Sunday, July 2, 2017

Veep 6x10 Recap: "Groundbreaking" (At the Intersection of Memory Lane and Road to the White House) [Contributor: Erin Allen]


Original Airdate: June 25, 2017

The previous episode now feels like a way station to everyone’s eventual destinations, which we see is a reunion for the core Meyer crew (except Mike — God help us — is teaching). The reason for the reunion is that Selina is running for president again. This seemed like such a bad idea during the first episode this season, and... yeah, it still feels like a bad idea. Bad for Selina, bad for the country, but not bad for us viewers. The dream team is back doing what they do best, sucking at politics and creating hilarious spectacle. Knowing this is going to make the wait until season seven agonizing.

The episode ping-pongs back and forth between present day and milestones in Selina’s political past. We begin six years ago where Selina gives her presidential concession speech. As she apologizes to her supporters for not being able to bring it over the finish line, the victory music (Starship’s “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now,” which makes me think of Mannequin) begins playing and a flood of balloons falls from the ceiling — that thick, impenetrable glass ceiling that remains fully intact.

Shortly after Hughes’ win, and as she gets situated as the VP, she meets another sexist road block. Hughes takes back his promise to have Selina in an office in the West Wing. Team Meyer is being banished to the OOED across the street. Ben, who was once an adversary to Selina, tells her the harsh truth: “The President doesn’t want you to do anything other than to continue to be a woman.” This is also the first time Selina, Amy, Gary, and Ben have the unfortunate opportunity to meet Jonah, who was starting as a White House intern.

Going even further into the past, we witness the birth of Catherine as well as the birth of Selina’s idea to run for Congress. But most importantly, we the moment Gary and Selina meet. Gary was a candy-striper that brought ice chips to Selina while she was in labor. (He ground them himself. The hospital ones are too big.) He even feeds Selina the name of the doctor. And thus a weird, co-dependent relationship is born. Oh, and Catherine, too.

Eight years after that, Selina is on the campaign trail and catches Andrew cheating. She uses this opportunity to bribe the woman for a hefty donation.

In the more recent past we finally get to see exactly what that spa cover story was all about. Selina recuperated from her monumental loss to Montez at a psychiatric facility, doped up and out of it. Julia Louis-Dreyfus played certifiable Selina frighteningly well. It was hard to watch, especially that kiss with Andrew.

Back in present-day, Selina & co. deal with more library woes and the impending arrival of Selina’s grandchild. The former consists of the library being built on the site of Yale’s former slave quarters. Mike suggests they “own it — not in a slave-y way” — and put up a sensitive exhibit. Selina doesn’t agree, not wanting her library to be “Underground Railroad-ed.” Catherine is the most upset out of all, hearing about it from Marjorie. The least of everyone’s worries (but, by far, the source of the funniest jokes) is what the library building physically resembles.

The library model prop and the punchlines it provides throughout the episode is definitely a highlight, but the kudos to the art department doesn’t end there. The set design in the nursery is fantastic and ripe for comedy (“When did we build an Indian casino gift shop?”).

Once the baby is born, Selina uses it as a prop, too, making her look progressive and inclusive. “As the proud grandmother of an African-American baby, I would rather never have a presidential library than have one that is built on the backs of dead slaves. Shame on Yale and shame on Amy Brookheimer. Oh, and this is my lesbian daughter’s Native-American life partner, Marjorie.”

With all this diversifying of her image, I would think having a Muslim boyfriend would fit in perfectly, but when Selina decides officially to run for president, Ben tells her she has to break it off. Selina grudgingly breaks up with Jaffar, causing her as much heartbreak as him. It is sad to see the sacrifices she feels she has to make and the collateral damage. Jaffar was really good for Selina, and he seemed to genuinely like her. Selina can’t hold the tears in as she leaves the hotel. Louis-Dreyfus really made Selina look vulnerable and broken while trying to be confident with her decision.

The season ends with both Selina and Jonah announcing their plans to run for president, and a shocking reveal that Amy is pregnant with Dan’s baby, setting up almost overwhelming potential for next season.

Another great season of Veep is in the history books. It had changed tonally from the fourth season to the fifth with creator Armando Iannucci’s exit, but it still maintained its sharp wit and biting humor. The show is a bit more raw under David Mandel’s hand, but everyone is still bringing their A-game. This season surprised me by including the full spectrum of storytelling. There were unexpected sentimental moments as well as times that the political correctness boundaries weren’t just pushed, but obliterated altogether.

Stray Observations:
  • Richard and Jonah have a sleepover!
  • “Where are the toys? Or is the baby going to play chess against Death?”
  • This whole convo kills me: "Lu wants to meet in Hong Kong to talk Brazil." "That’s so funny because the lady that does my Brazilian is from Hong Kong." "It’s Kismit." "I know, it really is." "No, her name is Kismit. They make her use Linda."
  • Selina publicly named the baby Little Richard! Catherine and Marjorie couldn’t even name their own child!
  • Marjorie’s enthusiasm over that wipe warmer though.
  • “Will this be on the final?” “Uh, no comment. Old habits die hard, I guess.” Oh, Mike.


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