Veep 3.01 Review: “Some New Beginnings”


And we’re back kids!  It’s time to Veep up our Sunday’s again as Selina and her cast of merry political wonks try to claw their way into the West Wing.  Tonight’s episode starts two months after the season 2 finale.  In that time, Mike had the magic fortune of meeting a journalist who wanted to marry him and Selina authored a book.  The book’s unfortunate title is “Some New Beginnings” because calling for radical change on the level of say Che Guevara or Fidel Castro is not going to win the American vote.

Selina starts the episode at her book signing in Iowa.  She has proven time and time again that small talk and the general public makes her uncomfortable.  She smiles and spits out nonsensical one-liners to questions about her book “I call it some new beginnings because it’s plural.”  She reaches her limit when a patron gifts her a butter tray in the shape of Iowa.  This is normally the time when she’d ask her bag man Gary to swoop in and save her.

Gary and the team are attending Mike and Wendy’s wedding.  Mike, who looks less frumpy and more jovial than he’s even been, is finally experiencing a bit of good fortune.  His fiance, Wendy, orders a gag on all cell phone talk during the ceremony.  She orders Amy and Dan to put their phones in the “phone bowl.”  Dan and Amy protest greatly but it’s Amy who clutches her phone so tightly that her knuckles pop out.  These guys, if you haven’t noticed, are completely defined by their jobs.

Back in Iowa, Selina asks her stand in bag man to excuse her from the book signing.  Since he’s new and has not downloaded the Gary mind meld with Selina, he completely botches her graceful exit.  Back at her hotel room, Selina unzips her red dress and considers having a drink from the mini bar.  She calls all of the members of her staff, showing that she’s too self absorbed to remember they’re celebrating a wedding.  Selina’s personality can be boiled down to two actions: (1) calling Gary as he’s officiating the wedding and (2) hitting the ignore button on her phone when he does get a chance to call back.  Selina only engages in one-way relationships and her staff hasn’t picked up on it yet.   A harried Ben storms in to announce that Maddox is going to make a press announcement.  Ben, who is perpetually panicking and swigging from a barrel of coffee, is convinced the sky is falling.

At the wedding Jonah isn’t invited but weasels his way in anyways.  As someone who has had to attend more weddings than I have vacation, I cannot understand trying to invite yourself to one.  But Jonah being Jonah, is convinced that he can score chicks and win political points at the same time.  Dan runs into him in the bathroom and outs Jonah as the creator of the website “West Wing Man.”  At the time of this posting, I could not find a fake “West Wing Man” site created by HBO but I’m hoping that this will be remedied by someone on Tumblr.

At the hotel room, Ben and Selina commiserate about their future in the party.  He knows that Selina is going to run for President and gives an accurate assessment of her standing “you actually have a personality and you never groped a waitress.”  Selina doesn’t think she can stomach another 18 months of pandering to the public.  Ben offers to be her campaign strategist/mid wife, an image no one wants in their head.  He suggests that Selina consider Bill Erickson as her future campaign manager.  That Selina is eager to do this means that the political ambitious duo of Amy and Dan will never get their chance.  Ben mentions that Erickson is at Congressman Cowgill’s funeral and they decide to attend together. At the funeral Selina skypes Gary to help her “meet and grieve.”  She bumps into the Blake Stuart who won the nomination a decade ago and he confesses that “I kind of wish it was me in that box.”  Selina, already winded from her book tour appearances, is getting the douse of campaign reality that she needs.  Of course, Selina being Selina, won’t listen.

The wedding party learns that Maddox is resigning and the matrimony descends into a feeding frenzy.  Jonah captures the moment on his Ipad to put on his gossip infotainment site.  Dan, just half a beat smart and more handsome than Jonah, tells him that this will negatively impact the President.  At the White House, Kent Davison finds the photo of the Veep team celebrating and asks Jonah for his West Wing pass.  Jonah, who can’t be West Wing Man without the West Wing, throws a tantrum on the level of a toddler whose chicken nuggets were taken away.  Dan captures it all on film because he doesn’t understand how close he is to a Jonah like shut-out at any moment.

Back at the funeral, Selina is in her element, feigning emotions for the late Congressman Cowgill.  She neatly arranges the blanket on his coffin and spouts personal stories about him that she grabbed from her staff.  Selina reflects on Rick’s life and notes “he was a nuanced politician with a mighty big collection of beer labels.”  Her funeral performance is so well-received by the audience that she tries to give the same speech to her staff.  Alone in a robe in her hotel room, she bombs while trying to give Mike a video pep talk.  That Selina can only connect with other slimy politicians does not bode well for her presidential campaign.

Bulleted observations:

– Gary brings baby wipes everywhere.

– The cast members of Veep are the only people who use the full functionality of their Apple devices.

– Ben is the master at faint praise “Rick Cowgill: a great man, inside a small man.”

– Jonah’s life is one big teachable moment.

– Where was Amy’s second phone?  I’m hoping strapped to her leg like a garter but she reached a little too far into her dress to get it.

– You do actually need to refrigerate butter.

– This is the only episode where I’ve felt sorry for Jonah.

– Best line of the night goes to Ben who gives instructions on how to turn on the AC: “Just open the door while we’re moving, climb under the car like Indiana Jones, pop up on the hood and write a note on the windshield.”

[Photo via Paul Schirald/HBO]


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