Airtime: Sundays at 10:30PM on HBO
Episode: Season 5, Episode 4 (S05E4)
Tweetable Takeaway: Julia Louis-Dreyfus shines as Selina shows her human side while dealing with her mother’s death on #Veep
VEEP delivers a strong, emotional episode full of its characteristic dark, cutting humor as Selina deals with the death of her mother. It also provides an interesting look into Selina’s past, as we learn a bit about the woman who shaped Selina into the back-stabbing, caustic schemer she is today. Selina’s mother has a stroke, and Selina is left to decide whether or not to “pull the plug”.
Selina’s mother, “Mee-Maw” as Katherine calls her, is the type of person who always wore dish-washing gloves while giving her a bath, wouldn’t let her use the “good piano”, and blamed Selina for her father’s death. In what was perhaps Selina’s least self-aware moment ever, she tells Katherine, who loves her grandmother, that “you have no idea what it’s like to be the daughter of a pathological narcissist. All this woman did was criticize me or ignore me.”
But that doesn’t mean Selina didn’t love her. At first, she tried to downplay the seriousness of the situation, as apparently her mother’s been on death door five times, but always bounces back, like Rasputin. In a hilarious moment, Amy calls to offer her sympathies on her mother’s stroke, but Selina assumes she’s calling with bad news about the recount, and tells her never, ever to do that to her again.
At the hospital, Sue has set up a mini Oval Office. Selina’s ex Andrew is there, at Katherine’s request, but Sue has made sure that he has no place to sit. Andrew thought it was appropriate to bring a date, as he’s brought along a perky blonde lifestyle guru named Monica, who Katherine calls “Monny”. Katherine also insists on playing country music, as Tim McGraw was Mee-Maw’s favorite.
According to Dr. Mipurri, or as Selina calls her, “the Hindu Grim Reaper”, Mee-Maw’s brain function has ceased and she’ll need to be kept on life support. However, she wasn’t clear on her DNR (how is one not clear on a DNR?!), so the decision to keep her on life support or end her suffering is entirely up to Selina. Selina doesn’t know how to process this, but Kent, always thinking in statistics, tells Selina that her mother’s stroke has caused a double-digits increase in her polling numbers, and if Mee-Maw were to die, it could result in “a shorter-live, but numerically greater outpouring of support”.
Selina has some real soul-searching to do, so she heads to the hospital’s chapel with Gary. She wants to pray, but doesn’t know how, so Gary feeds her lines, just like normal. She starts getting into it, calling herself God’s “humble servant” (even loyal Gary rolls his eyes at that) and managing to work into her prayer for her mother a request to be the country’s first elected woman president. Dr. Mipurri takes out the ventilator, and Selina, Ben, Kent, and Gary wait for her to expire.
Ben and Kent’s phones start buzzing. Gary’s even starts ringing. After her mother passes, Selina coldly tells them in what is perhaps my favorite analogy of the season so far to check their phones, as they sound like they shop-lifted a bunch of vibrators. Turns out, the missing votes from Nevada will be counted in the recount. Selina bursts into hysterical laughter as Katherine walks in, upset that Selina didn’t make sure she was there before pulling the plug.
Selina now has to plan a funeral, but she learns that the votes in the recount at going in O’Brien’s favor. Apparently there were mostly military absentee ballots from a nearby fort. Furious, Selina yells at her staff to stop the recount no matter what—to “cancel the recount like Anne Frank’s bat mitzvah.” When Selina yells that she’s tired of losing things, she’s not just talking about the election, she’s talking about her mother as well.
At the funeral, the ever opportunistic Andrew tells Selina that she’s always been the one for him, following that up by asking Charlie Baird to invest in his new business idea. Selina gets one good piece of news from an ambassador from Qatar acting as an emissary from China. The economic sanctions are hurting China, so if she eases them, they’d be willing to talk about whatever she wants, be it climate change or human rights.
Selina is about to give her eulogy when Ben learns that Karen couldn’t stop the recount, they lost Nevada, they’re going to have to fight it out in Congress, and with the new votes going to O’Brien, they’ve lost the popular vote as well. She begins her speech, but can’t stop sobbing. Gary is crying. Ben is crying. Selina’s upset that she lost the count, but that alone wouldn’t make her break down in public. Her mother’s death has really affected her.
Selina suffers one last indignation—her mother has left the bulk of her estate to Katherine. But poor Mike and Wendy. Since Selina’s sanctions on China put a ban on foreign adoptions, they’ve decided to use a surrogate to get pregnant. Unfortunately, the uber-Christian surrogate they found is extremely pro-life and changes her mind about working with them after Selina pulls the plug on her mother. In the words of Tom James, “to Congress we go!”
Jennifer Trofa lives for two things: spreading the “Superstore” gospel and themed “Law & Order: SVU” marathons on USA.
Jennifer Trofa | Contributor