VEEP Review: “Congressional Ball”

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Airtime: Sundays at 1030PM on HBO
Episode: Season 5, Episode 7 (S05E7)

TB-TV-Grade-A

Tweetable Takeaway: Selina and Tom’s relationship heats up on another hilarious #Veep 


This week’s episode of begins with Selina schmoozing Representatives in an attempt to lock up the presidency. It’s amusing watching her try to contain her contempt for these people (she could barely keep the disgust off her face when she learns that Congresswoman Knickerson of Colorado was a minivan-driving stay at home mother of six before running for Congress), but the real fun comes at the end of the episode, when she stops being polite and starts being real.

Selina goes to a Congressional Ball celebrating Christmas/Hanukkah/Diwali/Kwanzaa/Prophet Muhammad’s birthday—because “putting a few pictures up of Muhammad never hurt anyone”—where she, with the help of Ben, Kent, Tom, and Congressman Furlong glad-hand voters. Selina (or more accurately, Gary) carries a flashy bedazzled monstrosity of a purse that a Congressman’s wife designed. She entertains a Congressman’s idea to build a 9/11 memorial in Bozeman, Montana, as their first responders were traumatized by what the first responders in New York went through. She agrees to make a Republican, Congressman Graves, Secretary of State in exchange for his vote. Never mind that she already promised the post to O’Doyle—he knows that she doesn’t keep her promises. She’s even polite to Congressman Jaeger’s Chief of Staff/prostitute Nadia.

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But after a few Representatives talk to Tom James, they decide that they’d rather abstain from the vote. As Kent explained on election night, but no one remembered/understood, if there is a tie in the House, the vote then goes to the Senate, where Tom James is king. Basically, if neither Selina or O’Brien gets a majority, Tom will be President. Selina forces Tom to ask her to dance, then, all smiles, lets him know that she knows about his secret meetings. Tom glances around for help, but Selina tells him to “Keep dancing! Tom, don’t stop dancing. Don’t look around. Nobody’s going to help you.”

She pulls him into the Green Room, where she confronts him about his back-stabbing, sabotaging ways. He says that he’s doing it because she’s made bad decisions as President, but then drops in a comment about wasting time with that “pretty boy Charlie Baird.” Selina immediately picks up on this. As she speculated last season, Tom made moves on her once before, a fact that she finally gets him to admit to. This is yet another example of a problem unique to a woman president. It’s unlikely that a man would have to deal with a colleague plotting against them because they felt sexually/romantically rejected.

Their angry argument turns into angry sex, probably permanently scarring poor Gary who walks in on them and promptly stumbles out of the room. Selina emerges from their tryst reenergized, ready to destroy those who oppose her. But Tom walks out of the room with a dazed expression on his face. Is he going to stop scheming against her? Probably not, but this will add another delicious layer to their confrontations.

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Selina promptly gets Congressman Jaeger back in line quickly and efficiently, by threatening to tell his wife about Nadia. But her takedown of Congresswoman Knickerson is a thing of profane beauty. If she abstains and O’Brien wins, he’ll shut down her little amphibious boat project and all the jobs she’s promised her district along with it. But if she abstains and Selina wins…well…no words are better than President Meyer’s own, so I’ll just leave this here: “If I do win, I will have my administration come to your shitty little district and shake it to death like a Guatemalan nanny. And then I’m going to have the IRS crawl so far up your husband’s colon he’s going to wish the only thing they find is more cancer. So, can I count on your vote, or do I need to shove a box of White House M&M’s up your stretched-out, six baby vag?” Needless to say, Congressman Knickerson pledges her vote.

Meanwhile, her staffers are abuzz over the annual publishing of the Hill’s Top 50 Hottest Staffers. Amy isn’t on the list for the first time, but Candi Caruso is #17. Dan Egan is 26, and, to everyone’s surprise, Gary is number 21. Selina worries that someone is Carrie-ing him and Jonah claims that this makes a mockery of the very idea of hot rankings. Turns out, it was a mistake. The writers meant to include Gary Welsh, Candi’s new fiancé who works at the State Department, but instead wrote Gary Walsh. As Amy gleefully tells him, he’s a typo.

But things are even worse for Mike. He’s been not so subtly dropping hockey references into his press briefings, as he’s in contention to be the new Director of Communications for the NHL. His and Wendy’s surrogate is pregnant, and Mike can’t wait to get out of the White House—even though, horrifyingly, Congressman Furlong’s perpetually put down aide Will claims to love it there. However, he loses the to a former co-worker. His final press briefing of the episode has him in full ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ mode, openly lobbying for a at the Ladies Professional Golf Association and asking for questions on Katherine and Marjorie’s relationship by switching the topic to “the First Daughter’s lesbianism”.

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This episode had so many great moments, as have all episodes this stellar season, but Jonah Ryan’s campaign is once again a highlight. Jonah ends a rousing speech bashing Selina by mentioning Brattleboro, which is in Vermont, but maybe Jonah would’ve known that if his “second grade teacher wasn’t a bitch.” In a practice debate with Richard playing the widow Sherman, Richard charms Jonah’s uncle Jeff with his pandering jokes—Jeff could make him President, if he were “ten percent less black.”

But Jeff has overestimated Richard’s abilities. Richard apparently obtained video footage of Mrs. Sherman freaking out on camera, but accidentally turned the camera off instead of on. He repeats the mistake at Jonah’s bowling alley campaign event. Bill Ericsson brought in Teddy, who taunts Jonah by fondling two pool balls while talking to him. Jonah stands up for himself, shutting Teddy down boldly and emphatically. Unfortunately, Bill filmed the encounter and framed the shot so it seemed like Jonah was yelling at a bowling alley employee with Down’s Syndrome, and Richard once again shut off his camera.

Dan is nowhere near Bill Ericsson’s level of a campaign manager, but now that Bill has pulled this dirty trick so early on in the campaign, Dan will have to pull something even dirtier to retaliate. Jonah still has a debate coming up, and I can’t wait. I’d watch a Jonah Ryan-centric spinoff in a heartbeat.

TB-TV-Grade-A

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lives for two things: spreading the “Superstore” gospel and themed “Law & Order: SVU” marathons on USA.

Twitter: @jtrof

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