This Veep review contains spoilers.
Veep season 6 episode 4
Hey buddy, you hear that rumor about the president reaching across the aisle to fill a Supreme Court seat? It looks like president Selina Meyer might find a lasting legacy in Veep season 6, episode 4, “Justice.” Not content with being one of only 46 people in history to lead the free, but increasingly costly, world, she is positioning herself for the Supreme Court. While it would be a shame to cover that figure under robes, it’s better than getting stuck in a bathtub with President Taft. And the first woman president of America would wear them for life. No chance of getting voted out, fired, or left behind.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus explores narcissistic extremes as the former less-than-one-quarter-of-one-term president. She filters every detail from every person around her to distill all information into exactly what she wants to hear, even if she needs to hear something she doesn’t want to hear. Early in the episode she gets a house call from the former presidential physician and Gary (Tony Hale) rival. Complaining about back pains, Meyer is worried that she might be facing menopause. The doctor tells her that it’s not menopause, but something much worse: a heart episode. Selina is relieved because, while the heart problem might be fatal, she leave behind a good looking corpse.
No one’s opinions matter to Meyer, except maybe Ben Cafferty’s (Kevin Dunn) and, occasionally she’ll take a passing interest in one of the factoids Kent Davidson (Gary Cole) interjects. When Selina was thinking of making another run at president a few episodes ago, she was unaffected by everyone’s obvious resistance, including her daughter Catherine (Sarah Sutherland), who actually exhibited horrible and painful post-traumatic stress symptoms. But when Ben put down his drink after telling the former president that it was undoable, she finally heard and moved on to other undoable deeds. Her ego is unshatterable, even as she shatters those of the people in her circle.
Catherine laughs when she hears about the heart attack. She’s sorry she does it, but not sorry enough not to do it again. It’s not like she’ll get past the closed-door meetings at the hospital anyway. The former first daughter is broken and all the president’s men, and Amy, have no time to look for the glue. Maybe Gary does, he thinks Catherine is quite a striking woman, no matter what her mother says. As Selina, Louis-Dreyfus hones callous disregard to a fine point. Selina has a radar sense of exactly where to attack, or ignore, in any given situation, to deliver the most devastating blow to whomever even minutely disappoints her. Louis-Dreyfus also knows exactly the right time, creating cognitive dissonance out of thin air. She disrupts trains of thought, especially on her minions, at the precise points when they are at their most vulnerable. And they can do nothing but take it.
At one point Selina callously halts all work on her book, biting the hand that fed her the name to the Supreme Court shortlist. Mike (Matt Walsh) inadvertently starts the Supreme Justice ball rolling by offhandedly denying it as Meyer’s coterie is pushing past the Beltway paparazzi. Denial is a knee-jerk reaction and Mike is a professional jerk whether he knows what he’s doing or, as is more often the case, not. Mike went from sad sack character of brilliance two season ago to just a sad sack by the end of last season. All Walsh has to do is open his mouth, though not while chewing in front of Selina, and all the pathos of Washington’s detritus comes dribbling out the sides. Mike has his livelihood snatched from him with less than a handful of words and Selina doesn’t care, As a matter of fact, Louis-Dreyfus makes it clear her character is kind of glad about it. Mike is left in a lurch, hanging onto a job that doesn’t pay and is killing him so thoroughly it is criminal.
Private prison mogul Sherman Tanz, who Selina pardoned as one of her last acts as president, is concerned about the nation’s incarceration problems. Jails are below 135% occupancy and criminals like him are out on the street. For $5 million and a backrub from Gary – though he does tip, Selina promises to pass him off to a Beltway benefactor. Tanz has been around since Nixon, a miserable anti-Semite but a great supporter of Israel, and needs another shoe to stick to. Tanz may be calamitous to everyone else in Washington but for whale dong freshman congressman Jonah Ryan (Timothy Simons), disaster is a step up. Jonah goes to war with Daylight Saving Time, after forgetting to set his watch, and proves he is worth his weight in shit, one of the most valuable commodities in Washington. Tanz appreciates the slinging so much, he steps over Selina with the same flippant indifference she usually dishes out.
Richard (Sam Richardson) and Amy (Anna Chlumsky) are in competition for Selina’s good graces. Richard doesn’t know it, which makes him the clear cut winner. The former president calls for Richard. Amy shows up, hisses “too late,” and disappears to make him look bad. But Richard is so completely unself-conscious, nothing can make him look bad. Everyone tries. He is the team heavy bag, speed bag and jock strap, all wrapped in one. He takes all in happily, either clueless to every slight and insult, or repressing it for a future congressional run when he can let it all out on his constituency. They are both being played by the former president, vying for something she will ultimately toss away.
Danny Egan (Reid Scott) is a kept man. Newly freed from having to pull out during sex because of low sperm mobility, he is now looking for Morning After Pill refunds. His stories are getting traction at CNN and the crew is convinced it’s because he is sleeping with the boss. She’s not sweet on Danny as much as she is on the sweets he’s pushing. It doesn’t give him much clout, though. He still looks like a half-moon minstrel show star when he’s finally able to present his well-researched piece on Rwanda. In spite of all the hard work on a piece that is obviously personal, there is still nothing but dead shark eyes in Egan’s sockets. He’s not upset because people think he’s sleeping with the boss. He’s upset because they think he is sleeping with an older woman.
Everyone on the series is vying for worst in show, except for Richard. Veep exposes the raw nerves of politicians and picks at every wound. The show would be devastating if government officials had any feelings. But they are all narcissists. They probably think this review is about them. This episode does them “Justice.”
Can you repeat everything you said after ‘hey buddy’?
“Justice” was written by Rachel Axler and directed by Dale Stern.