Veep: “Storms and Pancakes” Season 4 Episode 6 Review

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This week’s Veep proves that popularity comes at a price.

As expected, Hugh Laurie has proven a welcome addition to the cast as Tom James. The actor fits amongst the group nicely as their new shining star, and the trouble he’s going to cause is already imminent.

Laurie spends the majority of the episode in full-on charm mode, working the crowd like a pro at campaign events. This, by comparison, makes Selena look like an uncaring elitist—which isn’t too far from the truth—thereby damaging the Meyer campaign in unexpected ways. Selena wants the focus to be on her, and it should be. After all, she’s the one who’s running for office. Still, it’s hard to compete with a guy who can remember everyone’s name without a Gary by his side.

Speak of which, Gary gets a lot of screen time this week as the president confides in him about the pseudo-sexual moment she and Tom shared twelve years ago. The scene plays fantastically, as Tony Hale quickly shifts his naive reactions to match the tone of what Selena is saying. I like that Selena and Gary are becoming close again after their blowout in “East Wing.” What I don’t like is Selena’s decision to go in blind during a pancake breakfast for congressmen. She should know by now that she can’t do this without Gary, and though her need to seem as compassionate as Tom is understandable, it feels strange to see her shut him out at a time where she needs him the most.

Despite this, there’s a lot to like about “Storms and Pancakes,” especially involving the aftermath of Amy’s meltdown. Ana Chlumsky has never been better, and is particularly magnetic in scenes where Amy is trying, and failing, to relax or blow off steam. She might have left The White House in spectacular fashion, but it’s not enough. She’s out for blood, and she won’t stop until they realize how badly they need her. Working at Dan’s lobbying firm and then stealing his clients isn’t going to give her any closure, but it’s certainly a start.

Equally as enjoyable are the scenes of Selena and Tom when the public eye isn’t on them. While riding in the car alone with him, Selena tries to bring up “the moment,” and it goes utterly awry. Julie Louis-Dreyfus’ body language as Selena realizes Tom’s cluelessness is spot-on, displaying the perfect mix between awkward vulnerability and immediate backtracking.

Jonah’s molestation subplot is also given more focus this week, as he tries to move on with his career. As I suspected last week, the boys’ club that is DC won’t let him live this down. To make matters worse, several women who look very similar to him ask him to join them in raising a class action suit against Teddy. Timothy Simons is engaging throughout his various freakouts, but his pairing with Sam Richardson’s Richard is really what keeps this plotline afloat. Richard’s unwavering optimism is the perfect juxtaposition to this darkly comedic narrative, and his back-and-forths with Jonah are pitch perfect.

The one thing that most puzzled me about this episode, however, is the continued absence of Bill Ericsson. Diedrich Bader’s campaign manager character seemed to be a major player in Selena’s universe at the start of this season, but now he’s nowhere to be found. While I was certainly amused by Ben’s attempts to interact with Sue while they worked alone in The White House, I often kept wondering where Ericsson was, and why he wasn’t working to push Selena’s campaign agenda further.

“Storms and Pancakes” doesn’t really stand out as one of the better entries of this season, but it’s still a solid episode of Veep. I’m curious to see different sides of Tom other than his charm and his penchant for spouting “fun facts.”

There’s a brief moment toward the end where he complains to a colleague on the phone about having to wait in the car while the President goes to meet with factory workers. He seems genuinely annoyed, and it made me excited to see further conflicts between him and Selena. There are a lot of different ways this new relationship could go, but I think head-to-head would produce the best results. Grade: B

 

Some Other Notes:

– Ana Chlumsky’s breathy delivery of “I hope your vagina falls off” during Dan’s party is absolutely fantastic.

– “I wish I could understand vengeance…it seems so time consuming.” Oh Kent, never change.

– Richard’s last name is Splett and it is perfect.

– Of all the Ben-Sue moments this episode, it was the simplicity of her physically hiding from him that made me laugh the most.

 

 

By Mike Papirmeister

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