Veep: “Mommy Meyer” Season 4 Episode 7 Review

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Selena and her crew’s return to The White House makes for an engaging and wholly refocused episode.

One of the interesting trends from this season of Veep is its use of meltdowns to explore different characters. First, Gary and Selena duke it out in “East Wing,” as he reminds her just how important he is to her. Then, Dan has a mini-implosion before joining the slimy world of lobbying. To date, the season’s best meltdown has been Amy’s, as she drops a huge truth bomb before walking out the door. Now that Selena is president, the stakes have never been higher, and watching her staff have freakouts one-by-one has been a highly entertaining method of seeing how each of them handles the pressure.

This week, Mike steps up to the plate for his moment of combustion. What’s unique about his meltdown is that he gets right up to his breaking point, and then is somehow able to step away from it. Unlike Amy and Dan, Mike is able to push through, even if he feels terrible about doing so. Matt Walsh often plays Mike as a proverbial punching bag, but this episode show someone who’s much stronger than he looks.

Part of Mike’s strength comes from his support system. “Mommy Meyer’s” opening scene sees Mike and his wife Wendy (the lovely Kathy Najimy) discussing the stresses of his job over breakfast. Mike might be so harried that he forgets his wife’s birthday, but Wendy is encouraging, and for all of Veep‘s misanthropy, it’s nice to see some genuine heart.

This episode makes it abundantly clear that Mike is the President’s “sh*t shoveler.” It’s his job to deal with how the mess-of-the-week plays out in the press, and take any heat that comes his way. It’s not an easy job, and when Tom makes a big misstep at his townhall meeting—more on that in a moment—Mike is forced to start some serious shoveling.

Eventually he confronts Selena, and comes thisclose to losing his cool in front of her. I’m not sure if it’s the fact that Mike has seen what happened to Dan and Amy, or that Veep is preparing a grand exit for him next week, but our favorite Director of Communications is able to reign himself in before things get out of hand. Still, his minor outburst is telling. Mike has been with Selena longer than most of her staffers, and so he’s willing to take a lot more crap than they are. But with the way things have been going lately, how much is too much?

Hugh Laurie’s Tom James is another character who got more dimensional this week during his controversial townhall interview. Using the backstory of Tom’s ex-marine son to inform his political leanings is a smart move, as his character is now more than just a charmer. Tom is eager to play ball with Selena and her team, but he has a dark side that could cause trouble for the Meyer Campaign if left unchecked.

One of the best parts of Tom’s plotline is that it made great use out of Jonah and Richard, who have become the unexpected delight of the season. The two have developed and incredible comedic rapport, and their inclusion into the closing “Friday night drinks” scene only added to the hilarity.

Veep ends this week’s episode by splitting its time between the aforementioned drinks sequence and Selena’s dinner with her old law school buddies. The fact that the screen flits back-and-forth between a girl’s—and Gary—night in and a boy’s club seems like an unimportant detail at first, but its significance becomes apparent after Selena brings up her Family First bill to her friends.

Veep exists in a world where the idea of a female president is no longer headline news. Yes, Selena has dealt with bouts of sexism during her time in office—and, of course, there was Amy’s unforgettable exit speech—but when push comes to shove she’s a woman in power who has mostly men working under her, without any of them ever expressing emasculation.

Yet, when one of her friends suggests that the Family First bill would be more appealing if it came from Tom, it gets Selena understandably riled. The episode is called “Mommy Meyer,” and since Selena’s bill deals with healthcare and family, it’s upsetting to see it taken less seriously coming from a woman. Now that she’s running for a second term, these issues will likely loom larger, and I’m excited to see how her and her team confront them.

Paralleling Selena’s dismay is Amy, who is growing increasingly wary of just how sleazy the world of lobbying is. Yes, she’s still in competition with Dan, and yes she’s still good at her job, but this episode sees Amy shove her self-respect in a drawer and march onward with tasks like pimping out young girls to older senators and partnering with big pharmaceutical companies. In all honesty, this subplot is beginning to grow stale, as its the one part of Veep that isn’t directly connected to the presidency. Hopefully, Amy’s disgust means she’ll be leaving soon.

There was a lot to take in this week, and yet “Mommy Meyer” felt like one of the most focused episodes of the season yet. Veep has an uphill battle as Selena gets closer and closer to reelection, but with whipsmart episodes like this one, I’m not worried about a thing. Hang in there, Mike. It’s only four more years. Grade: A-

 

Some Other Notes:

– In my haste to mention the excellent performances and characterizations of Walsh’s Mike and Laurie’s Tom this week, I didn’t get to mention just how stellar Julia Louis-Dreyfus was. This is, after all, her show. Selena had some exceptional moments, particularly during her dinner with friends.

– Additionally, the running joke of an intruder coming into The White House allowed for some brilliant physical comedy. I loved Selena yelling that she needed a gun while standing completely unseen behind a wall of Secret Service agents. It’s equally as hilarious when they later hoist her up over her chair at the dinner.

– Dreyfus’ line delivery during her conversation with Tom post-intruder is outstanding. “I can’t believe someone just tried to kill me…..and YOU!”

– Tony Hale also wins points for “sh*t just got real!!”

– Diedrich Bader (finally) returns this week, and though his appearances are brief, he nails his line about wanting to go to “the secret room in the bunker.”

– Poor Catherine. No one will let her eat ice cream.

 

By Mike Papirmeister

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