Veep: “Blurb” Season 6 Episode 7 Review

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The great Hugh Laurie returns as Tom James and Jonah makes a major power move in this season’s best episode yet.

I’m glad that the news of Veep getting picked up for a seventh season came on the heels of this stellar episode. Before, I would’ve had my doubts. Season 6 has had its moments for sure, but Selina’s post-presidential life has been rocky, to say the least. The show’s lack of its usual fast-paced structure is jarring, and often makes the story feel directionless.

“Blurb,” however, is easily a season best, and definitely a fantastic entry to the series as a whole. With this episode, the show has won me back over. It hasn’t been smooth sailing all the way, but I’m now confident that this series can still knock it out of the park when it wants to. I’ve said before that a mediocre episode of Veep is a solid episode of television. A great episode of Veep is on a whole other level.

The main reason that this episode works so well is that it largely sticks to two main focal points throughout the half-hour, and uses one to inform the other. This cohesive narrative structure serves the show quite well, and brings back the frenetic energy we’re used to seeing. “Blurb” starts out with a simple and believable premise—Selina refusing to invite Jonah to the unveiling of her painting—and allows it to snowball into much grander chaos.

Selina doesn’t actually concern herself with her unveiling ceremony until it’s all she has left. At first, she’s far too preoccupied with a new idea for her book in which she turns it into a salacious tell-all. The primary moment she uses as her hook is the time she had sex with Tom James in the green room of the Congressional Ball. There are so many reasons to delight in this development, chief of which is the return of guest star Hugh Laurie.

Selina and Tom were such great running mates because they both knew how to play the game very well. Yet, this usually meant that they were also trying to play each other, and it never really worked out for either of them. Case in point, the scene in which Selina feigns that she’ll keep Tom out of her book for the sake of his newly pregnant wife is punctuated by Tom going on CBS This Morning and calling Selina the aggressor in the whole situation. Selina is outraged to have once again lost the upper hand to Tom, so she uses her unveiling ceremony to get it back.

It would’ve been easy for the show to just make Tom the villain in this scenario and have Selina tell him off and then walk away with her head high. Instead, we’re treated to a masterful sequence in which both parties are left feeling simultaneously confident and vulnerable. Selina is able to get under Tom’s skin and get him to admit that he still has feelings for her, but, in a state of heightened emotion, she also reveals just how much she’s longed for him ever since they first met. It’s a fantastic moment that hilariously and awkwardly levels the playing field between them…until Tom’s wife show’s up, that is. All the while, Julia Louis-Dreyfus is mesmerizing in her mania, and Laurie proves once again that he’s an excellent sparring partner.

Jonah doesn’t ever directly interact with Selina in this episode, but the sting of her not inviting him to the unveiling looms large over his head. Jonah spends most of the episode trying to figure out a way into the event, even though he isn’t entirely sure what it is. This series has used Jonah as a punching bag ever since he was first introduced, which is part of why he’s so endearing, even when he’s a complete doofus. Jonah’s excitement at being engaged to Shawnee, or to having a group of congressman to boss around feels genuine, because he finally feels like an insider. These moments are few and far in between, so he takes what he can get.

All of this is to say, that it was only a matter of time before Jonah snapped and did something big. A congressman shutting down the government over a personal vendetta may have seemed farfetched years ago, but in our current political climate, it’s probably the most realistic thing Veep has done yet. Even though it’s a vindictive move, Jonah is no Trump, and it’s a testament to his character development that we don’t totally despise him for what he’s done. Watching Jonah and his Jeffersons vote no on raising the debt ceiling is exciting because it could lead the season down an entirely new avenue. Kent and Ben already despise their job as it is, but what are they going to do now? Is this all part of Shawnee’s master manipulation of Jonah? And how will this affect Selina?

That last question is partially answered by the episode’s end. Selina’s unveiling is downgraded from a five-star affair to a cheap children’s birthday party since all non-essential government personnel have to leave after the shutdown. Even President Montez—who gets the most screen time that we’ve seen of her yet this week—doesn’t have time to give her supposedly glowing introductory speech of the former President. What follows is a very small, sad celebration, and a painting reveal that Selina hates.

As Selina’s ship keeps sinking, Jonah’s is moving full steam ahead. It’s an interesting turn of the tables that seems to have been brewing for a while now. I’m not yet sure where this will lead, but I can’t wait to find out. Veep is firing on all cylinders again, and I hope it never stops. Grade: A

 

Some Other Notes:

  • Season 6 has had a lot of good running gags, but Gary almost admitting to Selina that he saw her and Tom having sex takes the cake.
  • Dan has a small subplot this week in which we find out that audience test numbers feel he doesn’t have any chemistry with his new co-host…who he’s actually sleeping with. Does this mean Jane will come back?
  • Jonah taking a Jewish conversion class as part of his marriage to Shawnee was absolutely hysterical.
  • “Why are women always checking in on one another when I am talking to them?”

 

By Mike Papirmeister

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