This week, VEEP brings back Tom James (Hugh Laurie) for a hilarious episode that worked largely because it felt like there were real stakes for Selina again. Perhaps not politically—despite visiting the White House for her official portrait unveiling this week, she’s further from a position of power than she’s ever been—but emotionally. Selina and Tom have always had great chemistry and it’s on full display this episode. Selina’s editor Gary tells her she needs to include more stories about the presidency in her book—she envisioned her memoir as the first in a trilogy, ending the current one with her graduating college—so she decides to write about her tryst with Tom.
She goes to see him to pretend to ask his permission to write about him, but they both know that she’s going to do it either way. He asks her not to, apologizing for screwing her over in the Senate vote and telling her about his new wife, who’s pregnant. Selina leaves, feeling good for once, but her happiness is short-lived. Tom, who’s writing his own book, reveals to Dan on CBS This Morning that he slept with Selina. To make matters worse, he calls her the aggressor AND says she’s a year older than him.
On the topic of CBS This Morning, Dan’s new cohost is the hot, young Brie, but viewers are complaining that the two of them have no chemistry. They preferred the “raw sexual vibe” between Dan and Jane. Here’s the thing—Brie and Dan are actually having sex, even though she’s engaged to a Yankee. It’s Dan’s worst nightmare—everyone believed that he was having sex with an older woman, but no one will believe that he’s having sex with his more conventionally attractive co-host.
Dan’s not the only one who can’t enjoy their success. Jonah may be the head of a Congressional caucus, but he’s seemingly the only person in Washington who wasn’t invited to Selina’s unveiling. He can’t let it go—Ben, Kent, Senator Furlong, even a low-ranking member of his caucus who suggests cutting aid to veterans are all invited. Congress needs to vote on raising the debt ceiling. The two sides come to a compromise in a meeting lead by Montez, but the effort is derailed when Jonah tells his minions to vote no out of spite.
The government is shut down, which is disastrous and awful for the American people, but also so satisfyingly funny. Jonah’s proud to be the face of the shutdown, as Shawnee helps him frame this petty decision as a heroic stand against government waste. Jonah’s not a great person, obviously, but there’s also an innocence about him that’s missing from the other characters. It’s why his friendship with Richard makes sense. Jonah can’t scheme and backstab like the others—he’s just not that smart. That’s what makes his improbable rise all the more enjoyable.
But back to the emotional stakes of the episode. Selina goes to her unveiling, which, thanks to Jonah’s shutdown, isn’t the classy affair she was promised. All inessential White House staff have been furloughed, so the party is less Jackie crystal and champagne and more plastic cups and Coke Zero. She pulls Tom into another room, where the two argue and hurl insults at each other, but Selina can tell that his perpetrated loathing of her is covering up something harder to articulate. In other words, he wants her. He wants her bad.
Selina leaves the room, then decides to return and put her heart on the line. She essentially tells him that she’s had feelings for him for as long as she’s known him. She even admits that he’s all she thought about when she was in the “loony bin”, which might be the first time that she’s actually admitted out loud she wasn’t at a spa. But of course, his young, hot, blonde wife walks in. Selina gives a half-hearted speech about her legacy, darkly opining that nothing she does will matter in hundreds of years, then leaves.
Selina’s put herself on the line, in a real way that she perhaps hasn’t since she ran for President. It remains to be seen whether or not Tom will be involved in the rest of the season, but the two of them would actually make a great couple. Veep was recently renewed for a seventh season, and while the story arc remains unpredictable, audiences can rely on the characters to bring emotion and humor.
Season 6, Episode 07 (S06E07)
Veep airs Sundays at 1030PM on HBO
Jennifer Trofa | Contributor