Veep: “A Woman First” Season 6 Episode 9 Review

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Selina’s world implodes and then reassembles itself on the penultimate episode of the season.

All season long, Veep seemed to be gearing up for a major meltdown. We’ve watched Selina’s various attempts to define her legacy go awry…usually do to her own selfishness. “A Woman First” gives us that meltdown, and boy is it satisfying. Then, everything magically works out for the best. It’s an understandable choice, but it’s also a bit disappointing.

The episode centers around the release of Selina’s memoir, which gets undercut by the news of Leon releasing the diary Mike accidentally left at his office. All of Team Meyer’s dirty secrets—the Russian hackers, data mining, Selina sleeping with her trainer—are leaked to the public, and it’s a move that could potentially end in a prison sentence. Julia Louis-Dreyfus is never better than when she’s flustered and spiraling out of control. She does some fine work here, whether she’s coming to the realization that she could be facing jail time, or when she’s just screaming at Mike for being such an idiot.

Veep has meandered a bit in season 6, unsure of where Selina’s post-presidential life will really lead her. I would have liked to see this plotline springboard these characters into an intensifying season 7, where Selina and her staff must face the music in court. The scenario is ripe for satire, and I’m sure it would’ve been a thrill to watch. Instead, the show essentially hits the reset button just when things are getting really good. News comes out about Selina being the one who brokered the Tibet deal, and not President Montez. It ends up overshadowing all of the bad things that Selina’s done, and she becomes a national hero.

I get the impetus to do this. Season 6 has slowly been taking Selina down by several pegs. Having her status heightened by the end allows the writers to start over for season 7, and give us a whole new set of problems to deal with. Using the Tibet deal as the turning point was also a smart choice, as it’s one of the only positive things that Selina ever did during her Presidency. Still, I can’t help but be concerned at what’s to come. This season was supposed to be a reset from Selina’s time in office. Now the show is starting over again? The lack of direction for what’s ahead makes me nervous that next season will have the same problems as this one.

As far as subplots go, “A Woman First” uses them to tie up any loose ends before the finale. Jonah’s high of shutting down the government is quickly squashed when some of his fellow congressmen turn against him. As expected, Shawnee also leaves him…after he gets circumcised, of course. Dan is done at CBS This Morning, and Jane McCabe is back on-air. These narratives, while much briefer versions of the central plot, run into the same issue, which is, “now what?” Selina’s post-presidential life was supposed to be filled with possibilities, but the lack of structure has made the show feel very disconnected from what it once was. Veep doesn’t have to line everything up perfectly for next season, but a hint at what’s to come would be nice. Once again, we’re in uncharted territory.

Still, “A Woman First” does have some winsome moments. Adam Scott guest stars as the host of The Tonight Show, and his mockery of Selina, and her book, after she cancels on him twice is hilarious. Speaking of which, the scene in which the staff all look to see when they’re first mentioned in the book is a great bit of fun. Peter MacNicol returns as Jonah’s uncle, and his skewering of Jonah in the hospital is darkly hilarious.

Veep still knows how to deliver some solid comedy, and “A Woman First” is proof that the show can be entirely watchable despite its narrative flaws. Yet, I can’t help but hold this show to a higher standard. I know it could be so much better, especially when the ensemble cast is working together. For now, I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what happens next. There’s no telling what that will be. Grade: B

 

Some Other Notes:

  • A subplot about Catherine having trouble with her pregnancy is concerning. I really don’t see how her losing the baby could be played for laughs.
  • Clea Duvall is excellent as Marjorie this week, trying to have a conversation with Selina while she is doing anything she can to get out of it.
  • The show still has no idea what to do with Amy, but Ana Chlumsky’s delivery of “I can be verrry flirtatioussss” was amazing.
  • I would watch Adam Scott host an actual nighttime talk show.
  • I can’t believe I’m saying this, but, poor Jonah.

 

By Mike Papirmeister

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