All hail President Selina Meyer, and she didn’t even have to murder people to get there, although she seemed on the cusp of doing so at various points during Sunday night’s two-part season finale.
Yes, Selina, after stumbling to third place in multiple presidential primaries, gets the job she’s coveted when the never-seen POTUS decides to step down to be with his suicidal wife. Who cares about lousy performance in New Hampshire when the order of succession accomplishes the mission?
Of course, there are no happy endings in Veep, and even though the season closes out with Selina moving to the Oval Office, her grasp on power is tenuous at best. The first half hour, “Crate,” features the VP struggling to come back from a loss in Iowa to Joe Thornhill, the former baseball manager turned sports metaphor machine (e.g., “Take your shirt off and work up a sweat”). Kent’s mastermind strategy? Have Selina stand atop a wooden crate so heavy, Gary’s attempts to lift it earn comparisons to Thor’s hammer. (H/T the still screwed-up Dan Egan.)
And because a wooden crate cannot simply be a wooden crate, Selina gets drilled by snooty New Hampshire editor Quincy Carter about its purported $1,200 price tag. The very Brahmin journalist spouts off occasional lines in French and even comes equipped with a style ripped from Bernard Pivot. But the wind-up is worth it to see Mike, flummoxed by the interview, asking his iPhone, “Siri, why does God allow suffering?”
Whether it’s an existential deity or just good writing, Veep would be nothing without suffering. The Meyer campaign is increasingly inept, from bad optics to an ugly conversation about what they think of their donors—spoiler alert: not highly—being recorded when Carter leaves his phone behind. Selina, who almost never restrains herself from threatening her staff, reaches new levels of venom. She’d smash her flunkies’ heads with that crate, if she could lift the damn thing.
Fortunately for Selina’s arms and the rest of the team’s noggins, that fate is averted by Kent’s news that POTUS is done. The ensuing scene, in which Gary and Selina spirit into a dingy bathroom to appreciate the turn of events, is the best of the episode and maybe of the whole season. Gary, so overwhelmed his idol is becoming President, responds with a nosebleed; Selina isn’t sure to pamper him or just laugh at the situation with him.
Everything seems great. Dan gets congratulatory phone calls from Beyoncé and Ashton Kutcher’s assistant, Selina gets the nuclear codes, Mike nails his first briefing as White House press secretary, and the inherent misery of being the Veep is gone.
Until, of course, Team Meyer screws it all up again. The special inauguration shoes Gary’s been saving squeak loudly when Selina walks up to address the nation; Selina’s initial attempts to settle petty cabinet rivalries lead to the United States inadvertently pissing off Iran, and Mike reverts to his old, useless self.
Oh, and there’s still a New Hampshire primary to win. Selina finishes third. She might have a new job, but this is still a cruel, hilarious universe.
Selina: Losing in Iowa and New Hampshire is a bummer. But come on, she gets to be President. Ten more awful things would have to happen in order to knock her into the losers’ bracket.
Amy: She’s not a successful campaign manager, but she’s at least competent. And she does not appear to be on the verge of a Dan-like meltdown. That’s worth something.
Jonah: Sigh. In the end, everyone’s least favorite goon—known to his mother as “JJ”—winds up back in the West Wing after levying his politically connected uncle and denouncing Ryantology. At least the internet commenters hate him now.
Sue: Still the most level-headed of the bunch. Still running the office. Still has something going on with Kent?
Pop culture websites: Oh, look. Another fictional Vice President became President in the season finale of a television show. Cue the “Selina Meyer vs. Frank Underwood” blog posts.
Mike: The season opened with Mike on a winning streak. He got married, found success at work, and had maybe even unloaded his boat. He even had a dynamo first day as White House press secretary, proudly telling people he “killed it.” Too bad his second press conference was full of him joking about killing reporters. That doesn’t always go over well.
Dan: It’s where he stands in the Oval Office hierarchy, especially after Kent fingers him as the source of a false story that Meyer rival Danny Chung tortured prisoners in Iraq. He’s got a job, but he also has to work with Jonah. Eh, he deserves it.
Ben: The most consistently funny character just wants to get away from the White House, but he’s fatally addicted to it. Selina naming him her chief of staff is bad for his health, but good for people who like hearing Kevin Dunn say funny things.
Stuart Hughes: In resigning, POTUS finally gets a name. Farewell, President Hughes. We didn’t know you too well, and we never saw your face, but you’ll be remembered as a paranoid shut-in and pretty decent source of punch lines. Who knows what regard President Meyer’s Vice President will hold her in?