Veep: “Qatar” Season 6 Episode 6 Review

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Selina’s second trip abroad hits all of the show’s usual beats with aplomb, but the episode seems to merely be filler before a major breakdown.

I’ve always maintained that the more Selina loses on Veep, the more we win. Season 6 has been no exception, as some of the show’s funniest moments have come from her narrowly missing a great opportunity, or discovering an unfortunate truth about herself.

“Qatar” sees Selina diving back into the world of international affairs, this time for the funeral of the country’s Crown Prince. Again, she’s presented with an interesting opportunity that could both elevate her career, and get her back some of the glory she lost when President Montez stole Tibet out from under her. Unlike in Georgia, however, the episode ends with a very clear wrong and right choice. Selina’s ego unsurprisingly gets in the way, and she makes a rather nefarious move.

All of this is played out with Veep‘s usual sharpness, and it’s certainly entertaining to watch unfold. Still, you can’t help but get a sense that the show is going through the motions here. At the beginning of the episode, Selina laments that her international reputation is all she has left. It quickly becomes clear that she’ll soon lose this too, leading to a major breakdown. In that respect, “Qatar” is really just a filler episode—pushing things along at a consistent place until the breakdown occurs. There’s nothing terribly wrong with it per se, it just isn’t all that exciting.

Interestingly enough, some of the episode’s best moments arrive with Selina showing her political prowess. Yes, it’s always funnier to watch her bungle through a speech or stifle an introduction with someone until Gary can whisper the correct name in her ear, but it’s also nice to be reminded that—sometimes—she really knows her shit. This week, Selina re-partners with Ambassador Al Jaffar (Usman Ally). As the two work together to barter a natural resources deal with Chinese President Lu, she shines in her dealmaking abilities, proving that this is where her political prowess lies. It’s a thrill to see her in her element, and her fling with Jaffar is an added bonus.

Of course, everything comes crashing down in the end, when she decides to purposefully botch a gender equality speech in order to maintain the deal. The cringe humor is an an all-time high during the speech, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus flustered-yet-upbeat expression proves once again to be masterful. Still, this conclusion felt all but inevitable after Selina got what she wanted and then decided she wanted more. I don’t think Veep is a show that has to have major twists and turns, but it usually stays away from becoming overtly predictable. This could be seen coming from a mile away.

Elsewhere, Dan’s fake workplace hookup comes to an abrupt end when he files a sexual harassment claim against Jane, and she gets the boot. I didn’t really buy how immediate her firing was. After all, Bill O’Reilly was only just relieved of his duties after years of purported sexual misconduct, and the settlement offer he got out of it basically ensures he never has to work again.

While it’s true that CBS This Morning and Fox News are two totally different programs, Jane’s status as a seasoned journalist who helped build the network from the ground up seems questionable if they’re just going to give her the boot right away. Perhaps the writers are trying to make a point that, no matter how high up you are, you’re always going to have the odds stacked against you as a woman. I hope this is the case, as it would also provide a nice foil to Selina’s deeply un-feminist speech at the human rights conference. Regardless, I’m interested to see where this leaves Dan. Is he fully going to be allowed to take the reigns on his segment? Or, is he now in deep shit because Jane’s faux-affection for him was actually protecting him? I guess we’ll find out next week.

Jonah, meanwhile, gets an marriage proposal from Shawnee that’s essentially a business transaction. This doesn’t stop him from getting a giddy smile at the news, which is both fun to see, and slightly melancholic as I have a feeling this too shall end badly. The highlight of this subplot, however, is his dinner invitation to Congressman Furlong’s house. Guest star Beth Littleford (Crazy, Stupid, Love) is an absolute delight as Furlong’s surprisingly Christian and swear word-averse wife. Seeing the usually foul-mouthed congressman out of his element is immensely satisfying, especially since it gives Jonah and Shawnee the upper hand. I’m starting to warm up to Shawnee, but, as I just said, I have a feeling she’ll eventually move on from Jonah and break his heart.

Selina has been having a very rough go of it since this show’s sixth season began, and it’s only going to get worse before it gets better. As fun as it is to watch her fumble, I’m worried the show will run out of interesting ways to deflate her ego before her inevitable tipping point. A mediocre episode of Veep, however, is still a solid episode of television, and “Qatar” is certainly an enjoyable half-hour. Much like the brief glimpse we got of Selina succeeding, though, I know this show can do better. Grade: B

 

Some Other Notes:

  • This episode also made it abundantly clear that Amy needs more screen time. Ana Chlumsky is fantastic, and this season has been wasting her.
  • The best part of Selina and Jaffar’s brief relationship was the breakup. I love that she wondered allowed if she could really date a Muslim, and then he breaks up with her because she’s white. In a way, they were perfect for each other.
  • Catherine and Marjorie’s baby reveal is, of course, interrupted by Selina’s own turmoil, only to get brought back up at an inopportune time.
  • The best running joke of the episode is President Lu pretending he can’t speak English when it is convenient for him.
  • The runner up is Mike’s perpetually worsening sunburn.

 

By Mike Papirmeister

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