This Veep review contains spoilers.
Veep Season 6 Episode 6
Veep season 6, episode 6, “Qatar,” brings the ex-President’s entourage on a human rights tour that goes as wrong as humanly possible. In the very first scene one of the worst offenders has sex trafficking on his resume under import/export. Who is this guy? Art Vandelay? The war lord then starts the battle of the episode when he photobombs a picture with Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus).
There is no getting around bad public relations when you’re as scrutinized as an ex-POTUS. Every photo op is a call for another pose with a fake smile and withered flowers. Sadly, the president’s roving reputation is being stitched together on the fly by her former press secretary Mike McClintock (Matt Walsh). He’s hanging around now waiting to get paid for waiting to help Selina write her memoirs. While it’s his unpaid job to spackle these kinds of gaffs, Amy (Anna Chlumsky) is the only staff member with enough OCD to do everyone’s job.
A victim of the photogenic warlord in Tubak, South Sudan, seems like the perfect fix. The victim of purposeful desecration for the man who beat and raped her, she deigns to have tea with the former president, while half the Sudanese suffer in starvation. This woman has no fear of speaking truth to power. Every syllable that comes out of her mouth drips with derision. Who could blame her? The kids in her village are reduced to wearing Jonah Ryan t-shirts. Probably one of the most cost effective PR snafus money can buy. Too bad Selina’s press secretary wouldn’t think of it.
Mike mines deeper levels of painful ineptitude. He can’t put someone on speed dial without downloading a movie. His red skin can’t handle the sun, but he doesn’t know the difference between sunscreen and barbecue sauce. Jonah Ryan (Timothy Simons), however learns to eat paella like a semiregular person. The knowledge may cost him his bachelorhood, but will get him a hot seat at Senator Furlong’s dinner table. There is no saving grace in what follows saying grace. Senator Furlong has the saltiest mouth in Washington, which is saying a lot. Something he won’t do in front of his Bible-pumping wife.
Jonah is nowhere near the brightest bulb on the beltway. He thinks Alexander Hamilton was the first Puerto Rican president, otherwise why would they name a musical after him. Taking the lead on an oversight committee, Jonah names his new group the Jeffersons and they’re moving on up. All except the freakishly tall new congressman from New Hampshire, he gets an office with a shittier view, but less flights to climb. This is very precognitive humor. With this small detail we know that Jonah will never get into a penthouse, no matter who bathes him.
The best exchange of the night is the smallest. Given an appalling choice of cleanup jobs, Ben Cafferty (Kevin Dunn) calls dress duty, and apologizes to Kent Davidson (Gary Cole) in advance, with the most sincere look of remorse he can sneer. Catherine doesn’t even merit a sneer. In a group Skype call handled by Richard (Sam Richardson), who never has to masturbate again, she breaks the big news that Selina is going to be a, and it pretty much stops there because the ex-president already hung up and is on to more interesting business. Business that concerns her and gets her out of having to sit for a photo op with someone with no limbs. It’s not that the president is lacking compassion, but the disfigured make her sick. She prefers younger, more powerful men with enough clout to get the head of China to remember how to speak English
The former president of the free world is an expensive date. She can eat through frequent flyer miles on a private jet faster than she can abandon a photo op for credit on Tibet. Dating is a minefield even when you’re not wading through unexploded landmines, and political bedfellows are even stranger. While the staff wonders whether the age difference might be a political factor, the ever-vain president translates that to whether they think she should be dating a Muslim. She denies any possibility of a discernable age difference.
Dan Egan (Reid Scott) pulls a coup de twat. Sick of being manhandled, he reluctantly human resources his way to main talking head without as much as a first thought. Egan was introduced on Veep as the best shit the then-vice president could take from the DC pool of junior suck-ups. Now that he’s graduated to the shark infested waters of show business political news, he is no less a shit.
A few weeks ago, in the review for Veep’s “Georgia” episode, I declared the AIDS discussion between Meyer and the incumbent leader in the country’s election as the most cynical scene ever to be shown on TV. The two seasoned politicians put on their most theatrically saddened faces to declare the horrible tragedy of the political football. Denigrating not only the disease but any and all altruism on any Capitol Hill. That was unlubricated foreplay to tonight’s address to the human rights conference, sponsored by the worst war lord in Qatar.
Watching Selina Meyer dismantle every value she has come to defend is a painful experience. Every revision that comes out of her mouth is a punch in the gut. Louis-Dreyfus puts more pain in her ad hoc teleprompter betrayal than she put phlegm in her flu cough last season. While it would be tempting to say that her best bit of physical comedy played out tonight while she got momentarily stuck between sofa cushions, her facial calisthenics upstages that handily. If there were an Emmy for physical comedy, her nostrils would win.
“Qatar” gives us such an in-depth look at political compromise viewers should be horrified rather than amused. Selina crumbles to a war lord running a human rights conference where dissidence is checked by check, cash, force or political blackmail. If the world is run by people anyhow resembling these all-too-realistic stereotypes, it is a wonder we’ve survived this long. This is another devastatingly funny episode.
“Qatar” was written by Steve Hely, and directed by Becky Martin.