WashingTelevision: Veep Recap, Season Three, Episode Two, “The Choice”

Abortions for some, miniature American flags for others.
WashingTelevision: Veep Recap, Season Three, Episode Two, “The Choice”
Gary (Tony Hale) is smiling through his failure. Photograph by Paul Schiraldi via HBO.

Veep’s biggest storytelling problem has always been Armando Iannucci’s insistence on never explicitly stating Selina Meyer’s party affiliation. The show is usually funny enough to make it not matter in the end, but mostly because when Veep wades into actual policy debates, it does so as broadly as possible.

So, of course the first time the show has its characters debating the finer points of something that real-world politicians argue over, it’s America’s favorite leaky gasoline canister: abortion.

“The Choice” leads off with Selina and company christening her Maryland campaign headquarters, or, as they clandestinely call it, a “real estate acquisition.” Selina, the world’s biggest fan of meeting new people, takes about 15 seconds to forget new campaign aide Kelly’s name, and isn’t exactly thrilled to see Richard, her bumbling assistant from Iowa, back in the fold.

Speaking of bumbling assistants, the episode re-introduces the subplot of Gary getting badgered by his girlfriend, Dana (Jessica St. Claire), to get out from under Selina’s sometimes tyrannical yoke. Gary even cops to his piss-ant station for a moment, berating his reflection in a mirror for having his “father’s face,” but as much as Gary claims to aspire for more responsibility, he fails, often hilariously, back down to subservience.

But the abortion debate that rips open when the President suddenly goes pro-life in the middle is no good for anyone, and not just because the news cuts short Selina’s fact-finding mission to the drug boats of Baltimore Harbor. (Apparently, The Greek exists in Veep’s universe.) Meyer’s rivals for the presidential nomination are out with statements before she can finish trawling through dozens of interest groups and religious chapters to find the most inoffensive middle ground. Only Dan speaks anything close to the actual truth, that she needs to take a firm stance for or against abortion rights, because any position on the subject—as it does in the real world—will inevitably piss someone off.

And dear Jonah, it is so glad to see him sinking even lower than his firing in the season opener. With his “West Wing Man” blog dead, he launches the even zanier “Ryantology” with loud talking-head videos and wild, unfounded accusations about his former employers. But he’s loud enough to get the attention of MSNBC, and Dan, who for the second week in a row gets the upper hand on Jonad.

Winners

Sue: As usual, Selina’s understated secretary has the jump on just about everyone else. When she and Gary are assigned makeshift roles in the abortion fray, Gary delights his big opportunity to escort a pro-choice activist to the office and tries to rub it in Sue’s face. “I don’t need an enhanced role to know my worth,” she snaps back to set things right.

Kent: He’s still a numbers-obsessed monster, but he’s gaining value in Selina’s camp. Also, he’s into Sue, and she’s kind of receptive.

Mike: Almost never in the winners’ column, Mike wins this week for having the smarts to blow off “Ryantology.” Bonus win for Wendy for ignoring Jonah’s request for a beer.

Dan: Once again, Dan overcomes his inherent smarm—and, in tonight’s case, a bout of oceanside nausea—to best Jonah.

#ThisTown: The Hill’s managing editor, Bob Cusack, gets a cameo as an anti-abortion activist. He doesn’t do much at all, but you can count on his appearance being one of the top items in Monday morning’s Playbook.

Losers

Gary: There are some people who just shouldn’t try to rise above their station. Gary is that person.

Selina: Yeah, Selina got dealt a terrible hand with POTUS’s abortion flip, but she played it all wrong. At least she’s still got Gary to boss around. She really could have used a lesson from Kang:

Jonah: What a chump. Where burrito? All over his stupid goon face.

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Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.