Veep: “C**tgate” Season 5 Episode 6 Review

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There’s serious tension amongst the Meyer staff and Jonah’s congressional campaign is already a disaster. In other words, this was another fantastic episode of Veep.

“C**tgate” is an exemplary episode of Veep, and not just because its title—and the situation it refers to—is hilarious. Here the show sets up three simultaneous plotlines that have typical sitcom potential, and takes them above and beyond where you’d expect them to go.

The main story of the week revolves around Selina choosing to bail out Charlie Baird’s bank, which is good for the economy, or another bank, which will make it seem like she isn’t choosing favorites to the public. It’s the type of moral quandary that smart political shows are known for: should she make the choice for the good of the people, or for the good of her career longevity (which will hopefully allow her to make good choices for the people in the future).

After several episodes that see Selina making morally dubious decisions, it’s interesting to watch her have serious doubts over what to do. Julia Louis-Dreyfus is excellent here, allowing the weight of her big decision to inform all of her line deliveries and movements. Equally as captivating are Kevin Dunn, Gary Cole, and Hugh Laurie. As Ben, Kent, and Tom, respectively, these three play perfectly off of Selina’s anxiety, making for some hilarious scenes like the one in which Kent finally loses his cool in the oval office. Bank bailouts are not an easy task, and Veep displays the stress level in the room quite nicely.

In the end, Selina chooses to the best option to further her career, and can you blame her? It’s tough for a woman in the White House (more on that in a little), and she’s only going to get to enact the change she wants if she’s voted back in. There’s also the deeply funny fact that Gary’s heartfelt speech about choosing true love is what pulled her back to her usual self. The decision culminates in a wonderfully amusing book store sequence in which Selina tries to include every single race possible into her response to a reporter’s question of what she’s getting Charlie for Christmas. When he gets the news about his bank and calls things off with her, of course it’s Gary who’s the most upset. I do hope they can find a way back to each other, if only for his sake (and so we can see more of John Slattery).

Meanwhile, in New Hampshire, Jonah’s congressional bid goes as terribly as you’d expect. Again, Veep sets up what appears to be a typical narrative and then pushes it one step further. Dan and Jonah at each other’s throats is nothing new, but Dan and Jonah working together against Bill Ericsson (a welcome return from Diedrich Bader) is something we haven’t yet seen. I love that the thing that finally brings them together is their mutual hatred of Selina, which brings me to….

…C**ntgate! The episode’s title actually refers to a subplot of this episode, but it’s wholly important and infuses the other two plotlines with a frenetic energy. According to a Politico article, someone in the White House called Selina the C-word behind her back. The best part is, is that it’s not just one person who did it. It’s everyone. Seeing the cast’s strained reactions to her outrage over being called a c*nt, and then their relief when they realize that they all were guilty of it together, is a highly entertaining sight to behold.

Selina’s outrage manifests itself in an excellent scene between her and Amy where she laments the plight of powerful women while nervously smoking a cigarette in the Oval Office. Yes, she’s totally preoccupied with the decision of which bank to bail out. Yes, she still has every right to be upset. And yes, it was only a few weeks ago when she casually called the Queen of England the same word in “The Eagle.” It’s an ugly word for sure, but it’s used well to show the dissonance between Selina and the rest of her team.

The point Veep seems to be making here is that, while it’s undoubtably more difficult for women in politics than it is for men, the Meyer team has become so desensitized to their DC dirty mouths, that it takes a news article for them to realize they’ve taken things too far. One of the most delightful scenes from “Mother” a few weeks ago featured Amy firing off  her usual curses and slurs to a completely shocked Nevada official who, like Gary, probably thought the C-word stood for “crone.” The staff can get so wrapped up in their own cynical behavior that they don’t even realize how damaging it can be.

The good news is that Selina isn’t one to let words sting her for too long. After finalizing her decision with the banks, she quickly bounces back and figures out that everyone had been using the word behind her back. She’s over it, and is moving on. Veep has done a lot of interesting character work this season, taking the cast to darker places in their pursuit of a Meyer presidency. Still, the show has never lost sight of its sharp-tongued wit, and “C**tgate” is an episode that puts it on full display. There are clearly many bumps in the road on the campaign trail ahead, and I can’t wait to witness each and every one of them. Grade: A

 

Some Other Notes:

  • Tom James’ background plots have been one of the most interesting things about this season. From the foreshadowing of the plane reading “Tom James for President,” to this week’s ending scene featuring him at dinner with Sydney Purcell, there is definitely some serious trouble brewing. I’m very excited to see where this leads.
  • Catherine and Marjorie being in a relationship is so amazing on multiple levels. First, there’s just Sarah Sutherland and Clea DuVall’s amazing scenes together where their meek behavior contrasts how supposedly “giddy” they are. Then, there’s the fact that Catherine is dating her mom’s body double, which is a Freudian scenario that I hope the writers of this show have a field day with.
  • Jonah’s campaign ad, and the subsequent focus group that follows, is Veep at its finest. It’s almost too perfect to pick a favorite moment, but I think I’d have to go with the guy who felt that the child in the ad should run as fast has he could from Jonah.
  •  This was a super small moment, but I loved the interaction between Jonah and the former congressman’s widow, who also happens to be his former 2nd grade teacher. I’m excited about the idea of him running against a sweet old lady who might not be as sweet as she seems.

 

By Mike Papirmeister

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