After four episodes that ought to be counted as one of the best runs in recent television comedy, Veep falls back a bit when Selina Meyer finally picks her campaign manager. The payoff in future episodes might be great, but the execution of settling this crucial decision is less filling than the rest of the show.
Of all the subplots introduced in the first four episodes—Gary wavering about his job, Mike stabilizing his personal life, Kent and Sue flirting, Jonah doing whatever it is a Jonad does—the rivalry between Dan and Amy about who gets to run Selina’s presidential campaign has been the dullest.
Dan gets the job, but only after Selina is snubbed by Bill Erickson (Diedrich Bader), one of those star political operatives she and all of her rivals are lusting over, snubs her in favor of former Major League Baseball manager and “one-dick pony” Joe Thornhill. The character speaks entirely in sports metaphors, which, in the hands of Armando Iannucci results in sports metaphors getting the trashing they deserve. If America is indeed a baseball team, it’s the Cleveland Indians from Major League II.
Bader, who really needs to show up in more shows, nails the sneering, faux-deep-voiced shtick when he’s cajoling Selina into thinking he’s available and dishing out advice like replacing her entire staff. The campaign-manager job defaults to Dan only because he crashes Selina and Erickson’s supposedly clandestine meeting when Erickson turn her down. Had any other character barged in, I’m sure Selina would have surely offered that person the position.
Too bad for Amy, who actually “campaigned” to be campaign manager by trying to be warm toward her coworkers until developments from Selina’s fishing trip with former Defense Secretary and potential opponent Maddox (Isaiah Whitlock, Jr.) force Amy to abort a surreptitiously catered dinner at her rather bare apartment.
Selina, who takes Dan along on her jaunt to Maddox’s country estate, reels back in this episode from presidential ambition to her old habit of hating on her current job, especially when Maddox proposes she run as his vice president. Of course, she refuses. “I’d rather be shot in the face,” she retorts.
The trip also reveals Jonah’s latest rebound—body man for Maddox—and the secret to his resilience. Jonah exists for the worst reason in presidential politics: a family connection to New Hampshire. (Don’t get smug, Iowa, you’re interchangeable with the Granite State.)
Frankly, the strongest jokes in “Fishing” flow from the subplot in which Mike and his wife are attempting in-vitro fertilization, requiring him to make regular, um, deposits. The other characters’ initial horror that Mike is slipping into the bathroom at work to fill a cup gives way to some great masturbation jokes, the best of which cannot be reprinted verbatim. But let’s just say the Veep gang’s chant when they propose launching bad batches of “little Mikes” at Jonah’s house is disgustingly unforgettable.
Dan: Well, he won his little contest with Amy. Also, the scene back at Selina’s office when they discuss campaign plans over whiskey is stuffed with some unexpected sexual tension.
Jonah: Sadly, he’s back up here. West Wing Man and Ryantology were failures, and he may be reduced to banking on family connections to get a horrible grunt job for Maddox, but at least his former coworkers couldn’t go through with their plan to pelt his front door with discarded ejaculate, so that’s kind of a win.
Kent and Sue: The flirtatious banter continues for this unexpected pairing, especially when Kent remarks on Sue’s strong wine knowledge. But I’m into it, mostly because Sufe Bradshaw was horribly underused in the first two seasons, and Gary Cole is superbly weird.
Dick jokes: Just a banner week. Watch the episode. Recaps cannot do it justice.
Dan: Well, he won his little contest with Amy. But sexual tension aside, his new relationship with Selina will probably destroy him, considering Selina’s track record of not really caring about her employees. Also, that story about him snuffing out a stray dog.
Selina: Lost out on her first choice of campaign manager, forced to sit through a humiliating dinner with Maddox, hit on by her new campaign manager. But, new fun fact about Selina: She once pulled a Left-Eye on her ex-husband’s car!
Amy: She’ll probably be better in the long run for not being named campaign manager, but first she has to suffer the news about Dan and realize her forced friendliness was all in vain. That job with Clovis is looking pretty good now.
Federal Election Commission: In the biggest suspension of disbelief, everyone on Veep sifts seamlessly between the campaign office and the Vice President’s office without a bit of deference to campaign laws. All of these people are in flagrant violation of the Hatch Act.