Veep: “The Eagle” Season 5 Episode 3 Review

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The Meyer staff just barely scrapes by two different crises this week, making for one hell of an episode.

It’s great to see that, three episodes in, Veep still feels like Veep even under new management. Yes, last week’s episode ran a bit on the slow side, but on the whole the show still has a strong grip on its characters and it’s sharp, cynical sense of humor. This week’s episode kicked things back into high gear, with two major problems that quickly escalate to the adrenaline-fueled level we’ve come to expect from this wonderfully maddening group of people.

As with a lot of things in today’s society, all hell breaks loose because of a tweet. Selina’s tweet, to be exact. The President’s new relationship with Charlie has made her somewhat of a media darling, and the Twittersphere is eating their “romance” up. This prompts Selina to connect with her new beau over Twitter, and, of course, she mistakes public tweeting for direct messaging and lets the whole world in on her dirty joke about her opponent.

The entire setup of this blunder is executed brilliantly, with Mike frantically trying to alert Selina of her error while she’s in a private briefing with the CIA. Then the gang confers back in the oval office, with things taking their typically dark turn when Ben suggests to blame the tweet on the Chinese hackers who’ve been infiltrating the White House’s digital database.

On top of this, Amy discovers that The Eagle might not be as sharp as everyone thinks he is. Last week I predicted that he would likely stick around for a while to get on Amy’s nerves—something he’s already accomplished very well—so it’s interesting to see the show curtail his character’s presence after only one episode. Still, the execution here is also fantastic. Martin Mull plays “loopy old person” quite well, and watching him slowly descend into madness while the rest of the staff has a full-on freakout is highly entertaining. The best moment arrives during a meeting that was set up to potentially delay the vote recount in Nevada. The rapid back-and-forth between Selina, Ben, Amy, Jonah, Dan, and Richard is outstanding, and a perfect example of how much chemistry this cast has—especially when they’re bickering.

The one misstep in this episode is the scene in which Mike and Wendy’s date is ruined by Congressman Furlong stealing his dinner reservation. Furlong is a nasty character, and the perfect vehicle for some of the Veep writers’ best insults. Still, this scene felt totally out of place from the rest of the goings on in the episode. “The Eagle” already had so much to work with within its main plots, so adding this on just made it feel like unnecessary filler.

The only thing the scene accomplished was to worsen Mike’s day, which was already going pretty bad considering how against blaming the Chinese hackers he was. The worst consequence of this arrives at the episode’s end when he discovers, mid-press conference, that China has announced strict sanctions in retaliation, including on US adoption of Chinese children. It’s a genuinely sad moment for Mike, but Matt Walsh still manages to invoke some humor through his befuddled performance. His delivery of “…and a bunch of other stuff” before slumping off the stage is great. Last season, Gary and Selina had an epic confrontation in the stellar episode “East Wing.” Is a Mike-Selina confrontation just around the corner?

Veep ends on somewhat of a high note, with missing ballots being discovered due to Richard’s innocent line of questioning and the recount vote being delayed. The Meyer staff got lucky this week, but many moments in this episode point to trouble up ahead. Fortunately, trouble is what this show does best. Grade: A-

 

Some Other Notes:

  •  Sign #1 of trouble ahead: Catherine is seen several times filming things she’s not supposed to. I’m loving how she’s always in the background and is only acknowledged once by Selina. Still, her footage is dangerous.
  • Sign #2 of trouble ahead: When Karen (a welcome return by Lennon Parham) steps off the plane to head into court, the slogan on the side—which originally showed the Meyer-James ticket—reads “James for President” when the plane door is down. Knowing Veep, this is more than just a sight gag.
  • The way the episode dealt with Dan sleeping with Amy’s sister was great. Reid Scott’s delivery of “I’m not having a good year” was terrific.
  • When Selina and Charlie inevitably break up, the person who will be affected the most is Gary.
  • I was delighted to discover that Richard’s blog Let’s Talk About Splett is a real thing, and also features his ridiculous voicemail message in its entirety. Sam Richardson continues to kill it this week.

 

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