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WashingTelevision: Political Animals Recap, Episode Four, “Lost Boys”

TJ falls into a pit of cocaine and despair, while Elaine comes out against Garcetti, guns blazing.

TJ argues with his family. Again. Photograph by David Giesbrecht/USA Network.

Now that we’ve seen a grand total of four episodes of
Political Animals, we feel comfortable enough to offer this list of things that will pop up each week.

1) Some kind of international diplomatic crisis will arise wherein Elaine can show
the iron-like rigidity of her moral core, while Garcetti reveals what a spineless,
pandering coward he is (see Journalists, Iran, and Chinese Submarine, Nuclear).

2) TJ will do a line while crying about how hard his life is and how hard it was
growing up in the White House.

3) Susan will offer a completely unwanted impromptu lecture about what “real” journalism
is, which sounds uncomfortably like it was written by Aaron Sorkin.

4) Elaine will wear a skirt so high-waisted it’s practically a facelift.

5) Time will flash back and forth in a way that would be completely confusing were
it not measurable by the changing nature of Elaine’s hairstyle.

In last night’s episode, “Lost Boys,” the crisis of the week was the White House detecting
a distress signal coming from a Chinese nuclear submarine 13 miles off the coast of
San Diego. This gave Elaine the chance to reveal how many languages she speaks (Chinese,
French, probably a gazillion more), but it also left her fuming when nobody (not the
Chinese authorities, not her weaselly but handsome excuse for a boss) seemed to care
about the 100 men who were going to get slowly cooked by the radiation from their
own nuclear reactor.

Nevertheless, the submarine subplot seemed to be essentially a distraction from the
mission of the episode, which opens with Elaine and her family in a flashback from
two years ago discussing a congressman from Ohio named Sean Reeves. Reeves, says Nana,
has “the best abs on the Hill” (cough,
Aaron Schock, cough). But guess what? He’s also having an affair with TJ, and it’s Christmastime,
and the pair seem to be basically in love until Reeves’s wife calls him and thoroughly
ruins the moment.

In the present (or is it the future, or is it past like
The Newsroom? I give up), Doug visits Susan at her sister’s house, and am I wrong or is there
chemistry between these two? Until Susan reminds Doug that she has his balls in a
vice, that is. He seems very interested in whether she has kids. Anyway, she plays
hardball and he plays right back, saying, “You need me as much as I need you,” which
may be true because for all her blustering, Susan doesn’t actually seem to have written
a single story yet despite all the scoops she’s dug up.

Bud, meanwhile, has a new publicist called Mindy Meyers, whom he’s sleeping with,
natch, and Anne has agreed to do an interview with Georgia Gibbons, which we all know
is going to go badly because Anne is unstable and Georgia is a bitch. And Bud is now
crying on TV, which is supposed to help his numbers by giving him a “tear bump” but
isn’t helping him get where he really wants to go, which is Elaine’s pantsuits.

Elaine, of course, is busy doing Very Important Things, although now that she’s back
from the world tour Garcetti sent her on (nice postcard montage) all she really wants
to do is campaign. But the White House has discovered this submarine with lots of
trapped people who will die if no one is brave enough to screw protocol and be human
beings (sound familiar?), and the dickish VP is bitchy, and Elaine seems to be the
only one worried about the
lives, ladies and gentlemen, the very lives that will be lost.

Flashback to two years ago: The horrible VP intends to use knowledge of Sean Reeves’s
gay affairs to blackmail him into breaking rank with his party and voting for a bill
that gives money to children (the horror!). And Elaine says his tactics “disgust”
her, and he says, Think this is disgusting? Your son is also involved, and I will
blackmail you, too, if you don’t do what I want (I’m paraphrasing). Elaine, of course,
tells TJ, and says that although what they’re doing is low, it’s all Reeves’s fault
for cheating on his wife with a man. But TJ, who says he is in love with Reeves and
that it’s only thanks to this dysfunctional extramarital affair that he’s been sober
for the past six months, for some reason doesn’t seem to agree.

In the future/present/whatever, Elaine tries to get a Chinese official to agree to
help by wooing him with her sultry French accent and engravings (really), but like
all other politicians, he doesn’t want to do anything that will make his country look
bad. And the VP confronts Elaine, saying they all know about her non-campaign and
how disloyal she is, and she’s forced to deny she’s running at all, which makes her
a big fat liar and as bad as everyone else, really.

Anne, meanwhile, is trying to tell Georgia Gibbons about the sweet 6,000-square-foot
home she’s designing for RG III now that he’s a Redskin (top points for topicality),
but GG just wants to press her on whether Elaine is running against Garcetti, and
Anne melts under the pressure like ice cream on a grill. So Susan has to save the
day, as usual, and we get another big long lecture about how Georgia’s silly blog
story might get millions of pageviews but people won’t really read it (I don’t understand
this either). “Journalism is about quality, not speed,” says Susan, which is absolutely
not true. “You’ll be a blogger who broke a headline, not a journalist who broke a

And Georgia, instead of slapping Susan upside the head and saying, HOW CAN YOU BREAK
A HEADLINE, YOU STUPID WOMAN? gives in and says, Okay, oh great and powerful breaker
of real news, teach me everything you know. And then she blackmails her to get a shared
byline, which is the smartest thing she’s done in weeks.

In the episode’s real plot, TJ now has an NA sponsor named Gunnar, who is a gorgeous
hunk of Swiss addiction, and is opening his club, which we all know will be his downfall
into drugs and doom. Gunnar tries to tell TJ’s family how amazing a job he’s done
by touting the guest list, which apparently includes not Henry Kissinger (who doesn’t
like clubs much, we hear) but “whatshisname from
The Voice and the congressman from Ohio.” Nice job, Gunnar. Everyone flips out that Sean Reeves
is back in the picture, and TJ says none of them are welcome to come anymore, and
then he goes to his new club, which is in a building called “the Stetson,” and does
line after line of coke, and then gets Gunnar to do coke, too, and we all know where
this is going.

Elaine goes to the White House to confront Garcetti about the Chinese submarine, and
also to tell him that she’s running, and although she’s (a) being massively disloyal
and (b) upbraiding him in a way that would make anyone else punch her in the face,
he seems to stare at her for hours with what looks like grudging respect. (This is
why women should rule the world.) “The President who leaves those men on the ocean
floor deserves to be dethroned,” she says, which is a weird thing to say because the
President doesn’t actually have a throne.

Bud fires Mindy because he doesn’t want to have sex with anyone but Elaine, and gets
dressed so he can go to a club where underdressed coeds will presumably throw themselves
at him. And we see flashbacks to Elaine discovering TJ’s barely breathing body two
years ago, followed by Doug discovering TJ’s vomit-covered body in a back room at
the club in the present day. And Susan tells Georgia, “If you wanna share a byline
with me, you’d better be ready to earn it. Every word you type will be true.” Hooray
for journalists typing things that are true!

What did you think of last night’s episode of
Political Animals? Let us know in the comments.