This Veep review contains spoilers.
Veep Season 6 Episode 2
Veep season 6, episode 2, “Library,” opens with former President Selina Meyer sitting comfortably and recognizably at her old desk at the White House. At first, the audience is almost led to believe that, perhaps some horrible mistake was made and the first woman president of the United States will be more than a footnote as an unelected president with the shortest term in history. Then we remember that this is HBO, which is known for its dream and fantasy sequences.
But then Julia Louis-Dreyfus reminds us that this is Veep. It’s real and it’s happening at the Stuart Hughes Presidential Library and Museum opening ceremony, behind the velvet ropes. Where she shouldn’t be. With Gary (Tony Hale) exactly where he should be, right next to her. Then she takes a daring leap further. Louis-Dreyfus hasn’t shied away from deep physical acting throughout the series, and tonight she flies through the air with the same grace she brought to Mr. Pitts’ office on Seinfeld. Selina does a great flip escape post-election embarrassment and Gary does a wonderful assist. Twice, if you count his nabbing her wayward purse before anyone notices.
Just sticking with this a bit, later on, Gary will be completely uncoordinated a little while later while he tries to unfurl Selina from her post-presidential portrait. His almost every Machiavellian utterance is ignored until he throws himself on the devil himself in a limo.
While Gary’s subliminal advertising is in no way subtle, Richard is pure stealth bomb. Sam Richardson drops so much commentary under the radar it’s devastating. “Are we running from something scary ma’am,” he calmly asks while matching the pace in the race to the impromptu colonoscopy of a presidential photo op, with quadruple the assholes. He points out which of Selina’s planned moves are felonies, and calmly compounds it with simple additions like “also a felony.” When he realizes his pen ran out of ink he details how he’s going to press harder and trace over it later like they do in a suspense movie.
“Never forget,” Richard offers at one point as a slogan for the new presidential library. Then he remembers that he forgot that that was the slogan for the Holocaust remembrance. Kennedy was a part-term president and he got a library. Why shouldn’t the first woman president? Fuck Yale, everyone agrees as they move to the more appropriate choice of a women’s college, which is being microaggressively micromanaged by students and faculty alike. Radioactive Sherman “Schlomo” Tanz is a perfect fit for all of Meyer’s ills. He represents the exact breaks with Meyer’s potential constituency that she should be avoiding. He runs a women’s prison that is renowned for its mistreatment.
Selina Meyer belongs in an institution the former president herself says, and she speaks for everyone within earshot and beyond. She callously disregards every best instinct along with any spec of empathy for the people around her and her closest allies are all collateral damage.
But as dangerously unhinged as the former Secret Service agent who is now less than a daughter-in-law but more than an unplugged laugh track says she is, her ex-husband is worse. The only thing Meyer ever got from her once and future former is herpes and unwanted children. Catherine’s (Sarah Sutherland) has been walking on eggshells in a dysfunctional mine field so long she is one of walking wounded by proxy. Her day to day existence has been a series of soul shattering compromises.
All of the former president’s former staff are selling out, and not always to the highest bidder. Mike (Matt Walsh) is happy to work on the most sliding of scales if he can turn the work place into a playground with a diaper genie. Delaware Danny Egan (Reid Scott) joins the Coney Island polar bears and gets iced by his new demanding new boss. Cannibalistic TV news host Jane McCabe (Margaret Colin) has no interest in ogling the former presidential aide’s Walter Cronkite and more intent on neutering whatever his dip in the frigid Atlantic didn’t suffer freezer burn.
Amy (Anna Chlumsky) is in her element. She is doing her job and she’s in it to win it. She leaks a rumor about her fiance’s opponent and it brings him to tears on the local news. While Buddy Calhoun is so floored by the insubordination he has to drunkenly prove he’s still got balls to torque, Amy just wants to see his opponent cry again.
Nobody in congress cares about ethics, but they do care about seating arrangements. Ben Cafferty (Kevin Dunn) and Kent Davidson (Gary Cole) convene a special ed breakfast club for unregistered sex offender Jonah (Timothy Simons) after he is snubbed from a taco party thrown by Senator Roger Furlong’s (Dan Bakkedahl) wife. A bachelor in DC is seen is seen as gayer than a TV evangelist, counsels Ben. But before you blame this all on rampant Beltway homophobia, remember that married sex is better than single sex because married men in politics get laid a lot more than single politicians. But of course, this is Jonah and the only thing he can pick up in a laundromat on a Saturday night is unmatched socks.
Reading is fundamental, and “Library” is more than a worthy cause for hysterical historical housing.
“Library” was written by Lew Morton and directed by David Mandel.