WashingTelevision: Veep Recap, Season Two, Episode Five, “Helsinki”

The Veep suffered from a mortifying breach of protocol in Helsinki, while Mike inadvertently sparked the major crisis of this fictional presidency.
Selina Meyer deals with “Gropegate” in “Helsinki.” Photograph by Lacey Terrell for HBO.
Selina Meyer deals with “Gropegate” in “Helsinki.” Photograph by Lacey Terrell for HBO.

Last night’s episode of
Veep was the best of the season so far, and not just because of an exceptionally funny
cameo from
Sally Phillips as the Prime Minister of Finland. “Helsinki” was directed by
Becky Martin, which is probably why it dealt with Selina’s groping at the hands of the husband
of the Finnish Prime Minister in a way that was not only effortlessly deft and funny
but also surprisingly thought-provoking for such a frequently glib show. The most
powerful woman in the world was assaulted (it’s a “major violation of a border”),
and there was nothing she could do about it. And if the VP can’t pursue action against
an obnoxious and absurdly bouffant sexual predator (who looks like a Disney villain,
according to Gary), then who can?

“Helsinki” starred
Dave Foley as the disconcertingly Marcus Bachmann-like Finnish groper who took it upon himself
to fondle Selina’s left breast while the two were smoking outside. “I’m the Vice President
of the United States of America, and he just squeezed my tit like it was a balloon,”
sputtered the veep. Gary, being Gary, was horrified, and compared the incident to
“an attack upon America . . . a sexual 9/11,” while Amy was quick to remind Selina
that if she went public, having her boob groped by a Finn would be all she’d be remembered
for. So, stifled by protocol, Selina simply warned Mr. PM that she was coming for
him (“because I’m an angry bird. And you’re a pig”) in a way that offered the distinct
sense that there were predator drones in his future.

Winners

Selina: Because even though she was groped, she got to use the phrase “axis of dick” in a
way that made Dan and Gary stare uncomfortably at the floor, and she didn’t have to
sing.

Finland: Because there are so many ways to make fun of it, and the writers avoided almost
all of them, instead mocking our propensity to think of it through a fish-tinted filter
all the time. Also, America’s body mass index is so much higher.

Angry Birds: Who knew Angry Birds was from Finland? In retrospect, it all makes perfect sense.
The random revenge motif. The grunting.

Benghazi: The crisis that erupted over who told who what and when over the spy among the hostages
was the perfect pop culture example of how a Category 1 storm can erupt in a media
teacup. As the President’s chief of staff put it, “Some of us are going on the lecture
circuit, and some of us are going to prison.”

The never-ending sorry: Selina finally apologized to Europe for her “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” cover,
and then had to get Dan to apologize for apologizing when the Finnish PM took offense
at the insinuation that she had no sense of humor. Said Dan: “More apologizing? I
apologized less after I banged my brother’s fiancée.”

Cigarettes in Europe: Everyone knows they don’t count.

Losers

Mike: He not only failed to draw the Eye of Sauron away from the blossoming crisis about
the hostages, he also misheard Jonah’s Apple shortcuts and e-mailed Kent’s detailed
polling to everyone along with the tag “highly confidential.” If his days are not
numbered, they are at least heavily annotated.

Diplomacy: Selina gifted the Finnish PM with a book on fishing, saying she hoped her Nordic
counterpart would make time for the activity when she came to the US. Baffled response:
“Why? Because no one will feed me?” Also: “Finland, you are hefty.”

Dan: He can’t woo reporters with humor like Mike can, because his face is creepy, and
whenever he attempts to be charming it just comes off as evil. Also, everyone in the
press pool laughed at him.

Sue: Because back in the US, she’s “helsynchronized,” and she doesn’t get to fly on Air
Force Two or even get a cool stamp in her passport.

Dave Wickford: “Fifty-seven Twitter followers? That’s shit for a journalist.” Truer words were never
spoken.

Best lines

“Europhobic? What is that supposed to mean, that I’m scared of subtitles?” (Selina)

“You do not want one of those on your back. They will sell nude pictures of their
grandma for a glass of hot beer.” (Amy, on British reporters)

“This isn’t a choice, like my diet—it’s a necessity, like my drinking.” (chief of
staff Ben Cafferty)

“Although, violence in video games is a concern, but in this case, it’s great fun
to kill the pigs.” (Selina)

“POTUS wouldn’t have the balls to grope me.” (Selina)

“This is not just a crisis. This is at least ten years of Oliver Stone movies.” (Senator
Doyle)

“Don’t feel ashamed, Gary, because you’re not a ballsack, and not everyone can say
that they’re not a ballsack.” (Selina)

“That’s really unfortunate. Was it up in the hills or down in the valley?” (Roger
Furlong, on hearing about Gropegate)

“I’m sorry I ever set foot in that f**king fish-eating, indie-film f**king hellhole.”
(Dan)

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