Veep: “Election Night” Season 4 Finale Review

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“The rule book has been torn up now, and America is wiping its nasty ass with it!”

Veep is not a political thriller like Scandal or House of Cards, and yet this week’s finale is one of the series’ most intense half-hours yet. Jumping ahead to Selena’s election was a smart move, allowing all of Team Meyer’s ruthless ambition and questionable decisions to come down to one pivotal moment.

To say the tension in Selena’s hotel suite is thick would be an understatement. A highlight of “Election Night” is seeing the whir of activity between the various staff members as they try to do everything from announce state votes to console their emotional boss. Ben puts it best when he says, “Election nights are my cocaine…it used to be that election nights and cocaine were my cocaine, but….” It’s a lot to take in, but it works so well because of the character beats each staffer has to give their presence a purpose.

Everyone has their moment to shine. Diedrich Bader is excellent in what were likely his final scenes as Ericsson, talking frantically about how upcoming imprisonment. The icing on the cake is that, of course, everyone keeps telling him to shut up.

Mike ends up being an unintentional savior when he hears that Pennsylvania has been called in Selena’s favor. His scene of running back to the suite to stop the President from conceding is exciting, especially since he spends most of the episode delivering bad news.

Catherine shares a fantastic one-on-one scene with Selena in which they discuss her breakup with her fiancé. Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Sarah Sutherland play off each other wonderfully, particularly during Selena’s hilarious diatribe about how all men are awful.

Louis-Dreyfus, unsurprisingly, gives a knockout of a performance, effortlessly shifting from subdued delivery to energetic and in-your-face rants.  This is the most important night of Selena’s career, and its clear from Louis-Dreyfus’ reactions just how much she has on the line. One of her best moments is actually in the episode’s cold open, when we see Selena sitting alone in the hotel bedroom. Her face is the perfect blend of bravery and anxiety, and her response to Gary asking how she’s doing—“Thanks Gary, I’d love some.”—is perfect.

Veep is certainly episodic in nature, but this season in particular has made use of several over-arching narratives. Not all of them have worked, but the one that paid of the most this week is the return of Amy to Selena’s camp. The reunion is played well, with Ana Chlumsky delivering a palpable amount of apprehension. The best moment, however, arrives a few scenes later when Selena breaks down in the face of the possibility that Tom might become president, and runs to Amy for solace. It’s a sequence that manages to be both heartwarming and humorous as Selena slips lower and lower to the floor and Gary awkwardly attempts to join in on the hug.

Hugh Laurie is particularly effective this week as Tom transitions into the role of Selena’s enemy. By the episode’s end Selena and Senator O’Brien are tied, meaning that, after the house vote, there’s a chance that he could become president. Prior to this, he asks Selena if he can be Secretary of the Treasury as well as VP. Selena is outraged, and the news of the tie voting rules only makes things worse.

Tom has been useful in adding charm and likability to Selena’s campaign, but her frustration with him has been slowly building, and it comes to an incredibly funny breaking point when Selena storms out of the suite to upstage him at the campaign rally. I’m not sure of Laurie’s future on the show, but I like the idea of he and Selena being adversaries, especially with their past (one-sided) romantic history.

The use of the tie is a brilliant plot point, because it not only adds suspense to what will happen next season, but it also opens the door to the possibility that Selena might end up back where she started. There’s a moment at the end where Tom asks her if she’d like to be his veep should he become President. She, of course, laughs in his face, but this is a direction I could easily see the show going in. There’s no way Selena was going to outright lose the election, as that would mean the end of the show. Still, the tie has the potential to seriously take her down a peg.

So it seems Veep has taken a few pages from the Scandal/House of Cards playbook and is leaving us with bated breath. The unfortunate news that series creator Armando Iannucci is exiting as showrunner is yet another indication that we really don’t know what to expect. Still, if this episode is proof of anything, it’s that this series is firing on all cylinders, and it’s outstanding. I can hardly wait for what comes next, Meyer 2016 or otherwise. Grade: A


Some Other Notes:

– Sue’s scene with her friend this week was great, as was her hilarious car ride with Amy. She is definitely one of the more underrated characters on this show.

– I can easily see how Amy can return to the fold next season, but I’m not sure about Dan. He seems too far down the lobbying rabbit hole.

– Lennon Parham returned this week as the obnoxious Karen. Her scene with Tom and Selena over drinks was fun, but she is way to annoying to keep around as a main character.

– Thank you for sticking with me for my reviews of Veep! A full season review will be coming soon. What’re your thoughts on the finale? Sound off in the comments below.


By Mike Papirmeister

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