A Television Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
Data is an episode that is largely concerned with the casualties that come along with running a political office. The brutality of the political arena has been a staple of Veep since its premiere and tonight Dan falls under the axe. It was a surprising development, mostly because of the great narrative misdirection in the episode that led to the assumption that Ben was going to lose his job, but one that certainly leads to a plethora of open roads if nothing else. Selina, while busy firing people before realizing she needs to fire someone more important, is still on the path to try and sell Families First as a genuine force of political power, even if her interview on the bill that opens the episode is as wondrously ubiquitous with bull**** as is the cherished Veep tradition. As politicians are often wont to do, Selina brings up the tragic history of a child with HIV her bill would inevitably help. It naturally goes downhill from there. A data leak spreads like wildfire, a leak in which the private information of the girl goes public. It’s an apocalyptic scenario for everyone involved, ushering in a storm of criticism, the best of which is the hilariously inspired hashtag #EveryLittleThingSheDoesIsTragic.
Dan’s life as mentioned above takes a tragic turn indeed, although the character’s relatively high balance of sociopathy makes it a bit difficult to completely empathize with him. The crux of the misery that befalls him is that data breach that revealed the private information of sick children like the girl in Selina’s speech wasn’t a simple hacking job. The data became simpler to hack to begin with because of how it was obtained. One of Selina’s biggest campaign successes were mailers that targeted families with sicker children and that information was obtained illegally. If word of that got out, Twitter hashtags would be by far the least of her problems. A federal probe was guaranteed and an indictment was all but inevitable. Selina’s eight-month presidency would be sure by that point, doomed to infamy. The usual methodology to dealing with such a case is a firing that would save everyone else and the administration, or at the very least severely mitigate the damage. The scramble to find a sacrificial lamb is afoot and while the original axe falls on whatever-her-name-is-Chloe (much to Ken’s dismay), she’s not nearly important enough to get the media to quiet down.
The original lamb is Ben. On a few notes, this makes sense. He was involved with the legislation, he’s a senior level official, and he doesn’t have that far to go in his political career anyhow. He would probably be perfectly happy sitting home alone with his blue mug. And for the vast majority of the episode it seems that’s the route it’s going before the entire enterprise flips on its head. Bill Erickson, who becomes a better character by the week, advises Selina to get rid of Dan. This works on two levels. One, from Erickson’s point of view, it gets rid of Dan as a rival. Two, from Selina’s vantage point, if any evidence of the stolen data ever surfaces, they can use Ben as bait for the much larger scandal. Dan naturally panics and threatens the Meyer administration, which Ben immediately shuts down. Dan’s terrified expression instantly reveals how much he regretted opening his mouth in that instance, but it’s done now. Jonah leading him right into the arms of the press was obvious from the beginning, even if for a moment you wondered whether that was just your inherent anti-Jonah bias speaking. I don’t see Dan lying still for even a nanosecond (evident at the end), but where he goes from here will be fascinating to see.
Data, while strung along largely on a singular narrative, is bursting with fantastic little moments that are built seamlessly within as indicative foreshadowing of the series’s future. Ben and Dan’s sexist cracks are received poorly by both Ken and Selina, a sharp little reminder that treating women as objects is hardly something even the characters we often like are not immune from. The use of Every Breath You Take was especially inspired, inducing a panic in the Veep’s team considering the data breach around sick children, as was the inopportune firing off of the fireworks when Selina is trying to make a statement about getting to the bottom of the data breach and holding someone responsible for that catastrophe. As if to give the audience some empathy for Dan before his canning at the end, he shows an uncharacteristic empathy towards Jonah of all people when Teddy sexually assaults him again. For Amy, Dan’s firing could work either way but her expression at Bill and Selina’s conversation suggests that she has something else in mind entirely. It doesn’t escape her notice at all that despite Dan being a threat, he was much easier to immobilize (their trip to London last year is evidence of that). She makes sure he’s gone at the end because certainly another screw-up with Mike at the microphone is the last thing they truly need, but Bill is going to be a lot tougher to take down.
Great Moments Not Mentioned Above:
+“This is catching fire like a gas station in a Michael Bay movie.”
+“It reminds me of an easier time, you know? Or a time whose memories I’ve suppressed.”
+Ben has a lot of nerve saying women should be slim (has he taken a look in the mirror?)
+Jonah vs Richard
+“Sue cannot tell me how to do my job.”; “She just did.”
+“Well, I’m not sure. But positivity is the first step.”
+“Any controversial lyrics in that?”
+“I see splashes of support.”
+“What happened to ebola? I loved ebola!”
+“Throw him under a bus. If you can find one long enough.”
+“Hey, ‘I am Groot!’”
+“Hitler went into a bunker, didn’t he?”
+The Easter Bunny was a marine in costume, who had seen his best friend be blown up by an IED. It’s one of the darkest moments that Veep has ever gone for
+“I cannot endorse that message, but I acknowledge it.”
+“I need a scotch.”
Story By: Armando Iannucci & Simon Blackwell & Neil Gibbons & Rob Gibbons
Teleplay By: Simon Blackwell & Neil Gibbons & Rob Gibbons
Directed By: Becky Martin
Image Courtesy: Wired