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WashingTelevision: “Veep” Recap, Episode Eight, “Tears”

In the season finale, Selina’s Hillary moment almost cuts her a break—but her staff manages, as usual, to screw it up.

Gary (Tony Hale), Mike (Matt Walsh), and Amy (Anna Chlumsky). Who’ll be back next season? Photograph by Bill Gray for HBO.

Despite all the creative ways Mike McClintock has found to underscore his uselessness in Veep this season—his imaginary dog, likening an angry Secret Service agent to an “ape,” suggesting a negative story might lose traction if Tom Hanks were to die—the final nail in his coffin should have been bashed in during last night’s episode, when it was revealed that despite being press secretary for the Vice President of the United States, he doesn’t have a Twitter account.

For all the time Amy and Mike spend monitoring the blogosphere for tidbits about Selina, would they not think to maybe sign up for all the news you can handle in 140 characters? I don’t buy it. But then, this is an episode in which Mike confuses Pinocchio for Gepetto, gives Selina the wrong numbers for her approval rating, and somehow becomes responsible for the trending hashtag #fakeveepweep. By the end of the episode, even Mike seems to think he deserves to be fired. And yet no doubt he’ll return in season two, as slovenly, crude, and brashly counterproductive as ever.

It seemed strange, given the show’s tendency to be ahead of the curve all season, that the writers chose to mark the finale by ripping off something Hillary Clinton did four years ago. By now, crying in public tends to be the realm of the weepy Glenn Becks and John Boehners, while Clinton stares icily at her cell phone, the veritable manifestation of a badass. I wondered last week if the writers were making Selina fierce in order to hint at hormones associated with her miscarriage, so they didn’t have to deal with the discomfort of it all dead-on. In episode eight, appropriately titled “Tears,” Selina is a blubbering wreck, breaking down in front of a congressman, crying on camera, and misting up while giving a patronizing speech to a room full of Ohioans (key phrase: “Here in Ohio, we’re awfully embarrassed of our buck teeth but mighty proud of our buckeyes”).

And yet, as with Clinton, whose 2008 campaign tears won her New Hampshire, Selina’s on-camera lachrymosity actually helps her—at first. At the beginning of the episode, things aren’t looking good: She has a 66 percent disapproval rating, POTUS is playing golf with Governor Chung, and the vile Congressman Furlong doesn’t want her to endorse his campaign for governor, even though she’s flown all the way to Cleveland to give a speech at a fundraising dinner for him. “Politically speaking, you are damaged goods,” he tells her, although his earlier description of her as “less welcome than a turd in a hot tub,” was probably more on-point.

After Selina starts crying during her altercation with Furlong, saying she hasn’t seen her daughter in “like, three months,” Amy and Mike decide to “tweak the tear nipple” by prompting an interviewer to get her to cry on TV, encouraging the Katie Couric-a-like to ask the Veep questions about her family, her approval rating, and the precarious standing of her job (Mike calls it “Chinese daughter torture”). “You get tired, and you get … knocked back,” says a teary Selina. The ploy works, and she seems to win over the public, meaning the awful Furlong now wants her endorsement, after all. “This crying’s going pretty well,” his staffer tells Dan. “She’s going from toxic to turn-on.” Selina gives a decent speech, after which she and Furlong trade smiling hostilities, Anchorman style. “You’re a dirty little prick!” she tells him, grinning ear to ear. “Don’t forget your booster seat!” he smiles back.

Only the interviewer doesn’t seem to like Mike and Amy’s tactics, and opens up on Twitter about their underhanded manipulation of the media, which prompts Mike to desperately attempt to open a Twitter account so he can track all the #fakeveepweep news. Dan, meanwhile, might have to testify to the Congressional Oversight Committee about his involvement in the McCauley Amendment, which he seems to forget about when Selina offers him a promotion, issuing a shameless press release about himself. But soon Selina’s forced to retract it so he can keep a low profile, and once again, the team’s back where they started: facing 4, 8, 12, or 16 more years of things staying the same.

Who will return for season two? Dan, presumably, since he’s embroiled in such a weighty scandal. Gary, since he’s the sweetest character on the show and the only one who actually appears to care about his boss. Amy, since Selina tells her, “Amy, you pretended to have a miscarriage for me. You remain crucial to my policy team.” Sue, because she doesn’t do anything except offer icy rebuttals. Jonah, because his presence allows for jokes about height. Mike? I hope not, because it’s hard to imagine the show can move forward with someone this inexplicably awful digging Selina into the same holes again and again and again. Whatever happens, here’s hoping Patrick Fischler returns for at least an episode or two to lip-read some of Selina and Furlong’s podium banter.

Best lines:

“You’re one of Selina’s little gay dwarves. What are you, Sappy? Preppy?” (Congressman Furlong)

“I get the stamp of approval from her, I may as well nail some puppies to the ground and then start running them over and crushing their skulls with my campaign bus.” (Congressman Furlong)

“Sixty-six percent of people disapprove? That’s everyone in America who’s awake right now.” (Selina)

“I’m sorry about your tears. They suck.” (Mike)

“I’m a political leper and an emotional time bomb. So here’s an idea: Let’s put me on a stage!” (Selina)

“It’s in the ‘me’ file under ‘phase one.’” (Dan)

What did you think of this season of Veep? Let us know in the comments.

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