This Veep review contains spoilers.
Veep Season 5 Episode 8
The president takes the dysfunctional fractured first family to Camp David for an intimate Popcornaments-bedecked pre-Christmas celebration. Camp David is known as the place where peace accords are signed and President Eisenhower recuperated after heart problems. But there is no peace this weekend. The Meyer Administration is also bunkered down for secret negotiations with the president of China over sanctions.
Mike (Matt Walsh) bums some gum from one of the Chinese delegation and winds up getting hooked on nicotine. This isn’t healthy when someone’s expecting a baby and in this case the consequences hit him threefold. Kent Davidson is full of surprises tonight. Actor Gary Cole, who also plays a conservative ballistics expert on The Good Wife, brings a knife to a gunfight and actually uses the colloquialism “I guess so.”
New Hampshire Congressional hopeful Jonah Ryan (Timothy Simons) doesn’t mix well with people. He blows a major debate by basically telling his kindly old schoolteacher rival to take the apple bitch, it’s a symbol of endearment. All she wants to do is keep the state safe.
Jonah shoots himself in the foot and it’s the best thing to happen to him. The best part is that Ben (Kevin Dunn) can’t stop laughing when he hears the news. The collateral damage is enough to take out his competition making Dan (Reid Scott) the anti-hero of the evening. He transformed a shaved Sasquatch into a winning politician and now has to live with that, Amy (Anna Chlumsky) congratulates him, for the rest of his life. As does the rest of the country.
If you ever want to see a version of deadpan that goes beyond textbook, watch Clea DuVall as former Secret Service presidential booty, I mean body-double Marjorie Palmiotti. Her exuberance over her weekend date is positively contagious. We get to see the fun Marjorie and it’s touching, in a Norman Bates from Psycho kind of way. “Your daughter’s sparkling eyes can start a fire on their own, ma’am,” she tells the president at one point and you can feel the room get colder.
No one leaves Selina’s gravity unmoved. The president affects everyone she meets personally in a deep and profound way. Bill Erickson (Diedrich Bader) was so moved by the president’s loyalty during a bill scuttling scandal that he took over the New Hampshire congressional campaign. He brings as much of a sense of duty as a deep personal resentment to the job. Minna Häkkinen (Sally Phillips) says hello to the president by reminding her she knows Meyer didn’t vote for her to head the International Monetary Fund. The president responds by calling her “Menopause” for the rest of the summit.
Nothing gets by hot Nordic assburger salad Minna. She tells the American president that the Chinese president isn’t that smart and reappraises international intelligence in its entirety in her every uttered word. Phillips and Tony Hale perform a wonderful comic duet in the president’s ear during the introductions. It is a verbal ballet as the head of the IMF rattles off credentials and the bagman prattles on about fly-fishing, tennis, art and who’s kid is matriculating at Georgetown and all we’re left with are is frozen strawberries.
Gary (Tony Hale) actually moans for the president and Catherine when Selina gives out a very thoughtful gift from her daughter as a parting gift to the Chinese delegation. I mean who can really blame her, she gave out a crystallized geode like she was the Peanuts’ Great Pumpkin and all the Chinese translator could muster was “thanks for the rock.” The Dalai Lama is insufferable too.
Sometimes it feels like Selina Meyer rose to national power in some kind of alternative Seinfeld Universe. Bizarro Selina. The show uses in-jokes and references like they were written into the oath of office. Most of us have followed Julia Louis-Dreyfus since at least Seinfeld and these act as a kind of short cut, but I envy people who can discover it the other way around. Regifting is a classic concept that originated, as far as entertainment culture is concerned, on Seinfeld and Veep is so comfortable having grown up in that neighborhood they toss off these goodies offhandedly and repeatedly.
“Camp David” was written by Rachel Axler and directed by Becky Martin.