Veep: “Kissing Your Sister” Season 5 Episode 9 Review

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Veep knocks it out of the park with an endlessly entertaining mockumentary episode.

All season long we’ve witnessed the running joke of Catherine silently standing in corners of the White House, filming scenes for her documentary. The main punchline has always been either Selina yelling at her to get out, or not even realizing she’s there and saying something completely confidential or inappropriate.

“Kissing Your Sister,” however, takes the plot device to a whole new level. The entire episode is devoted to Catherine’s documentary—now fully completed—and boy, is it delightful. The mockumentary format suits Veep quite well, which is no surprise considering the show has always been somewhat of a spiritual sister to The Office. The best part about this week’s episode though, is how well it utilizes the entire cast. This show has one of the greatest ensembles on television, and here they all get their moment to shine.

The main narrative of Catherine’s doc revolves around the impending House vote that will determine whether or not Selina will remain President. It’s a tense setup for the half-hour, but what really makes “Kissing Your Sister” work is a mixture of the one-off confessionals, and the flashbacks to previous events of this season.

Watching these pivotal moments again through Catherine’s eyes is enthralling, especially since there are almost always things we missed the first time around. The scene from “Congressional Ball” in which Mike re-enters the room to see if they’re having a secret meeting about him now extends to reveal that…in fact, they did! An entire subplot of the episode revolves around Selina’s plans to fire Mike once she’s inaugurated, even going so far as to show his replacement. Mike is so caught up in his baby drama, that he doesn’t even realize what’s happening when he walks in on Selina interviewing someone else for his position.

Then there are the confessionals, a staple of the mockumentary—and, of course, actual documentaries. It’s in these moments where individual cast members truly get to flex their comedic chops. Practically everyone gets a funny bit of dialogue, from Amy pulling a Valerie Cherish and telling Catherine to start her interview over, to Dan not remembering if all of his grandparents are dead, to Gary thinking the economy can be fixed by printing more money, to Selina herself who, though a supposed veteran in front of the camera, still manages to not know how to handle Catherine’s breakdown about her breakup with Marjorie.

Ah yes, the second component to Catherine’s doc. Throughout the tale of Selina’s attempt to become the first woman elected President is the story of Catherine finding herself and finding love. The scene of her waking up Marjorie in bed is genuinely sweet, and juxtaposing this with Catherine’s signature ugly cry face after they get into a fight—Marjorie refers to her as a “work friend” when they meet her parents—is a great move. In the end, the two are able to work things out…right as Selina realizes that she’s lost the vote.

As it turns out, Tom James’ plan to win the Presidency through the Senate was still in motion after his and Selina’s steamy hate-sex. Despite a last-minute effort to get Jonah—who shows up hilariously late after a one night stand—to switch his vote to O’Brian, Selina still loses her last shot at remaining in the Oval Office. It’s truly a low blow for her, and one that is fully felt in a later scene where she’s unexpectedly greeted by out-of-towners on a tour of the White House, and is completely enthused by their excitement. It’s clear how badly Selina wanted this, but ultimately it feels like the right direction for the show to head in. Veep has been so successful for so long because it continually changes its stakes. Now Selina is back at square one and will have to figure out her next move. I’m sure it will be a thrill to watch.

Selina’s hopes may have slipped through her fingers, but Catherine’s doc ends on a high note. She’s back together with Marjorie and is happy to have finally found herself. Yes, she may have derailed the entire point of her documentary by making it about herself instead of her mother’s campaign, but the ending feels very just. After so many episodes of either being ignored of shunted out of the room, it’s nice to see the First Daughter put herself first. Grade: A

 

Some Other Notes:

  • There are too many great lines in this episode, it’s so hard to choose a favorite. I will say that I absolutely died laughing during Jonah’s highly inappropriate phone call during his visit to an elementary school.
  • Another thing I loved about the mockumentary format is that it delved into a lot of the characters’ personal lives. Ken is in a Latin motorcycle club! Ben is married to his nurse! Mike is…just as clueless at home as he is at work! The top prize, however, has to go to Richard for his Gilbert and Sullivan Society performance. There are no words to describe my love for it, so I’ll just comment on how well it adds to the majesty of his character.
  • Sufe Bradshaw has been criminally underused this season, but her brief moment in the beginning where she refuses for her likeness to be show on camera is so perfectly in-character for her that I can’t complain about her lack of screen time this week.
  • Gary having the couch that Selina and Tom had sex on in “Congressional Ball” removed was absolutely hysterical. Also finding out that Catherine saw the whole thing too? Yikes….
  • Speaking of which, I love that the show didn’t shy away from the fact that she’s dating her mom’s body double. Sarah Sutherland’s delivery of “what?” after Dan confronts her about it is excellent.
  • Oh heyyy naked John Slattery, don’t think we didn’t see you there.

 

By Mike Papirmeister

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