Veep: “Data” Season 4 Episode 3 Review

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Selena and Crew are having a terrible, terrible day, which means this week’s episode once again knocked it out of the park.

Selena Meyer would do well to be friends with Olivia Pope. While it’s true that the two seem to come from two entirely different DC universes—one far more grounded in reality than the other—it would be nice if she could just she could just make a quick phone call and have all her problems “handled.”

This would make her and her team’s lives a whole lot easier, but let’s be real. It wouldn’t be half as fun to watch. The majesty of Veep is watching in anticipation as curveball after curveball is thrown at this group of people. Things tend to work out in the end, but it’s only through some incredibly quick thinking and sheer force of will. Then, everyone breathes a sigh of relief…until the next wave hits. In that way, Veep is probably its most realistic. These people only get a second to bask in the glory of their expert maneuvering before they have to get back to work. Welcome to politics.

This week, however, the sh*t really hits the fan as an unfortunate misstatement spirals into a breach of security and then into a potential felony. The conflict is resolved at the episode’s end, but there is a severe consequence. Last week, Veep proved that it wasn’t afraid to go to some darker places with its fight between Gary and Selena, and now it seems to be continuing the trend.

What’s so great about this plotline is that it utilizes almost the entire cast. When a little girl’s private medical records become public, The White House scrambles to plug the leak in their system. Veep is at its best when characters are running from situation to the next, only stopping to fill everyone on on the next move—and of course to offer a perfectly timed insult. Nearly every scene ties back to the “Medileaks” scandal, and it’s so great to see this talented group of actors get to work towards the same cause.

Dan spends a lot of time setting up Jonah to take the fall for the leak, which karmically leads to his own undoing. It’s surprising to see the show fire one of its core characters, but if Jonah’s “Ryantology” plotline is any indication, this won’t be the last we see of him. The quick cuts between Selena reading to the children at the Easter egg hunt and Amy sprinting first to Ben’s office, and then to deliver the new statement to Mike, is a brilliant balancing act.

The Meyer reelection campaign makes a brief appearance this week, though we later find out the mistakes made are all a part of Dan’s plan to sack Jonah. I particularly enjoyed the moments featuring Sam Richardson, who continues to be hilarious in his enthusiasm, and of course that garish fireworks display.

Part of the reason Veep is so funny is because of its gleeful sense of cynicism. It’s why Richardson immediately stands out as a cast member, and why moments of morality feel truly authentic. If this were The West Wing, a hunt for the culprit behind the leak would commence, and several valiant speeches about integrity and the right to privacy would be made. Instead, no one bats an eyelash when it’s suggested that they just find a scapegoat and fire him or her.

Still, there are a few scenes that indicate that The White House hasn’t left these people completely soulless. Dan sees Teddy groping Jonah and immediately stops his scheming to express genuine concern. Despite how much animosity he has towards Jonah, he’s still alarmed that this sort of behavior has been happening right under his nose. I’m finally starting to like where this plot thread is headed, and I think if Dan is ever to claw his way back into Selena’s good graces, it’ll be through using this to his advantage.

Elsewhere, Selena is disgusted at the idea of “The Expendabellas”—girls who are hired just for the sake of being hired—and Ben wins for best line of the episode with his outrage over one town’s ignorance about the HIV/AIDS virus. His response to parents keeping their kids home from school so they don’t catch it—“well there’s a town without a gay pride parade…or a goddamn library”—is one of those moments where you just have to applaud.

It’s nice to know that, underneath it all, these people really do care. I’m sure that’s why they got into politics in the first place. Unfortunately for them, the business has made them jaded. Fortunately for us, seeing them bring out both the best and worst in each other is a real treat. Grade: A-

 

Some Other Notes:

– Ben’s reaming of Dan probably qualifies as the best insult of the episode, but my personal favorite is Dan referring to Jonah as a “surprised masturbator.” So perfect.

– Catherine still seems super uncomfortable as The First Daughter, and I have a feeling something is going to cause her to snap real soon.

– It’s such a small moment, but Mike’s creepily wide smile and Ericsson’s reaction to it made my laugh out loud.

– #EveryLittleThingSheDoesIsTragic is my new favorite hashtag.

 

 

By Mike Papirmeister

 

 

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