Now that her presidential ambitions are fully revealed, Selina Meyer is the dog who finally caught a car and doesn’t know what to do with it. It’s a fitting comparison, considering Veep’s latest episode takes her to Detroit, ostensibly for a jobs announcement, which, like everything else in Selina’s life, turns into a three-car pile-up.
There are no actual car crashes in “Detroit,” but Dan wastes little time in losing control in his new role as campaign manager. Selina is in Motor City to announce a company’s creation of 7,000 new jobs; too bad Dan missed the fact that six months on, those positions will be axed or exported. The event is a mess, and then there’s the reappearance of former Finnish Prime Minister Minna Häkkinen (Sally Phillips), last seen in season two when Selina went to Finland to collect a reward and wound up being groped by Minna’s husband.
Minna is that friendly reminder that Selina is not really respected by anybody outside her immediate circle of advisers and flunkies. Selina refers to her Scandinavian counterpart as “my good friend,” to which Minna responds, “Yes, we have met twice.” Her delivery is so sweet that a viewer might think the joke is a lost-in-translation gag, but considering her book is called The Finnish Wolf,there’s probably some bite there. (And compare that aggressive title with Selina’s laughably bland Some New Beginnings.)
Those lupine instincts emerge when Selina and Minna talk about a shooting in Detroit that leaves three people dead, including a Pulitzer-winning reporter. (Note: Murdered journalists are not mourned in the Iannucci-verse.) Selina, committing one of the cardinal sins of American politics, questions—however sensibly—the endurance of the Second Amendment to her supposed friend. After all, a Finn wouldn’t dime on anyone, would they?
A few scenes later, Minna is back, confessing to Selina that she relayed the anti-gun talk. To whom, exactly? “He is, like, in Central Europe, there is a bad companion for Santa Claus, and on Christmas, if children are naughty, he takes away the presents. He’s like a man, but he’s very tall.” Yeah, Jonah is still around, working for Maddox and scoring some big points over his former colleagues when he stages a photo op between Maddox and Selina that depicts her a few steps lower than Maddox.
Things get even more chaotic when a protester rushes toward Selina only to be punched out by her formerly peacenik daugher, Catherine. Selina’s daughter claims to hate violence, but it’s a solid hit, and one that makes her a cult hero when the Meyer gang visits a women’s gun show to compensate for the anti-Second Amendment talk.
The only momentary pleasure in Selina’s life comes in the form of her personal trainer, Ray (Christopher Meloni), who is on the road with the campaign because, as everyone but Mike deduces, she’s having sex with him. “Raycreation” only lasts until Selina’s ex-husband, Andrew (David Pasquesi) shows up to remind everyone the Meyers are toxically attracted to each other, nasty divorce be damned. Sometimes, the only way out is down.
Minna Häkkinen: How did she get displaced as Prime Minister? The former Finnish leader is devious, friendly, and effective—Selina’s exact opposite. And after a few weeks of small victories for Selina, it’s good to see someone knock her back down.
Jonah: Ugh. Everyone’s least favorite political goon has risen from the dregs. Jonad couldn’t remain defeated forever, I guess.
Ray the Trainer: His affair with Selina was obvious, and even though he eventually gets displaced by her ex-husband, he still managed to upend the vice president’s inner circle and fix Gary’s shoulder injury that nobody cared about. Also, after a decade and a half playing the humorless Detective Eliot Stabler, it’s great to see Christopher Meloni exercising his comedy chops, which appear to be as intact today as they were in Wet Hot American Summer.
Catherine Meyer: Automatic victory for knocking out that protester—and Sarah Sutherland, who plays Catherine, has added to her family’s long legacy of onscreen ass-kicking. (That punch was as convincing as any thrown by her dad, Kiefer, or grandfather, Donald.)
Sue and Gary: They’re back in Washington, running the vice-presidential office and having a heck of a time with each other. “What is going on between you two?” Dan asks for the audience’s benefit. We still have no idea.
Selina: For all the reasons listed above, obviously.
Amy: She admitted Selina is probably her best and only friend. That’s just sad.
Mike: After a strong run to open the season—marriage, one-upping Jonah, attempting to have a kid—the poor bastard is back where we found him: writing bad speeches, losing control of the narrative, and getting surpassed by younger colleagues.
Industry pride: If a reporter is killed, will he or she be mourned by the politicians that reporter covered? Perhaps publicly, but privately, their deaths will be laughed off. Ouch.