‘Veep’ recap: Season 3, Episode 5, ‘Fishing’

Before we dive into this week’s Veep recap, did everyone see Julia Louis-Dreyfus hanging out with actual veep Joe Biden for a White House Correspondents Dinner sketch? A few other surprise guests dropped in as well.

Back in the fictional world of politics, this week’s Veep proves that if Selina’s going to have any chance at winning the candidacy, she needs to seriously work on her likability — and at this point, mainly with her staff, all of whom she considers firing over the course of the half-hour. At the end of the episode, Dan has been named campaign manager (boo), but it’s still unclear as to whether Mike, Amy, Gary, and Sue will be retained.

But, backing up: Selina and Dan are both pretty bad at power plays, aren’t they? The race to be named presidential candidate is quickening, after Joe Thornhill, an ex-Major League Baseball coach, has announced his bid for the candidacy. To combat this, Amy advises Selina to accept an invitation to Secretary of Defense Maddox’s country house for the weekend, to try and convince him to refrain from announcing his potential candidacy and instead become her running mate.

This, predictably, does not work. Selina is basically incapable of appearing humble or paying attention to others for even one minute, even if it would help her out in the long run. Case in point, the fishing incident: Selina and Maddox have a nice moment gossiping about Danny Chung, Selina hypothetically offers him Secretary of State and, just as Maddox begins saying, “If I was State, hypothetically,” Selina cuts him off because she might have caught a fish. If you’re going to attempt to make a politically delicate alliance with one of your direct competitors, Selina, it would be helpful if you let him finish his sentence.

Or how about their dinner later that evening, when an unimpressed Maddox asks Selina, “If I did want to run, why would I just step aside for you?”

Selina doesn’t seem to understand the question. “Why wouldn’t you?” she asks, laughing, as though this is some big joke.

Maddox isn’t laughing. “No,” he insists, “why would I?”

Selina’s answer – that she’s earned the candidacy, that she deserves to be president – is the wrong one, but it’s an idea echoed in Dan’s fake-nice ploys to become campaign manager. “You guys remind me of me when I was you,” he tells a group of campaign interns, beaming. “And look at me now!”

Dan, like Selina, seems to believe that a combination of being nice to the public (or interns) paired with an unrelenting sense of entitlement is enough to win the prize. But, like Selina, Dan’s unwillingness to swallow his ego even when it would help him in the long run makes achieving that prize that much harder. His attempt to poach Jonah, who the team discovers is the nephew of a politically valuable ally, ultimately fails when he refuses to flatter Jonah’s sense of anxiety about his own likability, and instead descends into a series of burrito-themed insults. Oops.

Just add ego

Back in D.C., Amy’s own attempts to vie for the campaign manager position via a dinner party for the remaining staff backfires because she isn’t quite egotistical enough. Yes, she’s a workaholic, but instead of ending the dinner early to call Selina with the news of Jonah’s connections and then sending her competitor, Dan, to go poach him, she really should have kept this trump card to herself until Selina’s return, and used it to weaken Maddox. Now, she’s wasted it, lost her chance at redeeming herself in Selina’s eyes, and insulted her boyfriend (who just wants to celebrate their one-year anniversary) in the process.

There are some secondary plots concerning Mike’s attempts at in vitro fertilization with his new wife (gross and hilarious), Gary’s sore shoulder (pathetic and hilarious) and a potential third candidate for the campaign manager position, but in the end, it’s Dan who emerges victorious, mostly by making sure he’s in the right place at the right time.

If this is some foreshadowing for Selina’s candidacy, then her party is going to be in trouble come election season. The end of the episode further emphasizes Selina and Dan’s similarities, as they share some awkward sexual tension (that other campaign manager guy sure was right when he said that Dan’s talents lie in “hitting on drunk divorcees”), as well as some secrets. It turns out that Selina once set fire to her ex-husband’s car. And what did Dan once do?

“When I was a kid, a bunch of older kids dared me to kill this stray dog…and I did.”

Yikes. Selina, what have you gotten yourself into? Trusting your campaign to someone this power-hungry and ruthless, rather than loyal, does not seem like a good idea. Even when Amy’s about to drunkenly throw Mike’s sperm jar at Jonah’s door, she’s nowhere near as sociopathic as that.

Grade: B+


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