Veep: “Inauguration” Season 5 Finale Review

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“We gave America all we had.”

Veep‘s season 5 finale feels like a series finale, which is a bit puzzling considering the fact that the show was picked up for a sixth season before this one even began. Showrunner David Mandel has indicated that next year’s storyline will follow Selina as she navigates her new life as a former president of the United States.

This series flipped its script at the send of season 3 when Selina managed to become an accidental president, but this change feels far more drastic and unnerving. What concerns me the most is that—as amazing as Julia Louis-Dreyfus is—Veep has always been an ensemble show, and this new concept won’t really allow for the same type of interactions between the cast.

Additionally, the idea of Selina leading a supposedly quieter life is bizarre. Veep‘s majesty comes from the razorsharp rapport between the White House staffers as they deal with their latest crisis. Can the same type of comedy that’s made this show an HBO staple still be found if Selina is no longer in that sort of high-pressure environment? It just doesn’t seem likely.

Because of all this mounting concern, “Inauguration” feels like a wholly surreal episode. The last-minute twist of the senate voting for Montez to be president—and for VP Doyle to have orchestrated the entire thing—was very intriguing, and a nice way to wrap up the delayed election plotline. Still, I don’t think I’m alone in saying that I kept waiting for there to be some sort of punchline or reveal that this all wasn’t really happening. Last week I commended the show for choosing to have Selina lose the House vote, but that’s only because it seemed like she was going back to being VP. Selina not being president is one thing, but not being in the administration at all? That’s a lot to take in.

The show had some big shoes to fill after last week’s outstanding “Kissing Your Sister,” so it’s no surprise that the writers chose to go for a quieter ending rather than try to match the heights of their previous work. One good thing that “Inauguration” does is to give proper sendoffs for most of the characters. Dan gets offered a position at CBS (the real CBS this time), Amy seems to have finally found someone she likes and who likes her DC dirty mouth, Sue is, of course, the one staffer to remain on in the Montez administration (you go, girl), Mike is going to be a stay-at-home dad, and Gary has a hilarious meltdown where he chews out the other staffers. It’s a great piece of work from Tony Hale, and a fitting final scene for his character.

That’s the thing, really. Everything about this episode felt so final. Even the closing shot of Selina sitting outside with the Washington Monument is the background felt like a very somber goodbye…with the added joke that she hoped the rain would ruin Montez’s hair during the parade, of course. Veep‘s fifth season has been truly incredible, and Mandel has proven himself to be a strong replacement for Armando Iannucci. If “Inauguration” were a series finale, it would have been fitting, especially given the cynical nature of this show. Instead, Mandel is taking us into totally uncharted waters. His track record so far has been great, but I just don’t know where you would go from here. There’s only one way to find out, really. See you next year, everyone. Finale Grade: B / Season 5 Grade: A-

 

Some Other Notes:

  • Even with this wholly confusing ending note, Season 5 of Veep was arguably its best season yet. With spectacular episodes like “Mother,” “Congressional Ball,” and, of course, the aforementioned “Kissing Your Sister,” there have been so many excellent moments fueled by great writing and the talent of the ensemble cast. Despite my concern about the future of this series, there’s no way I won’t be tuning in considering all the good that Mandel did with this season.
  • The best scene in this episode is Selina’s whiskey-fueled conversation with Richard. Sam Richardson’s upbeat demeanor against Louis-Dreyfus’ wavering spirit made for both great humor and great character introspection.
  • A newly glammed-up Catherine asking her mother if she’s going to do something with her hair was amazing.
  • Jonah’s plotline takes a rather dark turn that I hope will be addressed next season.
  • To everyone who stuck with me throughout the season, thanks for reading! It’s been a pleasure to watch and review the show and I hope to see you all next year for what will be an interesting entry in Veep‘s canon, to say the least.

 

By Mike Papirmeister

 

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