Veep: “East Wing” Season 4 Episode 2 Review

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Hell hath no fury like a bagman scorned.

It was clear from the premiere that Gary was going to be a ticking timebomb this season. While it was a surprise to see just how short of a fuse he had, I’m glad his and Selena’s inevitable blowout is out of the way, and that their usual dynamic has been mostly restored. The two work best as a cohesive unit, and perhaps this fight will earn Gary some much needed respect in episodes to come.

I’m also amazed at how abrasive the fight was. It certainly stood out against the rest of the narrative arcs in “East Wing,” and yet it felt like a long time coming. Veep is an episodic comedy, but we’ve seen each of the characters grow over the course of three seasons. Gary has matured a lot since our initial introduction to him, and it’s nice to finally see him gain a backbone.

The scene is shot mostly in close-ups, so that we’re pulled right into the frenzy. Tony Hale and Julia Louis-Drefyus are absolutely terrific as they chew each other out. Selena’s outburst is expected, as she’s just had a major accomplishment—peace talks with the Israelis—marred by Gary’s overspending and painting removal. Gary’s rebuttal is initially shocking, but it feels incredibly well-deserved. Truly, Selena is his idol, but her move to power has left him in the dark. There’s only so much a (bag)man can take.

What I liked most about this scene is how it explores the codependency of Selena and Gary’s relationship. Hale makes the delivery of the line “I’m f*cking everything to you!” feel both berating and vulnerable. Selena needs Gary in more ways than she realizes, but he also needs her very much. The mysteriousness of what he did for her on Labor Day only further proves how essential each is to the other. I don’t think it’s an important enough plot point to come up again, but part of me is hoping it does. I’m just dying to know what unspeakable thing he did.

The rest of “East Wing” continues the plot threads that were started in the premiere. While Gary eventually gathers the courage to stand up for himself, Jonah seems nowhere near ready to speak up about Teddy’s groping. This week, the scene is played more for laughs with Patton Oswald delivering a bizarrely amusing “tap tappy tap tap” to Jonah’s crotch. Still, Timothy Simons remains serious in his reactions, making me unsure of how this will all play out. There’s something to this plotline, I’m just not sure what is yet.

Luckily for Jonah, he got more to do this week than just be uncomfortable around his new boss. Simons and Reid Scott have always had excellent chemistry together, and their scenes trying to convince congressmen and women to vote for Selena’s Family First bill were great bits of hilarity. The Martin Scorsese moment during their last meeting was especially enjoyable.

An equally satisfying pairing came in the form of Catherine (Sarah Sutherland) meeting with Kent (Gary Cole) about her likability. Kent’s ineptitude at delivering bad news in a good way is hysterical, as is his version of the phrase “turn your frown upside down.” Catherine has always drawn the short straw on this show, and I’m excited to see what sort of mishaps arise now that she’s part of the First Family.

Meanwhile, Amy continues to try and outmaneuver Ericsson to disastrous results. Diedrich Bader is once again outstanding, and his delivery of the line “I just wanted to say a friendly hello in an unfriendly way. Hello.” was nothing short of perfection. It’s easy to see that the move to the White House has not come without its hiccups, and now that Gary’s aired his grievances, I wonder if Amy will be next.

Veep‘s razor-sharped satire has always been impressive, but what really struck me about this episode was how grounded it was in character. Selena and her team have evolved so much since we first met them, so it feels rewarding to see the comedy not only sourced from the nature of the work they do, but from their relationships to each other as well. Truly, they’ve become like great, dysfunctional family, and I’d watch them face anything together…so long as there are some ace insults involved. Grade: A

 

Some Other Notes:

– The wonderful Michaela Watkins certainly made the most out of her brief appearance this episode. Her fake phone call was so great, and I hope we get to see more of her.

– The running joke of Mike’s dyed mustache had me in stitches. I can’t decide which moment was better: the dye dripping down his face during a press conference, or the look he gives Ericsson when he sees he’s been photoshopped without any facial hair. Veep always nails its sight gags.

– I really loved how Gary and Selena’s fight ended with her eating the Henry Harrison Day cake that he initially tried to hide from her. It made the whole arc come full circle.

– I also really, really, really want to know what Gary did for Selena on Labor Day. Is it too out there to think it was something sexual? Any thoughts and theories you all have are appreciated.

 

 

By Mike Papirmeister

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