Veep is going on too many field trips. As much fun as the concept of black-hearted Brit Armando Iannucci taking his American television series to his home nation’s capital is, the point has been clear since the first season’s outing to a Washington-area yogurt shop: Selina Meyer is terrible on the road.
That’s not to say Team Meyer’s London jaunt is unfunny, but the “Selina fails abroad” shtick is wearing thin. The jokes are amusing, but predictable. It’s England, so there are gags about bitter ale, James Bond, ridiculous hats, Downton Abbey, and soccer.
Selina’s travails right now are less entertaining than the re-emergence of the “Dan vs. Amy” subplot. It should not really surprise anyone that after just a few weeks into his new role as campaign manager, Dan cannot handle himself. Obsessive micro-managers are irksome in any setting; in a fictional political arena, they put themselves in the hospital. Sweet as it was early in the season to see Dan upend Jonah’s master plans—mostly by shoving a burrito in Jonah’s face—it’s just as nice to see Dan’s brain short-circuit and watch him wind up in a hospital bed.
And then things get really dark, even for Iannucci. The episode ends with the news that Veep’s never-seen First Lady has attempted suicide, bringing an early end to the London trip. Iannucci must be playing the long-con here: Veep is never upbeat, but it’s hard to see a punch line after this setup.
In less unsettling developments, Ray the trainer (Christopher Meloni) is still tagging along with his bedroom dynamism and idiotic campaign strategies. (“It’s like watching a goat try to use an ATM,” Ben says.) He’s finally let go at the end of the episode, but only after a terrible hat suggestion and the big reveal that he once published a treatise about how obesity is a form of karmic retribution. Don’t be too hard on the guy. He’s written several “treatii.”
Amy: How to get ahead in presidential politics? Step 1: Affect an English accent and dial up an annoying blogger. Step 2: Reveal your boss’s sex partner’s political past. Step 3: Watch your rival have a cardiac episode and take his job.
Mike: Between Dan passing out and Amy arriving to pick up the campaign manager job, Mike had his brief moment atop the chain of command. It didn’t last, of course, but Mike still had a great week. The speech he wrote for Selina about World War I was elegant, moving and, to paraphrase what Mike said, nailed pathos to the freaking wall.
Jonah: Ugh. Even though he was just a piece in Amy’s scheme, Jonah had a remarkably good week, and not just because Ryantology made a brief comeback. He’s a monster, but it was pretty great seeing Timothy Simons read that medical chart to bed-ridden Dan at the end.
Selina: She really needs to stop traveling. Can one run a presidential campaign without ever leaving the house? She should think about trying it.
Dan: It was going so well for him, but not everyone can handle the peripatetic nature of running a presidential campaign for the world’s most difficult politician.
Ray: It turns out he was never hired for his fitness expertise. Dan basically hired him to have sex with Selina. And if the prostitution isn’t bad enough, he speaks and thinks in rather incoherent terms.
Armando Iannucci fanboys: An episode of Veep set in London surely awakened dreams of a crossover with Malcolm Tucker, the supremely vulgar Downing Street operative from Iannucci’s In the Thick of It and In the Loop. Sadly, it was not to be, as Iannucci is either not into fan service or because Peter Capaldi, soon to be more famous for playing the Twelfth Doctor, is too busy cursing up a storm inside the TARDIS.
Hats: See the photo above. Hats are the worst.