Veep: “Nev-AD-a” Season 5 Episode 2 Review

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Love—or lust, rather—is in the air in a slower paced, but still quite funny episode of Veep.

It’s a fairly undisputed fact that Veep is at its best when there are a million things going on at once. The show is never sharper—or more hilarious—than when the staff is scrambling to handle a crisis while two more are thrown at them without warning. “Nev-AD-a,” as a whole, is a slower episode, focusing mainly on Selina securing the recount vote in the titular state. There aren’t any major curveballs thrown, meaning that the episode lacks a bit of the spark that made the premiere so exciting. Yet, there’s a lot of solid character work done here, leading to some interesting, and highly entertaining, situations.

The characters’ love lives are a major component of “Nev-AD-a,” which is exciting considering this is perhaps the furthest the show has delved into the subject thus far. Yes, there have been flings and hookups, but they’re usually either used for comedic effect—Christopher Meloni’s excellently clueless trainer Ray comes to mind—or brought up and then quickly discarded. While I don’t think this show will ever offer a truly serious examination on romance, it is humanizing to see these characters who work the most high-profile job in the country succumb to their baser needs.

This is particularly the case with Selina who, after taking over a meeting of Wall Street bigwigs from Tom, takes a liking to Charlie Baird (guest star John Slattery) and decides to pursue him. The episode plays this out wonderfully, beginning with a hilarious conversation with Ben that’s in very un-subtle code, and ending with Charlie somewhat endorsing Selina’s opponent after he sleeps with her—this, of course, leads to the episode’s best line: “He f*cked me, and then he f*cked me. What, is he trying to f*ck me?”

Slattery is an excellent choice to play Selina’s potential new love interest, and I’m excited that the eventual media reveal of their tryst means he will likely be sticking around for a few more episodes. He’s perfectly capable of going toe-to-toe with Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and the dynamic that they’ve already started to build is engrossing.

Even better, though, is the relationship he’s started to develop with Gary, who spends most of the episode acting like the child of a single parent who’s started dating someone new. At first he’s completely repulsed by Charlie’s presence but, after the two share a pleasant conversation, he starts to get excited about his “new dad,” of sorts. Seeing how he will play into this new coupling will definitely be a highlight of the season moving forward.

While Selina deals with her own romantic foibles at the White House, Amy and Dan’s will-they-or-won’t-they-oh-wait-they-already-have chemistry resurfaces while they’re on the ground in Nevada. After gaining success for the recount vote, the two blow off some steam at a bar. Any tentative plans they have to meet up later, however, are interrupted by the arrival of Amy’s sister, who ends up sleeping with Dan after he opportunistically mishears that she works for CBS (she actually works for CVS).

It’s a pretty simple joke, but it fits in with Dan’s character quite well. Dan and Amy are hardly Ross and Rachel, which is kind of the point this episode makes. At their most flirtatious moment in the episode, Amy gives Dan a look that suggests a “yeah, let’s do this, you’re the best option I have out here,” attitude. I doubt the fact that he decides to sleep with her sister will stir any sort of sitcomish jealousy out of Amy, but it could definitely impact the dynamic of their working relationship, which I’m excited to see. Ana Chlumsky plays frazzled extremely well, so I’m looking forward to more great, frenzied performances.

There are several subplots running throughout the episode that each achieve varying degrees of success. All of them provide some humorous moments, but the fact that they’re not essential to the main plots at hand makes them feel very wayward. The strangest out of all of them is that Tom James is now cordial towards Selina after it seems like she’s all but secured a win in Nevada. It’s a rather abrupt shift that, while a smart thing for Tom to do, career-wise, feels unearned after the awesomely antagonistic behavior the two shared for each other just one week prior. I’m sure this new friendship will reverse itself a few times before the season is through, but I just hope the writers can make the change feel more organic.

Aside from this, the best bits of the episode are the brief moments that really let individual members of this cast shine. Mike’s plot about being on the Master Cleanse is a very common comedic storytelling device, but Matt Walsh really sells it, and his freakout on the press podium is truly hilarious. Martin Mull also joins the cast as Bob Bradley, a famed political strategist who’s hired to help Selina win Nevada. He’s immediately offensive and will likely get on Amy’s nerves a lot, so I’m happy he’s joined the team. Additionally, as I predicted last week, there is now a running joke of Catherine secretly filming things, only to be repeatedly told to get out by her mother. This seems like something that would get old very quickly, but it never does, and I hope it doesn’t go away anytime soon.

Veep is still incredibly smart and funny, even when it slows things down for a bit. I like that “Nev-AD-a” took a bit of a breather to focus on some more personal aspects of the characters. Still, it was a slight letdown coming off the great premiere episode. I’m not too concerned, though. Things are great for Team Meyer right now, which means a screwup is just around the corner. With new characters and so many added layers to the existing ones to work with, I’m sure it will be utter chaos. And I can’t wait. Grade: B+

 

Some Other Notes:

  • The joke about Sue being in the White House forever reminded me so much of Kenneth’s immortality on 30 Rock, and I hope this continues to be a part of the season.
  • Sam Richardson continues to be an absolute delight, and was particularly enjoyable when explaining why his email address was “splett2@splett.net.”
  • Ben being excited that Bob remembers him—and the terrible nicknames he used to call him—is so, so great.

 

By Mike Papirmeister

 

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