Veep: “Tehran” Season 4 Episode 4 Review

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Veep takes to the skies this week, but it may have one too many balls in the air.

Politics can often boil down to a popularity contest, because it’s difficult to get anything done when people don’t like you. This season of Veep has so far seen Selena make incredible strides in her presidency, and yet continue to fluster in the court of public opinion.

In the fantastic “East Wing,” Selena worries that all of her accomplishments with the Israelis will be blocked out by coverage of how much she spent on her State Dinner décor. “Tehran” is a continuation of her peacekeeping efforts, and the set up for her biggest scandal yet.

There’s a lot of greatness in this week’s episode, as Selena’s team works to keep everything smooth on the ground while she’s riding on Air Force One. The Jonah-Teddy subplot, in particular, gets some much needed headway after Jonah is forced to go on the record about being molested.

Sexual harassment against males isn’t any less serious than when it’s against females, but it’s easy to see how a lesser show would’ve played this for cheap laughs. Veep, however, delivered a masterful sequence that cut between an uncomfortable Jonah and an insensitive Kent and Ericsson. Katherine and Sue later come into play, and the results are both hilarious and incredibly awkward. Something is coming for Teddy—or, even worse, perhaps nothing is coming at all—but I think the season will be much more interesting now that this is out in the open.

The main plot at hand is another tricky tightrope walk. Though it’s never explicitly stated, it appears that Selena & Co. detained Leon the journalist (Brian Huskey) an extra day in order to get more face time with countries in the Middle East. What’s worse, is that they may have also been behind him being detained in the first place.

This is the darkest Veep has gone in a while, proving just how high the stakes have risen since Selena her seat took the Oval Office. The grimness of this decision is wonderfully juxtaposed with lighter scenes such as Gary and Mike running around the airport like chickens with their heads cut off, or Dan’s sleek, yet slimy introduction into the world of lobbying. Veep is enticing because it isn’t afraid to go down the rabbit hole of dirty politics, and the fact that it can make us laugh along the way makes it all the more brilliant.

The downside of an episode as busy as this one, is that it has me questioning what exactly Veep‘s goals are for the season. Selena has to deal with Leon possibly leaking their plan to the press, while also worrying about Kent’s secret polling of the VP. Meanwhile, Amy is on the verge of having a spectacular meltdown, Dan is on the outside looking in—and, in one amusing moment, completely oblivious to Amy’s flirting—Catherine is getting married, and a new hire named Karen (Playing House‘s Lennon Parham) has just joined the team.

The American Presidency is one of the busiest jobs in the world, but I wonder how effective it is to try and cram all of its insanity into a half hour time slot. There are a lot of plot threads to juggle at once, and it could eventually lead to some things being shuffled to the side and forgotten.

Still, if Veep has shown us anything this week, it’s that it knows exactly how to handle a challenge. A lot of things have been set into play, and now we just have to watch them unfold. If anyone can handle this kind of pressure and still come out on top, it’s Selena and her flying monkeys. Grade: B+

 

Some Other Notes:

– Mike’s excitement over a two-day weekend was both hilarious and saddening.

– Best Sue line of the episode occurred during this exchange with Kent:

Kent: Finishing sentences is—
Sue: Irritating? Very. But sometimes necessary when people are being slow or dull.

– The design of Dan’s new lobbying office felt world’s away from the look and feel of The White House. I’m interested at this new world he’s entering, so long as it doesn’t detract from the main plot at hand.

– Anna Chlumsky was particularly wonderful this week. Her delivery of “go back in time and stop this from happening!” after Sue calls her is perfect. Amy is stressed out, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

– The VP’s speech to “help end homophobia” in sports is cringe-inducingly good. I particularly enjoyed his scramble to get through saying his gay friends taught him to dance to Madonna.

 

 

By Mike Papirmeister

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