A Television Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
The Veep team has done some pretty immoral things over the course of their various stints in power but the implications of what they have done here are fairly staggering. Political manipulations crafted towards staging the perfect photo-op are an inherent part of the political world and the right picture can do wonders. If the implications that Gary is wondering about are true, then the team deliberately moving to keep reporter Leon West in Iran so the president (who admittedly does need the help here) can boost her poll numbers, then that is an entirely different can of worms that everyone can get into extreme political trouble for. Outside of detaining a reporter in Iran out of all places not being good for political purposes, the sheer lack of morality in this case is breathtaking. It’s not an observation made from the position of political naiveté, but one made with the understanding that even though politics is a fairly dirty game, there are boundaries and those boundaries become fairly slippy when the media is concerned. West is nobody’s idea of a darling, but if the implications of his imprisonment in Iran are as real as they appear to be, his inevitable vendetta brings one of the most blistering indictments Veep has leveled against his own characters and certainly one of the most disquieting.
Tehran, for all of its serious implications, feels and behaves like a filler episode. The clearest segway from the previous episodes is Selina’s continued Middle East tour. Flying high after the success of the Israeli peace deals that were cemented amidst Gary’s massive dinner centerpieces, Selena is blazing through the Middle East, or as she calls it, the Middle Easy. Her arrival and meeting in Tehran was crafted to cement that tour in a blazing glory, comparisons to Nixon’s visit to China to boot. Considering how low Selina was polling just last week, this visit has done exactly what it needed to do. That being said, I was fairly disappointed that there was more of an emphasis on everything in the background versus the actual meetings themselves. Exploring the clashing views and the similarities between the two countries was a great little chance and I’m afraid that it was squandered here. It’s understandable to focus on the characters we already know and there wasn’t a scene in the entire episode that I didn’t find amusing in some capacity. But Veep’s treatment of Helsinki is something I would have liked to see transplanted and translated into Tehran. I can only imagine Selina’s dialogue in her meeting with the Iranian officials and I’m already cracking up.
Washington was as hilarious as expected. Dan, after six weeks or so of being laid off and being treated as “toxic”, comes full circle to Sydney Percel, who may or may not be the slimiest guy ever put to television (if there’s someone else, let me know in the comments below). His lobbying pad is pretty swanky, even if he expectedly treats his female employees as basically sex objects and little else. Dan gets ready to betray his former employers within about a second and on one level, I understand that for two reasons. One, Dan is always looking out for the option that would serve his self-interest the most, which is a fairly logical way to think when you’re working in Washington, D.C. out of all places.Two, having just been thrown under the bus for the data breach fiasco because he was just important enough to become a scapegoat, his sense of betrayal would understandably overwhelm his sense of loyalty in about a second. His scene with Amy was a nice, quaint one, or as nice and quaint as this show can get and it’s almost revelatory that there two Washington power brokers have any semblance of respect for another. Perhaps there’s bonding over mutual scars or something. Either way, it’s certainly nice to see something positive between two people in this backstabby universe.
In other Washington news, VP Doyle gets handed Selina’s speech about LGBT(Q) rights that Selina was scheduled to give before she was delayed an extra day in Israel. It didn’t seem to problematic in the first place, before it became apparent that a speech for Selina doesn’t translate at all well when it’s coming out of VP Doyle’s mouth. Outside of that debacle, the news sprinkled out that Kent was polling other VP candidates despite Selina’s explicit campaign promise to Doyle not to do so. As Jonah is circumventing those news, Teddy manages to sexually assault him one more time. Jonah has never been sympathetic in the slightest, but it’s quite difficult not to feel sympathy for a man who keeps getting sexually assaulted on a regular basis and hides in fear whenever he sees Teddy approaching in some capacity. In a hilariously uncomfortable moment, Jonah calls Kent and confesses “Teddy’s touching me” without the knowledge that Ben and Sue were also in the room (the camera’s movements there were fantastic). The dichotomy between the pained expression on Jonah’s face as he’s trying to talk about what could very well be the most difficult circumstance he’s ever faced and Ben’s reaction of it being merely a “funny story” injects the uncomfortable humor with a jolt of darkness. I don’t know what prompted the Veep creators to go this route, but it was a smart decision. It exposes sexual harassment and assault of men while forcing those who don’t see the problem with similar treatment of women because “boys will be boys” to step in the shoes of actual victims that could be them. It’s a different world entirely.
Great Moments Not Mentioned Above:
+Ben on Ambien
+Ben Erickson is a terrible press secretary
+“The last surviving Golden Girl.”
+“His English isn’t very good.”
+“He needs deodorant.”
+“We have a pilot on the plane, right?”
+“So, just please accept our compulsory hospitality.”
+Gary and Mike in Iran, trying escape by using mini-bottles of booze to get a ticket out of the country and Gary freaking out with repeated renditions of “Oh my God!” when the bottles spilled out of the bag
+“Are we at war?”
+Catherine is engaged
+“In a dry country, the man with the booze holds all the cards.”
+Ben had his brother murdered in ’86
+“Is this a news channel or a dorm room?”
+“I feel like I’m on a life-support machine and they keep pulling the plug to charge their phones.”
+“I’m not in control, Ben.”
+“You know, Gary usually sugarcoats that.”
+Selina’s reaction to Catherine’s engagement: “No! I’m 48!”
Story By: Armando Iannucci & Ian Martin & Tony Roche
Teleplay By: Ian Martin & Tony Roche
Directed By: Becky Martin
Image Courtesy: The Daily Beast