The Veep team is in England to take advantage of the “Special Relationship” they have with British political satire. Written by Armando Iannucci, this episode pits Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and her team against the team Iannucci put together for Thick of It, the political farce he left on the other side of the pond. No one wins, of course. They are well-paired as, what I’m assuming are each show’s counterparts size up the competition that they are not running against.
This was one of the best Veep episodes in a series of great episodes. There are big shakeups and little earthquakes. Mike (Matt Walsh) is actually in charge of the vice president’s team for a short term. As frightening a prospect as that might be for the team, it was far scarier for Mike. Or maybe it just took a little too much effort. Mike would almost be up for it, but he’d already given his all on a speech commemorating the 100th anniversary of World War I. Only to have his masterpiece trampled under the athletic shoes of Ray (Chris Meloni). “Special Relationship” changes relationships on the team and it shows how people become frontrunners in Washington: By hobbling their opponents.
Amy (Anna Chlumsky) has always hated Dan (Reid Scott). I mean, no one on the Veep team actually likes one another and they all wish only the worst for each other, except when it impacts their own performance. But Dan almost gives Amy hives. She tried to warn Selina that he was a shit, but Selina decided it was time to go the shitty route. They are constantly sniping at each other, undermining each other, but today we see how they eat their young in Washington. Tonight’s episode was a tour de force for both actors. Chlumsky even gets to do a Mary Poppins accent. Amy must have really let things go after Ray loosened her up with a massage last week because she is firing with all her cannons. She keeps it close to the vest and orchestrates a coup. She gives a double sided whoop when she gets news of her promotion and she gets to see the news as it plays out on Dan’s face.
Every episode is a tour de force for Reid Scott’s face. His bulging veins, eyelid flutters, tics, tocs and twitches are a weekly symphony of anguish, despair and something that comes almost close to the human emotion joy. Watch his chin quiver as Amy breaks the news over his nose. His breakdown is very believable. I can’t imagine Dan going gently into the good night. Ray, I’m sure is gone after tonight, but Dan, like Jonah, is an unstakable vampire who you can’t bury facing down.
I actually liked Jonah (Timothy Simons) in this episode. A lot of that is because of the closing sequence where he’s reciting a litany of ill-chosen ailments off Dan’s chart in the hospital room. I’ve always liked being annoyed by Jonah. He’s written to get under your skin. All characters on Veep find their ways under your skin, like beetles crawl out of it during methane hallucinations, but Jonah goes uber-dweeb today and it further solidifies his growing status as a player.
Gary Walsh (Tony Hale) is asked a question. It throws him into a panic. This may be the first time in his life that’s been asked his opinion and it’s by a British person. They have those accents that seem to sound like there’s a deeper intelligence to them than can be made by American mouths. Until you actually listen to what they’re saying and realize politicians are the universal moronic. While we’re on the subject of American mouths, the Dannywa sequence seemed like one of those things that would play better in England than here, unless it’s John Travolta announcing an Oscar performance. News that the vice president is fucking her personal trainer may not pique Brits’ interest, but a mispronunciation goes down in one. It is actually Gary who pulls tonight’s coup.
Ben Cafferty (Kevin Dunn) consistently cuts to the heart of every situation. He describes Ray talking to smart people as “like watching a goat try to work an ATM.” The interplay between Kent Davison (Gary Cole) and Sue (Sufe Bradshaw) comes to a head tonight as Sue relegates all future contact from Kent come remotely.
This was a very satisfying episode. A nice cup of tea.
“Special Relationship” was written by Armando Iannucci and directed by Becky Martin.
Den of Geek Rating: 5 Out of 5 Stars