Veep Season 4 Episode 8 Review: “B/ill”

Veep

This week’s episode of Veep opens with Gary, Amy, and Dan having an incognito meeting at a children’s arts and crafts studio, where Gary, who has summoned his former coworkers, is painting his own pottery accompanied by his nephew, Jackson. In turn, the two new lobbyists couldn’t be more out of place and show their true colors, as Dan pays off Gary’s underage companion so that he leaves them alone, while Amy makes a display of how detached she is when it comes to human beings by pointing out that she IMAGINES that the child is cute. All of this occurs as Gary paints a monkey. It’s priceless and also serves as a great parallel between the characters’ West Wing personas and how they still behave put in a diametrically different environment.

When Jackson leaves, Gary explains that the reason behind their reunion is that given how widely unpopular the Families First bill is, Selina needs it not to pass, which presumably would aid her presidential  campaign. Cutthroat as they are, Dan and Amy figure out that they are being set to lobby and do the dirty work and accept the task but for a price. At the same time, they gloat seeing how timely their departures from the White House were. Amy, once again, points out that her assessment/parting words were spot on. Yes, they were, Amy. 100%. Every syllable.

The encounter among the trio is a perfect “Politics in Practice” 101 class. It’s clear that if anyone from the White House approached politicians to push for a vote in the negative, it would look bad, or it may just confirm everyone’s predictions concerning Selina. However, the class wouldn’t be complete without the B-side of the plan, which consists of sending other emissaries for cover. It has to look as if the incumbent is pushing for her own bill, so team incompetence (Jonah and Richard) are commanded to lobby in favor of the piece of legislation. Ben and Kent are counting on the pair’s bombing, plus a solid job from Amy and Dan. Conceptually, their strategy is close to flawless.

The plan works like a charm at first; however, trouble arises soon enough. As it turns out, the expected losing team (Jonah and Richard) and the closers (Amy and Dan) have the same folder with the same information, a detail one of the congressmen catches on to and figures out what is going on. As a result, the man changes his vote to “yes.”

In the meantime, Selina is ill and bedridden, yet bossing people around as usual. To make matters worse, through a word dictation app that Mike installed in her tablet, she overwhelms her staff by sending them memo after memo. Needless to say, she’s in the dark as to how exactly the plan to have her bill shot down has been set in motion until she overhears, by chance, that because Gary agreed to compensate Amy and Dan for their lobbying, even though he wasn’t allowed to, Ben now has been forced to pay them with money from the campaign. This implies fraud, and they would have to get rid of the trail, which makes them guilty of conspiracy to commit fraud. Because the president now knows this, she is also incriminated, but regardless, it would always reflect less than poorly on her if it became known that her whole staff was playing rope with the law.

Since mission destroy the “Mommy Bill” is a priority at the time being, Selina and her advisors know that they need to lock the deciding vote: Congressman Pierce. Pierce is at the hospital with his mother when Jonah and Richard show up, nanoseconds prior to Amy and Dan. As the Losers and the Closers battle it out verbally, Pierce flees the scene, leaving the future of the bill and Selina’s campaign up in the air.

Fortunately, the president’s staff finds Pierce and promise him an ambassador post in Paris if he votes against the bill. He agrees, and Selina and her team (are delusional enough to believe) are a step closer to their biggest goal: winning the upcoming election. The end of the episode shows every single character raising their right hands and promising to tell the whole truth under oath, which means imminent disaster.

Veep‘s eighth episode makes perfect use of not only the show’s strengths but also its characters. Everyone’s skills and handicaps came out in this particular installment, playing the political game of push and pull that the HBO series excels at exploiting. As I’ve said time and time again, Armando Iannucci’s brain child has rightfully forged and owned an identity in the parade of misadventures (and occasional wins) that his characters endure. “B/ill” is the perfect sample of that, though quite honestly, every episode is. Few shows, current and extinct, have managed to display the level of quality and consistency that Veep has, even in its fourth season. What is more, the political comedy has viewers enjoying the characters’ failures perhaps more than their successes, which in itself is a novelty.

With only two installments remaining and Ianucci stepping down, anxiety is kicking in. However I do anticipate that the upcoming episodes of Veep will be bombastic, one way or another.

Highlights:

– Amy and Dan’s storyline finally intersecting with everyone else’s was exactly what we’ve all been waiting for.

– Tom finally showing how great he is at being deceptive was masterfully crafted both by the writers and Hugh Laurie. Ben pointing out that the potential VP is too good (to be true) worked like the perfect amount of seasoning on a prime rib.

– Everything Jonah and Richard. From their ridiculous speeches to the recalcitrant demeanor to being called “seals” by Ben. Even indirectly, that duo brings the laughter. They are my favorite fictional trainwreck.

[Photo credit: Patrick Harbron/HBO]

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