actually pretty shocking when he chooses to withhold dirt on Dede and her husband (her college professor husband accepts money to write papers for his students). Even more surprising? Payton fires campaign manager and right-hand man James (Theo Germaine) for still going to the press with the story.

Ricardo (Benjamin Barrett) is still doing musical theater in jail

The second season of The Politician is disappointingly light on its musical theater bonafides (who can ever forget the Assassins episode of season 1?), but we do get the delightful backstory that Ricardo has been indulging his love for the dramatic arts in prison. Sadly, their production of Guys and Dolls was canceled because Miss Adelaide shanked Nathan Detroit.

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Payton knocks up Alice... AND Astrid

It's not that far-fetched that Payton would impregnate his longtime girlfriend and personal Jackie O. Of course, the two are committed to getting married and starting a family together as part of their scheme to be the model American family for the electorate. But Astrid?! Jesus, Payton is virile. Never mind the fact that River (David Corenswet) is still his one true love.

Alice and Astrid leave Payton to live at a commune for young mothers

We didn't expect this show to ever go full Manson family, but it comes close with the weird pregnancy cult that Astrid and Alice escape to, where activities include milking goats and counting grain to learn how to practice patience. Luckily, it's not for either of these more cosmopolitan ladies and they ditch this popsicle stand pretty quickly.

Astrid gets an abortion

Despite being a talking point for decades, abortion is still a fairly taboo subject on television. But Astrid makes the choice that's right for her. She's not cut out to be a mother for many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that she was raised by a horrible mother herself. Kudos to Astrid for making the choice that was right for her. And to Alice for being a support system while she made this difficult decision.

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Infinity steals a ballot box...

Infinity has always had a slightly off-kilter moral code, but this season it felt like she'd really turned things around with her devout commitment to climate activism. Until she steals a ballot box from a precinct full of old people she assumes are voting for Dede. Election fraud, it's timely, I guess?

...and Payton does not return it

Much of this season featured Payton wrestling with whether to honor his ambition or his morality, and which of those things meant more to him. But when his mother points out that his morals are not shaped by society, but rather an ends-justify-the-means attitude, he ends up choosing to conceal the election fraud committed in his name. Somehow we feel like, if there's another season, this will come back to bite him.

The election ends in a tie -- and the tie-breaker is rock, paper, scissors

That's it. That's the bullet point.

Netflix

Dede concedes the election because Payton sings a song from Pippin

After fighting tooth and nail to win her election, and even suggesting she was done with politics for good after this run, Dede concedes the election to Payton. She gives a lovely speech about how the youth are our future (and she's been potentially offered a lucrative shot at Vice President by Georgina). But c'mon, we all saw the look on her face when Payton sang "Corner of the Sky" at the show's equivalent of Marie's Crisis. Stephen Schwartz and Stephen Schwartz alone won this election.

Georgina runs for president and wins

The season finale features a time jump, akin to the season 1 finale. In this timeline, Georgina has won the presidency. Can we consciously uncouple from this plotline? Dede is her Vice President, but that's not all. Dede will run after Georgina finishes her term -- and she wants Payton to be her VP. Will he say yes? Well, probably, but we'll have to wait for season 3 to find out.

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